by phil - April 28th, 2012 6:57 am
Have you seen this?
Frontline did this very good documentary and I'd file it under "those who forget the past are CONDEMNED to repeat it" – let's all TRY not to repeat the mistakes of 2008… "Wall Street got bailed out and Main Street didn't" is the quote that neatly sums up the present situation. Wall Street and the top 10% of this country – of this World – are partying like it's 1999 while the bottom 90% continue to languish in the worst Recession since the Great Depression.
Despite a myriad of worrying data, the Corporate Media is in full-blown promotional mode – pushing stocks as if it were modern snake oil – the panacea that will cure all your ills. We often forget that essentially ALL of our news sources are publicly traded companies and have a vested interest in the stock market going higher. Hell, we have an interest in that too, as our longer-term virtual porfolios are entirely bullish - but that shouldn't preclude us from making a realistic assessment of the CURRENT situation, should it?
Caterpillar, 3M, United Technologies and ABB are among the manufacturers that have reported weak performances in China in the first quarter as economic growth has slowed nearly to a three-year low. Caterpillar’s sales in China fell between $250 million and $300 million in the first quarter, pushing the company, the world’s largest maker of earth-moving equipment, to export to other countries a large share of the equipment it made in China.
Concerns about China overshadowed better-than-expected earnings at the company, which is based in Peoria, Illinois, and led investors to push the stock down 5 percent Wednesday, which was great for us as CAT was on our Long Put List.
ABB, a maker of power equipment, reported profits in the past week that were below analysts’ expectations, caused by weak Chinese demand. “It was a very slow start to the year for China. China in January was extremely weak,” ABB’s chief financial officer, Michel Demaré, said Wednesday.
“Our business in China is off to a slow start,” said Gregory J. Hayes, the chief financial officer of United Technologies, whose Otis arm is the world’s biggest maker of elevators. The unit’s China sales dropped 9 percent in the first quarter. “The ongoing government…
by ilene - May 9th, 2011 2:09 pm
Courtesy of Trader Mark at Fund My Mutual Fund
The same economists shocked by the original housing crash (prices can’t go up forever?), now appear to be in the fetal position as the much too obvious second leg of the downturn has arrived. While I do have an economist degree, living in the locale experiencing a 1 state Depression [Jan 27, 2011: Metro Detroit Home Prices Back to 1994 Levels...Before Accounting for Inflation] had me much more negative than those who live in the ivory towers of Manhattan or D.C.. I wrote a few years ago about a few articles that also opened my eyes to what was going on out there in the rest of the country. [May 30, 2005 - Fortune: Riding the Boom] [Sep 11, 2006: Option ARMs - Nightmare Mortgages] Hence in late 07, I showed with simple math why we were in for a doozy of a drop in the housing market. [Dec 6, 2007: What Should Median Housing Prices be Today?]
As you can see from the mid/late 1970s to 2001/2002 the ratio was consistent in a tight range between 2.6x to 3.0x. Essentially this means the median home price in this country was 2.6x – 3.0x median household income. And it’s been right around 2.8x for most of that time. That’s 30 years….
Then in 2002+, we had innovation…. great innovation… and 1% interest rates. Easy money. No mortgage regulation. Happy times. And crazy housing prices that detached from reality. In 2006 at the height of ‘innovation’ (where were these politicians 1 year ago? seriously), the ratio went "off" the chart, it appears 4.0x. After the ‘correction’ we’ve had, that ratio has fallen all the way to…. 3.8x.
In July 2006 at the height of insanity the median price of a home was $230,200
It has already fallen in less than a year (October 2006) to $207,800
Pain over, correction done – time to party. Right? Wrong.
What are median incomes nowadays? As of 2006 the median household income was $48,201.
