Monday 16 July 2007

Glasgow market

Adam Smith may have been a Glasgow professor but the city sadly lacks clear economic thinking these days. Consider Iain MacQuirter in today's Herald:
It doesn't take a genius to work out that if you stop building houses, sell off council houses and give tax breaks to landlords, that you will end up with a housing shortage and skyrocketing prices.
If "you" stop building houses, there'll be a shortage - assuming population growth or smaller family units. But if "you" sell off council houses and "give" tax breaks to landlords the number of houses doesn't change. All that changes is the ownership of those houses. A change for the better, I'd say. Does anyone seriously think that Glasgow's feral gang culture has no connection with welfare dependency, including the widespread belief that one has a "right" to a subsidised home?

All is not lost with our Iain though:

One reason interest rates have been artificially low is that the Bank of England is not allowed to take house price inflation into account when it sets interest rates.
Quite right. But the real question is why is the Bank of "England" (where's your Britishness now, Gordon?) is setting interest rates in the first place. Interest rates should be set by the market, not by a bunch of politically appointed stooges who mug pensioners' savings accounts so as to subsidise house buyers. You see Iain, when we get free markets in money and housing, things will work out just fine.

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