door Robert J. Shiller

Niettemin verwachtte ik geen zeepbelverhaal toen ik onlangs Colombia bezocht. Maar opnieuw vertelden de mensen me daar over een aanhoudende vastgoedzeepbel, en mijn chauffeur reed me rond in het aan zee gelegen stadje Cartagena, terwijl hij me op verbaasde toon wees op diverse huizen die even tevoren voor miljoenen dollars waren verkocht.

De Banco de la República, de centrale bank van Colombia, heeft een huizenprijzenindex voor drie grote steden - Bogotá, Medellín en Cali. Die index is sinds 2004 in reële (voor de inflatie gecorrigeerde) termen met 69% gestegen, waarbij het grootste deel van de stijging zich heeft voorgedaan na 2007. Deze groei doet denken aan de ervaring in de Verenigde Staten, waar de S&P/Case-Shiller Ten-City Home Price Index tussen het dieptepunt in 1997 en de piek in 2006 in reële termen met 131% is gestegen.

Dat roept de vraag op wat een speculatieve zeepbel nu precies is. De Oxford English Dictionary definieert een zeepbel als “alles wat fragiel, niet- substantieel, leeg of waardeloos is, en een bedrieglijk beeld geeft. Vanaf de 17de eeuw dikwijls van toepassing op misleidende commerciële of financiële praktijken”. Het probleem is dat woorden als “bedrieglijk” en “misleidend” duiden op doelbewust handelen in plaats van op een wijdverbreid sociaal fenomeen dat door geen enkele impresario wordt gedirigeerd.

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