Outside the fetid terrarium where US economists live, like skinks kept as pets by bankers, other forces are in motion. For instance, there’s the non-theoretical, non-financial economy, which is now apparently based on the trade in tattoos, and the journey by automobile from the nearly foreclosed home to the tattoo studio, and to the hamburgers, pizzas, and fried chicken thighs consumed on each end of the journey. It seems, based on the latest odds, that Larry Summers will be entering the scene the way Vincent Price used to enter a Hammer Studio horror film - reliably delivering some deadly unpleasantness. We don’t think a more perfect figure might be found for piloting the garbage barge of American finance over a Niagara Falls of consequence.
The US Federal Reserve read somewhere that if people 'feel' wealthier, they'll borrow and spend more. Simple enough, all they had to do was to make people feel wealthier and when it comes to wealth in America, there’s no better barometer than the stock market. One can see that as the Federal Reserve printed more and more money, the stock market increased more and more as well. This made Ben Bernanke a happy man. Yes, Americans are now wealthier and now all the world has to do is wait for them to start their borrowing and spending engines. Except this hasn’t happened. It’s our view that as economic, political and social lives experience very little progress, governments and central banks will not only continue with their same failing policies, but they will actually implement more of these same failing policies.
President Obama recently stopped in Phoenix to deliver his latest diatribe on how he is going to fix the economy. Yes, that is correct, another round of "campaign speeches" that, as has been the hallmark of this Administration to date, have generally wound up mired in an abyss of a broken congressional system. What really struck me, however, was his comprehensive plan designed to further boost the housing market. Another housing bailout program is the last thing we need. It's time to stop trying to fix what is broken by trying to cure the symptoms rather than the disease.
Following yesterday's soundbite-generating speech, President Obama will continue his 'victory lap' over housing. In a social-media event (#AskObamaHousing), Obama will join the CEO of Zillow to answer all your housing questions. From "which market do I buy/invest in to make the most money in the next 3 months flipping dat house?" to "how will my new rent-backed-securities hold their value if you cap rates?", and from "Isn't Eminent Domain just another wealth transfer plan from a large diversified group of investors to a small of group of people?" to "have you got naked pictures of Larry Summers to ensure that he instantly un-Tapers upon appointment and smashes rates back down?", we cant wait to hear the public's questions... especially as homeownership plunges to 18 year lows and rent costs surge, the 'recovery' is stalling as hedgies flee, and affordability retreats dramatically. With Zillow's dismal earnings it seems they need Obama as much as he needs housing hope...
We're going to need a bigger camera...
This insane world was created through decades of bad decisions, believing in false prophets, choosing current consumption over sustainable long-term savings based growth, electing corruptible men who promised voters entitlements that were mathematically impossible to deliver, the disintegration of a sense of civic and community obligation and a gradual degradation of the national intelligence and character. There is a common denominator in all the bubbles created over the last century – Wall Street bankers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. Fractional reserve banking, control of a fiat currency by a privately owned central bank, and an economy dependent upon ever increasing levels of debt are nothing more than ingredients of a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately implode and destroy the worldwide financial system. Since 1913 we have been enduring the largest fraud and embezzlement scheme in world history, but the law of diminishing returns is revealing the plot and illuminating the culprits. Bernanke and his cronies have proven themselves to be highly educated one trick pony protectors of the status quo. Bernanke will eventually roll craps. When he does, the collapse will be epic and 2008 will seem like a walk in the park.
That China's housing bubble, the direct result of decades of less than efficient hybrid "capi-munist" capital misallocation, is the largest in the world is known to most. What may come as news is that in its attempt to prevent the wholesale collapse of yet another sector, the Beijing politburo, which these days has a perfect analogue in the "Monetary Mandarins of the Marriner Eccles building", is preparing to blow up the latest and greatest Chinese bubble. We are talking about China's sprawling shipping industry, of course.
