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Land Booms, Capital Stretch-Out, And Banking Collapse

By       Message Mason Gaffney     Permalink
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9.   Asking prices for land lagged demand for land.

a.   On the upswing, buyers got bargains with a free joyride up the price elevator.   Until 1834, legitimate buyer-users were the majority.   They gained both from building, and the rise of land prices.   After 1834, speculation took over completely.

b.   On the downswing, sellers held out for much more than buyers would pay, turnover dropped nearly to zero.   Here is where "a page of history is worth a volume of theory."   In theory, buyers and sellers have the same information and expectations.   In history, sellers hold out when demand falls, and sales virtually stop.   Hoyt documents this through five full cycles, 1833-1933, and you can see it in southern California today.

10.   The amplitude of land price swings was truly extreme: a 60-fold rise, 1830-36.

The amplitude of all cycles related to land (prices, sales, subdivision, building permits) far exceeded, by orders of magnitude, the amplitude of swings in other economic data (production, commodity prices, income, etc.).   Ordinary life must go on, even in the blackest depression.   Speculation is what stops.

11.   Building lagged behind population growth.

a.   In 1834 there were ten persons per d.u.

b.   In 1840 there were many empty buildings.   Buildings could not be "unbuilt," or otherwise liquidated, when people had fled.

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12.   Land values drew in capital:

a.   From outside buyers, some of whom moved to town.

b.   From lenders, who took it as collateral.

-- Loans to the State, or its Canal Co., taking their lands as collateral.   This occurred in 1835 especially.   The State had a vast land grant, as the Railroads did later.   In 1835, the State Legislature pledged the lands for a loan.

-- Loans to private land buyers.

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c.   From payees who held bank notes issued by Chicago banks, and held elsewhere. [20]

High land values induced builders to build higher, and more intensively, to match the land value.   They built with borrowed money, secured in part by land value.

13.   Banks monetize rise in Chicago and other Illinois land values.

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Mason Gaffney first read Henry George when a high school junior , and became notorious among his classmates for preaching LVT to them . H e served in the S.W. Pacific during W.W. II, where he observed the results of land monopoly in The (more...)

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