A look at housing affordability in the US and UK

In recent months we have blogged about the recovery in the US housing market that is currently underway. This is in contrast to the UK experience, where the housing market appears to be stuck in the mud. We thought a quick look under the bonnet could reveal the dynamics at play in both countries.

In order to do this, we have constructed a housing affordability index that captures the three main…

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Pese a las apariencias, los países periféricos de Europa continúan padeciendo una crisis de deuda

This article appeared in English on 26 April.

A comienzos de esta semana, las rentabilidades de la deuda española a 5 y 10 años cayeron hasta los niveles más bajos desde el cuarto trimestre de 2010. No cabe duda de que esta recuperación fue estimulada por los comentarios de Mario Draghi relativos a que el BCE haría « todo lo necesario para salvar el euro» y posteriormente alentada por la mejora…

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Five reasons why Mark Carney might be short of options when he becomes BoE Governor in July

Mark Carney, currently Canadian central bank governor, will become the Governor of the Bank of England at the start of July.  Handpicked from outside of the official application process by Chancellor George Osborne, he comes with high expectations about what he can do to get the UK economy out of a downturn arguably more severe in GDP terms than was seen during the Great Depression (or The Slum…

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Funding for Lending – has the scheme achieved its goals?

As has been widely reported, last week the Bank of England and HM Treasury extended their Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS). The FLS was originally launched in July last year with the intention of stimulating lending in the real (non-financial) economy. Under this scheme a bank or building society borrows UK Treasury Bills and hands over eligible assets as collateral. The fee they are charged (e…

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Peripheral Europe is still facing a debt crisis, despite appearances

Earlier this week, 5 and 10 year Spanish yields fell to the lowest levels since Q4 2010. The rally was no doubt kick started by Mario Draghi’s “do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” comment, and was given further fuel by the improvement in Eurozone economic data over the latter half of 2012, which was probably due in part to Draghi. However, the peripheral rally has continued this year in …

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Lessons from Zimbabwe

Stefan took some time off over Easter for a quick holiday in Zimbabwe and, as always, he remained on the lookout for economic insights.

As the only country to experience hyperinflation this millennium, Zimbabwe can certainly provide valuable lessons. From late 2008 its inflation was estimated to be running at a staggering 489,000,000,000% on an annual basis. The economy collapsed, and the popul…

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20/20 hindsight – looking at three year government bond market returns

Investors in government bonds – historically seen as a low volatile and safe asset class – have had to get to grips with assessing credit risk as well as duration risk in their portfolios. It is simply no longer the case that investors can safely lend to a government without first assessing the government’s willingness and ability to pay back the borrowed sum. This has had a large impact on gov…

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Panoramic: The effect of globalisation on corporate bond valuations

Corporate bonds have had an incredible run over the past few years. A combination of sub-par growth, the sovereign crisis in Europe and massive amounts of QE on a global scale has driven government bond yields down to historically low levels. At the same time, corporate bond spreads have tightened significantly from the crazy levels we saw in 2009. This has meant double-digit annualised returns…

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Old Lady sells her bonds

Back in 2009 the Bank of England (the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street) began buying a portfolio of investment grade bonds to provide funding to UK corporates, to aid liquidity in the corporate bond market and to supplement their QE purchases of gilts. Last Friday this investor sold its last corporate bonds.

This has been a great success from a profit point of view. The attached chart shows the …

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Caveat emptor – new deals in the high yield market

The volume of new bond deals in the European high yield market has been very strong this year. One (unscientific) measure of this has been the growing pile of bond prospectuses on the desk; already the 2013 pile is more than halfway up the 2012 pile after just three months.

A marginally more robust measure is the data below published by Morgan Stanley. The year to date number of €25.2 bn is ru…

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