You can only introduce so much perversity into an economic system before distortions cripple it. From 2001 through 2005, consumer spending and residential construction had together accounted for 90 percent of the total growth in GDP, while over two-fifths of all private sector jobs created since 2001 were in housing-related sectors, such as construction, real estate and mortgage brokering. Much of the money spent did not really exist except as credit — incomes as yet unearned, hallucinated liquidity, wished-for wealth, all based on the expectation that house values would continue to rise at 10 to 20 percent a year forever.
Pretty depressing, but very interesting, especially in the comments about how the economic / energy crisis links to an American cultural mythic pattern:
This housing bubble economy represented, holistically speaking, the wish to maintain a sense of normality in American life, under conditions of disintegrating normality, and it is no symbolic accident that it centered on the images of hearth and home, because fundamental comforts were what many Americans actually stand to lose in a reality-based future.