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Soros Predicts 30 Percent Fall in US Commercial Real Estate Prices



Legendary hedge fund investor George Soros said Thursday that US commercial real estate prices will fall 30 percent, a development that he says shows that the financial crisis is continuing.

Soros told a Washington forum that it is inevitable that commercial property prices in the United States will fall drastically. The 78-year-old investor said the price declines will come shortly. Other experts, including analyst Christopher Whalen, agree, saying the demand for commercial property is falling rapidly while overbuilding has created a huge surplus of supply.

Separately, Nomura Securities chief economist Richard Koo says US residential property prices need to fall a further 20 percent in order to bring rental and purchase price ratios back into normal balance. Average home prices have fallen 20 percent in the past two years. Koo believes the rush to pay down debt incurred during the boom years is holding back consumer spending, insuring that the US economy will remain in recession at least another year.

Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, told another Washington forum that the 20 nations whose leaders hold an emergency financial summit in England next week have already promised significant fiscal stimulus that he believes will ameliorate the effects of global recession.

"It's huge," said Rudd. "As the IMF says if it [stimulus globally] had not been done in the course of the last several months, you'd have nearly 20 million people more who would be unemployed. It is significant and unprecedented, coordinated macro-economic action across the world's largest economies."

Mr. Rudd will be taking part in the G20 London summit. Speaking at the Peterson Institute, he said the meeting must focus on repairing the financial sector.

"The central economic problem today is dealing with impaired assets on the balance sheets of the world's most significant banks," he said. "This is causal. Everything else we're dealing with is actually dealing with the effects."

Mr. Rudd said China and other developing economies need a larger say in the International Monetary Fund. Currently China's weighted votes in the IMF are no bigger than either Holland or Belgium.

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