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ED’S BLOG: Where there’s a Mail there’s a moan

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02/08/2007

The satirical magazine Private Eye often runs spoof stories taking the Mick out of the Daily Mail and its habit of printing doom-laden stories to put the collywobbles up Middle England.

‘Giant asteroid threatens stock market’ was one such gem: ‘Economist warns of house price collapse’ ran another. Never mind the house prices, missus: that was me collapsing with laughter as the Eye mines another gem from a rich comic seam.

Except, of course, the last one was a real headline on thisismoney.co.uk, the Mail’s online mouthpiece of misery, the latest in a long sequence of dire predictions for the UK housing market made by American pundits in its pages.

This one is called Matthew Sharratt, (sorry if you’re a Limey, Matt) and he works for Bank of America. Matt opines that a “rapid drop in sentiment” could “dent” property prices as interest rates keep rising (who says bankers are boring?).

Well, hold on there, pardner. My mighty Ford Mondeo has a few dents but still does the business on the motorways, and the same is true I suspect of the housing market. Indeed, the latest Halifax house price report noted a 0.7% increase in July, making annual property inflation 11.2%, despite the five interest rate rises of the past year.

Never mind Halifax (who they?) though because rootin-tootin Matt reckons prices will drop by as much as 10% (and that’s a collapse?) in the 18 months beginning next year, with the biggest drops to be seen outside London.

Excuse me, Matt old chap, but I think you’re talking rot. The UK property market is made up of units that are in short supply and universally desired by a population that has never had it so good financially speaking. Yes, there are high levels of personal indebtedness but the value of the assets supporting that situation are more than adequate to sustain them.

Why Yanks are so prone to predicting the end of UK homeowning civilisation as we know it – and why the Mail and its satellites is so keen on publishing them – is beyond my ken.

But I solemnly promise to buy each and every American doomsayer who pontificates in the Mail a bottle of Bud if the UK house market dips by even a dimple in 2008. And when it doesn’t, Greene King IPA is my favourite tipple. Have a nice day suckers!

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