Daily Archives: February 1, 2007

Boom in house prices blamed for soaring level of repossessions

The Scotsman | Feb 1, 2007 

MORTGAGE repossessions soared to 17,000 in 2006 and are likely to continue rising for the next two years, according to mortgage analysts.

Figures released yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders show the total was 65 per cent higher than in 2005, working out at roughly one in every 690 homeowners and more than any year since 2000.

Around 19,000 repossessions are expected this year, rising to 20,000 in 2008 as interests rate rises feed through.

Michael Coogan, the CML’s director general, said repossessions were higher than the low of 6,030 in 2004, but still only around a quarter of the 1991 peak of 75,540.

“This reflects a slight worsening in prospects since the previous forecast,” he said.

Although the figures have nearly tripled in two years, they represent just 0.15 per cent of all current home loans.

Responding to the latest CML figures, Nick Fletcher, policy and public affairs officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, said: “Rising house prices are without doubt a contributing factor, with people often stretching themselves financially to afford a home.

“This has led to people borrowing four times or more their income. Many of these people will be vulnerable to fluctuations in interest rates or in their economic circumstances.

“A small change can suddenly make their mortgage repayments unaffordable and lead to them being in arrears with the prospect or repossession around the corner.”

Chavez given absolute power

The Scotsman | Feb 1, 2007 


Hugo Chavez, right, is now considered more dangerous by the US than Cuba’s leader, Fidel Castro, left.

VENEZUELA’S president, Hugo Chavez, yesterday assumed the right to rule by decree for 18 months, allowing him unfettered power to lead the country down the path to his new socialist model.

“The president needs this enabling law to deepen the revolution,” said the politician Hermes Garcia as the National Assembly voted to grant the president special powers. “He needs these powers to take Venezuela to a truly socialist state.”

Mr Chavez yesterday got “the mother of all revolutionary laws” that he called for after his landslide victory in December, so he can implement his new social and economic model, dubbed “Socialism of the 21st century”.

The last time Mr Chavez was given these special powers was in November 2001 when he issued 49 decrees that prompted the opposition to stage massive street protests. These led to a coup in April 2002, allegedly backed by Washington, which unseated the president for 48 hours.

The opposition today has been decimated by eight years of Chavismo, but deep suspicion remains as to where Mr Chavez will take the country, even among his supporters. “Look, he is cooking up a new country,” said John Szenaval, 34, a motorcycle courier. “The only problem is he alone gets to choose the ingredients that are being thrown into the pot, and so nobody is sure how it is going to taste. Plenty of gunpowder is going in as well, and that could explode any moment.”