$48,201 x 2.8 ratio
by phil - April 13th, 2011 7:57 am
Why are they bouncing? Why not? We went down and people love to buy those dips and that means they are just going to love this chart, courtesy of Barry Ritholtz’s team. We don’t get our next Case-Shiller data point until the 26th but we did get mortgage applications this week and they are down ANOTHER 6.7%. This is despite the fact that an average 30-year mortgage is still just 4.98%.
I know that we have been trained to ignore supply and demand in commodities as well as to pretend that all prices are inelastic and that American consumers will buy anything at any price because they are generally mindless sheep that you can lead into anything with the right jingle but, if they are not willing to buy a $250,000 home with a 5% mortgage – what’s going to happen when that mortgage is 6%?
At 5%, a $250,000 mortgage has a monthly payment of $1,342.05. At 6% that payment jumps up to $1,498.88 – 10.5% higher! At 7% it’s $1,663.26, 24% higher – that’s the "cost" of housing as rates tick higher but, of course, that will force housing prices even lower to compensate and the Fed will tell us that inflation is low because home prices will be falling faster than food prices are rising – so we have that to look forward to…
I mentioned yesterday that China tightened their rates and home prices in Beijing fell 26.7% in the month of March. I waited all day to read more about it in the WSJ or Bloomberg or to see them discussing this on CNBC but no – it’s not the kind of news they want you to hear so – for your own good, it is not mentioned. I had to find this news in Business China but it’s also in the China Daily and the People Daily but where it isn’t is in any US newspaper I’ve looked at and neither is there mention of the problem caused by giant-sized, irradiated Asians poking buildings with sticks! (just kidding).
We talk about Chinese censorship and control of information but what is this? If a Nigerian Rebel spits at a pipeline or if a Somali Pirate even glances in the direction of an oil tanker – it’s on the front page of the papers (sometimes before it…
by ilene - January 2nd, 2011 8:18 am
Here’s the latest Stock World Weekly Newsletter, New Year’s Edition.
Feedback welcome — please leave comments, we value your input. - Ilene
Picture credit: William Banzai7
For Stock World Weekly archives, click here.
Terms of Enslavement; Irish Citizens Say “Default”; Agreement Violates EU and Irish Laws; 50 Ways to Leave the Euro
by ilene - November 29th, 2010 3:06 pm
Mish writes about selling Ireland down the river in Terms of Enslavement; Irish Citizens Say "Default"; Agreement Violates EU and Irish Laws; 50 Ways to Leave the Euro. - Ilene
Courtesy of Mish
ANY Ireland bailout terms are onerous given that it is not Ireland that is bailed out but rather banks in the UK, Germany, US, and France (in that order).
Moreover and unfortunately, the exact deal foolishly agreed to by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is not only amazingly bad for Ireland, but one of the provisions violates EU and Irish law.
Terms of Enslavement
Please consider these terms as outlined in EU agrees on $89 billion bailout loan for Ireland
- Ireland gets Euro 67.5 billion ($89.4 billion) in bailout loans
- The 16-nation eurozone, the full 27-nation EU, and the global donors of the International Monetary Fund each commit euro 22.5 billion ($29.8 billion).
- Interest rates on the loans would be 6.05 percent from the eurozone fund, 5.7 percent from the EU fund and 5.7 percent from the IMF.
- Ireland will have 10 years to pay off its IMF loans.
- The first repayment won’t be required until 4 1/2 years after a drawdown.
- Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Ireland will take euro 10 billion immediately to boost the capital reserves of its state-backed banks
Comparison to Greece
For comparison purposes Greece has three years to repay its loans at an interest rate of 5.2 percent.
Debt Slave Entrapment
The key to understanding how quickly Ireland is made a debt slave can be found in this not so innocuous paragraph.
Ireland first must run down its own cash stockpile and deploy its previously off-limits pension reserves in the bailout. Until now Irish and EU law had made it illegal for Ireland to use its pension fund to cover current expenditures. This move means Ireland will contribute euro 17.5 billion to its own salvation.
