Time to Stop Betting the House

by | Feb 1, 2010

Today, I launch a new paper on risk and resilience in the UK housing market. The report calls for a fundamental shift in the way in which the UK mortgage market is regulated and the how it operates.

The paper is published by the Long Finance Foundation, which is a counter to the short-termism that has brought many first world economies to the brink of penury.

The initiative began with a conundrum – “when would we know our financial system is working?” – and aims to “improve society’s understanding and use of finance over the long-term”. Intent on igniting a global debate on longer-term finance and related issues.

The paper – Time to Stop Betting the House – is being launched at a Long Finance conference on Enduring Value with Brian Eno, Stewart Brand, Faisal Islam, and Avinash Persaud. It argues that:

  • The FSA has failed to understand the scale of challenges facing the British mortgage market, which represents one of the greatest sources of financial risk facing the public.
  • Its regulatory reforms, far from offering the ‘one-off shift’ that Adair Turner has promised, are timorous and unfit for purpose.
  • They leave over-leveraged borrowers highly vulnerable to future economic volatility – with the potential for a second housing crisis to come sooner rather than later.

The paper then sets out two very different visions for a more resilient mortgage market; Edited Choice reduces complexity in the market whilst increasing choice, Melt the Glue creates resilience from the ground up, decreasing the government’s direct involvement during a transitional period where diversity is also reintroduced into the market.

The aim of the report is to catalyse debate on how the financial services industry should be structured in the future – and challenge the thinking of the next government.

You can download the full report here.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at the UN Foundation and at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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