Get on Your Bike and Buy a House... or Two

For many, buying a home is the single largest purchase they will ever make-and the single largest investment, since they expect house prices to outperform other investments. So a housing market collapse-even without the added complication of toxic mortgages repackaged as securities-will take a heavy toll on any economy.

According to Standard & Poor's, in 2006, Americans cashed out or borrowed around $650 billion against the value of their homes, encouraging consumers to live beyond their means. B

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