Your House Is Worth Less? Good

We're happier when prices are going up but healthier when they're going down

Illustration for TIME by Brian Stauffer

The last time we had this feeling of financial vertigo was when the Internet bubble popped seven years ago. But this is much worse: the value of our homes is collapsing. For generations, rising home prices have been central to our general sense of well-being.

So why is the real estate collapse a good thing? First, because the collapse of any financial bubble can be interpreted as a morality play: greed gets its comeuppance. Subprime mortgages play the role that used to be played by junk bonds. They represent easy money--too easy, in retrospect. Borrowed money, if it gets out of...

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