Global house price boom amplifies bubble risks -Exploring cultivated meat – When Nike released this shoe last year, it sold out online within minutes. How did it get so hard to buy sneakers?

Today we at TextileFuture provide you in our Newsletter with three different features of highest interest.

The first item is the study by the Swiss internationally active bank UBS entitled “Global house price boom amplifies buble risks“. This feature gives ypou the latest global facts and figures around the world with a focus on housing. That can interest each individual, either trying to buy your own home.

The second feature is also of general interest, because it might answer all of your questions in view to artificially created meat. Because of the climate change this is also of high interest. It is prepared by McKinsey and presenting all the necessary aspects tomake up your own mind. It is entitled “Exploring cultivated Meat”. Researchers around the globe hope to find the right solutions to make the new type acceptable to our tastes. The results are at a pilot stage and it is difficult to forecast its acception. Judge for yourself!

The third item is built around the Fight for Sneakers, because “When Nike released this shoe last year, it sold out online within minutes. How did it get so hard to buy sneakers? The feature shows the history of Sneakers and is enjoyably garnished with photographs and collector’s values indications.

Thus again, we think, that we made the right choices for your interests. May you have a sucessful week ahead.

That is the beginning of the first item:

Global house price boom amplifies bubble risks

According to the UBS Global Real estate Bubble Index, Frankfurt, Toronto, and Hong Kong exhibit the most elevated risk levels on housing markets. For the study, UBS analysed residential property prices in 25 major cities around the world. From mid-2020 to mid-2021, inflation-adjusted house price growth in these cities, accelerated to 6 %, the highest annual increase since 2014.

The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index 2021, a yearly study by UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office, indicates that the bubble risk has on average increased during the last year, as has the potential of a severe price correction in many of the cities tracked by the index.

Frankfurt, Toronto, and Hong Kong top this year’s index, with the three cities warranting the most pronounced bubble risk assessments in the analyzed housing markets. Risk is also elevated in Munich and Zurich; Vancouver and Stockholm have both reentered the bubble risk zone. Amsterdam and Paris complete the list of cities with bubble risk. All US cities evaluated—Miami (replacing Chicago in the index this year), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and New York—are in overvalued territory. Housing market imbalances are also high in Tokyo, Sydney, Geneva, London, Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Singapore, while Madrid, Milan, and Warsaw remain fairly valued. Dubai is the only undervalued market and the only one to be classified in a lower category than last year.

Hot but likely short-lived housing boom

House price growth on average accelerated to 6% in inflation-adjusted terms from mid-2020 to mid-2021. All but four cities—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—saw their house prices increase. And double-digit growth was even recorded in five cities: Moscow; Stockholm; and the cities around the Pacific, Sydney, Tokyo, and Vancouver. A combination of special circumstances has sparked this price rally.

Claudio Saputelli, Head Real Estate at UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office, explained: “The coronavirus pandemic confined many people within their own four walls, amplifying the importance of living space, and leading to a higher willingness to pay for housing.” At the same time, already favorable financing conditions have improved even more as lending standards for home buyers have been relaxed. Moreover, higher saving rates and booming equity markets have freed up additional housing equity.

More leverage, more risk

The low user cost of owning property compared with renting at the moment, along with the expectation of ever-growing house prices, makes homeownership seemingly attractive for households, regardless of price levels and leverage. This rationale may keep markets running for the time being. But households have to borrow increasingly large amounts of money to keep up with higher property prices.

In fact, growth of outstanding mortgages has accelerated almost everywhere in the last quarters, and consequently debt-to-income ratios have risen. Overall, housing markets have become even more dependent on very low interest rates, so that tightening of lending standards could bring price appreciation to an abrupt halt in most markets. Nevertheless, leverage and debt growth rates are still well below their all-time highs in many countries. From this perspective, the housing market is unlikely to cause major disruptions on global financial markets for the time being.

First-time urban housing underperformance in a quarter of a century

In addition to lower financing costs, urbanization was the main pillar of house price appreciation in city centers in the last decade. However, city life has suffered a considerable blow from lockdowns. Economic activity has spread outward from city centers to their (sometimes distant) suburbs and satellites—and so has the demand for housing. Consequently, for the first time since the early 1990s, housing prices in non-urban areas have increased faster than in cities over the last four quarters.

