From The Seattle PI: "Of the 682 properties currently on the market in Seattle, 238—or almost 35 percent—are listed for $1 million or more, according to data from Seattle-based real estate firm Redfin."
How are we supposed to read this information? How do we explain it? Is this Amazon's doing, plain and simple? Certainly the booming economy has played a part in these rising prices, and certainly another part can be explained by the conventional principles of scarcity. But those explanations, though seemingly sensible, have an explanatory power that is limited to an economy that's not distorted, expanded, or warped by the prime-mover of our age: finance.
Similarly, an explanation of the economy that begins with the idea that money is neutral—that it only represents a transaction, a movement from one hand to another, a solution to barter's one big problem: a lack of a double coincidence of wants—will produce policies that, despite their diversity and technical sophistication, solve almost next to nothing for those who are daily crushed and displaced by ever-rising housing prices. But this is how it is meant be. It is no accident that Seattle is being screwed into this tight political situation. A housing economics that does not see in money a clear window of the value of things and services breaks the implicit continuity that makes much of market-oriented urbanism politically feasible.
When the Vancouver BC-based urban planner Andy Yan noticed the sudden rash of million-dollar homes in Metro Vancouver's housing market ("homes valued over $1 million rose from 28 per cent to 43 per cent in 2016" alone), he concluded...
[...that] it’s likely a convergence and combination of constrained supply for single family detached housing, low interest loans, property speculation, and global capital with a sprinkle of trying to secure adequate family-oriented housing for many households with children.Here in Seattle, those who direct policy or have the ears of those who direct policy refuse to recognize any other reading of the housing crisis than that which does not begin and die with "constrained supply." Finance is something that happens way over there in Manhattan or The City or Shanghai. There, it's all cocaine and champagne bubbles. Here, we can still find a chicken in our boiling pot of commerce.