Frictionless house-price momentum

DateNovember 2023
AuteurPatrick Fève and Alban Moura

Abstract. This paper establishes that frictionless, rational-expectations models driven by specific ARMA(2,1) forcing processes are consistent with equilibrium asset-price dynamics featuring momentum. To reach this result, we first document that AR(2) models ade-quately capture the cyclical dynamics found in U.S. house prices, in particular the strong positive first-order autocorrelation in their first difference. Then, we show analytically that ARMA(2,1) exogenous drivers give rise to equilibrium AR(2) asset-price dynamics in a sim-ple present-value model. Our pen-and-paper approach yields a straightforward economic interpretation of the results, emphasizing the contribution of anticipated shocks to generat-ing asset-price momentum. We document the empirical relevance of our theoretical results by estimating the model from house-price data. Our findings suggest that house-price mo-mentum does not necessarily signal irrational exuberance or strong frictions in housing markets.
JEL Codes: C32, E32, G12.
Keywords: house prices; momentum; AR(2) process; rational expectations; news shocks.

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