Managing House Price Booms: Evolution of IMF Surveillance and Policy Advice

This chapter describes the evolution of IMF monitoring—“surveillance” in the IMF’s jargon—of housing markets from 2008 to the present. It explains how the IMF has assessed overvaluation in housing markets and the advice offered on the policy tools needed to manage house price booms. The IMF’s ‘corporate view’ or ‘house view’ that macroprudential policies must be the first line of defense to deal with house price booms is laid out. The chapter also discusses whether the run-up in house prices over the past few years should be a source of worry. Lastly, the chapter describes how IMF surveillance has adapted as housing markets have become more ‘glocalized’ and developments at the sub-national level gain greater prominence.

In April 2008, the IMF’s flagship publication World Economic Outlook provided estimates of overvaluation in house prices for a group of advanced economies. Though house prices had fallen in the United States in the preceding years, they had continued to rise in many other countries. The IMF’s analysis suggested that, with only a few exceptions, house prices were overvalued by between 10% and 30%, as shown by the bars in Fig. 7.1. The dots show the decline in house prices that occurred over the subsequent 4 years. In many countries where the IMF had assessed house prices to be overvalued, house prices did indeed fall quite significantly—these cases include Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Fast forward to the present: The IMF’s Global House Price Index—a simple average of real house prices for 57 countries—is now back to its level before the global financial crisis (GFC). The index has been inching up since 2012, making the duration of the run-up comparable to one in 2001–06 that ended in house price collapses in many countries. Is it time to worry again about overvaluation?

Read the rest of chapter here and the book here.


Posted by at 11:08 AM

Labels: Global Housing Watch


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