The Collected Works of Author and Blogger Larry Roberts

Archive for 2008

Psychological Stages of a Bubble Once a bubble starts to form, it will go through several identifiable stages: enthusiasm, greed, denial, fear, capitulation, and despair. Each of these stages is characterized by different speculator emotional states and different resulting behaviors. There are outside forces that also act on the market in predictable ways in each one of these stages. Most often, these outside factors serve to reinforce the market’s herd behavior and exacerbate changes in price. Precipitating Factor There is often a precipitating factor causing the initial price rally that pushes prices above their supported fundamental values. A bubble rally is usually kicked off by some exogenous event, but it may occur simply because prices have been rising and investors take…[READ MORE]

Bubble Market Psychology Financial markets are driven by fear and greed: two basic human emotions. Rationality and careful analysis are not responsible for, or predictive of, current or future price levels in markets exhibiting bubble pricing as the emotions of buyers and sellers takes over. [1] The psychology of speculation drives bubble markets, and because of the nature of fear and greed, most speculators are doomed to lose their money. In contrast, true investors are not subject to the emotional cycles of the speculator, and they are more able to make rational decisions based on fundamental valuations. Of course, many investors also miss the excitement of a runaway price rally in a speculative bubble. The Great Housing Bubble was inflated…[READ MORE]

The Bubble Bursts When a bubble in a financial market pops, it does not explode in spectacular fashion like a soap bubble; it is more comparable to a breached levee which releases water slowly at first. [1] Once the financial levee is ruptured, the equity reservoir loses money at increasing rates. It washes away the imagined wealth of homeowners who bought late in the rally or used home equity lines of credit to fuel consumer spending until the reservoir is nearly empty and the torrent turns to a trickle. Ultimately, the causes of failure are examined, the financial levee is repaired, and the reservoir again holds value, but not until the dreams and equity of many homeowners are washed away. Denial runs…[READ MORE]

The Housing Bubble Affordability Limits Affordability is a measure of people’s ability to raise money to obtain real estate. It is often represented as an index that compares the cost to finance a median house price to the percentage of the general population with the income to support this house price. For instance, in Orange County, California, in 2006, only 2.4% of the population earned enough money to afford a median priced home. When affordability drops below 50%, there is a problem in housing; when it drops to 2.4% there is either a severe shortage of housing, or a housing price bubble. Most often, it is the latter. Figure 23: Affordability / Demand   One way to envision affordability is through supply and…[READ MORE]

The Housing Bubble Prices went up a large amount during the Great Housing Bubble, but what makes this price increase a bubble? To answer this question it is necessary to accurately measure price levels and review historic measures of affordability to establish these price levels are not sustainable. [1] Measuring house prices is not a simple task, and there are many methods market watchers use to evaluate market prices. These include the median, the average cost per square foot, and the S&P/Case-Shiller indices. Price levels in financial markets represent the collective result of individual actions. There are techniques to measure the actions of the individual market participants and their impact on house prices. These measures are debt-to-income ratios and price-to-income ratios.  The amount of…[READ MORE]

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