UK housing crisis jars with builders’ fat returns

August 24, 2016

In a normal market, Persimmon’s 36 pct return on capital would get competed away. Instead, sclerotic planning and smaller rivals’ limited access to finance act as barriers to entry. Builders’ fat returns could be vulnerable if the new UK government decides to take bold action.

Assault on UK privilege has many possible targets

July 14, 2016

Theresa May wants to focus on more than the "privileged few". If Britain's new prime minister is serious, the most glaring disparities are in pensions, savings, housing and infrastructure. Action in these areas would go some way to healing north/south and young/old rifts.

London’s bankers should retrain as builders

December 28, 2015

The City’s banks are sacking thousands of staff. Meanwhile, the construction sector needs 120,000 new pairs of hands to boost UK housing supply to a level that eases house-price inflation. For bankers smarting from accusations of social uselessness, it might make a decent change.

Review: A human face for the foreclosure fiasco

September 25, 2015

Seven years on and the financial crisis blame game is still alive and well. In his new film, “99 Homes,” Ramin Bahrani crafts a dramatic narrative that does the best job yet of capturing the complexity of assigning accountability to the collective U.S. housing delusion.

U.S. housing demand is building

December 26, 2014

The post-crisis rebound boosted home prices 25 pct even as sales and construction lagged. Increasing household formation, job creation and easing credit look set to give the market another leg up, despite rising interest rates and the headwind of sliding affordability.

Remember the UK housing bubble?

November 26, 2014

Not long ago an overheating housing market was seen by many as the big UK danger. Now mortgage approvals are dropping and house inflation is easing – even though mortgages are getting cheaper. Tighter home-loan regulation is a factor. Workers’ low earnings are the main restraint.

France’s housing slump is sign of deeper woes

August 26, 2014

House prices are falling and Paris is a buyer’s market. Hollande’s clumsy policies and lower interest rates should have the opposite effect. But the seriousness of the slowdown incites households and companies to hoard cash. Only shock therapy can end the death spiral.

London real estate at an inflection point

July 17, 2014

Property values in the UK capital are up 20 pct in a year. But leading indicators – buyer enquiries, new mortgages and volumes – have stalled. For prices to hold, foreign buyers will have to spend more in spite of a stronger pound and punitive taxation.

U.S. home affordability on way to lowest in years

June 18, 2014

With the Fed set to raise rates, house prices rising and incomes not keeping pace, the dream of home ownership – cheaper after the 2008 downturn – is receding again for many. A new Breakingviews calculator shows that by 2017 homebuyers may have to stretch the most in decades.

Review: “House of Debt” diagnosis beats remedies

June 13, 2014

Atif Mian and Amir Sufi make a compelling case that excess consumer debt caused the U.S. Great Recession’s severity, but their mortgage bailout proposal would make matters worse. Their shared value mortgages might help, but old-fashioned tight money is a simpler and better way.