Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Get Ready! Been waiting for two years now!

Get ready for the next phase of the house price crash

This could be it....Stepek is right, Goverments cannot keep propping up the market with gurantees that investors in gilts see no austere plans ahead!

Posted by magnaman @ 10:58 AM (3627 views)
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49 thoughts on “Get Ready! Been waiting for two years now!

  • mark wadsworth says:

    Hmmm, let’s hope so.

    However, given the government’s success in keeping the bubble inflated over the past two years, it’s going to take “the markets” a long time to get back to normal in the teeth of a concerted Home-Owner-Ist economic policy – for example, they have made it nigh impossible to repossess hallowed homeowners; they (I shall consider both Labour & The Tories to be “them” for these purposes, I fail to see any bog differences) can cut Council Tax, reintroduce MIRAS, give bungs to FTBs, declare the whole country a National Park or Conservation Area, offer tax breaks and subsidies to landlords, all of these things are seriously being considered etc etc.

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  • Mark, I would say it is more of a debt-ist economy designed to keep minions on their treadmills. Houses are the only thing that the massess are obsessed with and prepared to go into 25 years of debt for. Many other investments offer the same or even better returns than houses, but ‘the public’ does not understand, but what is worse is that they do not understand that they do not understand.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Estrader, “Home-Owner-Ism” has many nefarious aims (including keeping people on the debt treadmill), but funnily enough, the main purpose of Home-Owner-Ism is to prevent a wider spread of homeownership.

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  • 1. mark wadsworth said… ‘they have made it nigh impossible to repossess hallowed homeowners’

    That’s not really true Mark (in this area anyway). Surveyors in this part of Wales are quite busy with increasing numbers of repossession valuations. Some surveyors are also busy defending overvaluation claims from the likes of GMAC and B&B.

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  • In the first half of the 19th C we had the Corn Laws. The idea was to restrict grain imports in order to boost the price of British grain and of British grain-growing land, This would give higher rents to landlords and this in turn would enable landlords to keep the economy buoyant by enabling them to spend enough to employ their coachmen, butlers, servants and tailors, who would spend their wages in the alehouse and grocery store. The landlords are now the banks, but we are still stuck with land-price inflation and trickle-down economics and have contorted the economy to keep this disaster going – because without money in landlords’ pockets they can’t employ the peons.

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  • I’d like to think prices could fall from here but unless something fundamentally changes then I fear the zombie march will simply continue. The powers that be would rather destroy the worth of money than let prices fall and that is exactly what they are doing. The current path we are on is heading towards a brick wall and one way or another something is going to shake loose, probably the currency.

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  • As Mark says

    There are so many ways for them to keep the bubble inflated and it won’t serve the rest of the world any great purpose if our economy collapses.

    Whilst Money Weeks theories on papaer seem correct, they never seem to be able to evaluate the fact that things change and policies change to combat whatever the problem maybe.

    The fact is policies change to suit conditions and if the main aim of all governments and the financial system is to keep the house price bubble inflated – at all cost – then they’ll probably succeed.

    For example could in theory through printing money all currencies be halved in value against the price of Gold.

    Hardly any individuals carry enough Gold to gain from this move (except S2R1) but effectively all debt would be halved and house prices wuld double.

    Can anyone explain why this couldn’t happen ?

    Afterall it seemed totally inconceivable 2-3 years ago that interest rates could be dropped to 0.5%.

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  • fallingbuzzard says:

    It can happen but can’t happen in an orderly way.

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  • MW, I hope so too.

    Like you I thought that banning repossession would effectively prevent the crash. But now I am not so sure, due to the arguments here.

    http://www.tribune.ie/article/2009/dec/13/repossession-trap/

    What the commentator is saying is that investors will not invest in banks that are unable to call in bad mortgages and are forced by legislation to tolerate non-performing loans.

