Doesn’t real estate capital really contribute to inequality?

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

In a response to Capital in the twenty-first century, Odran Bonnet, Pierre-Henri Bono, Guillaume Chapelle and Etienne Wasmer (2014) attempt to show that the book’s conclusions regarding an explosion in wealth inequality are “not plausible”. The authors point out an inconsistency in Thomas Piketty’s thesis: the model of capital accumulation is implicitly a model of the accumulation of productive capital, which is inconsistent with the decision to include real estate capital at its market value in measuring capital. If valued correctly, the ratio of capital to income would have remained stable in France, Britain, the United States and Canada, which contradicts the thesis of Piketty’s work. Continue reading “Doesn’t real estate capital really contribute to inequality?”

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Rental housing: the CAE wants to change the ALUR …

By Pierre Madec and Henri Sterdyniak

On October 24th, the French Economic Analysis Council (the CAE) published a paper proposing a new policy on rental housing in France. This paper calls into question a number of government measures in the ALUR bill currently under discussion in Parliament, such as rent control and the universal rent guarantee (the GUL) [1]. Are these criticisms justified? The authors acknowledge that the housing market is very specific, that it requires regulation, and that the state needs to build social housing and assist poor families with housing. Their differences with the policy that the current government intends to follow are thus intrinsically limited, and are more related to means than ends. The free market does not work in the area of housing. There is a need for public intervention that should aim, as we shall see, at contradictory objectives, programmes whose structure is by their very nature subject to discussion. Continue reading “Rental housing: the CAE wants to change the ALUR …”

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Rent control: will the ALUR law be sufficient?

By Sabine Le Bayon, Pierre Madec and Christine Rifflart

On 10 September 2013, Parliament began discussing the bill on “Access to housing and urban renovation [“Accès au Logement et un Urbanisme Rénové” – ALUR]. This legislation will result in stepped-up state intervention in the private rental market and complements the government decree that took effect in summer 2012 on rent control in high-pressure areas. This was an initial step in the government’s effort to curb the increase in housing costs being faced by renters. [1] Continue reading “Rent control: will the ALUR law be sufficient?”

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Roofs or ceilings?

by Philippe Weil

The bill to promote access to housing and urban renovation provides for regulating rents “mainly in urban areas where there is a strong imbalance between housing supply and demand and where rents have experienced the steepest increase in recent years”. Rents that exceed the median rent, set by neighbourhood and housing type, by more than 20% “will be targeted for a reduction”. The purpose of the cap is of course laudable, as it is “designed to combat the housing crisis, which for many years has been characterized by a sharp increase in prices, housing shortages and a decline in consumer purchasing power”. The road to hell is, alas, paved with good intentions, as today’s ceilings often destroy tomorrow’s roofs Continue reading “Roofs or ceilings?”

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Housing and the city: the new challenges

By Sabine Le Bayon, Sandrine Levasseur and Christine Rifflart

The residential real estate market is a market like no other. Since access to housing is a right and since inequalities in housing are increasing, the role of government is crucial to better regulate how the market functions. France has a large stock of social housing. Should it be expanded further? Should it have a regulatory role in the overall functioning of the housing market? Should our neighbours’ systems of social housing, in particular the Dutch and British systems, be taken as models? Continue reading “Housing and the city: the new challenges”

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