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

The answer to that is “yes,” and I think there is some risk. One feature of our forecast is the fact that we are not projecting large declines nationwide in house prices. We are expecting a deceleration but not any outright declines. One could imagine that more of the adjustment could take place more quickly by a big drop in house prices that in some sense clears out that inventory through higher sales and maybe less production adjustment. On that side, you would probably get a quicker housing cycle than the one that we are projecting. However, it also brings with it some downside risk in that households would realize how much their net worth had fallen, which could have consequences for consumption both directly through the wealth effect and perhaps through sentiment. That correction could be quicker and maybe deeper, but then the rebound could be faster. That is a risk we have certainly contemplated. We were a little nervous about being too adventuresome on the house-price forecasting. We are not very good at forecasting asset values, we never understood how prices got as far out of alignment as we think they are, and we are not sure exactly what the process of correction is going to look like. So we have taken a middle stance between two models: one model that basically forecasts house prices off pure momentum and another one that takes seriously the analytical apparatus, which we showed you a year and a half ago at our special briefing on housing, that looks at the error-correction process of house prices to rents. The latter model actually does forecast outright declines nationwide in house prices by 2008. We are between a momentum model, which expects house prices to slow less than we are forecasting, and this error-correction model, which shows bigger declines.

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