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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bricks and Mortar

The increasing reliance of the British economy on the housing market was revealed yesterday, when the government released figures that show that a staggering 60% of the UK's £6.5 trillion wealth is now tied up in property.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the value of Britain, if it were up for sale, has risen by over 5% (an increase of £326BN in 2005).

The increase was more than accounted for by the rise in the market value of Britain's housing stock.

The ONS figures show that the wealth of the UK is now highly sensitive to movements in the housing market, particularly given the declining importance of manufacturing to the economy.

Britain is now worth £6.5 trillion, with the UK housing stock accounting for £3.9 trillion of that figure.

The trouble is that a large factor within the "value" of the housing stock is that of speculation, rather than fundamentals.

This bodes ill for the economy as a whole, given that speculative bubbles have an annoying tendency to burst.

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