First quarter 2019 is over! The yield curve has inverted, the economy looks like it’s slowing down but hey, the markets have recovered swiftly from last December’s sharp drop. So who knows what’s going to happen?

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Why happiness is easy to venerate, hard to generate (The Undercover Economist)

Tim Harford highlights the biggest problem for social justice warriors and all the positive thinking people. It’s one thing to come up with a nice-sounding, politically-correct paradigm that you can hardly find anyone to disagree with. However, it’s another thing to actually produce scientifically reproducible results to justify the claim. Read the article for some points made about Bhutan’s oft-lauded ideal of Gross National Happiness.

THAT TIME A VIDEO GAME HAD AN ECONOMY ALMOST AS STRONG AS RUSSIA (Today I Found Out)

Another one for the annals of obscure research turned important. Who knew that virtual worlds could be a useful way to model how economies in the real world work?

Is home ownership for everyone? (Property Soul)

Great read because it challenges the commonly-held assumption that home ownership is a must.

The Singapore Government loves to sell this line of thinking but you must remember that the original thinking behind this idea is that home ownership gives a sense of belonging and therefore ties people to the country for a longer period of time. No doubt, this is important for nation-building but remember that’s good for the government. What’s good for the government is not necessarily good for you.

Home ownership has its pros in that that you are not subject to the mercy of landlords when housing is in short supply and that since, in the long-run, home prices tend to increase, you’ll be relatively protected from an increase in rents over time. Furthermore, homes are an asset that can be monetised (think: home-equity loans, reverse mortgages etc.),

However, home ownership comes with some costs as well. The biggest one would be the opportunity cost of not being exposed to other asset classes. By paying for a house, your main asset class resides in the housing market. In Singapore, most people use their CPF monies to pay for housing, which means that you give up the opportunity to compound at interest that CPF pays you. It also means that you have to be prepared to monetise your house in the event you need to cash out. Buying too much house also means having the albatross of a mortgage hanging around your neck for a good two decades or so.

The article doesn’t cover all the pros and cons but it’s a good start to bust the myth that home ownership is a must for everyone. In fact, some people take it too far by buying too much house.

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