Tuesday, 25 May 2010


That sound when it follows the words "I bet you can squeal like a pig" remains the ultimate "bloke" nightmare, but being much more mature and sensible I discovered another one today blethering to a mate about a friend of his who bought a super-deluxe newbuild top of the range 2 bed built on reclaimed land city-centre flat 6 years ago and is currently looking at being down 60 grand on what he paid for it if he could actually sell it.

Doing the math(s), that’s a horrendous loss. Like going by the Halifax seasonally adjusted all house prices quarterly Scottish house price index, yer man could have bailed out at the start of 2008 and made a 52% gain or alternatively at today’s prices a 34% one. Instead, the reality is he’s sat on a big loss, which implies house price index averages are a pile of shite and housing economists paid by banks as useful as a single, soggy piece of bog roll when you’ve a bad dose of the skits.

The real point of course is that the bloody obvious is bloody obvious for bloody obvious reasons and that the bloody obvious routinely prevails over the medium to long-term; charging however many hunner grand for some shite build quality effort yuppie high rise with 15 en-suites and an all in one dining, kitchen, study, activity-den, entertainment cubicle built on a former sewage works will never stack up.

So that’s the British reality for hundreds of thousands of poor sods, except right now it’s Spain that’s catching the eye. Given the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) perspective that developed, this was only to be expected – having bet against Greece, right now yer bog standard currency and sovereign debt speculator is thinking right who is next?

Portugal is probably getting a free pass for the time being simply because its so obscure and its national economic and property market statistics are such a fucking joke no one has a clue as to what is happening there. Spain on the other hand is getting humped because it’s a more advanced economy and because, lets be honest, we all knew they had what will probably turn out to be the mother of all property bubbles (which will probably prove bad for Portugal in due course because in yer average financial mind Portogual is a bit like Spain isn't it?).

Until recently a few things were mitigating that “fact”. One was the willingness of the European Central Bank to accept the dross the Spanish banks had on their books in exchange for liquidity to an extent that would have raised a European competition commissioner’s eyebrows mad-style if they had a fucking clue as to what that actually meant (Santander taking over various UK banks being a fucking obvious example of the kind of things this advantage contributed to). Another stems from the debate last year as to whether Spanish banks openly reported on their property lending losses and impairments with various arguments saying no chance those lying bastards are lying like bastards.

The cool thing here of course is that all the justifications for the current kneejerk reactions are based largely on sentiment, but tarted up as being the result of some kind of in-depth analysis. Which is a nice idea, but if Spanish banks do take a more “lax” approach to their reporting than banks elsewhere, then no detailed analysis is possible. Oh and the ECB keeps schtum about a lot of support it provides banks and no one knows what bank regulation will precisely entail. Hence when some city talking head pops up on the channel 4 news and starts saying things like "we need to look at the fundamentals here", "rebuild a thin capital base", "over-exposure","double-dip", "delicate balancing act" and "look carefully at next quarter's results" its all a shower of shite.

It would be nice, lovely even to dismiss this all as the work of a shower of nasty greedy short-selling gits who should be Tobin-taxed til they go ""Weeeeeeee!”, then rustle a copy of the Guardian furiously in the general direction of the Square Mile. Except, the UK budget cuts now underway are to preserve the current view the self-same financial markets/speculators have of the UK. And with hindsight the £6bn worth of cuts just announced are going to feel like a tickle. Lovely, except while Greece was getting humped because the government borrowed to spend too much, now a lot of the panic is about government spending cuts tipping specific national economies into recession.

Given this "game" is fucking up more and more lives and will continue to do so, if it can't be won, perhaps the rules should be changed?

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