Residential Mortgage Debt as a % of GDP (Sep 2014 Source)
The inflationists have bet the farm on housing in all the global markets that attract non-resident buyers. When I look at my long term (since 1956) Canadian Housing Starts with Census overlaid chart, it strikes me that we actually need a lot more housing if we want to see affordability again. But the price to rent ratio does not incent the construction industry. If offshore money is willing to buy physically depreciating negative yields, then let's help them along. Perhaps a public-private (us-them) partnership is in order. We build them, they finance them.
Demand is Local
Supply is Global
As the USD strengthens, the U.S. consumer inflation rate continues to drift down as it takes fewer greenbacks to buy imported goods. I guess it's too soon to yell deflation or pull out the Japan chart, but down is down.
Meanwhile in Canada and Australia where they dig the earth, the strengthening USD is producing the opposite effect, the CAD and AUD are weakening which is good for exporting the stuff coming out of the ground but with it comes more imported goods price inflation (buyers require more CAD & AUD dollars to buy the same amount of stuff) and that has egged on the real estate inflationistas who continue to drive the price of their local real estate up the left side of the Eiffel Tower. Sure, those imported countertops, appliance suites and appurtenances are going up in price; but that stuff is a wildly depreciating asset.
What about China? The bottom panel of the chart mashup above shows us that the CNY is also being depressed (via FX markets and the Princeling cliques) against the USD and that drives up their import costs on global resources and reduces the value of their already imported commodity stockpiles used to bankroll the shadowy (unregistered? - unregulated?) secondary financing market. Credit is 'suspicion asleep" as Bob Hoye says.
The weakening CNY is pushing imported Chinese consumer costs up and producer prices down. (March 2014: Chinese consumer prices were up 2.4% Y/Y and producer prices were down 2.3% Y/Y and down for the 25th straight month)
The Chinese housing index has rolled over on a steep dive (bottom panel of chart above and below is a China chart mashup from Bloomberg's Tom Orlik showing the ongoing Chinese deceleration).
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement; and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense
"History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in.... I read it a little as a duty; but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all - it is very tiresome." Jane Austen spoken by Catherine Morland in 'Northanger Abbey'