    Yes the government is buying the home-owner vote before the election but if they have to pull back support from the banks due to the risk of their own debt crisis, can they afford to arm twist the banks into indefinite reposession moratorium if this triggers another crisis/ risk of bank failures? At the monent, the status quo keeps home owners happy and the banks happy but when policy has to choose between these two groups, I am unsure the government will be able to keep people in their homes.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Icarus stumbles across another good historic parallel – the Corn Lws were there to drive up the price that The Common Man (or Woman) had to pay for corn; Home-Owner-Ism is there to drive up the price that The Common Man (or Woman) has to pay for a house.

    @ Tennant, that’s as maybe, but if the government just pays mortgages for people who are in arrears or lose their job, then this reduces the risks to the banks.

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  • If there is high inflation, it does not automatically mean house prices will rise accordingly. Remember in the early 70s there was high inflation but house prices stayed roughly constant, thus falling pretty steeply in real terms. Despite QE I do not think these conditions exist today, or at least there are reasons why inflation won’t take off – debt reduction and downward wage pressure. However, some dramatic event (plenty possible) could change that. Although Govt is doing its best to hold things together, artificially high prices cannot last indefinitely unless there is a deliberate policy to further polarise the wealth in this country, and even that probably has its limits.

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  • @7 “all debt would be halved and house prices would double.”

    If you are prepared to live and die in Britain and if you have no aspirations of ever moving abroad or travelling then you might be OK. When I came to Britain, £1 would buy around AUS$2.67, now it only buys around $1.79..Ok, the value of my property (which I recently sold) increased but the exchange has dropped by 33%! There are better ways to ‘invest’ or hedge for inflation without going into massive debt and are just as ‘safe’ as houses. You ought to take a 25 year view because you may realise that 2 or 3 years at 0.5 % might end up being 22 years of 5%, 10%, 11%, 15% etc…

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  • I think a Tory government would be quite willing to burst the house price bubble if it meant keeping interest rates lower for longer. It has to happen anyway – might as well get it over with early in the Parliament.

    But that assumes a Tory government with a decent majority.

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  • Its in the government’s interest to stoke inflation and reduce the real size of the national debt. Plus it keeps voters happy if the real value of their mortgage and CC debts shrink in the face of rampant inflation. I would imagine a Tory Government would suspend the bank of England’s inflation targets. As for house prices, we’ve all been dismayed by the continued ‘recovery’. Anecdotal evidence from talking to Estate Agents in west London suggests that the market is as hot as it was in late 2006/ early 2007. I can’t see that I’ve ever be afford to buy a 2 bed flat even given that in N7 they are now pushing 450k.

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  • letthemfall

    ”Remember in the early 70s there was high inflation but house prices stayed roughly constant,”

    Sorry but that is totally wrong.

    My parents bought their 1st house in 1969 for about £7.5k and re-sold in 1974 (no alterations extensios etc) for £22k the morning it went on the market.

    House prices during that period trippled.

    Is it inconceivable that over the next 5 years – 10 years they could double due to inflation.

    I’m not sure what other investments can give a house price type return over the long term. Particularly when you take levarage into account and the fact you effectively can offset rent against your investment. By that I mean if you spent all your deposit on another type of investment, you’d need to rent a house.

    I think for the purposes of the arguement one needs to assume uk property and living is the prime motivation.

    Of course one could invest in cheap flats in Germany or holiday lets elsewhere in the eurozone, but that also carries a risk due the fluctuation of currencies.

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  • tpbeta

    I would have assumed the same as you, but now I’m questioning that.

    Tories can make changes and blame labour early in their term, but most Tory MP’s probably have a larger vested interest in property themselves.

    I think the popping of the HP bubble and the ramifications of exposing the debt behind it is just too horrible for the powers that be to consider.

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  • mark w 10. Thanks for “stumbles across”. The point I made was to do with land prices and rents. Policymakers now continue to think that land-price inflation is the foundation of the economy.

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  • @14, If you can afford to buy a house and you want one then you should go out and buy one now, if you can’t afford to buy one then surely the HPI scenario you describe is improbable, unless you believe that you are the only one in Britain who can’t afford to buy.

