It has been over six months since we first highlighted the growing deterioration in the quality of auto loans and mentioned the 's' word (subprime) as indicative that we learned nothing from the financial crisis. Since then, auto loans (and especially subprime in the last few months) have surged to record highs; and most concerning, recently has seen delinquencies and late payments spike. The reason we provide this background is that, thanks to The NY Times, this story is now hitting the mainstream media as subprime-quality car buyers (new and used) realize the burden they have placed on themselves thanks to exorbitantly high interest rates (and a rapidly depreciating 'asset'). As one car 'owner' exclaimed, "buying the car was the worst decision I have ever made."
"The world has changed," explains the 27-year old daughter of David Stevens - CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Despite her father's constant 30-year pitch of the merits of homeownership - and knowing full well that rates are low, rents are high, and owning a home 'builds wealth' - Sara Stevens is not buying. After watching "cousins and other family members go through pretty tough situations in 2008 and 2009," her skepticism is broad-based as Bloomberg reports, t’s more than the weight of student loans, an iffy job market and tight credit -- even those who can buy are hesitant. As Bloomberg so eloquently concludes, when even the cheerleader-in-chief for housing can’t get a rah-rah out of his daughter, you know this time is different.
The total tonnage of economic malarkey being shoveled over the American public these days would make the late Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of “Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”) turn green in his grave with envy. It’s a staggering phenomenon because little about it is conspiratorial; rather, it’s the consensual expression of a public that wants desperately to believe things that are untrue, and an economic leadership equally credulous, unmanned, and avid to furnish the necessary narratives that might preserve their jobs and perqs.
The boom is unsustainable. Investment and consumption are higher than they would have been in the absence of monetary intervention. As asset bubbles inflate, yields increase, but so do inflation expectations. To dampen inflation expectations, the Fed withdraws stimulus. As soon as asset prices start to fall, yields on heavily leveraged assets are negative. As asset prices decline, increasingly more investors are underwater. Loan defaults rise as mortgage payments adjust up with rising interest rates. When asset bubbles pop, the boom becomes the bust.
Well, at least someone gets it. While just about every other central bank on the planet is giving everyone two thumbs up on the economy, the deputy chair of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Lim Hng Kiang) said last night at a dinner that “an uneasy calm seems to have settled in markets” and that “we remain in uncharted waters.” It was quite surprising to see such pointed language from a central banking official. Mr. Lim jabbed at the “obvious” risks and said there would be “bumps on the road” ahead.
Have you heard the one about the “economic recovery” in the United States? It’s quite funny, but it is not actually true. Every day, the establishment media points to the fact that global stock markets have soared to unprecedented heights as evidence that the economy is improving. But just because a bunch of wealthy people have gotten temporarily even richer on paper does not mean that the real economy is in good shape. In fact, as you will see below, things just continue to get even tougher for the poor and the middle class.
Bail-ins or deposit confiscation can now be used in the UK, EU, U.S. and G20 countries. Investors and savers best get prepared for the coming bail-in era. After Cyprus, which country will be the next to suffer bail-ins?
Timothy Geithner is likely to go down in American history as one of the most dangerous, destructive cronies to have ever wielded government power. The man is so completely and totally full of shit it’s almost impossible not to notice. The last thing we’d ever want to do in our free time is read a lengthy book filled with Geithner lies and propaganda, so we owe a large debt of gratitude to former Congressional staffer Matt Stoller for doing it for us. Stoller simply tears Geither apart limb from limb, detailing obvious lies about the financial crisis, and even more interestingly, Geithner’s bizarre bio, replete with mysterious and inexplicable promotions into positions of power..."Geithner is at heart a grifter, a petty con artist with the right manners and breeding to lie at the top echelons of American finance..."
If you make more than $27,520 a year at your job, you are doing better than half the country is. But of course $27,520 a year will not allow you to live "the American Dream" in this day and age. After taxes, that breaks down to a good bit less than $2,000 a month. You can't realistically pay a mortgage, make a car payment, afford health insurance and provide food, clothing and everything else your family needs for that much money. That is one of the reasons why both parents are working in most families today. The American Dream is becoming a mirage for most people. No matter how hard they try, they just can't seem to achieve it. And here are some hard numbers to back that assertion up. The following are 15 more signs that the middle class is dying...
No matter what, SocGen sees US equity performance over the next 10 years as modest at best. They note that US equities face three headwinds: cyclically-adjusted valuations (CAPE, starting date 1881) have returned to very expensive territory, corporate margins stand at historically high levels, and after already five years of growth from the 2009 trough, we estimate that the probability of another recession kicking in is close to 100% within the forecast timeframe (the longest cycle ever was 120 months, or 10 years). While their central case is 'moderate growth and inflation', they project a possible high growth surge to 4000 for the S&P 500 and a deflation scenario which would put the S&P 500 at 500 (-12% per annum).
With Thomas Piketty's book on inequality topping the charts among the book-reading common-folk, ambitious ex-bankers are enjoying the high-life in ways not even Gordon Gecko could have dreamed up. If greed is good, then this is better as former Lehman execs sell the first ".luxury" website domain names and ex-Goldmanites pitch "curated environments that optimize health" for home living with 'Vitamin-C-infused showers'. Of course, as one banker opines philosophically, "it's all about balance...it's important that people who have the capital are making it as useful as possible."
- At least 74 dead in crashes similar to those GM linked to faulty switches (Reuters)
- Obama Calls for $1 Billion Europe Security Fund; Will Increase U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe (WSJ)
- Euro Inflation Slowing More Than Forecast Pressures ECB (BBG)
- China accelerates as euro zone stumbles (Reuters)
- Russia says Ukraine situation worsening, submits U.N. resolution (Reuters)
- Secondary Sales Squeeze Investors (WSJ)
- Barclays Said to Start Cutting Jobs in Investment Banking Unit (Bloomberg)
- Backlash Grows on Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Taliban Prisoner Swap (WSJ)
- For fallen soldiers' families, Bergdahl release stirs resentment (Reuters)
- PIMCO's Gross stares at record outflow (Reuters)
After the crisis, many expected that the blameworthy would be punished or at the least be required to return their ill-gotten gains—but they weren’t, and they didn’t. Many thought that those who were injured would be made whole, but most weren’t. And many hoped that there would be a restoration of the financial safety rules to ensure that industry leaders could no longer gamble the equity of their firms to the point of ruin. This didn’t happen, but it’s not too late. It is useful, then, to identify the persistent myths about the causes of the financial crisis and the resulting Dodd-Frank reform legislation and related implementation...."Plenty of people saw it coming, and said so. The problem wasn’t seeing, it was listening."
If oil is “just another commodity,” then there shouldn’t be any connection between oil prices, debt levels, interest rates, and total rates of return. But there clearly is a connection. As we have seen, rising interest rates will bring an end to our current equilibrium, by raising costs in many ways, without raising salaries. It will also reduce equity values and bond prices. A rise in the cost of extraction of oil, if it isn’t accompanied by high oil prices, will also put an end to our equilibrium, because oil producers will stop drilling the number of wells needed to keep production up. If oil prices rise (regardless of reason), this will tend to put the economy into recession, leading to job loss and debt defaults. The only way to keep things going a bit longer might be negative interest rates. But even this seems “iffy.” We truly live in interesting times.