Radio Appearance On The Cost Of Attracting NFL Team To Town

I participated in a radio discussion yesterday regarding on public radio KSTX ‘The Source,’ hosted by David Martin Davies, on the likely cost of attracting an NFL team, to move to San Antonio.

NFL owners in the last few decades have come to expect extraordinary public subsidies for their privately owned businesses. I estimated earlier in the week that San Antonio would have to start with a $500 million-type figure to get the conversation going with Mark Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders. I think that kind of public money deserves a bit more public discussion than it’s been getting locally.

Other guests on the program included UTSA professor Heywood Sanders, ESPN Columnist and author Gregg Easterbrook, and author Neil deMause.

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Raiders of our pocketbook

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The New Yorker on Housing and Mortgage Subsidies

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James Surowiecki, The New Yorker

I can’t say there’s anything particularly new in James Surowieki’s New Yorker article on the various ways we subsidize home ownership vs. renting, but taken as a whole he provides a great starting primer and review of the arguments.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, home ownership is awesome for someeven for many – but I don’t think we talk enough about whether it’s such an unimpeachable good thing that it deserves quite so many subsidies.

We traditionally have subsidized home ownership in myriad ways.

  • A quasi-government guaranty (followed by a $800 Billion assumption of liabilities in 2008) of mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Federal FHA/VA loan programs for first-time home buyers and veterans to encourage home-purchasing with as little as a 3% down payment.
  • Mortgage-interest tax deduction ($200 Billion in foregone tax revenue).

And yet, the benefits and effects of such subsidies are questionable

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  • We do not have an appreciably higher percentage of home-owners in the US vs. other countries that lack such subsidies
  • 3% to 10% down-payment mortgages default more frequently (50% more frequently) than 20% down-payment mortgages, serving both home-buyer and bank poorly.
  • Americans tend to react to the mortgage interest subsidy by buying bigger homes, rather than saving the money.
  • The mortgage interest tax deduction is regressive, in the sense that it primarily benefits folks with incomes higher than $100,000, and a household with a larger home and mortgage benefits more than a household with a more modest home and mortgage.
  • Houses, which often constitute a high portion of household net worth, are a very illiquid investment.
  • Housing, as a sector, tends to add volatility to the economic cycle – making booms more manic and busts more depressive.

Surowiecki summarizes nicely: Given the extraordinary subsidies aimed at the sector – compared to other worthy areas of subsidy – is it all worth it?

 

Please see related posts:

What we do when we invest in a house

Housing – The Opportunities

Housing – The Risks

The New HUD Secretary encouraging home ownership, and me cringing

Book Review: Edward Conard’s Unintended Consequences

 

 

 

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