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.
As if we didn’t know already, last week we got another reminder of the economic disaster that Brexit is shaping up to be: Retail sales weakened in the UK, as price rises eat into consumers’ purchasing power.
The Bank of England has reason to pat itself on the back. During the financial crisis of 2007-2009, things could have taken a very ugly turn if it hadn’t cut interest rates to record lows and hadn’t started printing money.
A statement from Halifax shares the “good” news: home prices paid by first-time buyers are the highest ever.
In the first half of this year, first-time buyers paid on average £207,693 for a home, the highest price on record. This is 4% higher than a year ago, and 50% higher than five years ago.
The Brexit vote must be manna from heaven for those seeking to hide their illicit gains in London. Busy with all their posturing and negotiations, politicians will have no time to curtail the criminals’ activities.
Among the analysts and politicians criticising the single European currency, perhaps the most numerous (and vocal) come from Britain.
This should be no surprise: the UK itself is a currency union, and those working within it should know a thing or two about why such a regime does not really work.
Many people hope that the UK Prime Minister’s rhetoric calling for a fairer society means she will address what is by far the biggest inequality in today’s Britain: the housing crisis. But a recent speech, in which she outlined her plan for Brexit, seems to indicate that she is unwilling to really tackle the issue.
Perhaps in no other European country is the obsession with homeownership so entrenched as in Britain. The ambition to “get on the property ladder” underpins almost every young person’s dreams, pushing young people to make sacrifices to save for a deposit and then take on a big mortgage just to be able to say they own, rather than rent, their home.
But do they, in fact, own it? Increasingly, property ownership is becoming an illusion that makes people part with cash they can ill afford to spend.