New PDF release: The Economist (14 May 2005)

May well 14-20, 2005. conceal: go back OF THE AXIS OF EVIL, beneficial properties: Detroit and the Unions, Bob Hunter Obit, particular Report-Biofuels ...

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In America and Europe alike, that today looks far from likely. And if oil prices slump, the signals will not come. Yet look at the response, already visible, to the leap in oil prices and the biofuel savings or profit opportunities it represents. 4 billion in 2004. com projects galore. And while one big grain firm, ADM, used to dominate the ethanol industry, many are backed by local farmers, eager for a new outlet as corn prices have slid. In Missouri, 730 farmers put in $24m of $62m needed for a 50m-gallon plant—a size that reflects the cost of corn transport.

Until recently, both were virtually guaranteed. But yields have fallen steeply in the past few years. David Hargreaves of FHP City Living, an estate agent, reckons that rents last peaked three years ago. Prices may soften next. While the value of most properties has soared over the past few years, prices of newly built flats have lagged, and now appear to be declining (see chart). com The problem, says Richard Donnell, head of residential research at Savills, is that so many properties have crowded into a niche market.

By 1998 almost 4,000 were doing so, and the current population numbers between 10,000 and 12,000. This despite the fact that Nottingham has lost more than a tenth of its overall population in the course of the past three decades. Lace Market Properties, which has created about 1,000 flats in Nottingham, can hardly build new ones quickly enough to meet the demand. But few are selling to the young professionals and divorcees who were expected to be clamouring for them. Instead, the boom has been sustained by property syndicates and investors, many of whom reside in Ireland and South Africa.

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The Economist (14 May 2005)

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