Sunday, 13 April 2014


People in marketing are said to suffer ‘analysis paralysis’. Due to the sheer volume of data, analysts don’t really know where to start and how to go about fixing any particular problem.

Not only that but data and diet obsessions are connected.
 A program called MyFitessPalCalorieCounter and DietTracker provides a database of the caloric values of 3 million foods. Users have  become anorexic because of all the data.  .

Which brings me to something like a point.

Mayor Gregor Robertson was in Hong Kong about a year ago. One Chinese English language paper reported that he brushed off suggestions that mainland migration might be to blame for Vancouver’s stratospheric property prices. 

He told the South China Mainland Press that the assertion was “ridiculous,” adding that mainlanders brought a “great influx of talent and culture”. [ ]

Understandably,  he had confused the law of supply and demand with Chinese talent and culture.

Until now there has been little backlash or even discussion about offshore investment in Vancouver.  There are dwellings all over town that are vacant. Asian investors often prefer it that way. Should this be addressed by taxation? No one in authority wants to talk about it.  

Why is that? 

  • One reason is that there are a lot of us including homeowners, realtors, developers and governments who have a vested interest in seeing property values rising forever. 
  • It could be our innate political correctness. 
  •  Also,  better data will not be forthcoming so long as it has proprietary value, and its absence absolves the government from having to do anything about it. 
  • Add to the mix, we suffer from a data obsession. We seem to feel that every  problem can be addressed only after there has been a poll, a referendum or a double blind study. We need to remember, however, that we are not testing medications. The standards required of medical research are not called for.

Columnist, Barbara Yaffe noted recently that the absence of data on the Vancouver real estate market is ‘mind boggling.’

Even though we do not have the ontological proof of  whether buyers  from Luxembourg,  China or Toronto are driving up prices the government could address the issue, if it wanted to.  

It has to first recognize that when our residential property is used purely for passive investment by other countries, the inability of the younger generation to buy becomes a serious problem.  One of my US readers makes this comment: "Society in the form of community is unprotected by laws that have burgeoned as governments have discovered that there is more money in property than in community. The result is that so long as people can be kept just quiescent enough to maintain the civil order, property will remain ascendant."

There is plenty of information on what other countries do. China, for example,  imposed new restrictions on property sales in 2010. Foreigners can own only one residential property for their own use (permanent residents are restricted to two properties). Foreigners must reside in the country for one year before they can buy property. Foreign companies who buy commercial real estate must use it themselves. Australia, France, Switzerland and other countries have their own regulations. Britain is contemplating an annual capital tax on vacant residential buildings.

The lamest excuse, however, is that the government can do nothing without more data.