Fascinating back and forth in last night’s discussion of what Causation actually is.

I want to respond broadly to some of the advocates who still seem to be missing the concept of Proximate Cause. We can substitute all sorts of things in the general statement “The housing boom and bust was caused by ____” — but only if you don’t care about things like proximity or statistical validity.

Indeed, if I were to ignore the hard data and focus on the squishy narrative, I end up with tracing the blame to one simple source: MTV Cribs.

The series showcased the huge, luxurious homes of the rich and famous in music, film, and sports. It was watched by young, easily influenced kids who would soon be out on their own, buying Cribs that they themselves could not afford.

Even worse, MTV Cribs was imitated by lots of other property porn shows on HGTV (Designed to Sell, House Hunters, Dream House, Extreme Homes) or TLC (Trading Spaces), or the Discovery channel.

But it all traces back to Cribs . . .

<Sarcasm Mode Off>

Category: Philosophy, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

27 Responses to “The Housing Crash Was Caused by MTV Cribs”

  1. grimreaper says:

    How ’bout Robin Leach and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?”

    Love the site, man. You’ve penned some of the pithiest stuff of all in the last couple of years.

  2. jnkowens says:

    IMO it traces even further back than that to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

  3. Chad says:

    Yep, if MTV would have just kept showing videos like it’s name says it does all would be right with the world, and I might still watch MTV every now and then. I’m sure Bill Clinton caused this change in programing some how.

  4. Moe says:

    I’ll go one further

    “The Beverly Hillbillies” – South Dakota is buried in Beverly Hillbillie wannabes right now.

  5. budhak0n says:

    Nah. It traces back to where all the major recent catastrophes of the past decade originate.

    Poor Parenting.

    Believe it or not, not everyone didn’t understand that MTV was and still is total garbage.

  6. nofoulsontheplayground says:

    Similarly, Pimp My Ride caused GM and Chrysler to roll into bankruptcy.

    Occupy MTV!

  7. lalaland says:

    I blame it all on that douchebag Bob Villa.

  8. efrltd says:

    Nothing like tossing some ex post, ergo propter hoc example in. Too bad it doesn’t prove your point.

  9. VennData says:


    You want to prove the CRA “caused something?” …I didn’t think so.

    You missed the joke too. I guess it’s too close to ….wait for it… home.

  10. BennyProfane says:

    As always, I blame rap music.

  11. HarleyHoward says:

    Proximate cause? Greed & no morals or ethics and no consequences!

  12. tagyoureit says:

    Un-Broke, yo! BOOM!, math all over yo face! And this couch (not to brag), is also a bed!

  13. Moe says:

    ex post, ergo propter hoc …do you know the Latin for “sarcasm”??

  14. Dylan says:

    Spot on!

  15. Bill in SF says:

    In a bit of reverse causality, we can now conclude that the financial meltdown disproves the theory of evolution.
    Oh, wait, perhaps we can find an eager historian to blame it on a typo at the publisher’s house. He really meant to infer; “Survival of the Fattest”.

  16. nofoulsontheplayground says:

    (A) Jackass caused the downfall of MF Global.

    Occupy MTV!

  17. nofoulsontheplayground says:

    Beavis and Butthead are responsible for a decade of disasterous Federal Reserve policies.

    Occupy MTV!

  18. Lyle says:

    I contend its Flip this House and its clones showing people making a killing on speculating in real estate.

  19. JerseyCynic says:

    so you remove my sarcastic (and very insightful I thought) comment about ‘constipation’ — I mean causation… from the discussion last night, but you leave the link to tosh’s jesus dog butt link up? I noticed you also took down the comment from someone about you being in the 1%

    I sense a bit of sarcasm here, even though you explicitly state that there will be none…

    I don’t get it

    another causation post!? are you serious?

    way to keep the distraction going Mr. Ritholtz

    just Keep that Big Lie going viral…

    So long,

    and thanks for all the fish.

  20. VennData says:


    BR is now part of “The Big Lie.” ROFL …mind you, the CRA is NOT part of “The Big Lie” ROFLMAO.

    I propose we license commenters. The GOAL: No Drinking and Commenting.

  21. mtl32581 says:

    May I suggest that the Boston Red Sox were responsible for both the Great Depression and our current economic malaise. Think about it. Sox win 1918 – 12 years later, BOOM – depression. Fast foward 86 years without a credit crisis. They win in 2004 and again in 2007 – BOOM – Great Recession 2008.

    In order to make sure there is never a credit crisis ever again, we need to remove baseball from Boston. Write your Respresentatives!

  22. woodhenge says:

    Bloomberg, Gingrich and anyone who wants to have power in the republican party are playing by the rules of their party. Simple facts about who was in power or what caused the financial meltdown is at crosscurrents to the party message and political ambitions will be the casualty.

    See Bruce Bartlett, Chuck Hagel, David Stockman, Richard Lugar, former Senator Danforth,etc. Anyone who is not on message is not a true republican. That is the one fact that matters to anyone who wants power in the republican party. I suspect this means there will be no independent run from Bloomberg.

  23. gkm says:

    Actually it DOES all trace to a lady in California who quit her job and put all her life savings into remodeling a house to flip it as was profiled on one of those flip this shows. That’s the exact moment the shit hit the fan on the engine of a 747.

  24. theexpertisin says:

    Let”s take it back to lack of any shint of financial education in the public schools.

    Not the students…the teachers.

  25. JerseyCynic says:


    “I propose we license commenters. The GOAL: No Drinking and Commenting.”

    Really? That’s all you’ve got?

    L’esprit de l’escalier

    Message received.

    I’ll go back down to the reception room; now, where is that punch bowl…

    (glancing at staircase)