While some effects may be transitory, this reversal weakens the case for quasi-guaranteed house price appreciation in city centers. The impact of this shift in demand will likely be even bigger in regions with stagnating or even shrinking populations (e.g., in Europe), as supply will have an easier time keeping up with demand.

Matthias Holzhey, lead author of the study and Head Swiss Real Estate at UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office, concludes: “A long, lean spell for city housing markets looks more and more probable, even if interest rates remain low.”

Regional perspectives


Zurich’s housing remains in the bubble risk zone, and its score rose sharply between mid-2020 and mid-2021. The market has been overheating, and offered volumes have fallen to a record low. Especially in the bidding process, buyers are at risk of paying excessive prices relative to other Swiss regions, as expectations of rising prices are deeply entrenched. Furthermore, Zurich has the highest price-to-rent ratio among all analyzed cities, which makes the market very vulnerable to interest rate hikes. Zurich’s price and index scores also continue to top Geneva’s.

Geneva’s index score has been on the rise since 2018 and is in overvalued territory. Prices have reached an all-time high, surpassing the previous peak in 2013. As Geneva’s rental market is highly regulated and rents are inflated, homeownership is still attractive, underpinned by historically low mortgage rates. In both Swiss cities, a broad market correction is not in the offing in the short run. Geneva continues to benefit from its relative stability and international status, and Zurich remains highly attractive as a business location and is enjoying robust employment growth. In the long run, however, there is cause for caution with regard to both cities. If interest rates trend higher and demand growth shifts away to the suburbs and periphery given low affordability in the city centers, today’s inflated prices may not be sustainable.


Imbalances remain sky-high in Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam, cities from core Eurozone countries. Housing markets remain under the spell of the European Central Bank’s negative interest rate policy and easy lending standards. But price increases have slowed over the last year and fallen behind the respective national averages as city centers have become less affordable and demand has shifted to the suburbs and satellites. Nevertheless, a price correction is not imminent as long as job creation within these cities remains strong and interest rates stay negative. By contrast, the housing markets in Milan and Madrid were hit harder by the pandemic. Strict and long lockdowns brought housing market recoveries to a halt. A period of sustained and healthy economic growth would be needed to trigger a housing boom in these cities.

Although price growth in London still trails the nationwide average, the pandemic has led to the bottoming out of the city’s housing market, which remains overvalued. The rise of home and flexible office models sparked an increase in demand and accelerated price growth for homes with more space and greater affordability (i.e., outside of the city center). By contrast, Inner London’s housing market has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Benefitting from relaxed financing conditions, Moscow and Stockholm have recorded the highest price growth rates among all analyzed cities over the last four quarters, and the market imbalances have increased sharply. Warsaw’s housing market has remained fairly valued, as price growth has fallen behind the nationwide average.

Middle East

In Tel Aviv, falling mortgage rates and rapid population growth have pushed up prices. Moreover, the government has lowered the purchase tax for second homes, even encouraging housing market speculation as the market again approaches bubble risk territory. As a result, the market is highly overvalued. By contrast, prices in Dubai were still falling leading up to the end of 2020, and the market is now undervalued. Improved affordability, easier mortgage regulations, higher oil prices, and an economic rebound now seem to have finally kick-started a recovery. Although construction has slowed, essentially limitless supply poses a risk for long-term appreciation prospects.


Market imbalances increased in all analyzed APAC cities from mid-2020 to mid-2021. Hong Kong is the only market in the bubble risk zone, despite three years of nearly stagnating real estate prices. But the housing market shows signs of heating up again. Price growth has accelerated, and sales have even reached the highest level ever recorded, with robust housing demand in the upper price and luxury segment. That said, the government is eager to actively increase the new housing supply over the medium-to-long term, which could have structural price dampening effects. In Singapore house price and income growth were aligned for over two decades. Since 2018, however, stronger price growth has returned as the city has benefited from higher foreign demand. The market is in slightly overvalued territory, as prices have started to outpace rents and incomes. But imbalances still look moderate compared with most other cities analyzed in the study.

