About that house you wanted!

It seems the Dutch are ready to take on the advice the Wijfels commission is giving. Even though not direct, it will end up that you have to pay 20% cash up front for any house or apartment you desire. And indeed, there was the subtle ‘line’ that if you do not have that kind of cash, you should address your pension funds. Interesting on how they are willing to open up pension funds to fund that.

Am I against it? There are two sides to this. On the one hand investing into your own future is perfectly sane. If only there was some level of certainty. You see, the fact that banks leave its taxpayers with their risky investments is one thing, the issue on your house is another.

How does this differ? Actually, it should not. A good house is a good house. However, consider some of the housing. How these houses are currently so much over any normal affordable income. It is nice to see a newscast in comparison with Germany; however, when we look at the quality and square meter price, then these prices are far from average. Of course, when seeking apartments in places like Munich, then yes, the prices might seem comparable. Yet, where we see average Munich prices, that is pretty an average price for living anywhere in the Netherlands. I agree that it is not fair that those factors are accountable to the banks, yet, they were at the centre of events when the prices were artificially pushed upwards.

As they sold mortgages no one cared too much about prices as the interest was tax deductable. When that 7%-9% is no longer part of tax deductibility, then we have a situation where the consumer now pays for it all. Add to that coming up with 20% (in due time) and someone slyly mentions the need to access ones retirement funds, we see another political play to get pensions into the banking equation. There is supporting evidence from all kind of sources. An interesting read was how on average house prices went down in US/UK and other places by well over 20%, whilst in the Netherlands the prices lowered less than 8%. It is unfair to just name one factor, as several economic factors had been in place in other nations too. The US crash never hit the European sides that hard, Europe might still fighting the backwash from those days, but on average Europe never had too much of the hardship the US faced. Another reason is the fact that the Netherlands is pretty much ‘full’. Whilst many nations have plenty of housing space outside of the great cities, the Netherlands has become a connection of large cities, with next to nothing to separate them.

Still this play as such to push people towards their retirement finds is slightly less than acceptable. There is however the other side that must be highlighted too. According to Ernst & Young, between 1996 and 2012, the outstanding mortgage has gone from 138 to 650 billion Euros, That means that outstanding mortgages currently have risen half a trillion Euro’s in just 15 years. Some might think that this is not a lot, yet, consider that that the Dutch population is under 17 million, which seems like the banks remain dealing with 100% of unpaid mortgages. If these numbers are correct, then it bears reason that these numbers should be looked at. Is that actually true? You see, feeling it is wrong, and knowing it is wrong (even with supporting evidence) seems nice from the writers point of view, however what about the reader?

There we get the issue that gives us the crux. When comparing apartments in the Netherlands and comparing them To Sweden and Germany, I noticed something. I lived in two of these locations, so I know what to look for. I compared the Dutch http://www.huizenzoeker.nl, Swedish http://www.bovision.se and German http://en.immostreet.com/germany. When comparing an apartment in Rotterdam and Kista (outskirts of Stockholm) we see a comparable raise of prices, yet overall we get a lot more apartment in Stockholm then in Rotterdam, for comparable prices (30%-40% more living space). This comparison takes an astute dive when we look at Germany, especially Bavaria; where all over the place we can buy 5 bedroom villa’s for a lot less than a two bedroom crinkly monkey apartment in Rotterdam. As such we get a first inkling; if we need 40K to buy a 5-bedroom villa is one thing, needing the same for a 2-bedroom apartment becomes a whole other matter. Interesting how this was not mentioned.

So why so much issues about the mortgage changes? We see a political engine too eagerly bowing to the needs of banks, bowing to a group that has visibly forsaken a population, a group that have left many billions in debts and we still bow to their ‘needs’? Now with the additional need to open up retirement finances that had remained relatively safe until now.

Yet, with the massive outstanding mortgages, what is left?
In addition, knowing that level of outstanding debts, are their demands out of proportions? That question becomes a whole lot more interesting when we consider the following from Bloomberg (source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-23/dutch-mortgage-bond-market-threatened-by-capital-rules-dsa-says.html).

This part throws a whole new hole in these issues. Banks are pushed to outside influences, and even though the government pretend to be fighting the good fight to protect this market, it is interesting that this part was not that visible on the news. It might be that the Wijfels report shows this, but I have not read it, so I cannot tell.

My issue is now with this part of the Bloomberg article “Dutch banks are the second-largest issuers of RMBS in Europe, relying on sales of the securities to help fill a 452 billion-euro funding gap between deposits and loans, Dutch central bank data show.” Excuse me?

Looking at some quick 2011 population numbers:
Germany 81.8 million , France 65.43 million, United Kingdom 62.74 million, Netherlands  16.69 million.

EXCUSE ME?

How (or better why) exactly are the Dutch banks the second largest in Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS)? Even if 100% of the Dutch population is now under mortgage (which is statistically impossible), those numbers are showing an enormous gap. What are we not told? Even if we consider the 25% difference in mortgage funding there are a few questions that should be asked out there. What have the banks been up to, and exactly what questions are not being asked, or better, what part are people and perhaps even politicians not getting information on? Half a trillion Euro funding gap reads like that there is a deficit of half a trillion Euro. That could never be covered by 6 billion in cut backs. Before you think that this has nothing to do with governments then think again, if that shortage is not addressed then that money will have to come from somewhere else. What are the odds that this needs to come from taxation in one way or another next?  More important is the news that people saw over the last year. What buffers do banks have, and if so, how come the Bloomberg (a respectable bringer of news) information was not part of the newscast?

Is this an orchestrate play? It seems to me that a clear yes is in play, however, there are sides to this that do not make sense and they are outside of government controlled sources, sources that currently seemed to remain largely unmentioned. To me it seems that both banks and politicians might need to publicly answer some questions in regards to some of these issues and it would be nice that this is done before banks are given any more leeway or options to shift certain finance issues around.

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