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Housing doom loop

This discussion between Patrick O’Shaughnessy and Marc Andreessen is a great follow-up to my recent post about the productization of housing. Broadly speaking it’s about tech, software eating everything, and the future of the world. But if you skip to around the 15 minute mark, Marc talks about the growing divide in our economy between sectors that are changing rapidly and sectors that are changing slowly.

Examples of the former include things like computers, media, retail, cars, and a lot of the other stuff that we regular consume. Examples of the latter include things like healthcare, education, and housing (you know, the pillars of the American Dream).

The noteworthy problem with this divide is that the fast changing sectors are producing things that have been getting more affordable over time. The specific example that he gives is televisions. Think about how much more TV you can get today compared to when they were first introduced.

In contrast to this, things in the slow changing sectors keep getting more expensive. The same university education is exponentially more expensive today than it was a few decades ago, even though it’s far more important for people to have an education than to own TVs.

A similar thing can be said about housing. How much has really changed in terms of the way we build new homes?

One of the common threads across these slow change sectors, Marc argues, is strong government intervention. We restrict supply such that we can’t meet demand. We then respond to higher prices by trying to subsidize demand, but this only drives prices up even further. Because, at the end of the day, we haven’t addressed the underlying issue.

The result is a doom loop.

If you can’t see the embedded podcast above, click here.

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