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Brendon Harre with his top 10 housing links for the beginning of 2018

Brendon Harre with his top 10 housing links for the beginning of 2018

This week's guest Top 10 is by Brendon Harre. He's an reader who lives in Canterbury and has a long interest in housing policy initiatives. He has a blog site New Zealand needs an urbanisation project.  

As always, we welcome your additions in the comment stream below or via email to

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact

See all previous Top 10s here.

1. For the last 14 years, at the end of January, New Zealand has engaged in intense housing debates. This is because January 22nd is the publication date for the annual Demographia report. This report shows which global cities have affordable housing and which ones do not.

During these years New Zealand has found itself increasingly in the unaffordable camp. Yet this year’s housing debate seems to lack the intensity of previous years. Perhaps for the following reasons;

The latest chapter of New Zealand’s housing story - that small town Tauranga’s housing affordability has become worse than big city Auckland’s, was not as angst provoking as previous reports of Auckland rapidly climbing up the list of least affordable cities?

Or perhaps the public is giving the new coalition government the benefit of the doubt, so giving the new government a chance to implement housing reforms before it passes judgement is the reason for housing issues lacking its usual political venom?

Perhaps the intellectual argument in New Zealand has been won - that most people accept restrictive land-use laws is a major cause of high house prices, there being only a few disputing intellectual holdouts?

Certainly very few members of the public supported the economists from Auckland Council recently on, when they attempted to argue that land-use restrictions were not an important factor contributing to high house prices.

The Auckland Council econometric model indicates that $240,000 of the $405,000 total change in Auckland’s (average? median?) house prices since 2007 is due to population growth. The model does not explain why population growth leads to house price increases, not more house building like successful cities elsewhere (see point 7 for more discussion of this issue).

Also the Auckland Council economists claim the Unitary Plan allows up to one million extra dwellings for the city. This is not the feasible supply of developable urban space. To be true it would require that every house in Auckland be demolished and replaced with the maximum number of dwellings the Unitary Plan allows. In fact, recent Auckland Council reports estimate Auckland’s feasible housing supply has decreased by a quarter and for intensification by a half.

2. Michael Reddell the economist who writes the Croaking Cassandra blogsite, critiques Auckland Council’s econometric model in an article titled - Land use regulations matter. Also for those of you who want a good description of Demographia’s report, Michael has written a succinct economic summation.

Source: Croaking Cassandra -based on information from the 2018 Demographia report

Hugh Pavletich is the Christchurch/New Zealand based co-author of the Demographia report. In New Zealand his public profile is fading, partly by his own choice. I think it is worth acknowledging the huge effort Hugh Pavletich has provided to raise the profile of the housing affordability issue. He has dedicated thousands of hours since 2004, when he first started publishing the ratio of median house prices to median household incomes for international cities.

3. At a global level, it is now possible to discern a housing affordability movement, which almost certainly has been influenced by Hugh Pavletich’s housing affordability ratios.

This global housing affordability movement is beginning to provide successful political and advocacy examples. There has also been an increase in academic reports on urban land-use regulations. These factors I think will increasingly influence how New Zealand responds to its own housing crisis.

Vancouver for instance has major problems with housing affordability. The latest Demographia report has Vancouver as being the third least-affordable city out of 293 metropolitan markets analysed. The pressure to improve Vancouver’s housing situation must be intense and last November the city initiated what seems like reasonably significant reforms to ease restrictions on land-use regulations

The Housing Vancouver Strategy, unveiled Thursday less than a year out from a civic election in which housing is expected to be the top issue, touches on everything from creating affordable housing and taming speculation, to expediting the approval process and combating homelessness.
Of particular interest to observers is the city’s proposal for the “transformation of low-density neighbourhoods,” which would see parts of the city zoned for single-family houses — almost 80 per cent of Vancouver’s residential land — opened up to other housing options such as townhouses and row-houses.
Gil Kelley, the city’s general manager of planning, said the new housing strategy includes “big moves” that haven’t been done before in Vancouver.
Among them is the idea of setting home production goals based on local income levels, Kelley said, “So we’re actually meeting the needs of Vancouverites, and not only for investors. That’s a big shift.”
“The underpinning here, philosophically, is to make sure that Vancouver remains a place for all people, all incomes,”

Hugh Pavletich will be particularly pleased that Vancouver aims to improve house production goals in relation to income levels - a concept he has long championed.

