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The Anatomy of a Housing Bubble

Working paper #502
Grace Wong

The Hong Kong residential housing market index (CentaCity Index) experienced a real increase of 50 percent from 1995 to 1997, followed by a real decrease of 57 percent from 1997 to 2002. Using a panel data set of over 200 large-scale housing complexes (estates), increases in transaction volume and considerable cross-sectional variation in the size of price upswings are documented. Movements in fundamentals cannot fully justify the dramatic price upswing, the changes in turnover rate or the cross-sectional variation. The non-fundamental price component is explored. Evidence consistent with overconfidence-generated speculation is provided, based on the model in Scheinkman & Xiong (2003), which predicts both a cross-sectional variation in the speculative price component, and co-movements in turnover rates.

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