On Sunday, Senate lawmakers unveiled the 442-page plan that will eliminate the mortgage-finance giants; replacing them with a new system in which the government would continue to play a potentially significant role insuring U.S. home loans. The Johnson-Crapo bill would, as WSJ reports, construct an elaborate new platform by which a number of private-sector entities, together with a privately held but federally regulated utility, would replace key roles long played by Fannie and Freddie.
- Ukraine leader denounces coup bid, West weighs sanctions (Reuters)
- Time to buy Imodium calls: Kuroda Easing Doomed as Yen Seen Missing 120 Level (BBG)
- Teens Disappear From U.S. Workforce (BBG)
- Fed Sets Rules for Foreign Banks (WSJ)
- Quant Funds Feel Investor Bite After Underperforming (BBG)
- China Probes Qualcomm, InterDigital Over Monopoly Concerns (WSJ)
- Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces (LATimes)
- SEC Gains Power to Take Profit Made From Insider Trading (BBG)
The strength of the real estate market should not be measured by price appreciation, or the number of new and existing home sales. It should be measured by the support of underlying fundamentals and whether they can help to withstand economic cycles without policy makers having to go hog wild just to avoid a total collapse.
So how healthy is the real estate market today?
Are current underwriting practices overly stringent? Yes and no. With the exception of the sub-prime era, underwriting has never been easier. At the same time, it has never been more difficult for many qualified borrowers to get a loan. This strange phenomenon is among the unintended consequences of ill-guided public policies.
To the DOJ, a $13 billion receipt is the "largest ever settlement with a single entity." To #AskJPM, a $13 billion outlay is a 100%+ IRR. And perhaps more relevant, let's recall that JPM holds $550 billion in Fed excess reserves, on which it is paid 0.25% interest, or $1.4 billion annually. In other words, out of the Fed's pocket, through JPM, and back into the government. Luckily, this is not considered outright government financing.
Q3 earnings for financials show that the interest rate risk created by the Fed after years of zero rates is very real indeed
One thing is now abundantly clear: 2013 is now one big scratch for bankers who were expecting that this year bonuses would finally pick up from the prior several years mediocre performance and catch up to the record days of 2009 (just after the biggest wholesale bank bailout in history). The WSJ summarizes the situation best: "I haven't seen morale this bad since the Titanic," said Richard Stein, a senior recruiter at Caldwell Partners CWL.T -3.41% who specializes in financial services. And if bankers are not happy, nobody else will be (here's looking at you dear perpetual banker bailout ATM known as US taxpayers).
Ian Buruma: “The truth can be brutal, and makes life uncomfortable. So one looks the other way.”
The Labor Force Participation Rate - in English, the percent of the population that is either in a job or looking for a job - fell yesterday to fresh 35 year lows. This is not a new trend, in fact since the end of 1999 (the dot-com bust) it has trended lower from well over 67% to the current 63.2%; which means the current unemployment rate would be almost 11% if the labor force was constant from when Obama took office. There appear to be at least four reasons (excuses) put forth for this dismal 'structural' trend but chief among them - and propagandized by most in the mainstream (given its lack of 'blame') - is the so-called 'aging of America' or demographics. There is only one problem with that 'myth'; it's entirely inconsistent with other Western economies who are experiencing exactly the same demographic shift. The collapse in the US labor force is, in fact, due to excess credit having fueled artificial growth for 3 decades; and now a government throwing free money at the population in the form of disability insurance (which has surged) and student loans (which are exponentially exploded). So who (or what) is to blame for the US' collapsing workforce? Simple, the unintended consequences of government interference.
The bottom line is that Americans are losing more and more of their medical freedom. By 2015, so many workers will be trapped in the government-run health insurance exchanges that there will be no going back to the private plans we have today. At this rate, single-payer proponents will drive private insurance companies out of business, which has been their intention all along. Obamacare is a hodgepodge of new regulations, requirements, and penalties. Here are the ten most important points that doctors should tell their patients.
When mistakes are made, lawsuits happen and lawyers, and guys with capital make money.
The market is having a difficult time trying to figure out what Fannie is worth these days.
At some point, the Millennial generation will have to awaken to the fact that the only way to change its fate is to grasp political power and redirect the policy and mindset of the nation. Centralization is the black hole that is destroying the nation's social and economic vigor. Decentralization, transparency, accountability, adaptability, social innovation, a community-based economy - these are the key features of a sustainable social order. The existing social and financial order is crumbling because it is unsustainable on multiple levels. The Status Quo will cling to its false promises and corrupt centers of power until the moment the whole thing implodes. The central state is not the Millennials' friend, it is their oppressor.
On the surface, the Status Quo appears stable, if not quite healthy. This stability is illusory, however, for the Status Quo has a fatal disease: diminishing return. The basic idea of diminishing return is closely related to marginal utility and marginal return: the more capital, energy and labor committed to a project, the lower the return/yield/output. The input needed to keep the Status Quo stable must be taken from other potentially more productive investments. Taxes notch higher as the state scoops ever greater sums into its maw to fund its failing fiefdoms and diminishing-return cartels, and it borrows trillions of dollars to fill the gap between tax revenues and ever-rising input costs. All that borrowed money has a cost, too, of course--interest. The costs of maintaining a sclerotic, cartel-state Status Quo infected with incurable diminishing returns eventually exceed the carrying capacity of the real economy and the Status Quo collapses in a heap.
The heart and soul of the Keynesian Cargo Cult is the dogma that the cure for all economic ailments is more aggregate demand, i.e. consumption. The Keynesians' fanatic faith in boosting consumption would be merely childishly naive if it didn't directly support a parasitic neofeudal debt-serfdom. Sadly, Krugman and his fellow cultists' single-minded parroting of "aggregate demand" makes them well-paid lackeys and toadies for an extractive neofeudal-neocolonial debtocracy. If you set out to design a system that would implode with devastating consequences, it would be the Keynesian Cargo Cult's neofeudal financialization debtocracy. All the incentives favor increasing debt, misallocation of capital and mindless consumption, and all the disincentives weaken investments in productivity and the creative destruction of malinvestments and subsidies to favored cartels.