Housing advocacy and reforms is not just limited to Vancouver in Canada. Over in Toronto, for example, a new activist group called Housing Matters was founded in mid-2017 with a simple mission: to advocate for land use rules that would allow for more homes in more neighbourhoods. In 2018 its aim is to scale up its advocacy efforts.

4. Across the US, housing advocacy by academics, activists and politicians is gathering pace. In the north-west the progressive Sightline Institute has made a clear argument that cities can build their way to affordable housing and there is in fact a number of successful urban development strategies to choose from.

5. Further south in California, there is a State Senator - Scott Wiener whose background is in housing advocacy -Yes in my backyard type movements. Scott Wiener has a significant set of housing reforms that he is building legislative support for.

New Zealand’s new Minister for Transport, Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford has tweeted in support of Scott Wiener’s legislative package. This is interesting information as a stand alone fact. But it also demonstrates a wider point. Housing affordability advocates, academics and politicians are aware of each others contributions, in real time, due to the internet and social media and this creates a supportive environment and a kind of critical mass effect.

6. Over the summer I read a book called The Color of Law. It's a forgotten history of how the government segregated America by Richard Rothstein. This book was written from a race reconciliation perspective and provides a fascinating look (in the way that horrifying things sometimes do) at how US housing policy has been used to segregate cities.

This Bay City Beacon article argues that Scott Wiener’s proposed housing legislation is an opportunity to reverse some of that segregation.

Until 1968, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) enforced an explicit policy of racial discrimination in mortgage lending. Under redlining, one black family was all it took for the FHA to demarcate a neighborhood as “undesirable” and refuse to guarantee loans for nearby houses. It incentivized homeowners to deed-restrict the sale of houses to white families only, creating all-white neighborhoods. White families sought to expel racial minorities in their neighborhoods by threatening black families with burning crosses.
The Fair Housing Act banned explicit racial discrimination in housing like race-based deed restrictions and redlining. But it did not ban density limits which resulted in race-based housing segregation.
White homeowners were still loathe to share their schools, parks, and roads with black families, so after the Fair Housing Act, cities around the country began implementing low-density zoning in order to ensure that black families could not afford to live in their communities. Race-based rules were replaced by land use regulations mandating single-family homes, minimum setbacks, minimum lot sizes, and parking requirements.

Optimistically, there is some new evidence that integrated communities are becoming more inclusive and stable in the US.

7. I have recently written an article about the disappearance of boom towns. The guts of the article is the following quote from Yale law professor David Schleicher. Interestingly, in the US the law profession has produced some of the strongest affordable housing advocates.

Why is it hard to enter: Land Use (Pages 114 to 117 of Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stability, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 127)

Of limits on mobility, the best understood in the legal and economic literatures are land-use regulations. Before the 1970s, land-use restrictions (zoning laws, subdivision regulations, historic preservation, and so on) limited access to some towns or communities, usually rich suburbs. They did not, however, cap housing construction in entire metropolitan regions. Builders could always construct new housing, either in downtowns or on the urban fringe.
Something dramatic happened to land-use regulation in the 1970s and 1980s: it became much, much stricter. Importantly, while this phenomenon affected all types of municipalities — from urban downtowns to inner-ring suburbs to exurbs — it only occurred in particular regions of the country. In particular, coastal metropolitan regions like San Francisco, New York, and Boston restricted construction in cities, suburbs, and exurbs. Because these popular regions restricted new housing, demand for living space outpaced supply. Housing prices soared, but population growth did not.
In contrast to these coastal regions, Southern and Southwestern metropolitan areas like Houston, Phoenix, and Atlanta continued to impose minimal land-use restrictions. Though demand to live in these regions grew as well, this demand led to increased housing construction and population, rather than substantially higher housing prices.
Because the most restrictive regions tend to be the nation’s richest, their lethargic population growth has reduced levels of wealth in the United States as a whole. As previously described, Hsieh and Moretti estimate that GDP would be 8.9% higher if land-use restrictions were reduced in three restrictive regions: Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and New York. And once again, because barriers to mobility reduce the capture of information spillovers, land-use restrictions may indirectly impede growth as well.
Land-use restrictions also contribute to economic inequality. Because these restrictions raise the cost of housing, they disproportionately prevent poor and working-class people from taking advantage of high-wage job markets. Housing costs eat up a larger percentage of a poor person’s paycheck than that of a wealthy person. Thus, even in a city that can provide marginally higher wages, low-income persons simply may not be able to afford the cost of living in rich, land-use-restricted areas. While nominal incomes for janitors in New York are much higher than in poor states in the Deep South, real incomes, factoring in housing costs, are lower. As a result, restrictive land-use rules have meant that poor and middle-class people have little incentive to move to places where higher incomes are available. Therefore, these restrictions reduce labor income at the bottom of the income distribution….
This is no small effect. Thomas Piketty famously argued that increasing returns to capital relative to economic growth are a major driver of economic inequality. But Matthew Rognile and others have found that nearly all of the increased returns to capital in Piketty’s work came from housing capital: “The long-term increase in capital’s net share of income in large developed countries has consisted entirely of housing.” This is a stark and important finding: Piketty’s result about capital is almost exclusively about real estate. Why? The most important reason is land-use restrictions.

