Research Discussion Paper – RDP 2004-08 Housing Construction Cycles and Interest Rates Abstract

Housing investment is one of the most cyclical components of GDP. Much of that cyclicality stems from the sector's sensitivity to interest rates, but it is also possible that construction lags generate intrinsic cyclicality in this sector. Although the housing sector is generally considered to be more interest-sensitive than the economy as a whole, the degree of this sensitivity seems to vary between countries and through time. In this paper, we model the housing markets in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada using a structural three-stage least-squares system. We document the variations in the housing sector's cyclicality and sensitivity to movements in interest rates, and attempt to determine the underlying causes of these differences.

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