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  • str2007

    No, I’m right. Take a look at this link – http://www.mortgageguideuk.co.uk/housing/uk-house-price-index.html

    Acutally prices fell for much of the 70s after a bubble right at the beginning. Your point about borrowing is the crux of house investing. For what other asset purchase could you borrow 3 times your income (plus) to sink into one boat? Works well in one direction, but you wouldn’t want to chance it when prices are close to historical highs. Some people say it’s a gamble not to buy a house.

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  • Regarding house price increases in 2009 we know about the questions regarding the data – is the mix in a thinly traded market the same over time, auction prices are lower than Halifax/Nationwide prices etc. Also much of the increase is in London / Southeast, where the strong euro affects demand.

    Land Registry price data may have a large mix bias. Much of the 2009 price increase is concentrated in the ‘detached’ sector, Land Registry data show that In Greater Manchester in 2009 detached houses were up in number and price (number of houses sold +64%, average price +14% – compared with price increases of just 6% and 2% for semis and terraced, respectively, and a 12% fall for flats). Now detached houses include mansions and country estates as well as 4-bed detached in a street – so the mix factor could play a big part here (rich cash buyers, especially euro ones, buying the mansions instead of mortgage borrowers buying the 4-beds?).

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  • estrader

    It sometimes feels I’m the only one can’t afford a house LOL.

    letthemfall
    The price scenario I described was real. Looking at your graph even (and to be fair it’s not very clear for the period of the early 70’s we were discussing) but the bottom line of the graph is £20k. It starts in ’69 below half way (£7kish) and finishes 3/4 of the the way up (£15-16kish).

    So even your chart shows prices more than doubling in the period you talk about. The difference between that and my example of trippling could I guess be put down to local areas.

    However, flat it wasn’t.

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  • str [email protected] 15

    They know perfectly well the property bubble has to burst. You can either inflate the currency or deflate the bubble. And I suspect the Tory party is funded by people who don’t want the currency inflated.

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  • letthemfall

    sorry I’m not deliberately getting at you today but

    ”but you wouldn’t want to chance it when prices are close to historical highs”

    Surely apart from about 4-6 years of retracement since the mid 70’s prices have always been at historic hughs as they’ve nearly always gone up.

    tpbeta
    When you say currency inflated I assume you mean printing more money and devaluing the currency against others ?
    Assuming you do mean that, then apart from the draw back of more expensive holidays wouldn’t this benefit the majority of Conservative MP’s.
    Most have multiple homes, alot will run or be on the board of international businesses that export and alot will receive remuneration in foreign currency from advisery roles to other international companies.
    All these things will benefit from a weaker pound.

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  • str 2007

    Not my chart – but that’s no use anyway: look at the ‘real’ column of figures below. Yes, nominal prices rose steeply around that time, but inflation was v high too. But once they had risen to unsustainable levels, real prices fell back. Future inflation does not automatically imply house price inflation

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  • str 2007

    That’s okay, I know you’re not getting at me – you are not one of the growing number of ankle biters here!

    Nominally thats true, but all (most) prices always rise nominally. Against incomes, the only value measure, they have fluctuated. Let them fluctuate downwards I say.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Icarus, perhaps “stumbles across” was poorly chosen. Perhaps I should have said “highlights yet another example from history” or something, you know what I mean. Either way, the Corn Laws are a direct ancestor of Home-Owner-Ism, and in turn a direct descendant of the Magna Carta, whereby the landowners cheerfully absolved themselves of the need to pay ground rents aka land value tax to the crown aka The State.

    As to the inflation debate, forget it, it isn’t going to happen – hyper inflation only happens where there are currency controls (whether they serve to try and keep the value of a currency UP – e.g. Chile – or to keep the value of a currency DOWN – e.g. China), see also Weimar, UK 1970s, Zimbabwe etc. Quite why this is so escapes me, but it is an observable fact.