8. Also in the United State’s North East another set of academics have authored an excellent academic review debunking housing supply skeptic arguments. A trio of US female professors -Vicki Been, Ingrid Gould, Ellen Katherine O’Regan from the NYU Furman Center, NYU Wagner School and NYU School of Law, produced a report titled - Supply Skepticism: Housing Supply and Affordability.

Also Professor Vicki Been is extensively quoted in this New York Times article.

the expectation that homeowners should be able to reach beyond their property lines has become deeply embedded.

Urban planning rules around zoning and land-use being the main method that these expectations have grown (although private sector housing development covenants is another method). These rules were often created with the best of intentions, to assist residents to be more invested in their community, but now urban land-use regulations are so extensive they have come at a cost, in the form of unaffordable housing, poor residential mobility and limited access to urban amenities such as employment and business opportunities.

9. To me the failure to share opportunity and wealth with newcomers makes me think the American Dream is struggling to deliver. This is a serious loss which may be contributing to the radicalisation of politics and to the rise of populist movements such as Donald Trump and Brexit.

Certainly in the UK, Brexit has added to the intensity of housing debate. Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change has linked Brexit with the UK housing crisis in a recent video presented by Tony Blair, while podcasts and reports from the Institute have called for housing reforms to be introduced. These include land value taxation, rezoning -up, out & in, creating a sovereign property fund to directly finance an affordable housing programme, investing in rapid transit networks and renewing the renters social contract.

Last year the Conservative UK Chancellor (Finance Minister) Phillip Hammond in a budget speech threatened to compulsory purchase land to build 300,000 homes a year. This caused the shares of Britain’s main urban land bankers and housebuilders to fall 3% during his half-hour speech.

The nine housebuilders in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 hold 615,152 housing plots in their landbank, according to financial disclosures. This is four times the total number of homes built in Britain in the past year. Source; The Guardian, Dec 2015

At the local level in London, a ‘Yes in my Backyard’ organisation has formed with the purpose of finding a culturally acceptable formula for removing restrictions on building affordable homes. London Yimby have a well researched report detailing their proposals, titled - Yes in my Backyard, How to end the crisis, boost the economy and win more votes.

London Yimbys' main proposal is that individual streets, given a two-thirds majority, should have the automatic right to negotiate themselves the ability to upzone, up to 5–6 stories high, or perhaps an additional 2–3 stories above existing structures, whichever is lower. The resulting street development needing to adhere to a uniform building style also negotiated at the street level.

London Yimby are active on social media. Often using photos to make their point.

10. Ultimately, like in the past, it is political will that is needed to break the regulatory logjam. The Financial Times has written that New Zealand’s new government’s “proposals to tackle the homeless crisis could make the nation a global test case”.

Around the world progressive housing policy work is making advances and a head of steam is developing. Where the policy implementing steam will be successfully released cannot be predicted. But the pressure is such that housing reforms are inevitable.

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Brendon is optimistic. Around the world housing policy is evolving but can we label it 'progressive' - it still smells of experts deciding what the poor will have to endure. We look back in horror at American housing colour bars while steadily evolving our own segregation in Auckland with many suburbs no longer being a mix of rich and poor and middle class.
Hope I am wrong and Brendon's optimism is right.

