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.
Here’s a credit-crisis video retrospective from the Wall Street Journal. It is chapter one of a three part series. Notice the Wall Street meme that subprime borrowers caused the crisis which is patently false. It’s all about dodgy credits and Fannie and Freddie? Total rubbish.
Easy money, as the clip says, is the culprit. And this money went into credit cards, leveraged buy outs, residential housing, student loans, commercial property and on down the line. It’s not about subprime, my friends I like the rest of it, but remember the Wall Street Journal has a certain bias and it is reflected here.
Chapter One: In the first of this three-part series, WSJ reporters explain how the housing bubble inflated and burst, and why easy money led to the collapse of Wall Street’s biggest financial institutions.
This is part two of the End of Wall Street series the Wall Street Journal is producing.
Chapter Two of A WSJ series: What was going through the minds of CEOs, corporate boards, fund managers and mortgage lenders as they created hard-to-understand derivatives Warren Buffett once called "weapons of financial mass destruction."
You have to love how it starts off with Alan Murray saying “There’s plenty of blame to go around. I think in retrospect lots of people who were doing stupid things.” Then the famous NYSE opening bell goes off and they cut to a shot of Alan Greenspan.
I couldn’t help but think about Tim Iacono’s site when I saw this. Watch this video. They really takeoff the gloves here. Regulators and the rating agencies get a severe beat-down. Well-done.
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.
It is not a good morning for Bill Ackman's Pershing Square or Bruce Berkowitz's Fairholme Capital, or the US government for that matter, of course, which happen to be the three largest investors in Fannie Mae:
The reason: FNM stock, which at last check, was crashing by nearly 60%.
So why is FNM plunging? Perhaps a better question is why they soared as much as they did in the first place.
For the answer we go to Bill Ackman and his jolly copycat groupies. As ...
Oil crashed today, with crude oil prices dropping from around $95 to $91 in a matter of minutes.
There were various theories for why, but the most compelling one is that there seems to be a lot more production than estimated.
Morgan Stanley sent out a note this evening from analyst Adam Longson that contains this table of production numbers/estimates for key producers. The key thing is that production is on the rise almost everywhere. Check out Libya, where output for the month surged to its highest level of the year. Everyone was freaking out a...
The CBOE Vix Index topped 17.0 and the highest level since early-August on Monday morning amid declines in U.S. equities to start the trading week. The volatility index is off its earlier highs to trade 5.0% higher on the session at 15.65 as of 11:30 am ET. Options volume on the VIX is hovering near 360,000 contracts, or just more than 50% of the average daily reading of around 660,000 contracts. Calls are far more active than put options, as evidenced by the call/put ratio up above 4.2 in morning trading, perhaps as some traders position for volatility to stick around.
Large call spreads traded on the VIX today caught our attention as one big optio...
Yes, the market showed significant weakness last week for the first time in quite a while. In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved triple digits each day. But it was all quite predictable, as I suggested in last week's article, and certainly nothing to worry about. Now the market appears to be poised for a modest technical rebound, and longer term, U.S. equities should be in good shape for a year-end rally. However, I still believe more downside is in order before any new highs are challenged. Moreover, market breadth is important for a sustained bull run, so the challenge for investors will be to put together broader bullish conviction, including the small caps.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, re...
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Ebola is spreading too quickly for Ebola-vaccine makers to conduct typical studies of safety and efficacy on experimental vaccines. Instead, vaccines will be tested for basic safety, but then deployed with protocols devised now in order to test for efficacy essentially on the field. Testing has to be expedited because the situation in West Africa gets worse every day while there are no approved vaccines or other treatments.
The chart below is from a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine showing estimates of the virus's trajectory projecting out to November 1, 2014. If current trends continue...
Despite the various opinions on Bitcoin, there is no question as to its ultimate value: its ability to bypass government restrictions, including economic embargoes and capital controls, to transmit quasi-anonymous money to anyone anywhere.
Opinions differ as to what constitutes "money."
The English word "money" derives from the Latin word "moneta," which means to "mint." Historically, "money" was minted in the form of precious metals, most notably gold and silver. Minted metal was considered "money" because it possessed luster, was scarce, and had perceive...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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