Real estate

We're Relying On Phantom Wealth To Fund Our Retirement

Phantom wealth cannot possibly fund unprecedented retirement and healthcare promises. Only real wealth can do that, and central bank liquidity and the asset bubbles it inflates are not real wealth.

Frontrunning: August 13

  • Obama says Missouri shooting death tragic, reflection needed (Reuters)
  • U.S. Weighs Iraq Rescue Mission to Save Yazidis (WSJ)
  • Maliki says Abadi's appointment as Iraqi PM 'has no value' (Reuters)
  • Iran Joins U.S. in Backing Replacement for Iraq’s Maliki (BBG)
  • Kurds Push Attack in North Iraq as Maliki Clings to Power (BBG)
  • Obama Donors Embrace Corporate Inversions He Criticizes (BBG)
  • Syrian Forces Advance on Aleppo, Rebels Fear Another Siege (WSJ)
  • Israel, Palestinians pursue Gaza deal with ceasefire clock ticking (Reuters)
  • Ebola Drug’s Success Bolsters Approach for Other Diseases (BBG)
  • With Natural Gas Byproduct, Iran Sidesteps Sanctions (NYT)
  • Kazakhs to Hoard Food as Putin Sanctions Rattle Alliance (BBG)

Global Recovery, We Have A Problem: Dubai Hotel Occupancy Plunges To 18-Year Lows

Despite Dubai's recent explosion of speculative fervor (stocks and real estate), and the world's leaders demanding we believe that global recovery is accelerating, there is yet another awkward anecdotal data point that suggests things are are far from 'normal'. As Bloomberg reports, Dubai’s hotels had the lowest occupancy in at least 18 years in July, standing more than half empty, as more rooms were created and demand declined, according to research firm STR Global.

The World's Most Expensive Home Is Up For Sale

Forget London's Mayfair, ignore New York's Central Park West; the world's most expensive home (on a square-foot basis) is at the exclusive Victoria's Peak neighborhood in Hong Kong. No. 1 Twelve Peaks is a 4,661 square foot home that, if sold for list, is valued at a stunning $22,675 per square foot... As WSJ notes, those interested in the latest listing will be encouraged to act fast: A buyer will be offered a 3% discount if a deal is made within five months.

Futures Higher On Geopolitical Tensions Which Are Either Easing Or Looming

Since there is nothing on today's data docket, it will be all about, you guessed it, geopolitical risks, where "consensus" is best summarized by these two Bloomberg headlines:

  • Stay USD Long as Geopolitical Risks Loom
  • USD is mixed and world stock markets rise as concerns over geopolitical risks ease

That pretty much covers it, although in addition to the Ukraine civil war one can now add an Iraq coup to the list of geopolitical fiascoes instigated by US foreign policy.

The Gold Market: An Analysis Of Recent Geopolitical, Economic And Banking Events

Physical gold is migrating to the East (Russia, China) and, with it, power and influence. We see it with China and Russia progressively imposing their will, building consensus with a great many countries that wish to end American domination made possible by their capacity (privilege) of issuing the world reserve currency. The saying, “He who holds the (physical) gold makes the rules”, is truer than ever. The announcement of the creation of the BRICs development bank is just the first cornerstone in the new international monetary edifice. All we have to wait for is the first official announcement from the East of a new means of settlement of commercial trade based on one or more tangible assets, with gold. Afterwards, logically, an announcement of the convertibility of certain currencies into gold, or even the creation of a new currency that would be convertible to gold, should be made.

As "Housing Recovery" Fizzles A New Scheme Emerges: Boost FICO Scores By Changing The Definition

Now that the the fourth dead cat bounce in US housing since the Lehman crisis is rapidly fading, and laundered Chinese "hot money" transfers into US luxury real estate no longer provides a firm base to the ultra-luxury segment, the US government is scrambling to find ways to boost that all important - and missing - aspect of any US recovery: the housing market. This is further amplified by the recent admission by the Fed that it is in fact encouraging asset bubbles, not only in stocks but certainly in all assets, such as houses. Well, the government may have just stumbled on the solution to kick the can yet again and force yet another credit-driven housing bubble, a solution so simple we are shocked some bureaucrat didn't think of it earlier: changing the definition of the all important FICO score, the most important number at the base of every mortgage application.

Frontrunning: August 7

  • Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and vegetables in sanctions response (Reuters)
  • Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit (Reuters)
  • Headline of the day: Europe's Recovery Menaced by Putin as Ukraine Crisis Bites (BBG)
  • Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy (Reuters)
  • Almost 90% of Uninsured Won't Pay Penalty Under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 (WSJ)
  • Germany’s Bond Advance Sends 2-Year Note Yield Below Zero (BBG)
  • Gaza War’s Critics in Crosshairs as Israelis Back Offensive (BBG)
  • The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (BBG)
  • Bank of America Near $16 Billion to $17 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
  • Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling (BBG)

Frontrunning: August 6

  • So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
  • Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
  • Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
  • Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
  • Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
  • Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
  • China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
  • BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
  • Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)

Why Student Loans Are Crushing The Housing Recovery In 1 Chart

As The WSJ reports, loan-application data show clear signs of growing student-debt burdens. A key metric that mortgage underwriters use to evaluate a borrowers' ability to repay a loan is their total debt-to-income ratio. It’s this metric that can make student loans a big negative in the loan approval process since new rules that took effect this year place greater legal liability on lenders to properly verify 'affordability' (or debt-to-income ratio). As the following chart shows, "between the approved universe and the denied universe, a few hundred dollars in student loan debt can push the debt-to-income above the approved threshold." Simply put, homeownership rates will face pressure until student borrowing slows or until mortgage investors and lenders come up with either more flexible underwriting tools or new loan products (and that never ends well).

"The US Is Bankrupt," Blasts Biderman, "We Now Await The Cramdown"

There are many ways to look at the United States government debt, obligations, and assets. But TrimTabs's Charles Biderman cuts straight to the bottom line and add it all up - $89.5 trillion in liabilities and $82 trillion in assets.  There.  It’s not a secret anymore, and although these are all government numbers, for some strange reason the government never adds them all together or explains them - but we will. No one can really know what will have value in this politicized crony capitalistic system as the hyper-monetization ramps up... all I can suggest is to hedge your bets with some physical precious metals and some minimal leveraged real estate. Unfortunately, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know... invest and live accordingly.

Obama To Corporate CEOs: "If You Have A Complaint, You Can Keep your Complaint"

President Barack Obama has a direct message for the leaders of America’s biggest companies: if you have a complaint, you can keep your complaint. "If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top," Obama said in an interview with The Economist published over the weekend. As The WSJ adds, Obama maintained that complaints from corporate CEOs in the current environment should be taken with “a grain of salt” as most policies he has implemented have "generally been friendly towards business." In other words, thank me for the recovery, but don't blame me for the inequality - an irony we have noted numerous times.