Indeed, Since 1998, Auckland has and continues to self re-arrange itself into distinct ethnoburbs while its distinct blended homogeniety has become a thing of the past

'Break the regulatory logjam' - if the bureaucrats lose and the logjam is broken I bet it will be developers who win not home-owners. The former have the resources and contacts to push their agenda. Remember who pushed the idea that structural timber didn't have to be water resistant leading to our leaky home debacle - it wasn't home owners.

Lapun around the world, the strongest advocates calling for reform of restrictive land-use regulations, are representing those who are being excluded from the housing market, not those who are rigging the market.

Lapun, it is unfortunate that so many people jump to the conclusions that "developers" are behind this or that policy proposal.

Consider the three sectors with interests in reform:

1) Renters, young people and all future home buyers
2) Owners of urban land (from big investors to individual home owners) - and owners of greenfields likely to be rezoned urban in future
3) Developers

What role do developers play? They buy land and build homes on it and sell them to households. Why might they want reforms? They all compete with each other whether the land is expensive or cheap, they have to pass on the costs in the finished housing. Expensive land rather than cheap land makes their business higher-risk, and traps them between a rock and a hard place, with having to out-bid each other for scarce sites (especially greenfields where the vendors know full well they have been given a monopoly by the Planners) and yet they still have to sell houses that are not totally priced off the market.

In fact they are inclined to oppose reform because of their short-term interests, a collapse in the value of their current sites in progress would bankrupt them. They are hostages to the racket, actually.

Why is it so hard for people to see where the real problematic "vested interests" are in this? How much does the price of urban land inflate when growth boundary policies are enacted? LSE economists have been tracking the effect of the UK's Town and Country Planning Act 1947, and find that land prices are at least 100 TIMES (not 100 percent, 100 TIMES) more expensive than median multiple 3 cities in the USA with no planning constraints and at the high end (London) the land is 900 TIMES more expensive than it could be.

Do you think big property investors among the one percent, are as rich as they are in spite of being too stupid to work out which side their bread is buttered on when it comes to "save the planet" Urban Planning? Guess why the first big conference and Study on the evils of "sprawl", in 1974, was a Rockefeller initiative. And guess why every second "study" even today, is funded by either them or Soros. It is nothing to do with ridiculous Agenda-21 "global takeover" conspiracies, these people are simply the world's biggest property investors acting in their own interests.

So have another think about "blaming developers" for anything, and wake up to who is making the real big money at the public's expense, in return for exactly nothing, no provision of goods or services that anyone wants, no jobs provided for anyone, no actual housing provided, on the contrary, chronic shortages created through market distortions.

I'll admit to saying 'developers' without thought. Your idea that they prefer things not to change otherwise it is hard for them to plan returns on investment make sense. In general I agree with you and Brendon but suspect the devil is in the detail. There are good reasons to have some restrictions and very bad reasons for others. My concern is that when they get down to the details (say for example how high can a neighbour build adjacent to a school and does it make a difference if it is on the north or south?) then only those with stamina will stay the course. That means city planners (their salary) and land owners and dedicated politicians who will be responding to their electorate. I do have a layman's interest in the subject but I will never get as involved as Brendon. And how many neutrals are there like Brendon and are they financed to attend council sessions where these regulations are debated?

The problem is the debate is so adversarial. I would imagine most homeowners want to see the housing supply expanded and more afforadable houses built. However the costs of being on the wrong side of development are huge. A six story apartment building obscuring views and blocking the sun wil have a big impact on a family's quality of life and finances. Reassurance and compromise might ease the resistance.

So maybe BS you would support LondonYimby street by street intensification concept -where the street agrees?

Or my neighbouring pair idea where both neighbours agree?

This allows the property owners concerned to make a decision for/against trading views/sun etc for the right to build more floor space.

Yeah it would suck but that is just part of living in a big city isn't it?
Also I don't see why it would adversely impact finances? If your land can be developed into a six story apartment block, it has to be more valuable than as a single house, doesn't it?

Great links Brendon, particularly the link to Michael Reddell's critique.The RNZ link in the comments oh his critique is something much of the public never gets to experience through their beloved media sources.

Michael Reddell in the comment stream part of his "Land use regulations matter" article
acknowledged that he hadn't factored in the information from my Downsizing Auckland's Unitary Plan article.

