But a rent/income ratio is not like a price of clothes or electronics. The latter items are (at least in US methodology) quality adjusted so that in principle one is comparing the same item over time. Is the rent being compared for the same sq ft, similarly equipped flats? Or even same flats? How are locational differences if any factored in.

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You quote Mulheirn saying that a 'fair rent' was "supposed to correspond to the rent that would apply in the absence of a scarcity of rental accommodation in the market."

Mulheirn thus seems to agree that scarcity of rental accommodation results in a higher rent, and if there was an absence of scarcity, rents would be lower. IE the subsidised 'fair rent' is equivalent to what a private renter would pay in the absence of any rent controls BUT with abundant rental accommodation.

This seems consistent with the idea that more rental accommodation would result in lower rents than would otherwise have been the case.

I agree it's odd that proponents of the 'need more supply' view don't go more gung-ho for public construction. I think their argument though is that this is much more expensive to the government budget, compared with private construction. Surely the real question here is what is the taut constraint when it comes to private construction? You argue it is to do with 'future options' and a sort of de-facto coordination, they argue it is planning.

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It seems to me that policy questions like, should land use regulations be changed to permit/encourage more housing? or should the public sector build or rent support or subsidize hosing? are better addressed by looking at the marginal costs and benefits of alternative policies, not trends. At best trends show how equilibrium prices (even if they are correctly measured, see the other comment) have evolved and might supply hypotheses for cost-benefit testing, but not conclusions.

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