The Rise and Fall of Global House Prices

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The Bank for International Settlements has a great chart (click to enlarge) of house prices in its latest annual report (p. 39):

The rise and fall of U.S. house prices (red) is painfully familiar. The U.K. (brown) outdid the U.S. on the upswing, but hasn’t corrected quite as much. (Some other European nations also saw strong booms, but they are averaged into the figures for the Euro area (green)).

House prices in Canada (black) and Australia (olive green) have been showing notable strength. But is it sustainable? Or are some places (e.g., Vancouver) in bubbles?

And then there’s Japan (blue) and its persistent declines. If you worry that the U.S. is turning Japanese (an increasingly popular view with 10-year Treasury rates below 3%), you may want to ponder what a continuing, relentless decline in house prices would do to the American financial system.