Michael stating if he had, he would have been less diplomatic towards the Auckland Council economists than I was when I called them disingenuous.

I think anyone who understands econometrics and driver analysis would understand that this research is not particularly robust. No disrespect to the economists, but the conclusions raise more questions than answers.

.. I failed to see mention of the hysterically low interest rates worldwide , which are fuelling bubbles in unproductive assets such as houses , art works , and cryptocurrencies ...

Our Reserve Bank has failed us utterly ... crushing interest rates , and making $ million dollar houses in Orc Land the average , not the aberration ...

... scrap the useless Reverse Bank ... hopeless bunch of nut-bars ...

What, you mean low interest rates cause to people to waste capital on unproductive things? Surely not, I mean, that would mean that productivity would go down and the nation would be poorer and more indebted. Oh, wait a minute...

... that's an awesome chart , when you click on the total housing debt in NZ ... $ 246 Billion ...

And then scroll down to the debt counter ... watching it endlessly climb could be my hot sunny day past-time ... with a big bag of Gummies ... yummmmm ...

Gummy isn't the low interest rates fueling bubbles in assets with fixed supply? And thereby indirectly fuelling bubbles in unproductive assets?

Edward Glaesers urban economic research has led to that conclusion.

"During the 2000s, Glaeser's empirical research has offered a distinctive explanation for the increase in housing prices in many parts of the United States over the past several decades. Unlike many pundits and commentators, who attribute skyrocketing housing prices to a housing bubble created by Alan Greenspan's monetary policies, Glaeser pointed out that the increase in housing prices was not uniform throughout the country (Glaeser and Gyourko 2002).[19]

Glaeser and Gyourko (2002) argued that while the price of housing was significantly higher than construction costs in Boston, Massachusetts and San Francisco and California, in most of the United States, the price of housing remained "close to the marginal, physical costs of new construction." They argued that dramatic differences in price of housing versus construction costs occurred in places where permits for new buildings[20] had become difficult to obtain (since the 1970s). Compounded with strict zoning laws the supply of new housing in these cities was seriously disrupted. Real estate markets were thus unable to accommodate increases in demand, and housing prices skyrocketed. Glaeser also points to the experience of states such as Arizona and Texas, which experienced tremendous growth in demand for real estate during the same period but, because of looser regulations and the comparative ease of obtaining new building permits, did not witness abnormal increases in housing prices."

My guess is that it is the money that causes the price rises, and the supply constraints provide the mechanism. So, more money, in fact lots more money, results in either lots more houses or in lots more expensive houses. The money comes with new residents, directly from overseas investors or via the Aussie banks (which is what the housing debt bubble shows).

Roger I could go along with money/debt being the cause and supply constraints being the mechanism. But also remember that in the US urban areas (tending to be inner city areas) that were deprived of debt (redlining) by segregating housing lending/insuring practices from the 1930s to late 1960s, led to a lot of hardship and inequality. It also created a very distorted urban form -where new housing development for the white middle class in car centric single family home suburbia was subsidised at the expense of other housing options and racial/income groups.

I'm a businessman Brendon, I just look at who gains most. The current policy settings clearly favour a range of special interest groups, including existing house owners, the political and bureaucrat classes, and the bankers. The money flow is to the bankers. We have a country which has adopted the business of wealth transfer over the business of producing goods and services for sale. Sad really, even if it is comical a lot of the time.

The bureaucrat class are in many ways the most culpable, as they have routinely advocated various forms of Central Planning (funny that, it's all they know or can imagine) of which the RBNZ is a prime example. They gain great collective power when we all depend on their decisions, and there is a sort of ritual kow towing to them that should not be underestimated. Gosplan lives on. Seriously, the thinking behind Gosplan is alive and well and living here in New Zealand.

All fair points Roger.

I only recently read about Mitt Romney's father -George. Nixon appointed him to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. George had a reforming zeal about how housing could reverse the hardships that previous government racially segregated housing policies had created. Unfortunately George Romney, Nixon and the Republican party did not manage the politics of George's housing proposals well and so they failed. And now 50 years later in many US cities they are still grappling with the same problems....

