Wilkinson points his finger:
If you ask me, the ultimate culprit in the financial crisis was the American cult of homeownership. There are many ways to help poorer Americans accumulate wealth, such as channeling payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts. But we don't do that. Instead, because we consider it a humiliating indignity not to have a room or ten of our own, we subsidise home-buying six ways to Sunday and tell banks they won't have to suffer the downside of loans offered to bad credit risks. I think it's safe to say that this hasn't turned out to be the best scheme for helping poorer Americans into the ownership class.
Chart via Daniel Indiviglio:
This is a pretty fascinating picture. First, it shows just how incredibly absurd the housing boom was. Beginning in the 1940s, inflation-adjusted homes prices have settled around the 110 value according to the Case-Shiller index. Yet, the index value exceeded 200 in 2006. Prices began a descent when housing collapsed, but as of May the index remained well above the natural value of 110.
Eyeing the chart, the value looks to have hit around 147 in May. For it to drop back down to 110, home prices would have to decline another 25%. That's still a pretty long way to fall.