The price growth of an “asset” into which investors everywhere around the globe have poured billions since the financial crisis has slowed dramatically, and this should worry policymakers.
Housing markets in certain developed economies are beginning to lose steam, prompting worries that house prices might see corrections, especially in countries where they had been overheating.
This year, the UK government must come up with solutions to the main crises that eat away at some ordinary Britons’ well-being. One of these is the housing crisis, which continues unabated despite the billions of pounds thrown at the problem.
As the major central banks are slowly retreating from their policy of asset purchases, we will probably witness some of the side effects of this withdrawal.
Warren Buffett famously said that “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” The tide is going out only slowly, but we are beginning to see, at least in the UK, the damage the ultra loose monetary policy has done.
The Bank of England will publish its inflation report next Thursday, and this time it will get even more attention than usual.
Brexit is being felt in prices more and more now, with the cost of grocery bills jumping and prices for essentials going up. The phenomenon of “shrinkflation” is in full swing as well; many products are mysteriously losing weight, but maintain their price.
No matter how much it would like to help (or to meet its inflation target), the Bank of England cannot do anything to prevent prices from rising. In fact, to be more accurate, it could, but it will not. The central bank could raise interest rates, stopping the pound’s depreciation — but if it does this, the housing market would crash.
One of the main complaints of some of the “Leave” voters was that Britain is a “small island” and it is “full up.” Immigration “puts pressure” on local services such as hospitals and schools, but, most importantly, on local housing.
Even Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary, said immigration was putting pressure on the housing sector.
Intriguingly, however, it seems the kind of foreigner whom the UK government welcomes is the foreigner who buys homes but never lives in them – the foreign investor.
It’s unclear when it all started, but it has reached the point where it would make the biggest banker of all times, John Pierpont Morgan, turn in his grave.
Ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget set to be published on March 16, there is a lot of speculation that he may announce other measures to cool down the buy-to-let property market. I don’t think he will need to: the market will cool down pretty rapidly once the regulatory changes that are coming for banks are understood by buyers. Admittedly, that will take a while. This article is for those who want to stay ahead of the game.
The issue of the runaway Swedish housing price bubble has been well known for a while, and the problem just keeps growing bigger. At this point, however, any attempt to tackle it could make things worse.
If you’re curious to see where the seeds of the next financial crisis are in Europe, take a look at what’s happening in the real estate sector.