London's Luxu R Y F Lat Boom

The Spectator, May 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

London's Luxu R Y F Lat Boom


Think of a currency which has intrinsic value, is highly constrained in its supply and to boot is actually useful, even if only occasionally. It isn't sterling, the dollar or even the Swiss franc - or the Bitcoin. But then neither does gold quite meet the criteria, unless half a pound of bling around your neck has some form of utility.

But what about upmarket London property? You can touch it, feel it. You live in it, too, even if it is just for a couple of weeks each August when it is too hot in Dubai and the streets of Kensington are relatively empty to allow the odd spin in your Maserati. And it has a scarcity even greater than gold.

Last year the total quantity of mined gold in the world increased by 1.5 per cent, to 174,000 tonnes. The number of residential properties in Westminster rose by 0.7 per cent and the number in Kensington and Chelsea by 0.1 per cent - a mere 100 properties being added to the housing stock.

If only the Bank of England's monetary policy committee were as reserved as London's planners, savers would be very happy indeed. In fact, London's planners make the old Deutsche Bank look cavalier. Small wonder, then, that with the printing presses still pumping out banknotes with abandon, the world's wealthy are ditching paper currencies and piling into posh London flats.

Prices of prime London properties have risen 53 per cent since the nadir of the market in 2009, according to Knight Frank, and stand 16 per cent higher than they did at the height of the last boom. And it isn't Sloane Rangers who are driving up prices. …

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