The Canadian economy is rolling over and their recent jobs situation is worse than the US (and it's always cold weather-y up there?!) but the last great pillar of the 'recovery' in Canada is perhaps about to get crushed. As the WSJ noted recently, Canada's housing market is the most expensive in the world (60% over-valued by historical standards) and one simple reason explains it - Canada has been very open to foreign investors, which means that in an age of unprecedented global liquidity cash-rich wealthy individuals who are looking for places to park their excess funds can do so in its housing market. Until now... As SCMP reports, Canada’s government has announced that it is scrapping its controversial investor visa scheme, which has allowed waves of rich Hongkongers and mainland Chinese to immigrate since 1986. Soft landing?
No-one knows for sure how big a problem China's economy will eventually face due to the massive credit and money supply growth that has occurred in recent years and no-one know when exactly it will happen either. There have been many dire predictions over the years, but so far none have come true. And yet, it is clear that there is a looming problem of considerable magnitude that won't simply go away painlessly. The greatest credit excesses have been built up after 2008, which suggests that there can be no comfort in the knowledge that 'nothing has happened yet'. Given China's importance to the global economy, it seems impossible for this not to have grave consequences for the rest of the world, in spite of China's peculiar attributes in terms of government control over the economy and the closed capital account.
The point isn't that "the Fed can't do that;" the point is that the Fed cannot create a bid in bidless markets that lasts beyond its own buying. The Fed can buy half the U.S. stock market, all the student loans, all the subprime auto loans, all the defaulted CRE and residential mortgages, and every other worthless asset in America. But that won't create a real bid for any of those assets, once they are revealed as worthless. The nuclear option won't fix anything, because it is fundamentally the wrong tool for the wrong job. Holders of disintegrating assets will be delighted to sell the assets to the Fed, of course, but that won't fix what's fundamentally broken in the American and global economies; it will simply allow the transfer of impaired assets from the financial sector and speculators to the Fed.
Because the ultimate outcome of this monetary cycle hinges on how, when, or if the Fed can unwind its unwieldy balance sheet, without further damage to the economy; most likely continuing stagnation or a return to stagflation, or less likely, but possible hyper-inflation or even a deflationary depression, the Bernanke legacy will ultimately depend on a Bernanke-Yellen legacy. But what should be the main lesson of a Greenspan-Bernanke legacy? Clearly, if there was no pre-crisis credit boom, there would have been no large financial crisis and thus no need for Bernanke or other human to have done better during and after. While Austrian analysis has often been criticized, incorrectly, for not having policy recommendations on what to do during the crisis and recovery, it should be noted that if Austrian recommendations for eliminating central banks and allowing banking freedom had been followed, no such devastating crisis would have occurred and no heroic policy response would have been necessary in the resulting free and prosperous commonwealth.
Reality will reassert itself in 2014, with lemmings, flippers, and hedgies getting slaughtered as the housing market comes back to earth with a thud. The continued tapering by the Fed will remove the marginal dollars used by Wall Street to fund this housing Ponzi. The Wall Street lemmings all follow the same MBA created financial models. They will all attempt to exit the market simultaneously when their models all say sell. If the economy improves, interest rates will rise and kill the housing market. If the economy tanks, the stock market will plunge, creating fear and killing the housing market. Once it becomes clear that prices have begun to fall, the flippers will panic and start dumping, exacerbating the price declines. This scenario never grows old.
In economics the chicken must always come home to roost. Man can only live beyond his means for so long. Bernanke’s reputation hinges upon the market not tanking as his successors close up the spout of gushing currency. The endpoint is coming. When it happens, the house of cards will tumble down. And with it will come the livelihoods and hopes of many. With every boom there is a bust. It’s an immutable fact of government intervention into the economy. As Bill Bonner writes, articles full of lavishing praise for Bernanke will begin appearing in coming weeks. Writing puff pieces on state bureaucrats is often a high-paying gig. But they all reveal a particular trend: celebrating the wise achievements of someone empowered to govern society. When businessmen are praised in print, their accomplishments are chalked up as minor victories reserved for the few. When the selfless man of charity is given his due, the praise is mild. When a lord of government sees the pages of a major periodical, it’s the kind of brown-nosing that would make a teacher’s pet uncomfortable. For now, Bernanke will bask in exaltation. But his just deserts are coming. You can bet $4 trillion on it.
If a third of all US homes cannot trade due to being underwater or not sufficiently above water to clear closing costs, then the US economy is going to suffer
There is no point in trying to avert or prevent bubbles caused by monetary pumping by regulatory means. If one avenue for bubble formation is cut off, the newly created money will simply flow into another area. In fact, new bubbles almost always become concentrated in new sectors. If there were a genuine desire to keep the formation of bubbles in check, adopting sound money would be a sine qua non precondition. However, no-one who has any say in today's system has a desire to adopt sound money and give up on the failed centrally planned monetary system in favor of a genuine free market system. Our guess is that the booms and busts the current system inevitably produces will simply continue to grow larger and larger until there comes a denouement that can no longer be 'fixed'.
Housing Bubble 2.0: "More Flipping, Bigger Profits, In Less Time" With 156,862 Homes Flipped In 2013Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/30/2014 10:43 -0500
The topic of home flipping is not new here ("Flip That House" In These Bubbling Cities, Housing Bubble 2.0 Edition: "25 Markets Where Flipping Homes Is Most Profitable", etc) - indeed that best-known flashback of the last housing bubble is easily one of the best indications just how fragile the current housing bubble truly is as investors gobble up real estate not with the intention of keeping it but merely to sell to the next greater fool, in the process setting marginal prices based purely on the availability of cheap money, money which has now been tapered by $20 billion in the past two months. However, to get the full picture on just how pervasive "house flipping" has become, we go to the source, RealtyTrac, which has just released its 2013 summary of this troubling trend.
I predicted this clearly, with loads of evidence, last spring. I even tipped the SEC/UK authorities. Tthe chickens come home to roost. Let it be known, Wall Street's margin IS my business model!!!
Don’t you just hate the smuggish guys that sit behind desks and that say ‘I told you so’? There’s probably only one thing you hate more and that’s the racers that are running to predict the end of the world. Doom and gloom.
The topic of China's real estate bubble, its ghost cities, and its emerging middle class - who now have enough money to invest and have piled into houses not stocks - and have been dubbed "fang nu" or housing slaves (a reference to the lifetime of work needed to pay off their debts); is not a new one here but, as Bloomberg reports, the latest report from economist Gan Li shows China’s households are massively exposed to an oversupplied property market.
The Federal Reserve is the primary engine of income/wealth inequality in the U.S. Eliminate "free money for cronies," bailouts of the "too big to fail" banks that own the Fed, manipulation of markets, the purchase of impaired private assets at high prices, and all the other tools of financialization the Fed wields to enforce its grip on the nation's throat--in other words, abolish the Fed--and the neofeudal structure that feeds inequality will vanish along with the feudal lords that enforced it. We don't need to "fix" things as much as remove the obstacles that are blocking the way forward. The Federal Reserve is the primary obstacle to reducing income/wealth inequality.
That margin debt just soared to new all time highs in december should come as no surprise to anyone. However what may come as a shock to many is that the other key metric provided by the NYSE - total net free credit - also known as investor net worth (calculated as Free Credit Cash plus Credit Balances in Margin Accounts less Margin Debt) just dropped to a whopping $148 billion, double where it was in February 2013, and double where it was during the peak of the last stock (and credit and housing) bubble, when it rose to a then-all time high of $79 billion in June 2007. It was all downhill from there.