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Five years later, Housing bubbles are back

It is widely agreed that a series of collapsing housing-market bubbles triggered the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, along with the severe recession that followed. While the United States is the best-known case, a combination of lax regulation and supervision of banks and low policy interest rates fueled similar bubbles in the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Iceland, and Dubai.

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It is widely agreed that a series of collapsing housing-market bubbles triggered the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, along with the severe recession that followed. While the United States is the best-known case, a combination of lax regulation and supervision of banks and low policy interest rates fueled similar bubbles in the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Iceland, and Dubai.

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Now, five years later, signs of frothiness, if not outright bubbles, are reappearing in housing markets in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, back for an encore, the UK (well, London). In emerging markets, bubbles are appearing in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Israel, and in major urban centers in Turkey, India, Indonesia, and Brazil

Signs that home prices are entering bubble territory in these economies include fast-rising home prices, high and rising price-to-income ratios, and high levels of mortgage debt as a share of household debt. In most advanced economies, bubbles are being inflated by very low short- and long-term interest rates. Given anemic GDP growth, high unemployment, and low inflation, the wall of liquidity generated by conventional and unconventional monetary easing is driving up asset prices, starting with home prices.

The situation is more varied in emerging-market economies. Some that have high per capita income – for example, Israel, Hong Kong, and Singapore – have low inflation and want to maintain low policy interest rates to prevent exchange-rate appreciation against major currencies. Others are characterized by high inflation (even above the central-bank target, as in Turkey, India, Indonesia, and Brazil). In China and India, savings are going into home purchases, because financial repression leaves households with few other assets that provide a good hedge against inflation. Rapid urbanization in many emerging markets has also driven up home prices, as demand outstrips supply.

via Nouriel Roubini warns that policymmakers are powerless to rein in frothy housing markets around the world. – Project Syndicate.

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Asean

ASEAN, France formalise Development Partnership

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ASEAN, France formalise Development Partnership

JAKARTA, 4 MARCH 2021 – ASEAN and France convened the inaugural ASEAN-France Development Partnership Committee (AF-DPC) Meeting via videoconference today, marking the start of a formal partnership to strengthen their long-standing ties.

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Environment

Expedia and Accor join UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge

Expedia Group, a mega booking platform, and the global hotel company Accor are joining forces to extend their commitment to the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge.

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Expedia Group, the global travel platform and Accor, a world leading hospitality group, in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), are joining forces to further extend the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge (hereinafter also “The Pledge”).

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Ecommerce

Disrupted by Covid-19, will South-east Asia’s super apps join forces?

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Disrupted by Covid-19, will South-east Asia's super apps join forces?
– Super apps explore inorganic growth options
– Gojek in talks with e-commerce company Tokopedia over $18bn merger
– Grab reported to be preparing for a public listing in the US
– Food delivery and financial services increasingly important segments

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After a year of external expansion and internal reorganisation due to Covid-19, South-east Asia’s super apps appear to be looking towards mergers and public listings as a strategy for future development.

In early January international media reported that Indonesian ride-hailing and payments giant Gojek was in advanced talks about merging with local e-commerce company Tokopedia, in a deal estimated to be worth $18bn.

Any potential merger between the two would be significant for Indonesia. The two local unicorns could create a digital powerhouse, with integrated services ranging from ride-hailing to digital payments, e-commerce and delivery.

A tie-up would also create numerous synergies, such as Gojek’s fleet being able to serve Tokopedia’s online shopping orders. However, there is also some overlap in the digital payments space, where Gojek’s GoPay platform competes with Ovo, which is 35% owned by Tokopedia, although there is speculation that Tokopedia may look to sell its stake in Ovo.

The news was followed by separate reports in late January that Grab, Gojek’s biggest competitor in South-east Asia, had selected investment banks Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan to help work on an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, set to take place in the second half of the year.

The Singapore-headquartered company, which operates ride-hailing, food delivery, e-payment and insurance services in around 400 cities across eight South-east Asian countries, is valued at around $16bn. Its IPO is expected to raise at least $2bn, which would make it the largest overseas share offering by a South-east Asian company.

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