Three heavy duty economists look at the U.S. housing market in the Wall Street Journal.

Hmmm, can you look at how many risky mortgages are in an area to predict the magnitude of price declines in a weak market? Where would you get that data?

For instance, in Los Angeles during the real estate declines of the early 1990s, neighborhoods that had large concentrations of ARMs in 1990 suffered some of the biggest declines between 1990 and 1995. Interestingly, these same sub-markets saw the smallest increase in use of ARMs and other aggressive instruments between 1990 and 1995, which suggests that ARM funding reacts relatively quickly to feared deterioration in market conditions, contributing to further market deterioration.

Another author doesn’t buy that idea.

One of the authors is down on Phoenix.

However, some markets are clearly in trouble (South Florida, Phoenix, Las Vegas and, to a lesser extent, California). Condominiums are facing much more difficulty than single-family homes.

While another author points to the Northeast, LA and San Francisco as areas with highly elevated prices and where the economic outlook is weaker than average.

Wonk alert! Good links to reference material. Check out the comments.