Property Bubble Ghost Haunts Central Bankers

The property market is an animal almost every central banker is worried about and hardly anyone can control.

As the Federal Reserve downshifts into go-slow mode while the European Central Bank and other monetary authorities ease, expect to hear a lot of concern about property prices. Here’s the dilemma: How do you cut rates to goose too-low inflation and support growth without lighting a fuse under real estate?

The U.S. is still feeling the consequences of a housing-market collapse that is widely blamed for triggering the Great Recession. The world’s largest economy stopped contracting in the second quarter of 2009, but house prices continued to fall over the next three years. While property costs since then have risen at a faster annual pace than an aggregate of 23 countries tracked by the Dallas Fed, prices are still 3.8 percent below their peak.


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