    Contrast this with Japan and QE, the best modern example of what happens when you don’t have currency controls.

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  • letthemfall

    You did start this by mentioning the early 70’s which don’t appear numerically in the numbers below the chart.

    However using what numbers are available Q1 1975 to Q1 1980 ie 5 years actual house prices went from £10,388 to £23,730 an actual increase in 5 years of nearly 129%.

    Real house prices (adjusted for inflation) remained constant at £72k though that period. Which meant they went up with inflation.

    It does not mean they sat still while inflation roared away.

    To summarize if you’d taken a £5k loan out in 1975 against a £10k house you’d have had 50% equity. Within 5 years your equity would have risen to 75% without taking into account any repayments.

    Further if you had a 20% deposit in 1975 of £2k for an average house and decided to rent as you didn’t want to ‘buy at peak’, your deposit would have reduced to about 7 or 8% by Q1 1980.

    So a buyer with a 20% deposit in 1975 would have required an £8k loan, a buyer in 1980 would have required a loan in excess of £20k (more than double).

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  • mark at 2.18pm

    I could be wrong here but although the Yen had low interest rates wasn’t the currency fairly strong due to the carry trade (traders borrowing Yen at low interest rates and investing the money in another currency).

    This gave demand for the Yen.

    With a devalued currency we will (and are starting to import) inflation. We must we’re a nett importing nation and we’ve devalued 25-30% against other currencies.

    I think my point is here and above that faced with Armegeddon the Government of the time will employ as many people as it can and print money to pay their wages.

    Anyway to get to my point about could house prices double over the next 5-10 years HP inflation would only need to average 7% for that to be a reality.
    At between 7 & 15% in the last year we’re well ahead of target.

    And that’s nowhere near hyperinflation, infact only mildly above what most of us would perceive to be real inflation (never mind CPI or RPI).

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  • mark w – 25. I wasn’t talking about hyperinflation – just policy support for land prices (and prices of other assets) as the foundation of an economy where finance capital trumps industrial capital. The assets function as collateral for more credit creation and debt overhead, so the real economy bombs as financiers get wealthier.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    STR: “wasn’t the [Japanese Yen] fairly strong due to the carry trade (traders borrowing Yen at low interest rates and investing the money in another currency)?”

    Well, exactly the opposite! Yen went down and down for about eight years, precisely because people were borrowing it and then buying other currencies. And I should know, I bought Yen in 2004 on the assumption that the carry trades would go *pop*, watched it drift down another 15% or 20% for four years and then more or less double in the space of a few weeks. I’ve just paid the Capital gains tax on that one!

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  • Mark

    In that case what kept inflation so low in Japan then? Was it the fact they were largely self sifficient (or mainly imported from a weaker currency) and in general manufactured and were a nett exporter as opposed to us who import other countries manufactured goods ?

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Icarus, my inflation comment was thrown into the debate in general. As it happens I completely agree with you today. Maybe Home-Owner-Ism is just a front for bonus-hungry bankers? For us to choose such a self-destructive philosphy for so many decades or centuries, surely there is something behind it. Or are people just so stupid as to believe that rising land prices make us richer? Maybe they are, maybe there is no more to it than that.

    STR at 2.43 pm.I guess all of those things you mention, plus economy was in (mild) decline. Or alternatively, they just exported inflation – all the money went to USA or Australia to inflate their property price bubbles.

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  • 29, 30 – Japan was in a low-grade depression caused by collapsing property prices and banks. The banks tried to earn their way out of debt by loaning to global speculators for the carry trade – converting yen to other currencies to buy higher-yielding assets abroad. This held down Japan’s exchange rate and helped her exporters. The problem came when the carry trade unwound. In 2008 financial markets fell, Japanese IRs rose and the speculators repaid the yen by selling their foreign assets. The yen rose and Japanese exporters were hit hard. A similar rise could happen to the dollar if that carry trade unwinds.

    mark w 32 – it’s not just us. This is the core of Bernanke’s policy. I explained my view on this in comment 13 to yesterday’s 04.28 post.

