Monday, January 19, 2009
Word comes from across the pond this morning that unjustified optimism regarding the future of a nation's housing market is not strictly an American failing.
It seems that, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a highly ranked government official sees signs of an 'upturn' where others do not.
It's one thing for an industry trade group to paint an overly rosy picture of the housing market - by now, everyone should understand that the National Association of Realtors will say just about anything to help generate commissions for their dues-paying sales agents - but for government officials to get in on the spin is something new.
Or is it?
Wow - that came out in late-2006 - it's more than two years old now...
Anyway, the Telegraph reports that U.K. housing minister Margaret Beckett is doing what she apparently thinks is her duty in trying to help pull the country's housing market up from its recent nosedive.
Margaret Beckett, the housing minister, has been strongly criticised for claiming there were signs of an "upturn" in the property market, despite new figures showing otherwise.The words are a little different, but the meaning is the same - a maintenance of customer interest, forced sellers, and lettings market easily translate to the American version of English.
Her comments came as figures showed house prices were falling by £4,000 a month and that the number of homes being put up for sale has dropped by more than 50 per cent in a year.
The Conservatives said the minister's comments were further signs that the Government had "lost all touch with reality". They came days after Lady Vadera, the business minister, was fiercely criticised for claiming she could see "green shoots" of recovery amid the economic gloom.
While emphasising that the signs of recovery were "quite recent and anecdotal", Mrs Beckett said: "We're hearing indications of certainly a maintenance of customer interest, possibly even a bit of a pick-up.
"Some people have been saying the appetite to buy has gone through the floor, but clearly we've had this anecdotal evidence of a bit of an upturn in interest."
However, the meaning and significance of a "shadow housing minister" is new:
Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, said: "The Government has lost all touch with reality. Experts say 75,000 families may be evicted from their homes this year, yet the housing minister actually seems to believe that life is getting better." Maybe we Americans need one of these - he seems to make a lot more sense than the regular housing minster.