On Thursday afternoon, there was a disturbance in the Bloomberg headline-generating force, after the world's premier newswire CNN-ed both the news surrounding Sylvio Berlusconi's verdict (announcing he had been cleared when he hadn't, and correcting shortly thereafter), followed promptly by a repeat when minutes later it reported that Goldman's CDO mastermind - the person on whom all the evils of the housing bubble era have now been scapegoated - Fab Tourre had been cleared, when in reality he had just been found "liable in defrauding investors." We were, however, quite stunned to learn that one day later, the editor who was responsible for misreporting the Tourre news, was unceremoniously fired. But what was truly shocking is that while Pickering was fired for an innocent error, Bloomberg still keeps on its payroll people such as Greg Giroux who on the same day reported the following mindblowing "news"...
Trough-feeding debtism faces the need to clean up its detritus.
The ancient question: how do you extract some moolah while you still can?
Two months ago we first observed the scramble by various hedge funds, in this case Blue Mountain, to take advantage of the peak sentiment in housing, and specifically rental housing (which just hit an all time high as reported previously) by rushing to capitalize on recent investments and dump exposure to the witless public. Specifically, we envisioned the then just announced IPO of the aptly named American Homes 4 Rent (yes, with a "4" not "for"), also known as AMH, which however came at precisely the wrong time for the market: just as mortgage rates were soaring and Colony American Homes postponed its own parallel IPO. Two months later, with the market about to pass 1700 and fears about the housing market put back in the shelf despite a glaringly obvious collapse in mortgage demand, these IPOs are back and with a vengeance, although now reflecting a far more subdued, tapered if you will, view about the house leasing sector. Not surprisingly, AMH priced overnight, selling 44.1 million shares at a price at the bottom of the $16-18 range to raise a total of $706 million: a 44% discount to the $1.25 billion suggested in the prospectus filed back in June.
About a decade ago, Spain set off to "grow" its economy by launching an unprecedented homebuilding campaign. Several years later the campaign backfired, when the global housing bubble popped, and hundreds of thousands of houses ended up underwater, vacant or simply incomplete while millions of people lost their jobs, resulting in possibly the worst depression in Spanish history. Fast forward to today when Spain is about to set off to "grow" its economy by launching an unprecedented counter-homebuilding campaign, one in which the housing excesses of the last "growth" campaign will be literally demolished. And thanks to the magic of modern Keynesian math, both construction and destruction will result in growth for Spain.
Today’s bizarre confluence of negative real interest rates, money printing, eurozone sovereign default, aberrant asset prices, high unemployment, political polarization, growing distrust… none of it was supposed to happen. It is the unintended consequence of past crisis-fighting campaigns, like a troupe of comedy firemen leaving behind them a bigger fire than the one they came to extinguish. What will be the unintended consequences of today’s firefighting? We shudder to think.
Lump this into the mix with the challenges around energy, the instability of the global banking system, the high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth and interest rates at unsustainably low levels, it would be reckless to report that the world economy is either on the brink of or on the road to recovery. Gold is a finite resource, the Chinese central bank continues to acquire gold quietly and without declaring.....for now.
It’s worth repeating: In the shadow of this game, gold looks like a solid investment.
Here We Go Again: Step Aside RMBS, Rent-Backed Securities Are Here, And With Them The Beginning Of The EndSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/30/2013 16:03 -0500
Earlier today, when we reported that median asking rents in the US had just hit an all time high, we had a thought: how long until the hedge funds that also double down as landlords decide to bypass the simple collection the rental cash flows, and instead collateralize the actual underlying "securities"? One look at the chart below - which compares the median asking "for sale" price in black and the median rent in red - shows why. The last time there was a great divergence (to the benefit of housing), Wall Street spawned an entire Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities industry where Paulson, Goldman willing sellers would package mortgages, often-times synthetically, slice them up in tranches of assorted riskiness, and sell them to willing idiots yield-starved buyers. As everyone knows, that particular securitization bubble ended with the bankruptcy of Lehman, the bailout of AIG and the near collapse of the financial system. As it turns out, the answer to our original question was "a few hours" because securitizations are back, baby, and this time they are scarier and riskier than ever.