Friday, July 11, 2008
Boy, if you think the media in the U.S. is a bit too gloomy, have a look at what's appearing over in the U.K. in the Daily Telegraph. Ever the doubter, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is downright cheery (at least in the headline) as compared to Edmund Conway who blares:
Slide in house prices worst since the Great DepressionAnd here's Ambrose, talking about a "crunch" in the headline which quickly turns into "lifeblood" that is quickly "draining away" and "debt deflation":
By Edmund Conway
Britain is now in the midst of the worst housing slide since the Great Depression, economists declared after house price inflation dropped to the lowest level since comparable records began.
Figures from Halifax, the UK's biggest mortgage lender, showed house prices have fallen by 8.7pc in the year to June, confirming that the property crunch is more severe than the last housing crash in the early 1990s. Hours before, the Bank of England voted to leave rates unchanged at 5pc.
The Halifax figures - which showed prices dropped 2pc last month, following a 2.5pc slide in May - indicate that the scale of the crash now rivals the falls in UK home values in the 1930s. In the three months to June, house prices were 6.1pc lower than the comparable period last year - described by Halifax as the "annual change".
House prices have never fallen by more than 10pc over a year in recorded history, except in 1931, when Britain left the gold standard.
Alex Vitillo, of Fathom Consulting, said that the downturn was already more severe than the early 1990s, where, according to figures from Nationwide, prices dropped by around 20pc over a number of years.
He said: "As the UK housing market downturn gathers pace, it is common for analysts to argue that this downturn will not be as bad as the early 1990s vintage. It looks like it will be worse, perhaps far worse.
Monetarists warn of crunch across Atlantic economiesThere is certainly a lot of "flation" out there - how much of it is de-flation and how much of it is in-flation will probably be known before the year is out.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The lifeblood of countries' economies is draining away - with grim consequences for us all.
The money supply data from the US, Britain, and now Europe, has begun to flash warning signals of a potential crunch. Monetarists are increasingly worried that the entire economic system of the North Atlantic could tip into debt deflation over the next two years if the authorities misjudge the risk.
Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust, says lending by US commercial banks contracted at an annual rate of 9.14pc in the 13 weeks to June 18, the most violent reversal since the data series began in 1973. M2 money fell at a rate of 0.37pc.
"The money supply is crumbling in the US. There was a very sharp lending contraction in the second quarter lending. If the Federal Reserve is forced to raise rates now to defend the dollar, it would be checkmate for the US economy," he said.
Leigh Skene from Lombard Street Research said the lending conditions in the US were now the worst since the Great Depression. "Credit liquidation has begun," he said.
The Fed's awful predicament does indeed have echoes of the early 1930s when the bank felt constrained to tighten into the Slump in order to halt bullion loss under the Gold Standard. Investors - notably foreigners - dictated a perverse policy. Over 4,000 US banks collapsed. This time a de facto "Oil Standard" is boxing in Ben Bernanke. Benign neglect of the dollar has started to backfire. It is pushing up crude, with multiple leverage.