Wealth Evaporates as Gas Prices Clobber McMansions
Posted by ecoshift on June 9, 2008
Something to consider for developers betting on ever increasing HBU values in rural Humboldt…
Wealth Evaporates as Gas Prices Clobber McMansions (Update1)
By Rich Miller and Matthew Benjamin
June 9 (Bloomberg) — Sky-high gasoline prices aren’t just raising the cost of Eugene Marino’s 120-mile (193-kilometer) round-trip to his job in the Washington area. They’re reducing his wealth, too.
House prices in his rural subdivision beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charles Town, West Virginia, have plunged as commuting expenses have soared. A four-bedroom home down the street from his is listed for $239,000, after selling new for $360,000 five years ago.
Homeowners in the exurbs aren’t the only ones whose assets have taken a hit because of the surge in energy costs. Companies such as General Motors Corp. are writing off billions of dollars in plants and equipment that are no longer viable in an age of dearer oil. The destruction of wealth and capital will weigh on U.S. growth for years to come.
“Our whole economy reflects the relative costs of energy: the cars we drive, the houses we occupy, the kinds of factories we have and the equipment in them,” says Dana Johnson, chief economist at Comerica Bank in Dallas. “I’m expecting relatively large changes in all of these things.”
“At $4 per gallon gas, $125 per barrel oil and $10 per million Btu natural gas, a lot of activity becomes uneconomical,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The lifestyle of the exurban commuter may be one casualty.