Chinese learn from Western mistakes

Worries that the Chinese property boom could be about to go pop are mitigated by the fact the government there is placing what seem to be sensible limits on mortgages and investment

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The government has placed limits on mortgages by restricting lending on a borrower’s first property to a maximum of 70% LTV. On the second purchase this falls to 50% LTV. And the interest rate on these mortgages must be set at least 1.1% above the central bank base rate, currently running at around 6%. Should investors want to purchase a third property rates are significantly higher, with an outright ban on purchasing third properties in Beijing.

The Chinese government believes these measures will cool the market without damaging it in the short to medium term.

It all sounds eminently sensible and is an example of where a combination of state intervention and free markets can work together.

Perhaps it could even provide a valid alternative to the ’let the market decide’ mentality that has led to boom and bust cycles for us. It certainly seems that China is learning from mistakes of the past in the West.

Muddled verdict could be a clear benefit for the country

At the time of writing, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has just been announced and we are yet to see the details.

As someone who has always been a staunch supporter of the Tories I was initially sceptical but am rapidly coming to the conclusion that this move is genius.

Unelected former Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally conceded and resigned, faced with nothing but a fractured party, having clung to power for almost three years like a desperate man to a lifeboat. The country sunk his lifeboat and made the decision for him – and not before time.

Of course, the problem was that although with 11 million votes the Tories were the most popular party, Labour still managed to get nine million despite the damage it has done to the country in its 13 years in power, while the Lib Dems managed a respectable seven million.

So the message from the electorate was clear – we don’t think any of you can be trusted. That’s why the Conservatives have formed a coalition with the Lib Dems to create a meaningful government.

I already considered Tory leader David Cameron to be strong but he has demonstrated great foresight in going further than many thought he would in forming a coalition government.

The benefit to the country is to bring the right closer to the centre, which is where most of the public want their politicians to be.
But how will this affect our industry and country?

Well, the Tory manifesto aim to lift the Inheritance Tax threshold to £1m has been scrapped and its pledge to move banking regulation to the Bank of England is also in doubt. The Lib Dem cornerstone of fairness is one that easily fits into the Tory ethos, while the increase in Stamp Duty mooted by the Lib Dems on properties over £1m has been kicked into the long grass.

And both parties agree on electoral reform, it’s just the format that needs to be agreed. Interestingly, they seem to agree on many policies, and it’s good that no party will have an outright majority like Labour did in 1997.

This should act as a sense check on big policy decisions rather than the nod-through approach of the Labour government.

So on balance, this a great outcome. We have a progressive young government with appropriate checks and balances, and a significant mandate to sort out the mess.