The correction period for Sydney’s housing market has been brief. Easier lending standards and the Reserve Bank of Australia´s rate cuts have reflated the market. Without a turnaround in interest rates, the decade-long upward trend of house prices is likely to continue given ongoing population growth. Real estate prices in Tokyo have been increasing almost continuously for over two decades, bolstered by attractive financing conditions and population growth. But the housing price level in the capital has decoupled increasingly from the rest of the country, leading to stretched affordability that will likely curb future price growth.


The index scores have been relatively stable over the last five years in the East Coast cities. By contrast, the West Coast markets have developed less consistently. In Los Angeles, the index score has continued to increase, while in San Francisco valuations have declined due to falling home prices. Overall, the drop of mortgage rates to historically low levels has supported house prices in the US. But price changes in the analyzed cities trail the nationwide average. Inner-city demand growth has slowed as citizens have moved out to the suburbs either because of affordability issues or in response to the impacts of COVID-19. Continued migration to lower-cost and more tax-, business-, and regulatory-friendly states has accelerated this trend.

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. UBS is the largest truly global wealth manager, and a leading personal and corporate bank in Switzerland, with a large-scale and diversified global asset manager and a focused investment bank. The bank focuses on businesses that have a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital efficient, and have an attractive long-term structural growth or profitability outlook.

UBS is present in all major financial centres worldwide. It has offices in more than 50 regions and locations, with about 30 % of its employees working in the Americas, 30 % in Switzerland, 19 % in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 21% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs more than 72000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Here starts the second feature:

Exploring cultivated meat

By guest authors Tom Brennan is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Philadelphia office, Joshua Katz is a partner in the Stamford office, Yossi Quint is an alumnus of the New York office, Boyd Spencer is an associate partner in the Charlotte office, and Michael Taksyak is a partner in the Tel Aviv office.

Only recently it was a futuristic dream—but today, cultivated meat is a product, consumers are just beginning to taste. The next step is scaling a global in the near future, could diners around the world really dig into authentic chops, burgers, and fillets that don’t come from animals? The cultivated-meat industry is already creating meat grown in production facilities where animals are barely part of the process. To explore this cutting-edge food category, two industry pioneers and two McKinsey experts explain what cultivated meat is and how it differs from plant-based meat, when consumers worldwide will be able to try it, and how it could grow to become a global industry. For a deeper dive into where cultivated meat is headed, explore McKinsey’s research on the topic.industry.

Cultivated meat is still mostly in the pilot stage, but it has the potential to grow into a global industry. Costs need to come down, production needs to increase, and technological breakthroughs that improve the taste and texture of products need to continue. McKinsey partner Joshua Katz explains which industries can play a role in growing cultivated meat into a market that could potentially provide a half of a percent of the world’s protein by 2030.

Related Video

In this interview, Josh Tetrick, cofounder and CEO of cultivated-meat company Eat Just, Inc., talks about how radical innovations eventually come to seem normal. His company moved the needle for the cultivated-meat industry in December 2020, when Eat Just chicken was introduced to diners in Singapore—the first country to give regulatory approval for consumer consumption. The entrepreneur examines two issues facing the industry: how to create enough cultivated meat to make an impact on the world’s food system and how to work with other food companies for maximum effect.

Related Video

Cultivated meat is meat; it’s the production process that is different, explains Didier Toubia, the cofounder and CEO of cultivated meat start-up Aleph Farms. The company makes steaks that are designed to look, taste, and cook just like conventional beef steaks. In this video interview, he discusses how his products are made, how they differ from plant-based meat products, and when consumers will be able to try them.

Related Video

What is cultivated meat? Is it safe and healthy to eat? What are the potential benefits of making these products available to consumers? McKinsey associate partner Tom Brennan explains the basic concept behind cultivated meat, explores what we know about its health profile, and describes why this technology may democratize dining in surprising ways.

