Monday, 8 October 2018

Ten years on: the housing crisis, who's to blame and whether we've learnt from 2008

Ten years ago, gaming the housing system gave us the financial crash - which meant those playing the game were particularly badly effected, including local authorities:
Futures Forum: UK public finance: councils building a credit bubble  >>> In October 2008, UK councils lost heavily from speculative investments. Could this happen again?

There is now talk of easing the pain of the past ten years: 
Futures Forum: Ending austerity > and allowing councils to borrow more to build more housing

The question, though, is whether we're going to make exactly the same mistakes.

Over the weekend on Radio 4, the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a 'blow by blow account' of the days around the attempts to stabilise the financial system:
BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, The Bailout

And the Foundation for Economic Education, the free market think tank, gave its version of why we ended up with such a mess:
But perhaps we haven't really learnt very much: 

UK housing market is a bubble with Help to Buy pushing up prices, warns bank strategist


The UK housing market is a “bubble on a bubble” – and property prices, reported this morning to average over £302,000, are over-valued by around 12%.

The ‘bubble’ warning comes from Societe General global strategist Albert Edwards, who says the bubble has been inflated by a decade of loose monetary policy and, in particular, Help to Buy.

Edwards said: “What you are doing is lending them [buyers of new-build homes] more money backed by the taxpayer to push up house prices even more.”

He said that while US house prices had corrected back to normal levels after the financial crisis of ten years ago, the UK housing market had become a “bubble on top of the previous bubble”.

He said that the housing bubble could burst in the next recession, which he believes would also wipe 80% off the value of equities and herald a new “ice age”.

Edwards, who works for the French bank in London, said that it was a damaging myth that it is a lack of supply that is causing the UK housing crisis.

He blamed the “free money” of Quantitative Easing and Help to Buy, which he told yesterday’s Telegraph had been implemented under “that moron” George Osborne.

Edwards said: “There’s a lot of stock there that could just be dumped on to the market. Nothing engenders selling more than falling prices.

Under Help to Buy, purchasers of new-build homes need put down only a 5% deposit, but can take out a 20% government loan to bring the total deposit to 25%. They are not charged fees on the loan for the first five years, but must then start paying interest. When the home is sold, the Government will reclaim its 20% stake plus a share of any increase in value.

Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund says that house prices in some of the world’s largest economies, including the UK, could be over-valued by as much as 12%, and separately this morning the Daily Telegraph’s front page story was a call to cut Stamp Duty “to end our housing disgrace”.

Boris Johnson said Theresa May should cut “absurdly high” Stamp Duty and abandon affordable housing targets that developers currently have to meet.


1 comment:

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