"Show Me a Stock I Can Buy 90% on Margin"

An apocalyptic May 2006 Harper’s cover story, “The New Road to Serfdom,” predicts that the past year’s housing boom has resulted in crushing debt (no link, because Harper’s isn’t online but click here for a fantastic take-down of the outgoing editor, Lewis Lapham).
Lewis Lapham.jpg
It’s all supposed to be breathless, but it often seems instead like a patronizing — there are many pictures — rehash of Paul Krugman NYT editorials.

One insight: the role played by local taxes, which shifted from property taxes (70% of receipts) to income & sales taxes (60% of all tax receipts), encouraging tax-payers to own rather than produce.

The article excoriates the middle class for aspiring to make money by capital gains, long the province of rich people. I had never thought of real estate as the middle class’s stock market until a friend explained his preference for real estate over stocks: “show me a stock I can buy 90% on margin.”

Discussion

  • Kent

    Based on the Washington Post article, I would think you’d have to take the Harper’s story in stride.

    However, I would have to agree that there should be some concern over the housing boom and the enormous amount of equity people have converted into depreciating goods and assets.

    It’s the same concern people should have had during the internet stock boom.

    Will it be the end of the world? No. Ideally, the recovering economy will be enough to prop up the housing market as Greenspan envisioned. But it’ll definitely hurt.