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  • Bill Lovegrove says:

    I want to invest in the housing markets but estate agents / valuers are fooling both sellers and purchasers. I have been monitoring several houses which I am interested in. I give examples. July 2009 property 1 £175k, property 2 £159k, property 3 £125k, these properties never sold and are now on the market for £220k, £189k, and £139k respectively. They have still not sold but because of the shortage someone will be mugged. I have proposed offers £180k, £165k, £120k all of which the estate agent has told me would probably be accepted. I feel the housing market price levelled off mid 2009 and thepossible price growth of some 20% is going to hurt many particularly when the unemployment figures rise interst rates increase and lenders have to repossess. I will certainly be looking at putting my money outside of the UK as currently investment in UK or sterling is probably going to hurt.

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  • STR2007 – The “carry trade” is a bit of a myth actually – i wouldnt worry too much about it. Anyway this might help:

    http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/newsblog/2010/02/blog-keynesian-solution-or-the-creation-of-more-debt-27647.php

    number 4.

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  • I question the VI argument that says the Tories have as many property owners as the present government, so will continue the policy of protection for homeowners. I’m quite sure that policy makers in the US, Iceland, Spain, Japan, Ireland, etc. all rode the property wave in their own countries. Maybe the propping up has been greater in the UK but it has to end and the market forces Tsunami will come sweeping in.

    Presently there are a lot of faint hearts here but I still think capitulation is not too far away. It will be bad news, short term, for the economy as a whole but it has to come.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Icarus, I’d agree with your comment 13 of yesterday as well.

    Or to put it in my terms, if you want to maximise your consumption over a lifetime, the best thing you can do is save up for stuff beforehand – not only does this constrain your spending and focus your attention, it means you never have to pay interest, and the less you pay in interest, the more you can spend on real stuff!

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  • The truth is though Mark the less you spend on interest the less likely you are to spend.

    It’s alot harder to spend real money.

    I’m struggling to buy a house now I’ve got ‘real’ money. Moving from one house to another and just increasing a mortgage a few hundred a month is a much easier way to spend.

    Likewise if you save £20k for a car, it becomes alot harder to actually then go and part with that cash.
    Another route to buy a £20k car is to put down £2k and pay £300 per month for 3 years with a final payment of £10k.

    Option 2 is the route most take.

    And those that would use option 1 will tend to end up getting a car for £8-10k and saving the rest.

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  • ontheotherhand says:

    Icarus, great comment on the Corn Laws, the repeal of which set Britain up for a 200 year boom as the majority of people saw the share of their incomes spent on food drop massively, and thus they had discretionary income to spend on manufactured goods like cloth and plates (The rich landowners just tended to hoard their wealth which didn’t stimulate the economy) This time though, if house prices were left unsupported by government intervention and so collapsed, the young working would have more discretionary income, but they might well spend it on imported goods. Anyway, this buying frenzy wouldn’t be at nearly such a rate as that fuelled by Mortgage Equity Withdrawl over the last 10 years as private debt balooned from 400bn to 1400bn and everyone bought a BMW.

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  • str2007 “You did start this by mentioning the early 70’s which don’t appear numerically in the numbers below the chart.”

    That’s the only data I could find with a quick search, though I have seen figures going back further, and IIRC, the falls began 1973ish.
    Anyway, it isn’t true to say real prices were constant over the period you quote: they went down then back up.

    I think what you’re getting at is should not one just go ahead and buy because in the end prices will be higher regardless of the dips (which incidentally is one of the EA favourite reasons to buy). Well, it is always a matter of personal decision. Better if one can to buy fairly close to the bottom – save a lot in interest payments this way, though the calculations do rely on certain assumptions.

    My attitude is that prices are excessively high in relation to incomes, and they are far more likely to fall in the near future than rise, especially given the precarious economic situation. But personally I’d rather not have to make these judgements.

