Tag Archives: Analysis

Housing: Why U.S. Homes Are So Expensive (CNBC)

Prices for the American dream home have skyrocketed. The U.S. housing market has been an unlikely beneficiary from Covid-19. The pandemic encouraged city dwellers to move to the suburbs as families looked for home offices and bigger yards.

Segments: 00:00 – Why the U.S. is facing a housing shortage (May 2021) 12:37 – How suburban sprawl shapes the U.S. economy (February 2022) 25:49 – How did rent become so unaffordable in the U.S. (December 2021) 34:46 – Is the U.S. in a housing bubble? (September 2021)

“Everybody expected housing to really sort of dry up with the rest of the economy,” said National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard. “And in fact, the opposite has happened. People who have been sort of scared out of the cities by the pandemic.”

With homeowners unwilling to sell, a record low supply of homes for sale has forced buyers into intense bidding wars. According to the National Association of Realtors, the U.S. has under built its housing needs by at least 5.5 million units over the past 20 years. That’s a stark comparison to the previous housing bubble in 2008 when overbuilding was the issue. Higher costs for land, labor and building materials including lumber have also impacted homebuilders.

However, according to most experts, the market is shaping up to look more like a boom rather than a bubble. “We say bubble because we can’t believe how much prices have gone up,” CNBC real estate correspondent Diana Olick said. “A bubble tends to be something that’s inflated that could burst at any minute and change and that’s not really the case here.” And America’s suburbs are sprawling again.

Over the 20th century, real estate developers built large tracts of single-family homes outside of major cities. The builders were following mortgage underwriting standards first introduced by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s. Over the century, those guidelines created housing market conditions that explicitly shut out many minorities. Experts say it is possible to update these old building codes to create equity while fixing some, but not all of the problems of American suburbia.

In 2021, single family housing starts rose to 1.123 million, the highest since 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders, however, options for prospective homebuyers remain lean. Experts say the problems of America’s housing market relate to past policy decisions. In particular, they say restrictive zoning codes are limiting housing supply.

Political Review: Russia’s ‘Rotten Army’, Macron’s Challenge, Culture Wars

A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, how rotten is Russia’s armyFrance’s re-elected president prepares for a tough second term (10:30) and a struggle over artistic freedom suggests a better way out of the culture wars (15:25). 

Political Views: China Gets It Wrong, Ukraine Stakes, Crypto Utopias

A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, what is China getting wrong? Also, why the world should stand up to Putin (10:43). And, crypto and web3: libertarian dream, or socialist Utopia? (18:27).

Political Views: Emmanuel Macron’s Future, Russian War Crimes, Headset Wars

A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, why Emmanuel Macron’s fate matters beyond Francewar crimes in Ukraine (11:05) and we explore the new headset wars between tech firms (16:05).

Analysis: Ukraine Victory Importance, Anti-Media In China, Social Influencers

A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, why a Ukrainian victory would transform the security of Europe, a terrible plane crash prompts a revealing anti-media backlash in China (11:20) and the serious business of social influencers (18:30).

Analysis: Drinking Water – Is The World Drying Up?

Only 0.3 percent of the Earth’s total water supply is suitable for human consumption. Ominously, this precious resource is beginning to shrink. Natural water reservoirs are drying up due to climate change.

Glaciologist Daniel Farinotti surveys melting glaciers in the Swiss Alps. If glaciers continue to melt at the current rate, he says, there will be no ice left by the end of the century. The disappearance of glacial meltwater would have fatal consequences. From the heights of the Swiss Alpine glaciers, the documentary travels down to the seafloor, off the coast of Malta. Here, the crew of the German expedition ship “Sonne” wants to track down mysterious freshwater deposits in the Mediterranean.

Next up is Peru where, in a bid to counteract the threat of water shortages, work is underway on projects that use ancient Incan methods.

Retail: Rise Of Unwanted Goods Liquidation (CNBC)

A record number of online returns has created a booming $644 billion liquidation market. As supply chain backlogs cause shortages of new goods and Gen Z shoppers demand more sustainable retail options, pain points for one sector of retail are big business for another. The nation’s only major public liquidator, Liquidity Services, resells unclaimed mail, items left at TSA checkpoints, and outdated military vehicles. It also refurbishes highly sought after electronics, from noise-canceling headphones to the machines that make microchips.

CNBC takes you on an exclusive tour inside a Liquidity Services returns warehouse outside Dallas, Texas, where unwanted goods from Amazon and Target are stacked to the ceiling before being resold on Liquidation.com or a variety of other marketplaces. Inside Liquidity Services’ 130,000-square-foot warehouse in Garland, Texas, the aisles aren’t lined with typical merchandise. Instead, they’re stacked with returns from Amazon, Target, Sony, Home Depot, Wayfair and more, all in the process of being liquidated.

Analysis: World Financial Markets Risks, Chinese Ideology, Spinal Implants

A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, what would happen if financial markets crashed? We also profile China’s thinker-in-chief (11:25) and explore how new spinal implants allow the paralysed to walk, swim and cycle again (18:45).

Affordable Housing: Is Modular The Answer?

Cities around the world are facing an affordable housing shortage – and the Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened the crisis. A 2021 report revealed 88 out of 92 major cities are considered unaffordable. The least affordable of them is Hong Kong, where the median house price is more than 20 times the annual median household income.  

But there is a potential solution that is garnering attention: factory-built homes. These houses – also known as modular homes – are constructed in controlled conditions and can take just a week or two to build.   

“We can build 27 Top Hat homes for every one brick and mortar traditionally built house,’ said Jordan Rosenhaus, who is the CEO of modular housing factory, TopHat.  “So, over the next week, we’ll finish approximately 10 houses, that’s just our production program for now. That can ramp up”.

So can this innovation solve the housing crisis? Watch the video above to learn more.