Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's Official: Inflation is Back! (And it may be worse than you think)

Inflation is back. It's official, and you can blame costlier gasoline and other fuels. The tab for common services like a hotel stay and garbage removal are jumping too, as is the sticker price on packaged foods and many other household items. Companies are finding that they can pass on part of their soaring raw-material costs. There is a general consensus among American economic circles that interest rates are on the rise. And this concern is beginning to spill across the border into Canadian economic circles as well.

Typically there is an inflation that the government measures and the 'other' inflation that we are all used to feel but cannot see. Inflation that we all feel but can't see comes in many forms. For example, real estate prices have gone through the roof, so cash buyers are paying through the nose. Borrowers are increasingly resorting to floating-rate and interest-only loans, especially in the U.S., which all but guarantee that they will pay more over the life of their loans. But Canadians are poised to follow suit with the spread of the ever more popular 'Powerlines' and credit cards secured by real estate which, once again, have the deleterious effect of keeping you into debt for the rest of your life.

We all face notoriously soaring insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays as employers shift more of the burden onto employees. Here in British Columbia, for example, Strata insurance premiums have more than doubled in the past year, with strata corporations - especially the financially weak - having no choice but to allot the extra cost to individual property owners.

Even Alan Greenspan, the once revered and now outgoing Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, is coming under fire. Once known as the 'Maestro' for his impeccable talent at predicting economic behavior, and after being treated like royalty for presiding over the longest economic boom in the nation's history, Greenspan is now being accused by a small but vocal group of economists of presiding over the U.S.'s high consumer debt, low personal-savings rates, declining dollar and potential real estate bubble. And all this comes at a time when the U.S. is dependent more than ever on foreign money to sustain growth.

The dependence on foreign capital, Asian in the West and European in the East, is a great source of concern for Canada as well. As China is becoming a major economic player and is fueling its own economic growth, and as Europe is coming to grip with the reality of an oversold, overstrong, overvalued Euro compared with the relative weakness of many European economies, the worry is that this foreign injection into the Canadian economy will soon evaporate, thus leaving domestic growth without fuel .... the typical Mercedes without gas.

So where does all this leave mundane folks like you and I? All I can tell my readers and real estate aficionados of my blog is:


Luigi Frascati

Luigi Frascati is a Real Estate Agent based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics and maintains a weblog entitled the Real Estate Chronicle at where you can find the full collection of his articles. Luigi is associated with the Sutton Group, the largest real estate organization in Canada, and is based with Sutton-Centre Realty in Burnaby, BC.

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