Tyler Cowen And Property Zoning

A Benjamin Cole post

Tyler Cowen, the George Mason scholar, runs an excellent blog, but there was a curious (and recurrent) lapse in a recent post.

Cowen blogs that living standards for working-age Britons have been falling, and are lower now than 13 years ago.

Cowen, citing a Resolution Foundation study, notes

  • More than half of British households across the working age population have seen falling or flat living standards
  • Two-thirds of the growth in average working age income has been wiped out by rising housing costs
  • More than all of the growth in private renter income has been wiped out by rising housing costs

But the words “property zoning” are absent from the Cowen blog.

No Connecting The Dots

For reasons that escape me, in the macroeconomics trade today the evergreen topics are the minimum wage, and the glories of global commerce. In addition, right-wingers call for tighter money, while left-wingers fret aimlessly, evidently bereft of any good ideas for now.

But no matter the wing, the topic of property zoning drops down the rabbit hole never to be seen, even among the supposed free enterprise-libertarian crowd.

Yet by Cowen’s commentary, housing costs are breaking the bank for Brit workers, who are, after all, the real backbone of the economy and a large share of voters.

The same situation is obvious on the West Coast of U.S., and other key cities such as Boston and New York, where housing costs have exploded.

Where Are The Op-Eds?

Thus we have the lamentable picture of U.S. macroeconomists railing against the minimum wage (while endorsing the Fed’s 5% unemployment floor, puzzle those two positions together), embracing open borders for immigrants, but asleep in oceanic apathy regarding property zoning and living-standard-eviscerating tight housing markets.

And of course, all the while many macroeconomists warn about the perils of inflation and financial instability caused by rising asset (read “housing”) prices!

Do macroeconomists really wonder why voters have lost faith in economic “experts”?

As a profession, macroeconomists have failed in their in the duties, and have failed their countrymen. If Donald Trump hadn’t portrayed himself as a boor and buffoon, he would win in a landslide. He might yet win, and probably would if he could effectively tar Hillary Clinton as a “globalista.”

The 2010 film Inside Job suggests Western  macroeconomists are effectively bought off by financial elites. Maybe so, but truth is often stranger and worse than fiction.


I Googled “op-ed property zoning.” Not much came up, but what did was Paul Krugman, August 24, 2014, pointing out that high housing costs are why people are migrating from San Francisco and New York Coty to Sunbelt cities.


3 thoughts on “Tyler Cowen And Property Zoning

  1. Benjamin,
    This Wikipedia page was just put up two days ago, for YIMBY.
    They had a conference in Boulder Colorado recently, and Boulder references were the primary links I was seeing until today. Even though Boulder is a small city, it was experiencing livability problems for the middle class. Now it appears that efforts are underway in New York as well.

    • Becky–
      Thanks for the note and the links. Property zoning is well-entrenched, so we will see…..

  2. I am disappointed, Benjamin, that the monetarists seem to be afraid to embrace monetarism, the helicopter money of Friedman. We are negative as to real rates so now is the time to distribute the money. It will be on a timetable to everyone. Then it will stay in the money supply, but the distributions will not continue past 18 months, as recommended by Eric Lonergan. Monetarists also seem to be defining HM differently than Friedman and Lonergan. I wonder, specifically, if Scott Sumner just wants academic respectability or if he is a real zealous monetarist.

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