UK chancellor Rishi Sunak seems to be trying to build for himself the image of a man who is not afraid to “tell it like it is” when the situation requires it. But his actions show that he is prepared to sacrifice long-term economic development for a short-term boost for his Conservative party.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many British people to look for the first time at their homes in a new light: as a place to live, rather than simply an investment.
The lockdown has served as a time of reflection on their home’s advantages and disadvantages and perhaps a reassessment of priorities.
Before the new coronavirus pandemic, one of the main ways in which the UK’s Conservative Party boosted consumer confidence was pushing house prices up with the aid of various taxpayer-funded schemes such as Help to Buy.
But as the damage done by Covid-19 to the economy heaps pressure on the public purse, should the taxpayer still generously fund schemes that mainly serve to boost house prices and the fortunes of a few big companies and their already well-off clients?
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.
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.
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.
With the recent stock market collapse and bear market, the critics of capitalism are out in force again; shouts that capitalism is dead or that capitalism is what caused this mess are growing louder.
There are few things that are less certain right now than the path of interest rates in the UK. That’s despite the Bank of England’s attempts to reassure investors that it will not raise its key interest rate anytime soon from the record low level of 0.5%. Even when it does, it will do so in a gradual manner, the central bank says.