Does it make sense to buy a house?

Here’s a great interactive graphic from Trulia.com that shows the ratio of renting to buying. The ratio is how many years of paying before you paid full price for an equivalent house. This data is comparing the median list price with that of a two bedroom apartment.

For example, in NYC renting is so much better that you’d pay rent for 39 years before you’d paid the amount the house costs. A good estimate is the rent-to-price ratio should be about 17:1.
The size of the circle shows how much the rent is (e.g. bigger circle means more rent). The color indicates the ratio (e.g. red means better to rent; green means better to own).

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Wealth and Income Distribution

I keep having trouble getting my head around how wealth is distributed in America — or maybe just that I don’t seem to explain it well enough to other people. There’s an article, “Who Rules America: Wealth, Income, and Power“, that looks into the details. Most of the data is only up to 2007 but the suggestion is that things have gotten worse since the recession:

So far there are only tentative projections … there has been an “astounding” 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by far less: just 11.1%. So as of April 2010, it looks like the wealth distribution is even more unequal than it was in 2007.

The following shows how wealth is distributed but it’s a little misleading if you don’t read the labels. The “pie” is all wealth but each slice represents a different percentage of households. For example, the big slice represents 1% of households (about 1.1 million) and all the other slices represent about 109 million households.

WealthDistribution1

Another way of looking at similar data is this chart that summarizes a survey asking people how they think wealth is distributed and also how they think the ideal should be shaped. The top most bar represents how wealth is actually distributed. Note that the bottom 40% of households don’t even show up in the top most bar:

Actual estimated ideal wealth distribution

In case you are thinking this is normal, the article includes this information over time and things are only getting worse.

Unemployment won’t recover for 157 months (2021)

If we look at employment prior to the Great Recession compared to now there is a difference of 11.3 million jobs (from Bookings institute). Now how long is it going to take to return to that level? If you take the best job growth of the 2000’s it’ll be 157 months or 11years. That’s not until 2021!

If you take the best rate from the 1990’s it’s down to about 8 years! Here’s the chart with how many months it’ll take based on the rate with a couple note worthy rates highlighted.

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Will Greece Get a Bailout?

From Matthew Yglesias » Will Greece Get a Bailout?:

If the Greece moral hazard play winds up not working, then investors will start demanding higher interest payments from Ireland. And if they go down, you could have the equivalent of a bank runs start to endanger medium-sized countries like Spain and Italy. At that point, everyone’s screwed. So, yes, it would be crazy for Germans to let some kind of spiteful attitude toward fun-loving and overly-indebted southern Europeans allow an economic catastrophe to sweep across the continent.

Unemployment — not if you caused the crisis!

So if you lost your firm billions of dollars, laid off tens of thousands and indirectly caused millions to lose their jobs and drove the unemployment rate to 10.3% well, the good news is it didn’t cost you your job! 92% of management in TARP funds recipients still have their jobs!
From A Fair Deal for Taxpayer Investments:

The executive leadership of the financial sector remain largely unchanged—92 percent of the management and directors of the top 17 recipients of TARP funds are still in office.