Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bob Shiller didn't kill the housing market

From Fortune:

It's noon in New Haven, and Yale economist Robert Shiller and I are leaving his office to walk down the block for pizza. It was a damp morning, but now the sun is breaking through the clouds. "Do we need an umbrella?" he asks. I say I don't think so. But a few steps outside his office, he turns around to get one. "It's better to be safe," he says.

That's Bob Shiller for you. He's a worrier. Well, more than that. He's obsessed with taming risk. And that means all kinds of risk -- from the chance of stray showers to a danger that's on everyone's mind these days: falling home prices. Shiller's name will forever be linked with the worst housing bust since the Great Depression and the economic slump it caused. He first warned of a housing bubble back in 2003 when bankers were merrily minting mortgage-backed securities. And it is the widely cited gauge he helped create -- the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index -- that has heralded, in grim monthly installments, the devastating collapse of the residential real estate market.

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