How far are we from a bottom in U.S. home prices? There are many estimates that there could be another 10% or more for the national average and median prices to decline. This author estimated that 2010 had a most probable decline around 11% from December 2009, with further declines possible in 2011. Little decline has actually been seen as prices are quite near where they were nine months ago. However, in the past couple of months predictions of further price declines have increased. Two weeks ago I pointed out that the outlook for home prices may be degrading.
20% Price Decline to the Bottom?
Barry Ritholtz provides the following chart, originally from the New York Times, but updated for The Big Picture by Steve Barry.
For larger image, click on graph.
This decline is certainly within the possible limits I have discussed earlier in the year (see here and here) but the projection curve drawn by Steve Barry shows a much more gradual drop to the bottom than I have envisioned. I estimate that he is showing another 3.5 to 4 years to get 90% of the way there and 5-6 years to fully bottom out. My thinking has been that the drop to the final bottom will be much quicker, driven by the weight of foreclosures over the next one to two years. However, current market conditions are causing me to reconsider.
Could Housing Go Below “Normal”?
What has not been considered by either Barry or me is the recurrence of another depression for housing, such as occurred from WW I to WW II. What sort of economic disaster would cause home prices to decline 55% to 60% from here? That is what would happen if the decline reproduced the 1920 bottom.
Or, asking a different question: What sort of economic disaster would result if home prices declined 55% to 60% from here? In such severe deflation, most mortgagors would default and every mortgage lender would be insolvent. There would be no future TARP or other shenanigan that could accommodate that eventuality. This will be discussed further later in the article.
Under Water Mortgages
Calculated Risk has an excellent post about underwater mortgages. CR states that 4.1 million homeowners owe 50% or more than their house…
In February 2007 I suggested a 4% mortgage delinquency rate could trigger a decline in the entire housing market. Since that proved prescient, we should revisit the analytic tool behind that call: the Pareto Principle.
There is a whiff of euphoria in the housing market, a heavily touted confidence that "the bottom is in." It’s all roaring back--rising sales, multiple bids by anxious buyers, 3.5% down payments, low mortgage rates and the bonus of an $8,000 first-time home buyer credit (a gift from U.S. taxpayers). Housing Lifts Recovery Hopes (Wall Street Journal)
Foreclosure-related sales account for over 30% of all sales nationally, and over 70% in hard-hit markets such as Las Vegas, but like piranhas feasting on a school of weakened fish, nobody in the real estate business mentions the huge losses of capital and equity which created all these "bargains."
All we need for a complete bubble reflation is people avidly gaming the system… oh wait, we have that, too. A recent Time magazine cover story on Las Vegas contained this informative tidbit (courtesy of Michael Goodfellow):
(Realtor) Boemio specializes in short selling, in a particularly Vegas way. Basically, she finds clients who owe more on their house than the house is worth (and that’s about 60% of homeowners in Las Vegas) and sells them a new house similar to the one they’ve been living in at half the price they paid for their old house. Then she tells them to stop paying the mortgage on their old place until the bank becomes so fed up that it’s willing to let the owner sell the house at a huge loss rather than dragging everyone through foreclosure. Since that takes about nine months, many of the owners even rent out their old house in the interim, pocketing a profit.
Hmm, isn’t this the same recipe of froth, low down payments, cheap, easy mortgage money and scamming which got us in trouble the last time? Only the lenders lose, but then now that Ginnie Mae and FHA have stepped up to replace the disgraced, bankrupt shells of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then it really isn’t the lenders taking the risks, it’s the U.S. taxpayer (again).
“Nobody in Europe will be abandoned. Nobody in Europe will be excluded. Europe only succeeds if we work together.”
– Angela Merkel, December 15, 2010
“Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. Believe me, it will be enough.”
– Mario Draghi, July 25, 2012
“We have to safeguard the spirit behind Schengen,” Mr Juncker told the European Parliament on Wednesday. “Yes, the Schengen system is partly comatose. But . . . a single currency does not exist if Schengen fails. It is one of the pillars of the construction of Europe.”
The IMF will add the yuan to its basket of reserve currencies, an international stamp of approval of the progress China has made integrating into a global economic system dominated for decades by the U.S., Europe and Japan.
It’s an unfortunate truth that, when people are worried about the future, they often put their faith in politicians to somehow make everything better.
Politicians, of course, are famous for promising panaceas for whatever is troubling voters, and they even invent new troubles to worry about, presenting themselves as the only ones who can solve these woes.
Not surprising then, that, over time, any nation may slowly deteriorate into a population of nebbishes who turn to their government to do their thinking for them and take responsibility for their futures.
Today offered a heavier than expected volume day post-holiday. The majority of this action was to the downside, but the Semiconductor Index bucked the trend. The latter index was able to push above its 200-day MA as it posted a relative advantage against the Nasdaq 100. While the Nasdaq and Nasdaq 100 suffered losses today, both will be helped by strength in the Semiconductor Index. All technicals for the Semiconductor Index are in the green, with a return of the MACD to a 'buy' trigger (above the bullish zero line - a bullish development).
The Nasdaq suffered a minor loss. It wasn't able to challenge the recent high, but it's close enough ...
Crude Oil is quite simply the most important commodity on the planet. But volatility with Crude Oil prices emerges every time there is conflict in oil producing nations or an economic slowdown.
And this has led to some pretty big swings in Crude Oil prices over the past several years.
But the latest swing lower is nearing a moment of truth. In fact, this decline may be the most important swing lower of the 2000’s.
Why? Because oil prices are currently testing a key price support level comprised of the 2004 breakout level (above the 1990 highs) and the 2009 price lows – see red circles and line. In fact, this price support area also marks the 23.6 Fibonacci support level (from the 1999 lows to 2008 highs). AND crude oil is as oversold as it was back at the 1999 price lows!
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As evidenced by the Greek, Chinese, and now Argentine 'jumps', the world remains increasingly aware of the inevitable worth of fiat currencies and fears the desperate acts of governments as the react to that reality (and is looking for alternatives).
This infographic explains the wide ranges of the Bitcoin universe, accompanied with quotes from some of its best-known business leaders.
Some weeks when I write this article there is little new to talk about from the prior week. It’s always the Fed, global QE, China growth, election chatter, oil prices, etc. And then there are times like this in which there is so much happening that I don’t know where to start. Of course, the biggest market-moving news came the weekend before last when Paris was put face-to-face with the depths of human depravity and savagery. And yet the stock market responded with its best week of the year. As a result, the key issues dominating the front page and election chatter have moved from the economy and jobs to national security and a real war (rather than police ...
1) The shares of one of my largest short positions (~3%), Exact Sciences, crashed by more than 46% yesterday. Below is the article I published this morning on SeekingAlpha, explaining why I think it’s still a great short and thus shorted more yesterday. Here’s a summary:
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Draft Recommendation issued yesterday is devastating for Exact Sciences’ only product, Cologuard.
I think this is the beginning of the end for the company.
My price target for the stock a year from now is $3, so I shorted more yes...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
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 email@example.com 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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