One of my favourite reads is The Republic of East Vancouver. I pulled a couple of excerpts from it that are vaguely pertinent. Emphasis is mine.
The first is in regards to speculator-held CONdo's in the downtown (Coal Harbour) and the homeless. I don't draw the same lines between them, but it is interesting thought anyhow - especially the reported vacancy rate.
Appearances aren’t always deceiving
A source informs The Republic that the occupancy rate in all those new condo towers blocking the view along Coal Harbour is around 18%. Those who bought them are the offshore class who own similar prestige homes around the world to which they pay occasional visits as their elite whims dictate. They don’t bother with the dirty commerce of renting out their homes when they’re not using them.
Add up all the vacant homes in that one sector of the city alone. The number comes coincidentally close to the estimated number of true-to-life Vancouver citizens who are forced to live on the street due to lack of rentable homes.
It’s not a question of supply, it’s a question of distribution. Of course no one would suggest for a minute that the homeless be housed in the vacated condos of Coal Harbour. That would be an affront to entrenched and untouchable concepts of property rights. But we would have a quandary explaining ourselves to future anthropologists, who are going to find the strangely discordant phenomena of many unused living spaces alongside evidence of many people not living in spaces at all. link
Regarding phenomena (in the same edition) - This is actually an essay about GW Bush, but the ideas can be applied further to the recent RE phenomenon that has swept the globe, and the nay-sayers that have been warning of the situation, and those that blithely repeat the mantra that "real estate only increases in value", "this time it's different", etc.
I guess I just like to make connections in my purview from out here on Pluto.
In his metaphysics, Kant made a distinction between two types of reality that he referred to as “phenomena” and “noumena” in the plural, and “phenomenon” and “noumenon” in the singular. A “phenomenon” is an object as it’s perceived by our senses and our thoughts, but our senses and thoughts are very limited. For example, unlike bats, humans don’t navigate with sonar, and unlike sharks we can’t perceive electrical fields. Similarly, people with average intellects are often blind to things that are obvious to the intellectually gifted. We can use education and technology to overcome some of our perceptual limitations, but even the greatest minds using the finest technology can only perceive the tiniest fraction of the world’s unfathomable complexity. Kant used the term “noumena” to refer to the realm beyond the reach of perception and cognition. If the word “phenomena” refers to things as they appear, then “noumena” refers to things as they are.
Now I wouldn't say that those who perceive this market as beyond reason are necessarily "intellectually gifted", but we can say that on average, the preponderance of the populace is blind to the obvious.
We don’t know much
Because noumena are beyond our perceptual and intellectual grasp, whatever value judgements we make about things are necessarily judgements about phenomena. Since phenomena convey only the most simplified, superficial, and often contradictory information about reality, our judgements are always lacking: it’s impossible to understand the ocean by tasting a teaspoon of seawater. The rational response to this predicament is to withhold value judgements whenever possible, and when judgements have to be made, to recognize that they’re provisional, partial, and very possibly wrong. The realization that phenomena are only the shadows of noumena, that whatever we perceive is only a mask concealing an endless mystery, nurtures the development of an attitude of intellectual humility and reverence. link
The Republic is an erudite read. Sometimes one needs to read around the politics, but it is always thought-provoking.