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  • techieman – do you really think the Carry Trade is a myth? Ask the emerging markets that lost 11% of their value last week.
    str – i fear you place too much emphasis on Tory MPs personal circumstances. They exist to represent a constituency, and that constituency likes high house prices well enough, but it likes low inflation more.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    STR at 3.58pm, exactly, if you are paying cash and can remember what you had to sacrifice to save it up, you tend to spend less on individual items, so you wnd up with even more cash and/or lots more cheaper things, rather than a few expensive things which are rapidly depreciating (or are already gone, like a holiday) – doubleplusgood – as long as you remember to burn through it all before you die!

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  • @ 39 – couldn’t agree more. I’m an FTB with a deposit ready to go but I’m reluctant to buy at this point fearing that prices are more likely to fall than rise in the immediate future.
    I’m not buying for investment purposes and I can appreciate the long term view that in 25 years time prices will rise overall, but if I can get the same property for less in 6 months time, then my view is it’s best to hold off at the moment to minimise my potential mortgage payments. My hope is that this will give me more of a buffer when interest rates start to creep upwards.
    I’m personally waiting until the election to see what happens (for better or worse) but I’m viewing properties in the meantime to ‘get my eye in’.
    That’s the plan, anyway…

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  • “techieman – do you really think the Carry Trade is a myth? Ask the emerging markets that lost 11% of their value last week”. Yes its a convenient lazy excuse for a bear move that was (and has been for a while) on the cards.

    I dont think the markets fell last week because of that, you will realise i had been suggesting the end of the bear rally in most markets – including the BRICS and PIGS. I just don’t generally trade them. I would love to have been short Brazil and Spain, and maybe later i will ;-).

    I could go into some depth as to why I believe it’s a myth, but im not sure its worth it. Personally for me its more important to be in the shorts (if that’s what I think) than to assess fundamental reasons why… because I am not a “fundamentalist”.

    So – and im not being argumentative – if you want to believe the carry trade isn’t a myth that’s your call, but many a asset buyer has been farquharsened by doing exactly that. Personally I would rather trade the indexes in one currency (whether that be £ or $ is a different issue).

    Perhaps myth is too strong though – maybe a certain one way bet would be a better description.

    I’m not sure how i ask the emerging markets anything… who do i speak to? :-).

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  • tpbeta
    ”They exist to represent a constituency, and that constituency likes high house prices well enough, but it likes low inflation more.”

    I wonder, we’ve been through an extroardinary 10 years where all prices seem to have dropped apart from houses that have gone up. So for the average homeowner it’s been a bonanza.

    If inflation meant everything went up including houseprices and wages I think Joe Public would be more accepting of that than seeing house prices falling in the name of keeping their favourite jam at £1.50 a jar.

    For example (& I don’t know if this is a good one) but the Labour government have increased income tax by not moving the highr tax bracket up with wage inflation.
    Now no-one wants to pay 40% tax but I suspect there was a certain warm feeling people got as they broached the higher tax bracket because now they were earning as much as a Solicitor or Accountant earnt, if you see what I mean.

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  • @43 – “apart from houses that have gone up”

    Yes…Global financial crisis, bank bailouts, £billions and $trillions being printed here and there, PIIGS, near sovereign defaults, does anyone remember that?…I guess not.

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  • Everyone seems to be waiting for the crash to happen, but haven’t house prices have already ‘crashed’ up to 30% due to the devaluation of sterling? As sterling continues to slide, even if house prices appear to stay static they’re falling. Am I missing something?

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  • str – their constituency isn’t just the voters, it’s also industry and the City. In fact the City above all I should say.

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  • tenyearstogetmymoneyback says:

    Various people have been arguing about house prices in the 1970s

    Have a look at http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~alan/family/N-Money.html

    which shows that agricultural wages went from £13 to £48 a week in the same period.
    This was also the decade in which Ford broke Government Guidelines and gave their workers a
    10% rise one year to try and stop them from striking.

    House prices might have been going up but everything else was going up even more.

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