Check out what Wikipedia has to say about George Romney

"Romney, filled with moral passion, wanted to address the widening economic and geographic gulf between whites and blacks by moving blacks out of inner-city ghettos into suburbs. Romney proposed an open housing scheme to facilitate desegregation, dubbed "Open Communities";

Massive jobs losses in USA , may have had an affect.

Would the US have less job migration overseas (and more boomtowns/inward migration) if housing costs were less?

Check out this video

It will be interesting if that predatory banking system gets investigated further in Scotland Andrew. You would hope with so much damage to the small business sector it would warrant further investigation and some sort of legal action.

Brendon - Ray Dalio does a good youtube clip that explains the effect of printing money/debt etc on asset prices..takes about 30min to watch but certainly worth a look if you haven't seen it before.

Ann Pettifor makes a similar argument that the UK housing crisis is about the flow of money.
What is not taken into account with these financial explanations of the housing crisis is the geographic/ spatial economic dimensions of the problem.

So for instance in London;
"These accounts only ever talk about flows of money into cities, not of people. You would never know that from 2006 to 2016 London added nearly 1m jobs, 1.15m people but only 280,000 homes. The discourse has become 'financialised', to its detriment."

The housing crisis is a tax on labour market mobility. In London, for instance the creators of the 1m jobs and the new workers are not fully benefiting from their efforts because they are paying higher wages and accepting lower standards of living because restricted housing supply drives up housing costs.

In other words property owners who do nothing to create economic growth get the benefit at the expense of businesses and workers who have put in the hard yards.

To solve this problem -what is needed is the ability to build more houses at lower costs. Not new taxes (or tax cuts).

An argument could be made though that if reforms to remove housing supply restrictions are too politically difficult, then immigration into cities should be be cut back as far as possible..... But does that just lead to Brexit, Trump etc?

Phil Twyford is a breath of fresh air. Let's hope he can make some progress.
I'm sure National wouldn't have admitted that we have these problems: "not enough public housing, inadequate transit, archaic tenancy laws, and out of control property speculation"

Yes, I think he is an open communicator, prepared to take a risk discussing problem issues.
E.g. opening up the foreign buyer issue despite the political risk, even before being elected.
Maybe PM material one day ?

.. no chance of Phil Twyford ever becoming PM ...

Jacinda is producing an heir to the throne as we speak ...

.. we could be alike North Korea ... with a benevolent dictator , and their sprogs... except that unlike the DRNK our leader's heir's hairs will not suffer from anti-gravity follicly bizarre syndrome ...

In the 1970s local councils would develop areas/ land with cheap sections and encourage small cheap houses to be developed for low to middle income families. Now it’s a no-no to have new lower income suburbs.
The trouble is now all new sections are high priced 250 - 600 k then developers or family self builds are expensive large houses to justify the high section prices. The minimum new build is $750k upwards, so no new cheaper housing entering the market.
Soon even the low income low desirable suburbs will become gentrified - then where will the poor live?

Part of NZ's apparently forgotten housing history, wherein supply efforts such as these also benefited the wider community through helping massive shortages of housing from driving house prices up out of reach.

Whereas in the last few years pushing houses out of the reach of Kiwis has been hailed as a good thing.

Can you buy a section for less than $150k with no covenant, so you can build a small shell, & slowly finish it off while living in it? That was many families starting out story.

No, not even relatively affordable 'Greater Christchurch' where it might be possible to buy a building plot around the various satellite towns for about $150k, but almost certainly these affordable sections are part of a development with quite explicit covenants, which prevent people from building a small shell and slowly finishing it off while living in it.

Sections were big enough then that could add a Skyline or similar garage at a later time as well. Section sizes now would preclude that even with a smaller house. Pity, as I think driving your car into your house is daft.

9. ...share opportunity and wealth with newcomers....

I'd rather "newcomers" provided more opportunities and shared their wealth with me. That's how it has been sold until recently. Wouldn't sharing your own wealth result in you having less wealth? Somehow I don't think this would would be a good campaign slogan.

Phillip Hammond in a budget speech threatened to compulsory purchase land to build 300,000 homes a year.

Right, too many quaint villages and too many bucolic country landscapes in Britain. Pave them all over and let YIMBYs build six story high slums.

As for quoting Tony Blair, for crying out loud. The man who enabled Bush's invasion of Iraq under false pretences. The nicely spoken young Englishman who Bush used to convince the people of America that it was justified. The ultimate useful idiot.

