These Global Cities Show the Highest Real Estate Bubble Risk
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These Global Cities Show the Highest Real Estate Bubble Risk

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World map showing which cities show the greatest real estate bubble risk

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These Global Cities Show the Highest Real Estate Bubble Risk

Housing bubbles are a tricky phenomenon. As a market gathers steam and prices increase, it remains a matter of debate whether that market is overvalued and flooded with speculation, or it’s simply experiencing robust demand.

Of course, once a bubble bursts, it’s all obvious in hindsight.

One common red flag is when prices decouple from local incomes and rents. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, examines 25 global cities, scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Overinflated Markets

In the 2022 edition of the Real Estate Bubble Index, nine of the cities covered were classified as having extreme bubble risk (1.5 or higher score).

RankRisk CategoryCityBubble Index Score
#1🔴🇨🇦 Toronto2.24
#2🔴🇩🇪 Frankfurt2.21
#3🔴🇨🇭 Zurich1.81
#4🔴🇩🇪 Munich1.80
#5🔴🇭🇰 Hong Kong1.71
#6🔴🇨🇦 Vancouver1.70
#7🔴🇳🇱 Amsterdam1.62
#8🔴🇮🇱 Tel Aviv1.59
#9🔴🇯🇵 Tokyo1.56
#10🟠🇺🇸 Miami1.39
#11🟠🇺🇸 Los Angeles1.31
#12🟠🇸🇪 Stockholm1.22
#13🟠🇫🇷 Paris1.21
#14🟠🇦🇺 Sydney1.19
#15🟠🇨🇭 Geneva1.14
#16🟠🇬🇧 London1.08
#17🟠🇺🇸 San Francisco0.78
#18🟠🇺🇸 Boston0.75
#19🟠🇪🇸 Madrid0.59
#20🟠🇺🇸 New York0.57
#21🟠🇸🇬 Singapore0.50
#22🟢🇮🇹 Milan0.34
#23🟢🇧🇷 Sao Paulo0.20
#24🟢🇦🇪 Dubai0.16
#25🟢🇵🇱 Warsaw0.15

Canada’s largest city finds itself at the top of a ranking no city wants to end up on. Toronto’s home prices have been rising steadily for years now, and many, including UBS, believe that the city is now firmly in bubble territory.

Chart showing Toronto's rising home prices

Vancouver also finds itself in a similar position. Both Canadian cities have a high quality of life and have thriving tech industries.

Notably, none of the U.S. cities analyzed find themselves in the most extreme bubble risk category. The closest scoring U.S. city was Miami, which sits firmly in overvalued territory (0.5-1.5 range) with a score of 1.39.

Examining the Trends

In recent years, low interest rates helped push home prices and incomes further apart.

For cities in the bubble risk zone, prices have climbed by an average of 60% in inflation-adjusted terms over the past decade, while rents and real incomes increased by just 12%. And, while COVID-19 briefly put a dent in urban demand, rents in the cities analyzed rose at around the same pace as pre-pandemic times.

As a result, all but three of the cities saw positive price growth over the past year from a nominal price perspective:

Chart showing real estate price growth rates in global cities in 2021

U.S. cities occupy a number of spots at the top of this chart. Miami, in particular, is seeing strong internal migration patterns, as well as renewed interest from foreign investors.

Hong Kong experienced the biggest one-year nominal drop of all the cities analyzed. The report notes that since around 2019 Hong Kong “has broadly stagnated as the lack of affordability, economic woes, and pandemic restrictions all took a major toll on demand.”

Prices can’t rise forever. According to UBS, most cities with high valuations, price corrections have already begun, or could be right around the corner.

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When Will Air Travel Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels?

COVID-19 hit the air travel industry hard. But passenger traffic is slowly recovering, and by 2025, things are expected to return to ‘normal.’

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when will air travel return to pre-COVID levels?

When Will Air Travel Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels?

Many industries were hit hard by the global pandemic, but it can be argued that air travel suffered one of the most severe blows.

The aviation industry as a whole suffered an estimated $370 billion loss in global revenue because of COVID-19. And while air travel has been slowly recovering from the trough, flight passenger traffic has yet to fully bounce back.

Where is the industry at in 2022 compared to pre-COVID times, and when is air passenger travel expected to return to regular levels? This graphic by Julie R. Peasley uses data from IATA to show current and projected air passenger ridership.

Air Travel Traffic: 2021 and 2022

After an incredibly difficult 2020, the airline industry started to see significant improvements in travel frequency. But compared to pre-pandemic levels, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

In 2021, overall passenger numbers only reached 47% of 2019 levels. This influx was largely driven by domestic travel, with international passenger numbers only reaching 27% of pre-COVID levels.

Passenger numbers (% of 2019)20212022
International27%69%
Domestic61%93%
Africa46%76%
Asia Pacific40%68%
Caribbean44%72%
Central America72%96%
Europe40%86%
Middle East42%81%
North America56%94%
South America51%88%
Industry-wide47%83%

From a regional perspective, Central America experienced one of the fastest recoveries. In 2021, overall passenger numbers in the region had reached 72% of 2019 levels, and they are projected to reach 96% by the end of 2022.

