By Erwan Quintin, Assistant Professor of Real Estate at the Wisconsin School of Business
The Real Estate Department's Housing-Urban-Labor-Macro (HULM) conference took place this weekend at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The conference, a bi-annual event founded three years ago by my colleague Morris A. Davis, brings together individuals who are pushing the frontier in all aspects of real estate research. It is now recognized in academic circles as one of the premier events in urban and housing finance research.
As one would expect, much of the event focused once again on the causes and consequences of the recent housing crisis. No fewer than three competing explanations were proposed for the run-up of home prices until mid-2006 and their sharp collapse thereafter: the unintended consequences of the toughening of personal bankruptcy statutes in 2005, the role of speculators on the way up and the way down, and plain-old herd behavior. A session -- highlighted by presentations by UW's own Randy Wright and Morris Davis -- discussed the impact of inflation on housing investment and prices. Several papers also took on standard themes in urban research: Why do productivity and wages differs so much across cities? What accounts for patterns of trade across cities? Details and papers are here.
A unique aspect of this event is the collaboration it fosters between academic researchers who study optimal policy responses to various real estate events and the very people who implement these policy responses, including not only Federal Reserve economists but also researchers from government-sponsored agencies (GSA). The next installment of the conference will take place at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in March 2012.