Homes are the most local of investments, rooted to a particular place like a tree, and thus thriving or withering in response to local economic conditions. The whole world flashes by on our television screens, but the market for our homes, which is comprised almost entirely of local amateurs, remains grounded right there in our own backyard.
Soon, however, this could all change. Within a month, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), in collaboration with my company, MacroMarkets, as well as Fiserv and Standard & Poor’s, will launch futures and options contracts on home prices in ten cities in the United States. The contracts will be settled on the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which developed out of academic work that my colleague Karl Case and I pioneered almost twenty years ago. For many years we have been campaigning for housing futures, but no exchange wanted to use such indices to create a futures market until now.