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Putting a dollar figure on the decline

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank, has an analysis today about the newest S&P/Case-Shiller home price figures. He notes:

The Case-Shiller data released yesterday indicate the rate of house price decline is accelerating. The 20-city index declined 12.7 percent over the last year, while the 10-city index fell 13.6 percent. However, the annual rate of price decline over the last quarter was 24.9 percent in the 20-city index and 25.8 percent in the 10-city index. At this rate of price decline, the excesses of the housing bubble will have largely disappeared by the end of the year. At the same time, the price decline implies an incredibly rapid loss of wealth. In real terms, the rate of price decline in the 20-city index would imply a loss of almost $6 trillion in real housing wealth over the course of the year, an average of $85,000 per homeowner.

In 2004, Baker was so convinced that a bust was coming that he sold his Washington home -- which had tripled in value in seven years -- and started renting.

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