Breakingviews

Mortgage freeze could hasten Greek bank reform

January 28, 2015

Before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gets any euro zone deal on Greece’s public debt, he could make good on his promise of a permanent mortgage moratorium. That would inflict pain on the country’s banks – but ultimately force them to restructure.

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.

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.

Blunt instrument is needed for global house bubble

June 16, 2014

The IMF is worried about the risk of a global house price bubble. Housing markets may be regional, but low supply and excess demand are common worldwide. Macroprudential tools and construction are part of the response. But anything other than an end to cheap money is tinkering.

Fannie investors may be using magic calculators

March 12, 2014

The latest plan to wind down the U.S. mortgage giant tanked its volatile stock. Some hedge funds still want to revitalize the business. Trouble is, even kind assumptions suggest Fannie isn’t worth enough for shareholders to get anything back – unless Uncle Sam is crazy generous.

UK’s Help to Buy scheme is a no-brainer for banks

October 3, 2013

Sure, the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme could backfire on banks’ reputations if overstretched borrowers lose their homes and taxpayers wind up paying the bill. But capital benefits and the need to defend market share look like compelling reasons for banks to sign up.

Goldman and JPMorgan get one job split right

October 1, 2013

Neither bank will cleave the chairman and CEO roles, but they’ve at least figured out that allowing the general counsel to also run regulatory compliance invites trouble. Interpreting the rules and ensuring they’re followed too often conflict. Other companies should follow suit.

Dear UK chancellor: why Help to Buy was wrong

August 16, 2013

The government’s “help to buy” scheme subsidising high-risk mortgages will exacerbate the country’s housing problems and be very hard to exit. Breakingviews imagines how the Bank of England governor in 2020 might wrestle with the fallout.

Cure for U.S. housing malaise may sustain disease

March 18, 2013

A Senate bill seeks to forbid Congress from raising Frannie’s fees to pay for federal spending. It sounds sensible. But in the alternate universe that is Washington, it may kill one of the few ways available to reduce taxpayer support for housing and bring back private capital.

Washington may finally take up mortgage reform

December 21, 2012

Assuming Congress settles the deficit debate, housing finance should be its next stop. Lawmakers have postponed reforming the government’s role in funding home loans for four years. Some hurdles still remain. But economic, regulatory and political obstacles are dissolving.