The last sentence in the above paragraph should read "Ireland will contribute euro 17.5 billion to its own destruction"
Moreover, once all of its own funds have been deployed, Ireland would be dependent on the IMF for life.
Salt Onto Open Wounds
Like pouring salt onto an open wound, the EU finance ministers agreed on a permanent mechanism, starting in 2013, that would allow a country to restructure its debts once it has been deemed insolvent.
One aspect of that
by ilene - November 22nd, 2010 4:49 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
David Rosenberg provided a nice list of risk in this morning’s client letter. The one major risk that Rosenberg and the market is largely overlooking at this juncture is the housing double dip. This has the potential to be THE most important story of 2011. As I’ve previously explained, declining asset values are highly destructive during a balance sheet recession. If the housing double dip surprises to the downside the problems that we’ve swept under the rug will quickly reemerge and this time there won’t be any political will for government intervention.
I still believe we are mired in a balance sheet recession that will result in below trend growth, deflationary risks and leaves us extremely vulnerable to exogenous risks that could exacerbate the current malaise. Rosenberg’s excellent list follows:
1. China is getting more active in its policy tightening moves as inflation pressures intensify. It’s not just food but wages too. Headline inflation, at 4.4%, is at a 25-month high. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) just hiked banking sector reserve ratios by 50 basis points to 18.5% — the second such increase in the past two weeks and the fifth for the year. This could well keep commodity prices under wraps over the near-term.
2. European debt concerns will not be fully alleviated just because a rescue plan has been cobbled together for Ireland as it deals with its banking crisis. The focus will now likely shift to other basket cases such as Portugal and Spain. Greece has a two-year lifeline before it defaults. This saga is going to continue for some time yet.
3. Massive tightening in U.S. fiscal policy coming via spending cuts and tax hikes. This is the part of the macro forecast that is not given enough attention. See States Raise Payroll Taxes to Repay Loans on page A5 of the weekend WSJ.
4. Gasoline prices are about six cents shy of re-testing the $3-a-gallon threshold for the first time since mid October 2008. On a national average basis, prices at the pump are up 26 cents from a year ago — effectively draining about $25 billion out of household cash flow. Tack on the coming
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 4:42 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Rising costs and taxes and declining income have mugged Main Street while Wall Street revels in the Fed-engineered "recovery"--in the stock market.
The Fed would have us believe that the stock market is the leading indicator of the economy: if stocks are rising, then that is strong evidence the economy is improving.
This is the bogus "wealth effect" I have taken pains to discredit:
Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Nov. 12, 2010)
Fed’s QE2 Misadventure Costs U.S. Households $4.6 trillion (Nov. 10, 2010)
Main Street didn’t buy "the stock market is rising, so you must be richer" either, for the simple reason that Main Street’s wallet is now much thinner. Even as the S&P 500 has soared 80% from its March 2009 lows, 70% of Americans don’t believe the recession is over.
That must really hurt the apparatchiks in the Ministry of Propaganda and the Fed. Here they go to all this trouble to orchestrate a bogus stock market rally and Mainstream Media propaganda campaign hyping "the recovery," and Main Street America refused to buy it. How irksome.
It seems Main Street’s grasp on reality is firmer than that of either the Fed or its partner, Wall Street.
Let’s consider income.
The stock market rally off the March 2009 lows was by some measures the sharpest such advance in the past 100 years. Yet as stocks went on a tear,household income actually declined. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income fell 0.7% to $49,777 in 2009, down 4.2% since pre-recession 2007.
The Federal Reserve’s stated policy objective is to boost the stock market to trigger a "wealth effect" which will then lead consumers to open their wallets.
As noted here before, the Fed failed to notice that only the top 10% of households hold enough stocks to see much benefit from a rising market. Household income actually fell, despite the huge run-up in stocks.
In other words, a rising stock market did not increase household incomes. The Fed is gambling on an effect with no evidence to support it.
