The title of this post is an old cowboy folk tune that rings pleasantly nostalgic… a stark contrast to what I am actually going to lament.
2008’s economic implosion was identified months ahead by savvy analysts who knew the olympic housing boom was unsustainable. Unfortunately, people caught up in the event had banked on it lasting just a bit longer… and the Last Ones Holding lost as always.
And so today in the US we have markets flooded with severely devalued houses that act as a drain on the economy. What triggered me to talk about it today was this short article referencing a study that found many Americans wanting to relocate. Not surprisingly, the cities targeted for abandonment are those in devastated local economies: Detriot, Cleveland, et al.
The CNN article appeared to be nothing more than daily filler because there was no analysis of why the respondents wanted to move. This piece went into much more detail, but reveals that the researchers did not bother asking anyone why they wanted to move because “it was a no brainer”.
I think that disqualifies the survey as scientific.
What hampers mobility is ironically the same thing that is now creating the desire: a sinkhole economy. Wanting to leave a depressed area for a better one can be little more than a pipedream if the means are not there. Another irony is how a value collapse in one region can contribute to a new rise in another– a local news report recently revealed how some housing prices around Dallas (identified as the most stable market in early 2008) have suddenly jumped a bit as demand rises. Dallas-area houses lost the least value last year so there was not as much to make up anyway.
The one exception to my pessimism above is San Diego, which ranked high on the desireability scale in the relocation survey but is at the same time suffering a significant decrease in housing values. If the right jobs are plentiful then that combination creates a perfect storm of opportunity for people interested in moving… with the caveat that some may be abandoning residences that are difficult to sell.
At the extreme end of the scale are those now or soon to be homeless. Somehow I doubt many of them were surveyed. Funding for shelters is falling, driving out those who are homeless for reasons unrelated to the economy (drug dependency, etc) and placing them in competition with newly-dispossessed home owners. Some economists decry comparisons to the Great Depression but such talk is becoming increasingly valid due to indicators such as this. With business and government both failing in their obligations, the only viable emergency solution is for churches and similar organizations to step up charitable efforts. I can only hope this manifests.
In the song I am referencing the writer points out that there “never is heard a discouraging word” in the idyllic home on the range. I’m looking forward to the day that I am once again that optimistic. It won’t be organizations that renew my faith, however, but the collective acts of individuals. So… what are we going to do about homelessness?