This Time Is Different

I do so love headlines like this one from the Wall Street Journal:

Feel free to read the article if you want. I don’t think I’ll bother, especially since my internet connection has slowed to molasses levels for some reason. However, since we’re on the subject of houses, here’s a chart I made last night:

I was curious to see what the broadest possible look at the housing market would show us. The answer appears to be that housing inventory took a big dive from 1999-2003. Since then it’s been relatively flat, with a bit of a decline during the Great Recession. Since 2014 it’s been at about 1985 levels.

This is nationwide, so it doesn’t account for the housing supply in specific places like the Bay Area or Seattle. On the other hand, it also doesn’t account for generational changes, namely the aging of the baby boomers, which probably reduced the demand for housing. With those caveats, at a first glance it doesn’t look like we have a nationwide shortage of housing. Rather, it looks like the housing boom starting in 1980 went a little too far and corrected in 1999. It doesn’t look especially like a crisis, but maybe I’ll try to look into this a little more deeply later in the day.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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