How the Government is Setting Us Up for a Second Subprime Crisis
By Shah Gilani Contributing Writer Money Morning
Is the government creating another subprime-mortgage bubble?
The first time around, the three-headed federal serpent – the Bush administration, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Federal Reserve – used Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) to "legitimize" trillions of dollars worth of toxic financial waste known as subprime mortgages.
The result was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – a mess that was global in nature.
And we’re now headed for a repeat performance.
Some of the players may have changed since the first subprime-mortgage crisis, but the game apparently remains the same. With banks currently unwilling to lend, the new federal triumvirate of the Obama administration, the Treasury and the Fed are trying to inflate the moribund U.S. housing market. This time around, however, the FHA is the weapon of choice.
Obama & Co. are making an all-or-nothing bet that the U.S. economy will recover and bail out the housing market before the final bill for this ill-advised gambit comes due.
When this bubble bursts – and it will – U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for more than $1 trillion in government-guaranteed debt.
Ginnie Mae: Fannie and Freddie’s Once-Quiet Cousin
As a direct result of the real-estate meltdown, U.S. banks have become reluctant lenders. And they’ve raised their loan standards considerably. Federal officials knew they had to keep the mortgage spigot open, especially to suspect borrowers, so they turned to their new "secret weapon" – the FHA.
The FHA has been cranking out new government-insured subprime loans, which it packages into government guaranteed securities for sale to banks. This frightening reflation of the subprime bubble is being engineered for two key reasons:
To put a floor under falling house prices.
And to let banks swap toxic Fannie and Freddie securities for new toxic debt that is 100% guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers.
The almost inevitable insolvency of the FHA could rapidly undermine the fragile recovery of the U.S. economy. And it could plunge stock prices and bank viability to new lows.
Why the FHA? That’s simple. In an era of increasingly stringent lending standards, the FHA’s standards are laughably lax.
With a no longer “patient” Fed set for “liftoff” sometime this year, some observers (including IMF chief Christine Lagarde) are bracing for emerging market turbulence. A new paper from the Center for Global Development attempts to discern which EMs are most vulnerable to an “external shock” (be it geopolitical or financial) and also seeks to determine which countries are more prepared to weather a storm now than they were pre-crisis. According to the study, the relevant factors are 1) current account balance, 2) ratio of external debt to GDP, 3) ratio of short-term external debt to reserves, 4) fiscal balance to GDP, 5) government debt to GDP, 6) inflation versus t...
Friday's release of the publicly available data from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) puts its Weekly Leading Index (WLI) at 131.6, up slightly from 131.2 the previous week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) is at -3.2, up from the previous week's -3.6 and off its interim low of -4.9 in mid-January.
"The Song Remains the Same"
As I type this, the featured article on the ECRI website remains the February 23rd piece, "The Song Remains the Same" (full report requires a subscription), which illustrates the shrinking GDP growth during the seven business cycle expansions since 1970:
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
Well, it didn’t take long for the bulls to jump on their buying opportunity, with a little help from the bulls’ friend in the Fed. In fact, despite huge daily swings in the market averages driven by daily news regarding timing of interest rate hikes, the strength in the dollar, and oil prices, trading actually has been quite rational, honoring technical formations and support levels and dutifully selling overbought conditions and buying when oversold. Yes, the tried and true investing clichés continue to work -- “Don’t fight the Fed,” and “The trend is your friend.”
In this weekly update, I give my view of the cur...
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While I'm not going to argue the point about the possibility that Bitcoin drops to $1, or less, (that could happen yet, but not for the reasons you propose) I felt it necessary to point out something you seem to have overlooked.
While it's likely that the US government watching Bitco...
Bullish trades abound in Cypress Semiconductor options today, most notably a massive bull call spread initiated in the July expiry contracts. One strategist appears to have purchased 30,000 of the Jul 16.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.89 each and sold the same number of Jul 19.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.22 apiece. Net premium paid to put on the spread amounts to $0.67 per contract, thus establishing a breakeven share price of $16.67 on the trade. Cypress shares reached a 52-week high of $16.25 back on Friday, March 13th, and would need to rally 4.6% over the current level to exceed the breakeven point of $16.25. The spread generates maximum potential profits of $2.33 per contract in the event that CY shares surge more than 20% in the next four months to reach $19.00 by July expiration. Shar...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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