Related Video

McKinsey has looked deeply into the topic of alternative proteins and the future of food. Explore our insights into plant-based meat, the global protein landscape, and agricultural innovation on

This is the start of the third feature:

When Nike released this shoe last year, it sold out online within minutes. How did it get so hard to buy sneakers?

Welcome to the bot wars

The sneaker craze began nearly four decades ago, with the debut of the first Air Jordan.

All captions courtesy by the New York Times

Back then, sneakerheads who wanted to get their hands on the latest styles had to do so in person.

Limited-edition shoes, many of them designed in collaboration with statusy street wear brands, would command long lines outside shops.

As the value of these rare sneakers rose, high-profile releases became more chaotic at stores, and sales began to move online.

Brands aggressively rolled out themed drops, such as these New Balances, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s love of sailing.

Then Kanye West entered the game, turning shoe-buying into a social media frenzy.

Digital releases created demand for automated checkout software — i.e. bots — that would enable some shoppers to buy up supplies of rare shoes, then sell them at a premium.

These days, bots are increasingly sophisticated, but so are the defenses retailers are implementing to combat them in this high-tech arms race.

The Fight for Sneakers

By guest author Daisuke Wakabayashi from the New York Times. She covers technology from San Francisco, including Google and other companies. Previously, he spent eight years at The Wall Street Journal, first as a foreign correspondent in Japan and then covering technology in San Francisco.

When Bodega, a streetwear shop in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, released a hyped, limited-edition New Balance 997S sneaker in 2019, the entire stock sold out online in under 10 minutes.

There was one problem, though: About 60 percent of Bodega’s sales went to shoppers gaming the system with bots, timesaving automation software used to speed through checkout. The bots had claimed hundreds of pairs of New Balances for a single customer; many other shoppers failed to secure just one.

“We got destroyed by bots,” said Jay Gordon, one of Bodega’s owners. “It was making it impossible for our average customers to even have a shot at the shoes.”

Shoppers armed with specialised sneaker bots can deplete a store’s inventory in the time it takes a person to select a size and fill in shipping and payment information. For limited-release shoes, the time advantage afforded by a bot could mean the difference between disappointment and hundreds of dollars in instant profit.

In the case of Bodega’s New Balance drop, one person managed to buy a pair of the USD 160 sneakers before the product page was even live. Others seemed to navigate the site with superhuman efficiency, zooming from product page to purchase confirmation in 30 seconds.

Though Bodega had limited each shopper to a maximum of three pairs, the store found that it was about to ship 200 pairs of New Balances to several addresses in the same apartment building in New Jersey.

To most customers, bots are the bane of online shopping. But for sneaker brands and retailers, the relationship is more complicated.

Thanks to resale sites like StockX and GOAT, collectible sneakers have become an asset class, where pricing corresponds loosely to how quickly an item sells out. Sophisticated sneaker bots, which can cost thousands of dollars, are key to creating the artificial scarcity that makes a sneaker valuable and, in turn, makes a brand seem cool.

It all raises a big, difficult question: If the bots lose, who wins?

Status Sneakers and the ‘Swoosh Curve’

For most of the 20th century, sneakers were considered little more than utilitarian footwear for sports. But that changed dramatically in the 1980s, in large part because of Nike’s Air Jordan. The original Jordans came out in red, black and white — so defiantly different from other sneakers at the time that the National Basketball Association fined Michael Jordan for breaking its “uniformity of uniform rule.”

The original Jordans and subsequent models ushered in a new era. Sneakers were no longer bland shoes with extra padding and rubber soles; they were fashion accessories and expressions of identity. It wasn’t long before sneakers became a collector’s item starting in the early 2000s when Nike released Dunks, originally a basketball shoe, in limited quantities at independent skateboarding shops, such as FTC in San Francisco and Uprise in Chicago.

Nike often collaborated with skaters, designers and streetwear brands such as Supreme, which elevated the SB (for skateboarding) Dunks into a status symbol. Each release had a unique look, back story and catchy nickname that made the shoe feel more exclusive. For example, the so-called Tiffany dunks featured a turquoise color that resembled the boxes of the famed jeweller.

