Friday, October 3, 2008

A real-estate bull market?!

As CNBC host/lunatic Jim Cramer is fond of saying, there's always a bull market somewhere. Exhibit A, Indonesian real estate. In America right now home prices are reaching new lows every quarter, as the long-forgotten housing boom continues to deflate. Oh, and no one can get a mortgage anymore. Because no one has any money, at all.

But I digress. In Indonesia at the moment, real estate seems to be doing just fine, thank you very much. Check out this article, in which Housing Minister Yusuf Asy'hari points out to Reuters that investors - fed up with paltry returns on their bank deposits - are gravitating towards the solidity (and inflation hedge?) of housing. Indeed, prices are up 12% in a year, says the Indonesia Property Study Center.

Such real-estate price pressures aren't all that surprising if you're cramming in 230 million people, most on the island of Java that's only about the size of Mississippi. Asian-property bulls beware, though, that real estate doesn't always go up ... and when it eventually comes back to Earth, as the credit crunch leaks across the Pacific, the carnage could be brutal. Take one look at American foreclosure stats right now, and maybe keeping your money in plain ol' bank accounts isn't that stupid after all.

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