Zimbabwe Ben Visits My Landlord on the First of Each Month
Here I thought I was doing the responsible thing by renting. You know, skipped over the whole home-debtor craze of my early twenties because, well, I really couldn't afford it. I could afford it on paper according to the several bankers I ran it by but knew in my head (not being a mathlete) that there was no way I would be able to wing a kid, a new car, a home in the Bay Area and all the required trinkets that come with said home in the Bay Area. Thank God I was somehow smart enough at that point to say no thank you, it meant a clean break from my unhealthy relationship (not so easy when both your names are on the loan) and a whole lot less worrying down the road.
Fast-forward 5 or 6 years and I now live in the 3rd highest rental market in the country, after NY and SF. I left California to get a break from sales taxes, fines and fees (OK, mostly the Parking Gestapo) and the ridiculous rents. I quickly discovered that Washington, DC was no better and, in fact, resembled dot-com era San Francisco circa 1999. The gentrified former 'hoods, the strange specialty boutiques, the damn dog bakeries, strolling down U Street today is like shuffling through the Mission in 1999. I don't need to tell you, dear reader, how that turned out for San Francisco.
But wait, there's more! How about a little inflation to go with that monthly rent check?
For all the attention given to almost $4-a-gallon gas, the biggest threat to containing U.S. inflation may be the shift away from homeownership, which is pushing up the cost of leases across the nation’s 38 million rented residences.
Shelter represents about 40 percent of the consumer price index excluding food and energy and accounted for almost one quarter of the 1.3 percentage point rise in April. That share has grown as falling home prices shake Americans’ confidence in housing as an investment.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his colleagues say they will hold interest rates at record lows for an “extended period,” based on an assessment that slack in the economy from 9 percent unemployment will help subdue core inflation and any threat of accelerating prices likely will be “transitory.” Not everyone agrees with that judgment.
“They should have looked at rents,” said Maury Harris, chief U.S. economist in New York at UBS Securities LLC, whose team at UBS was the most accurate inflation forecaster over 2009 and 2010, according to Bloomberg calculations. “They’re putting too much weight on the ‘slack is all that matters’ theory. It matters but, for heaven’s sake, it’s not all that matters.”
Maury sounds like he could use an F bomb or two. Go ahead, Maury, say it. "It matters but FOR FUCK'S SAKE YOU ASSHOLES, it's not ALL that matters!"
Now doesn't that feel better?