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Why Can't You Afford a Home?

Why Can't You Afford a Home?

Josh Ryan-Collins

ISBN: 978-1-509-52329-0

Aug 2018, Polity

140 pages


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Throughout the western world, a whole generation is being priced out of the housing market. While wages and incomes continue to stagnate for the majority, house prices and rents remain staggeringly high. For millions of people, particularly millennials, the basic goal of acquiring decent, affordable accommodation is a distant dream.

In this compelling book, leading economist Josh-Ryan Collins argues that to understand this crisis, we must examine a crucial paradox at the heart of modern capitalism. Two of the key ingredients of contemporary capitalist societies, private home ownership and a lightly regulated commercial banking system, are not mutually compatible. Their interaction leads to a ‘doom loop’ in which unlimited credit and money flows into an inherently finite supply of viable property, resulting in ever higher house prices. The result is declining levels of home ownership, rising inequality and debt, stagnant growth and financial instability. The only way out of this vicious circle is to radically rethink how we structure our tax and financial systems and accept that home ownership may not always be the solution.

This engaging and topical book will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why they can’t find an affordable home, and what we can do about it.

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  • Contents
  • Chapter 1
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 2
  • Land, Home-Ownership and the Problem of Economic Rent
  • Chapter 3
  • The Housing-Finance Feedback Cycle and the Deregulation of Finance
  • Chapter 4
  • How and Why Economic Policy Went Astray
  • Chapter 5
  • Breaking the Housing-Finance Feedback Cycle
  • Chapter 6
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
‘In this excellent book, Josh Ryan-Collins shows that unaffordable housing is not part of nature, and how a number of countries have broken what the author aptly calls the housing-financial cycle, by de-linking land pricing from mortgage-debt pyramiding.’
Michael Hudson, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

‘Why can't you afford to buy a home? It's not because of too many smashed avocadoes, or too little land, but too much bank lending. Josh Ryan-Collins clearly explains how bank lending for speculation has made housing inaccessible, and how to tame the beast of finance.’
Steve Keen, University of Kingston, author of Debunking Economics