Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Michael Hudson estimates US land-rent: "In Hudson's judgment, based on the most exhaustive analysis of the federal government's national income records, 'land-rent of real estate alone represents a quarter of national income, even without taking into account the returns assignable to land and natural resources from other land-based industries.'"

"Many real estate investors do operate on the margin of solvency. They do so out of choice, however, in the pursuit of "making a killing" out of capital gains. They mortgage their properties to the hilt by using other peoples' money rather than their own. To the extent that the low net earnings of real estate in the national income statistics makes sense, then, it is by showing the degree to which real estate investors have been willing to turn over most of rental income to mortgage creditors as "interest." The strategy is to ride the wave of increasing land values and to "cash out" by selling their properties for more than they paid.

"The tax laws tempt real estate holders to use as little of their own money as possible -- that is, to borrow as much as they can -- by allowing them to deduct interest charges as an operating expense. Homeowners also enjoy this privilege. The effect has been to buoy up prices, by enabling buyers to carry a larger mortgage after taking into account the tax savings. Creditors provide an expanding pyramid or mortgage credit to bid up real estate prices."

"Reflecting the symbiosis that has developed between the real estate sector and the financial and insurance sectors since World War II, most rental income now ends up neither in the hands of developers nor those of the tax authorities. Rather, it takes the form of interest paid to banks, S&Ls, insurance companies, real estate trusts (REITs) and money market funds."

No comments: