The Housing Bubble, Mortgage Debt As Percent Of GDP

via Bill McBride
Last year on Presidents’ Day, I excerpted from a post I wrote in February 2005 (yes, 13 years ago). In that 2005 post, I included a graph of household mortgage debt as a percent of GDP. Several readers asked if I could update the graph.
First, from 2005:

The following chart shows household mortgage debt as a % of GDP. Although mortgage debt has been increasing for years, the last four years have seen a tremendous increase in debt. Last year alone mortgage debt increased close to $800 Billion – almost 7% of GDP.

The second graph shows household mortgage debt as a percent of GDP through Q4 2017. Yes, the graphs have improved! Mortgage debt has declined by $0.7 trillion from the peak. Studies suggest most of the decline in debt has been because of foreclosures (or short sales), but some of the decline is from homeowners paying down debt (sometimes so they can refinance at better rates). The “bubble” is pretty obvious on this graph, and the sharp increase in mortgage debt was one of the warning signs.

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