Tony Blair probably was a useful idiot wrt invading Iraq, but he has some very clever people in his Institute and there report is well argued -especially when discussing the political will issue. Also these land-use arguments do not stand or fall on one person. It is a very broad based movement with Tony Blair being minor and non central figure.

If they want to be successful they should dump Blair. He is one of the most hated men in Britain, possibly the World.

Zachary what is the name for a society that restricts the opportunity to get wealthy to one favoured group of people?

If the favoured group was your own people then that society would be called sensible. The first sentence is not very clear:
To me the failure to share opportunity and wealth with newcomers makes me think the American Dream is struggling to deliver.

What is meant by "newcomers"?

Especially unclear when you ponder the second sentence:

This is a serious loss which may be contributing to the radicalisation of politics and to the rise of populist movements such as Donald Trump and Brexit.

Are the newcomers the up and coming generations?

Sharing work (opportunity) with cheaper immigrants so that remuneration is lower could promote populism. Sharing benefits (wealth)with immigrants so that there is less to go around could promote populism. Is this what is meant?
In a globalist world with high migrant flows it is asking a bit much for people to freely share their wealth. A popular notion amongst politicians was that immigrants would pay people's pensions. Immigrants are not people you share wealth with so much as people you use to generate more wealth.

Boomers should share wealth with their immediate family. It's quite popular now to try and spend it all on fancy holidays and cars and leave nothing behind. This, I believe, could contribute toward radicalism. There is a deep and growing feeling that the Boomers never gave any thought to their legacy. It's as if the legacy of a diverse world was enough however if the next generations see the middle classes decimated there will be hell to pay if they sense that their legacy has been squandered. Possibly similar to the feelings that many of the children and grandchildren of Middle Eastern immigrants have in Europe right now. A disenfranchised feeling, a feeling of rootlessness and loss, of not belonging.

Well I must say that is some rambling without any tangible meaning. And the irony is that it is in response to the subjects of immigration, Trump, and Brexit: key barroom banter subjects on a global scale.

By newcomers I mean the next generation and I mean people who migrate to a city for the opportunities that cities bring. So for instance if the US had been more inclusive in adapting to the great Black migration last century of 6m Blacks leaving southern rural areas for more northern cities then much of the land-use/housing problems in US cities would not exist.

Note this does not make me a cheerleader for the govt policy of facilitating mass immigration of foreigners to NZ in response to a mass emigration of kiwis away from NZ. I think we should be looking at why so many kiwis are leaving NZ and addressing that end of the equation.

Why for instance have kiwis stopped migrating to Auckland -incomes are higher in the city than elsewhere in NZ. Why instead are kiwis migrating to Australia -to Brisbane for instance (Queensland is the Aussie with the most kiwis).

Thanks Brendon

Finally, some mention of the Demographia report on

Here is a report, co-authored in NZ, that is acknowledged by Govts, academics and regulatory institutions worldwide as providing an accurate measure of comparative affordability between different jurisdictions, and yet ignored by many in NZ, maybe because it is a little too close to home, a little too close to exposing a system that makes a return by holding a monopolistic advantage over others.

Best to ignore the Demographia report as in trying to defend their indefensible position, the absurdity of the present system is only further highlighted.

Or of course you can try to redefine words so something that was once unaffordable is now magically affordable.

Thus the only benefit any alternative affordability report has is to redefine the meaning of 'affordability' to reinforce the present status quo.

To add David Schleicher sees zoning/restrictive land-use regulations as an impediment to labour market mobility and fixing that would be much more beneficial to the economy than tax cuts.
The Washington Post on the 25th wrote about that here
And there is a longer 40 min Q&A podcast + transcript here

A conversation about how public transport really works

That's a great link Andrew. Jarrett Walker is a real expert on spatial economics of transit. His recent battles with Elon Musk is story well worth knowing about.

On twitter the link to FT/alphaville was described as
"Nobody has a new idea about how to use urban space efficiently. What we’re hearing mostly are ideas about how the elite can use a lot of urban space in a way that makes them feel better about themselves, which is not at all a solution". -@humantransit

For some reason FT would let me in via the twitter link but not go directly.

Anyway if you like that sort of spatial economic argument -check this out.

There is a great description of the potential impact Scott Wiener's bill has for LA here