In a recent video explainer, CNBC’s Juhohn Lee argued that economists were “widely against the [policy] idea” of rent control due to its impacts on housing supply. Lee arrived at this conclusion, which makes for quite the comforting headline to CNBC’s core audience, after speaking to three prominent “experts” on the subject.
The problem? Each of these three either represents or is closely tied to corporate landlord lobbying groups and Wall Street – facts that Lee failed to include in his video.
But Wilson Géno isn’t the only conflicted source in CNBC’s story. Next is Jay Parsons, chief economist at property management software company RealPage.
Parsons argues that rent control stifles overall rental housing supply, citing a 2012 University of Chicago survey of economists who opposed local rent control ordinances in New York and San Francisco. There are two major issues with Parsons’ citing of the UChicago survey, as Rutgers economist Mark Paul has noted: it asks about things rent control is not intended to do on its own (such as increase supply), and relies on outdated theoretical thinking that runs counter to more recent empirical evidence (new studies on rent control from the University of Southern California, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California-Los Angeles have cast massive doubt on the housing industry’s claims that the policy stifles supply or hurts renters). Economists should consider updating their priors on rent control in light of new, empirical evidence – as they similarly did on raising the minimum wage only a few decades ago.