The Housing Bubble: How Much Blame Does the Fed Really Deserve?

William Miles

Journal of Real Estate Research, 2014, 36, 41-58

Two recent empirical papers have blamed the Fed for the latest boom and bust in housing. Neither study includes long-term interest rates, which are more affected by global factors than the federal funds rate (FFR). In this paper, I include both the mortgage rate and the FFR as determinants of housing variables. The results indicate the long-term rate has independent and sometimes greater predictive power for housing than the FFR, especially in recent years. Finally, I demonstrate that the mortgage rate does not simply proxy for monetary policy—the impact of the FFR on long-term rates has also fallen over time.