Why did the United States experience a housing and mortgage market boom and bust in the 2000s, while analogous Canadian markets were relatively stable? Both US and Canadian markets are replete with government interventions. In this paper, I account for the US and Canada’s different experiences by arguing that government interventions are not created equal. Some government interventions prevent market participants from pursuing actions that ex ante are reckoned beneficial. Alternatively, other interventions lead to the pursuit of actions that turn out to be costly ex post. It is the latter type that we expect to manifest in crises. The US case is one where government interventions in the mortgage markets led to actions that appeared ex ante beneficial but were revealed to be costly ex post. Alternatively, Canada’s mortgage market was and remains essentially a regulated oligopoly. Regulatory capture makes for a sclerotic market that likely imposes costs on Canadian borrowers in the forms of limited financing options and higher interest rates. However, this sclerosis also lends itself to stability. This market structure made the Canadian mortgage market relatively insusceptible to a bubble.
I thank participants at the 2014 Wirth Institute Workshop on Austrian Economics at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, for constructive discussions of an earlier draft; in particular, Robert Mulligan who provided helpful comments as a discussant of the paper.
Young, A. (2016), "Canadian versus US Mortgage Markets: A Comparative Study from an Austrian Perspective", Studies in Austrian Macroeconomics (Advances in Austrian Economics, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 195-210. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-213420160000020009Download as .RIS
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