Over the last decade, most major sneaker brands have turned to high-profile collaborations. Kanye West worked with Nike and Adidas on realizing his vision for Yeezys. Nike teamed with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White to put a new spin on popular shoes from the company’s archives. Nike also tapped the design sense of Travis Scott for more than a dozen pairs of shoes since 2017.

These days, there are highly anticipated drops almost every weekend. It is not unusual to see a handful of big releases — usually coming from Nike’s SNKRS app — in a week. In online discussion forums, every new release is dissected like a company going through an initial public offering.

“It’s more about how much would you make off those shoes versus what would you do in those shoes,” said Nick Engvall, a footwear consultant and founder of Sneaker History. “We’re becoming flooded with the idea that sneakers are a commodity and that we should always be thinking about the dollar amount.”

StockX, a popular sneaker marketplace, found that most hyped releases follow a similar pattern: the “Swoosh Curve,” named for Nike’s trademark logo. When a new shoe is announced, its resale estimate is high but decreases steadily as the release date nears. The price hits a low when sales begin, then climbs steadily until it plateaus and completes the curve.

Jesse Einhorn, a senior economist at StockX, said the Swoosh curve reflects supply-and-demand dynamics and ultimately the upward pressure on sneaker prices as fewer unworn so-called “deadstock” or sold out pairs remain.

“While prices do fluctuate significantly around the time of release, the long-term appreciation tends to be steady and consistent,” Mr. Einhorn said.

When the pandemic hit, sneaker resale reached a frenzy on sites like StockX and GOAT. Rare shoes benefited from a lockdown-fueled investment mania that pushed up the prices of cryptocurrencies, sports trading cards and even real estate. The sale price for a new pair of vintage “Chicago OG” Air Jordan 1s from 1985 went from USD 3000 in 2017 to USD 7500 in May 2020 to USD 19000 in February, according to StockX.

Bodega Meets Its Match

It wasn’t like this when Bodega opened in Boston in 2006. The store had no website, so anticipation for major releases was built in person, said Mr. Gordon, who owns the store with Oliver Mak and Dan Natola. Sneakerheads would travel from New York and Montreal and wait in long lines to get the latest design.

About 10 years ago, the owners thought it was becoming unsafe to have shoppers camp out overnight in front of the store, so major releases moved online. It was “before the bots arms races,” said Mr. Gordon, so Bodega allowed people to buy sneakers online on a first-come, first-served basis.

By around 2015, the site had 20000 people appearing for major releases even though they only had a few hundred pairs of shoes. It didn’t take long before the bots swooped in. Bodega started offering web raffles, but people deployed bots for that, too. Employees had to manually check each winner so no one was securing an unfair share of shoes.

For years, Bodega put up with the bots and did what it could to mitigate their impact. But after the 2019 New Balance release, Bodega decided it needed to be more proactive or it risked losing ordinary customers who felt that the game was rigged.

Bots are not illegal, nor are they exclusive to the sneaker industry. They are used to obtain anything in high demand with limited supply. During the pandemic, people amassed stockpiles of video game consoles, graphics chips and even children’s furniture using bots. For Shopify, the Canadian e-commerce giant behind dozens of the buzziest sneaker boutiques (including Bodega), protecting against a bot onslaught is a part of keeping sites up and running.

Shopify’s Defensive Team vs. a Bot-Making Teen

The face of Shopify’s bot defences has been Jean-Michel Lemieux, a plain-spoken Canadian engineer who was, until recently, the company’s chief technology officer. His public antagonisation of bot users — who are also known as botters — has made him something of a hero among sneakerheads.

“I actually don’t like sneakers. I like computers,” Mr. Lemieux said in an interview earlier this year. “I’m a sneaker celebrity without being a sneakerhead, mostly because I’ve got to protect their platform. I know more about bots than maybe anyone on this planet because I had to reverse engineer them to understand how they work.”

Mr. Titus said he started reselling sneakers when he was 14. Early on, he found success with using computer software to simulate multiple smartphones to game a raffle run by Adidas to secure four pairs of Yeezy sneakers. Mr. Titus resold the shoes, pocketing a profit of 1,000 pounds per pair, he said.

“I realised that automating things was the best way to secure not just one pair but multiple pairs,” Mr. Titus said.

