MacroScope

Britain’s Help to Buy unites analysts about its dangers

Even if they can’t agree how much Britain’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme will boost the housing market, analysts in the latest Reuters poll are united by an understanding of its dangers.

The government’s Help to Buy programme, unveiled in its March budget, is designed to boost mortgage lending and help buyers with small deposits get on the property ladder.

The poll predicts Britain’s house prices will rise at their fastest pace in four years in 2013, and data from Hometrack show London property was snapped up in April more quickly than at any time since October 2007 – adding to concerns Help to Buy might start a new house price bubble.

Analysts are largely split into two camps. On the one side, there are those who think Help to Buy will provide just a modest uptick in housing market activity. But even so, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the wisdom of the programme is sound:

The Help To Buy mortgage guarantee scheme may well give the market more of a boost from 2014. While measures to support the market are welcome, the scheme will encourage households to leverage up.

from The Great Debate:

How home prices helped kill the first tech boom

By Ryan Avent
The opinions expressed are his own. 

The late 1990s was a wild time in Silicon Valley. The NASDAQ was soaring, and seemingly anyone could start a company, stick a .com at the end of its name, put together an IPO and retire a millionaire. The great boom ultimately took on a speculative character that led to wasted investments and the collapse of many poorly-grounded operations. But it was rooted in a surge of not-unrealistic optimism about the potential of the internet to change the world of business.

Among the striking features of the era, one of the most startling is this: the rate of high-tech entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley seems to have been below the national average from 1996 to 2000, according to a recent analysis of business creation during the tech boom. And from the late 1990s to the early 2000s -- after the bust -- Silicon Valley’s rate of high-tech entrepreneurship actually increased. How can this be? How is it that during the first great boom of the internet era, Silicon Valley was less of a hotbed for new firm formation than the country as a whole?

Economists Robert Fairlie and Aaron Chatterji suggest that the answer lies in the extremely tight labor market conditions that prevailed at the time. The tech boom was remarkably good for Silicon Valley workers. Average earnings rose by nearly 40% from 1997 to 2000 -- more than twice as fast as the increase for the country as a whole. Non-salary compensation also soared, thanks to the popularity of stock options and the skyrocketing value of equity in tech firms. These generous pay increases made it unattractive for workers to leave established companies to strike out on their own. Entrepreneurship fell because life on salary was too lucrative to risk self-employment.

from Tales from the Trail:

Muddy manse

Selling your house? Worried about having to lower the price to get it to move?

How about a $1.275 million price reduction? That’s how much former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel H. Mudd had to cut the asking price on his 11,500 square foot, six bedroom, six full bath (plus three half baths) mansion to find a buyer.  Originally listed for $8.9 million on September 11, the transaction closed on December 11 for $7.625 million.

 

Don’t worry too much for Mr. Mudd, though. He paid $5.15 million for the place in June 2000, leaving him with a 48 percent return on his investment, excluding any renovation costs. And even though he was booted from Fannie Mae when the government took over the housing giant in September 2008 and reportedly wasn’t paid his multi-million dollar severance package, he’s landed on his feet. New York’s Fortress Investment Group named him CEO in August.

 

Wondering what you could have bought from the son of the former NBC News anchor Roger Mudd? Here’s the listing agent’s description: