Transcripts of the monetary policymaking body of the Federal Reserve from 2002–2008.

We expect starts to stabilize next year, and that will be followed by a pretty considerable period of several quarters with house prices finally stabilizing. But we think that builders will look ahead and see that they’ve cut their additions to supply by enough to make even more rapid progress against their inventory of unsold homes. The question of the dynamics of house prices is a tricky one because it depends on what model of expectations one assumes that homebuyers will have. If every homeowner were a rational economic being, then it’s pretty unambiguous that a lower level of home prices would elicit greater optimism on the part of home shoppers that, gee, the valuation is better compared with yesterday; I should be more enthusiastic about getting into the housing market; I should be happier today than I was yesterday. I think it’s at least an open question as to whether expectations aren’t more extrapolative than that. We haven’t seen any diminution in, for example, the Michigan survey in response to what homeowners expect to happen over the coming 12 months, and I think it’s a serious possibility that they look at their recent experience and extrapolate that forward and conclude that over the next 12 months the user cost of owning a home is going to be really high. We just don’t have a very good grip on exactly what the dynamics of prices and housing demand will be.

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