How about jobs?
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 4:02 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Commercial real estate is in a structural cliff-dive, currently in slow-motion but soon to gather momentum.
With all the hub-bub about the foreclosure crisis in residential real estate, commercial real estate (CRE) has fallen off the radar screen of crises. Don’t worry, it’s still careening off the cliff; the fall is just in slow motion.
No need for a fancy report to see the signs of decay in CRE. Signs of the ongoing CRE meltdown are everywhere--empty storefronts, mall shops and vacant office complexes abound.
The causes are all too familiar: lending standards went out the window, banks loaned too much, buyers paid too much, lousy deals were avidly securitized, cash flow projections entered Fantasyland and unhealthy speculation fed widespread fraud.
Since boom-and-bust cycles of overbuilding and retrenchment are endemic to commercial real estate, it’s tempting to view this as just another post-expansion trough. Since prices have already slipped a staggering 40% from the 2006 peak, those calling this the bottom of the current cycle have some history on their side.
But beneath what appears to be a standard-issue retrenchment--a glut of inventory to work through, lenders avoiding risk instead of embracing it, and so on--structural changes in the U.S. economy are changing the CRE landscape for good--and not in a positive direction.
A long-term structural decline in CRE is not just a real estate industry concern. With some $1.7 trillion in CRE loans needing to be refinanced in the next few years, a continuing decline in CRE values could push the still-fragile banking system into a new crisis and the economy back into recession as early as next year.
The extremes reached in the boom were certainly epic: investors paid $800,000 per resort hotel room and over $500 per square foot for Class A office space, numbers which no terrestrial cash flow could possibly justify. Retail centers sprouted alongside every new exurb subdivision.
By this logic, an unprecedented boom requires an equally unprecedented bust to work through the excesses in price, debt and risk. So far so good, but there is an anecdotal body of evidence which suggests that profound systemic changes are taking place in the U.S. economy which will structurally reduce the demand for commercial real estate--not for a few years, but permanently.
by ilene - November 15th, 2010 5:14 pm
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his willingness to renew the tax cuts enacted under George Bush for the super-rich ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks increasingly like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by his promise of an end to partisan politics?
It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.
Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). this is nearly double what it received a generation ago – while the rest of the population has been squeezed, and foreclosure time has now arrived.
One would not realize that the financial End Time is here from today’s non-confrontational White House happy-talk. Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages convince the world that he doesn’t exist. We might paraphrase this today by saying that the financial elites win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help the middle class, not reduce it to debt peonage and a generation of victimhood as the economy settles into debt deflation.
The first pretense is that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and…
by ilene - November 13th, 2010 10:43 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
- Many on Wall Street believe that net interest margin or NIM among U.S. banks is at record levels. They are right, but not in the way that many investors and analysts expect.
- Unfortunately, measured in dollars, gross interest revenue of the banking industry has been cut by a third over the past three years due to the Fed’s zero interest rate policy. Banks, savers are literally dying from lack of yield on assets due to QE/ZIRP.
- In the post WWII period, Fed interest rate cuts resulted in significant reduction in average mortgage borrowing costs for households — until 2008, when mortgage rates implied by the bond market fell significantly but households were not able to refinance.
- Fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a mortgage origination cartel led by the big four
banks(BAC, WFC, JPM, C), are now 4-5 points on new origination loans vs less than 1 point during housing boom. Huge subsidy for largest zombie banks effectively blocks refinancing by millions of households.
- These fees, which can add up to 7 to 10% of the face value of the loan, raise mortgage rates to borrowers by hundreds of basis points. Banks and the housing GSEs, however, saw significant benefits in declines in funding costs thanks to low fed funds rates.
- For banks and investors, one of the biggest opportunities for gain is to invest in the stronger regional banks that are acquiring troubled or failed institutions. Resolution results in losses, but also creates value for investors andsociety.
- Acquiring failed banks from