Eating real estate cake

Mood of the Market

Precisely 460 years before the peak inflation of the real estate bubble, in 1546, the phrase "you can’t have your cake and eat it, too" was first recorded in "The Proverbs of John Heywood," according to Gregory Titelman in the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings."

Heywood might as well have been trying to issue a 500-year early warning to his equity-gobbling countrymen when he preserved the phrase meaning that you can’t consume something, or use it up, and still possess it to enjoy.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the memo. Or maybe we did, but we blew it off. The fact is, behavioral economists have now made the simple but astute observation that humans in general and Americans in particular simply crave to have it both ways — especially when it comes to money matters.

That means we want to be able to use our home equity as a source of funds and still have the home and its equity — irrational as that may be.