Every year I get a little jittery around this time as the anniversary of the events of 9/11 approach. Memories get re-hashed and reviewed, followed by sadness and disbelief, but then followed by amazement at the perseverance.
For me personally, the thought that some nut will do something stupid to get attention on each subsequent anniversary date is always a worry. Last year on the 4th anniversary, I remember thinking that the 5th anniversary (this year) was the biggie. And sure enough, a major plot was discovered and foiled.
I generally don’t read about 9/11 anymore. Its not that I want to forget or am avoiding it, but rather I have been filled to the brim with stories over the past 5 years about the events and directly from people who experienced a loss.
However, New York Magazine does a really good job in this week’s issue, asking the question: What if 9/11 didn’t happen? where they ask different people for their take. Its a refreshing counterhistory piece.
Each year, I have been asked countless times by various media to provide stats on the performance of the housing market (which admittedly grated me) and every year the market seemed to show resiliancy and strength (coupled with low mortgage payments).
However, for the first time, I was asked to discuss the real estate market as if 9/11 never happened, which sort of threw me for a loop since I had never thought about 9/11 in this context before. It was incredibly hard to filter out all the emotion and tragedy and simply answer their question.
Basically, I attributed the latest housing boom to the sharp drop in mortgage rates shortly after 9/11. And I don’t just mean New York. Of course, this is not to imply that the phenomenon was a good thing in any way shape or form. I’d trade the housing boom to turn back the clock. But of course, there is no going back and the world keeps on turning.
On a far less materialistic level, whole concept of what was, and what will never be can be pretty sobering.
Phew, this is kind of heavy. Its time for a vacation.
UPDATE: Jonathan Miller On 9/11: It’s the Housing Boom, Stupid [NYO]
Tags: New York Observer
For the real estate market, I think 9/11 is just starting to hurt us now. We were in recession when the planes hit, and the businesses that temporarily relocated came back. Much to my surprise at the time, the disaster merely accelerated job losses rather than creating them.
But now, our economic growth is about to be constrained by the lack of office space, with big companies priced out of Class A and entreprenuers priced out of Class B. Scarce and expensive housing may have been the greater restriction on growth, but office space scarcity may take over that role if the housing bubble deflates.
Tough question to answer Jonathan and you do the best job anyone could expect. You’re a class act. If I had to guess, which is obviously all I can do here, I would suspect that the current housing boom would have likely run out of steam and cooled much sooner if 9/11 hadn’t occurred. I watched the market stagnate for a very short 4-5 weeks before it picked up more steam than it had in August 2001. It wasn’t long before prices surpassed pre 9/11 values and the rest is history. What a remarkably resilient city (and country) that we live in!
If 9/11 didn’t happen, the Iraq war never would have happened and the single largest engine of growth in our economy would never have happened.
Instead, the fallout of the dot-com crash would have crippled the NYC economy for the past five years.
The wealth and prosperity enjoyed by the city at this time is a direct result of 9/11. Those who lost their lives in that tragedy, indirectly, were sacrified for the rest of us.