Many journalistic sources have been commenting on the possibility that house prices in Canada have risen at unsustainable rates. Recently, The Economist printed:
Household debt has climbed to almost 170% of post-tax income. House prices rose by 20% in the year to April. Looked at relative to rents, they have deviated from their long-run average by more than any other big country The Economist covers in its global house-price index. In Toronto, one of two cities, along with Vancouver, where the boom has been concentrated, rental yields are barely above the cost of borrowing, even though interest rates are at record lows. In its twice-yearly health-check on the financial system, published this month, the Bank of Canada concluded that “extrapolative expectations” are a feature of the market. In other words, people are buying because they hope, or fear, that prices will keep rising.
They also note that house price inflation in Toronto is above 30%.
To me, a lot of this coverage seems to miss the link between house price inflation and global wealth inequality. People who own valuable assets have, in many cases, seen their wealth rise rapidly, while those reliant on wages have seen it stagnate or fall.
I think governments ought to be thinking much more seriously about policy mechanisms to curb inequality, including wealth taxes and guaranteed minimum incomes. This is both because much of the accumulation of wealth by the wealthy has been undeserved and because inequality distorts politics and social relations, making it harder to confront other problems.