Housing Bubble Goes Global
"The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States is mutating into a global phenomenon, with real estate prices down from the Irish countryside and the Spanish coast to Baltic seaports and even in parts of India.
This synchronized global slowdown, which has become increasingly stark in recent months, is hobbling economic growth worldwide, affecting not just homes, but also jobs.
In Ireland, Spain, Britain and elsewhere, housing markets that soared over the past decade are falling back to earth. Experts predict that some countries, like Ireland, will face an even more wrenching adjustment than the United States, with the possibility that the downturn could turn into wholesale collapse.
To some extent, the world's problems are a result of American contagion. As home financing and credit tighten in response to the crisis that began in the U.S. subprime market, analysts worry that other countries could suffer the mortgage defaults and foreclosures that have afflicted California, Florida and other states.
Citing the far-flung reverberations from the American housing bust and credit squeeze, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast Wednesday for global economic growth this year and warned that the malaise could extend into 2009.
Much of the retrenchment can be attributed to the basic laws of gravity: What goes up must come down. With low interest rates helping to inflate housing bubbles in many countries, economists said, the confluence of falling prices was predictable, if unsettling."