“Property is as safe as houses, at least until the roof falls in. Our latest tally of global housing markets shows that American house prices have recovered to a new nominal high, and in Spain and Ireland, prices are again rising at a decent clip. In the English-speaking Commonwealth countries of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, prices have risen largely unabated in recent years.
Since autumn 2014 $1.3trn of capital has flowed out of China. Some of that cash has found its way into residential property in some of the world’s most desirable cities. In America, Chinese investors bought some 29,000 homes in the 12 months to March 2016 with a total value of $27bn, according to the National Association of Realtors. Much of this money is focused on a handful of cities: Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Miami. Foreign money has helped propel skyrocketing prices in other places, too. In Vancouver, home values have risen by 47% in four years; in London they have risen by 54%; and in Auckland the rise has been a whopping 75%. The influence of foreign capital flows on housing markets is being scrutinised, particularly as affordability becomes ever more stretched.
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According to the latest data on global GDP released by the World Bank this February, the U.S. still is the world’s biggest economy – by far. As shown by this Voronoi diagram, the United States (24.3%) generates almost a quarter of global GDP and is almost 10 percentage points ahead of China (14.8%), in second place, and more than 18 percentage points ahead of Japan (4.5%) on three.
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Source: Federal Reserve Y-9C Reports, Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K, SNL Financial (Data update as of September 12, 2016).
Tier 1 Capital is a measure of bank’s financial strength, and assigns different weightings to less risky assets. It also includes other instruments that can absorb losses, rather than just focusing on the value of the bank’s equity capital. US regulators have traditionally focused on the leverage ratio, while European regulators have focused on Tier 1 Capital.
The leverage ratio is a measure of a bank’s financial sustainability, and shows how much equity capital a lender has against assets such as loans. Regulators like the leverage ratio because it’s a fairly simple measure of how active a bank is compared to its equity capital and is difficult for a lender to manipulate. The US calculation includes the amount of derivatives banks have on their books. A higher percentage suggests a bank is in a better position to weather losses and defaults.
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The US Dollar’s status as a reserve currency seems to be a perennial concern for many people these days. As you can see, no one maintains reserve currency status forever. That shouldn’t be remotely surprising. The global economy is dynamic and market shares shift. And at the end of the day that’s what reserve status is really all about. Think about it – nations accumulate reserves of US dollars today because the US economy is the dominant player in global trade.
Of course, the US Dollar isn’t the only currency that nations maintain reserves of. The Euro is also a major reserve currency and the Yuan is fast becoming a major reserve currency. But since the USA produces 22% of all world output it happens to play a particularly special role in the global economy. By virtue of being the largest economy in the world the accumulation of US dollar denominated financial assets happens to dominate the global financial system. It’s sort of like being the top market share producer of a particular product in a particular industry. Other entities accumulate your products because you’re the top producer. And that changes over time. Market shares change and regimes shift with the evolving economy.
So, will the USA lose its reserve currency status at some point? Yes. Read more »