He experimented with other technologies and taught himself how to code. He wrote a basic automation script to submit 50000 entries into a sneaker raffle. Soon, sneaker buyers started encouraging Mr. Titus to sell his work. In 2018, he started Cybersole, which gained notoriety as one of the few bots to work on Shopify.

That year, the bot was put to the test when Nike released an Air Max 1/97 in collaboration with Sean Wotherspoon, a famous sneaker collector. Nike had allocated shoes for Kith, a sneaker boutique in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, to sell on its website, which is powered by Shopify.

Cybersole users, exploiting a shortcut in Shopify’s checkout process, cleared out Kith’s entire stock of 700 pairs, Mr. Titus said.

“We got every single one of them,” he said. “That really piqued interest from tons of people in our products and we also got the attention of Shopify.”

The Pros and Cons of a World Without Bots

Cybersole’s interface as Mr. Titus uses the software to purchase sweatshirts from Kith.Courtesy of Lucas Titus.

A bot alone is no guarantee of success. Many prominent botters run multiple types of bots for major releases, because each one has different strengths and weaknesses. Some botters rent dozens of computer servers in the same facilities as the retailers to save milliseconds on data latency.

Mr. Titus said he understands the frustration some sneaker buyers may feel about bots. But as he sees it, he is merely providing tools that people want. That includes retailers who have seen bots generate demand for their products.

“While they have to act like they’re trying to stop bots, it’s making them a huge profit,” he said.

He has developed a friendly rivalry with Mr. Lemieux. When Mr. Titus showed off a new Tesla, Mr. Lemieux suggested that he decorate the car with some Shopify decals.

Mr. Lemieux said Mr. Titus “is a very, very good programmer” and that he would try to hire him for Shopify if he were willing to cross over to the other side.

“I’ve had some nice interactions with him,” Mr. Titus said. “Obviously we can’t disclose too much of what either of us are doing because it’s kind of a cat-and-mouse game between Shopify and us.”

Ahead of a special release, the New Balance 990v3 to celebrate Bodega’s 15th anniversary, the boutique and Shopify had devised a few obstacles to slow the bots down. The first was to place the product on a brand-new website with an unguessable address —

Right away, botters saw this as a deterrent.

“We may have to go manual,” said Trevor Roskovensky, a sneaker buyer, in a YouTube video of him trying to buy the shoe live.

Bodega also added a question that shoppers had to type out the answer: What are the last four letters of the alphabet? After that, shoppers had to complete a challenge of drawing boxes around airplanes.

This was intended to throw a wrench into the store’s usual checkout procedure and make it difficult for anyone to automate the process. And it seemed to be working when the shoes went on sale in June; Bodega and Shopify didn’t see much bot activity. But then, they started seeing very little activity at all.

Shoppers started to encounter error messages as they tried to pay for the shoes.

For the next 30 minutes, only a trickle of orders were being processed. Many potential buyers gave up, assuming that the shoes were probably sold out already.

Shopify said later that routine system maintenance, unrelated to the flood of orders coming in, crimped its capacity to process payments.

For Bodega, the damage was done. Because of the payment issues, it took 45 minutes for the shoe to sell out completely, which for a major release is an eternity.

“If a shoe like this doesn’t sell out in less than 15 minutes, it’s considered a failure,” Mr. Gordon said. “It’s really disappointing because we did all this to give the ordinary customers a shot.”

The slow sell-out time didn’t seem to go unnoticed by the resale market. Even though most of Bodega’s previous New Balance releases carry a significant premium to their retail price, the 15th anniversary shoes are selling at close to retail on StockX.

It’s possible that if Bodega took no steps to curb bot activity, the store could have sold its entire stock of shoes to botters before the problems kicked in because of how quickly bots complete transactions.

“It’s depressing to think about,” Mr. Gordon said. “At some point, you have to ask, ‘How much time are we supposed to spend to stop people from buying our products?’”

Timeline photographs courtesy of StockX and Nike. Data via StockX.

Design and production by Sarah Almukhtar and Rumsey Taylor. Edited by Bonnie Wertheim.

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