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Britain's Giant Housing Market Property Bubble

Housing-Market / UK Housing Apr 16, 2010 - 08:34 AM GMT

By: DailyWealth

Housing-Market

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleMy friend lives in a popular neighborhood in London. When I asked him about housing prices in his neighborhood, he said they've been rising all year. They're now breaking the records set in the great housing boom that ended in 2007.


London had the biggest housing bubble on the planet. The average London house price quadrupled between 1996 and 2006. Now the average house in London sells for $436,000. That's only 9% lower than the all-time record set in 2007… and it's higher than 2006 prices.

"The London real estate bubble, arguably the biggest one of all, still hasn't popped," wrote the Wall Street Journal two months ago.

My friend trades derivatives for a living in London's financial district. With house prices rising, I figured the confidence must have returned to his trading floor…

"It's weird," he said. "The trading floor is quiet. It's like a lot of traders are passing time and there aren't many deals being done."

How could house prices be rising and my friend's trading floor be sluggish at the same time? I have an explanation. The British government is devaluing the currency...

In terms of debt, Britain is in the same position as Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. It's broke and struggling to pay back what it owes. There's one difference. Britain has its own currency, and unlike these other European countries, the British government can intentionally devalue this currency in order to ease the pain of Britain's recession...

For one thing, a cheaper pound makes British goods cheaper for foreigners, so British factories have more work and more tourists come to Britain. It also makes British debt more manageable. Debtors can pay back their debts in devalued currency. It's like borrowing an ounce of gold and being allowed to pay it back with an ounce of silver.

Britain's already implemented this strategy. Right now, the British currency, the pound sterling, is near its lows of the last 20 years against the dollar and the euro... and there's no sign it's going to stabilize...


This "devaluation" policy is making the prices of basic goods and services rise.

I was last here in early 2007. One thing I've noticed is since then, prices for basic items like food, drink, newspapers, gasoline, public transportation, and cigarettes have soared. These items seem to have gained almost 25% in price in three years.

While devaluation is causing prices of basic goods and property to rise, it's not generating true economic activity. This is why my friend's trading floor is still quiet.

Currency devaluation is one of the oldest tricks in the government economic "hand book." Take the 1990s as an example. The Mexicans, Brazilians, Argentines, Russians, and several Asian countries used currency devaluation to ease debt burdens.

Now the Brits are using the same tactic. In London's financial district, currency traders now joke that GBP stands for "Gordon Brown's peso" instead of "Great Britain's pound."

It's easing the burden of their recession, but causing prices to rise. For now, rising property prices are not a problem so I don't see any reason for the country to stop inflating. Bottom line, the pound will continue to fall and property prices will continue rising.

If I were living in Britain right now – or any other country intentionally devaluing its currency – I'd convert some of my savings into U.S. dollars… and I'd also buy a few gold coins.

Good investing,

Tom Dyson

http://www.dailywealth.com

The DailyWealth Investment Philosophy: In a nutshell, my investment philosophy is this: Buy things of extraordinary value at a time when nobody else wants them. Then sell when people are willing to pay any price. You see, at DailyWealth, we believe most investors take way too much risk. Our mission is to show you how to avoid risky investments, and how to avoid what the average investor is doing. I believe that you can make a lot of money – and do it safely – by simply doing the opposite of what is most popular.

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Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Daily Wealth Archive

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Comments

Bob Smith
17 Apr 10, 21:30
Inflation

Several problems.

Firstly, the 'quiet' trading floor.

It is a global marketplace in the City and the UK economy will have little bearing on whether it is 'quiet' or not. It is hardly surprising that the derivatives markets, in particular, are quieter than we have been used to is it not?

Secondly, inflation is not an issue. Recent inflation rises have been technical functions of the marketplace and longer deflationary trends continue.

Thirdly your figures don't bear scrutiny.

Food inflation dropped to a 3 year low of 1.3% year on year. Petrol price inflation is duty driven, the underlying price of petrol before duty in the UK is 40p a litre which is amongst the most competitive in Europe. You can thank Labour for the rest.

You are right in suggesting that the UK has deliberately devalued it's currency. But this is positive in a high debt environment and reinforces the importance of retaining an independent currency. This is where the UK diverges from other high debt nations in Europe (wait until France bite the bullet) and allied with a large and flexible labour force there is a real possibility that the UK, if the political will is there and they don't wait too long, can whether the current stormbetter than most.

As for house prices, London operates as a state in itself.

The low interest rates are designed to protect the country as a whole, and that means the north.

London prices are benefitting from a strong service sector, unparalleled wages, low interest rates and a further 20% discount off prices from a currency devaluation. All stimulus aimed at other parts of the country.

To me, London looks cheap.


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