In fact, the Americas as a whole has seen a quick recovery. Both North America and South America also reached above 50% of 2019 ridership in 2021, and are projected to reach 94% and 88% ridership in 2022, respectively.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Asia Pacific has experienced the slowest recovery. This is likely due to stricter lockdowns and travel restrictions put into effect in this region (which was harder hit by SARS in 2003), especially in places like Shanghai.

Forecasting Traffic in 2023 and Beyond

While recovery has looked different from region to region, airlines are largely expected to see a full recovery to their ridership levels by 2025.

Forecasted Passengers (% of 2019)202320242025
International82%92%101%
Domestic103%111%118%
Africa85%93%101%
Asia Pacific84%97%109%
Caribbean82%92%101%
Central America102%109%115%
Europe96%105%111%
Middle East90%98%105%
North America102%107%112%
South America97%103%108%
Industry-wide94%103%111%

This recovery is a signifier of a much broader mindset shift, as governments continue to reassess their COVID-19 management strategies.

But while the future seems promising, IATA stressed that the forecast does not take into account the potential impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and other geopolitical concerns, which could have far-reaching consequences on the global economy (and travel) in the coming years.

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All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization (2022)

From the wealth held to billionaires to all debt in the global financial system, we look at the vast universe of money and markets in 2022.

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All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization

The era of easy money is now officially over.

For 15 years, policymakers have tried to stimulate the global economy through money creation, zero interest-rate policies, and more recently, aggressive COVID fiscal stimulus.

With capital at near-zero costs over this stretch, investors started to place more value on cash flows in the distant future. Assets inflated and balance sheets expanded, and money inevitably chased more speculative assets like NFTs, crypto, or unproven venture-backed startups.

But the free money party has since ended, after persistent inflation prompted the sudden reversal of many of these policies. And as Warren Buffett says, it’s only when the tide goes out do you get to see “who’s been swimming naked.”

Measuring Money and Markets in 2022

Every time we publish this visualization, our common unit of measurement is a two-dimensional box with a value of $100 billion.

Even though you need many of these to convey the assets on the balance sheet of the U.S. Federal Reserve, or the private wealth held by the world’s billionaires, it’s quite amazing to think what actually fits within this tiny building block of measurement:

What fits in a $100 billion box?

Our little unit of measurement is enough to pay for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, while also buying every team in the NHL and digging FTX out of its financial hole several times over.

Here’s an overview of all the items we have listed in this year’s visualization:

Asset categoryValueSourceNotes
SBF (Peak Net Worth)$26 billionBloombergNow sits at <$1B
Pro Sports Teams$340 billionForbesMajor pro teams in North America
Cryptocurrency$760 billionCoinMarketCapPeaked at $2.8T in 2021
Ukraine GDP$130 billionWorld BankComparable to GDP of Mississippi
Russia GDP$1.8 trillionWorld BankThe world's 11th largest economy
Annual Military Spending$2.1 trillionSIPRI2021 data
Physical currency$8.0 trillionBIS2020 data
Gold$11.5 trillionWorld Gold CouncilThere are 205,238 tonnes of gold in existence
Billionaires$12.7 trillionForbesSum of fortunes of all 2,668 billionaires
Central Bank Assets$28.0 trillionTrading EconomicsFed, BoJ, Bank of China, and Eurozone only
S&P 500$36.0 trillionSlickchartsNov 20, 2022
China GDP$17.7 trillionWorld Bank
U.S. GDP$23.0 trillionWorld Bank
Narrow Money Supply$49.0 trillionTrading EconomicsIncludes US, China, Euro Area, Japan only
Broad Money Supply $82.7 trillionTrading EconomicsIncludes US, China, Euro Area, Japan only
Global Equities$95.9 trillionWFELatest available 2022 data
Global Debt$300.1 trillionIIFQ2 2022
Global Real Estate$326.5 trillionSavills2020 data
Global Private Wealth$463.6 trillionCredit Suisse2022 report
Derivatives (Market)$12.4 trillionBIS
Derivatives (Notional)$600 trillionBIS

Has the Dust Settled Yet?

Through previous editions of our All the World’s Money and Markets visualization, we’ve created snapshots of the world’s assets and markets at different points in time.

For example, in our 2017 edition of this visualization, Apple’s market capitalization was only $807 billion, and all crypto assets combined for $173 billion. The global debt total was at $215 trillion.

Asset2017 edition2022 editionChange (%)
Apple market cap$807 billion$2.3 trillion+185%
Crypto$173 billion$760 billion+339%
Fed Balance Sheet$4.5 trillion$8.7 trillion+93%
Stock Markets$73 trillion$95.9 trillion+31%
Global Debt$215 trillion$300 trillion+40%

And in just five years, Apple nearly quadrupled in size (it peaked at $3 trillion in January 2022), and crypto also expanded into a multi-trillion dollar market until it was brought back to Earth through the 2022 crash and subsequent FTX implosion.

Meanwhile, global debt continues to accumulate—growing by $85 trillion in the five-year period.

With interest rates expected to continue to rise, companies making cost cuts, and policymakers reining in spending and borrowing, today is another unique snapshot in time.

Now that the easy money era is over, where do things go from here?

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