Real estate

A Closer Look At The Decrepit World Of Wall Street Rental Homes

"This new incursion by hedge funds and private equity groups into the American single-family home rental market is unprecedented, and is proving disastrous for many of the tens of thousands of families who are moving into these newly converted rental homes... Though it’s not uncommon for tenants to complain about their landlords, many who had rented before described their current experience as the worst they’ve ever had. A former inspector ...said he routinely examined homes just prior to rental that were not habitable. Though it wasn’t his job to answer complaints, he said he fielded “hundreds of calls” from irate tenants."

We knew from the start that this whole 'buy-to-rent' thing would be a disaster. Over the last decade or so, everything that Wall Street touched has turned into a scheme primarily focused on parasitically funneling wealth and resources away from society at large to itself. This is no different. They call it a “new asset class.” We call it Wall Street serfdom.

Guest Post: The Fed Can Only Fail

The basic predicament we are in is that the current crop of leaders in the halls of monetary and political power do not appear to understand the dimensions of our situation. The mind-boggling part about all this is that it's not really all that hard to grasp. Our collective predicament is simply this: Nothing can grow forever. Sooner or later everything must cease growing or it will exhaust its environs and thereby destroy itself.  The Fed is busy doing everything in its considerable power to get credit (that is, debt) growing again so that we can get back to what they consider to be "normal." But the problem is -- or the predicament I should more accurately say -- is that the recent past was not normal.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture


By keeping interest rates near zero, the Fed has been hoping to push investors into the stock market. The hope here was that as stock prices rose, investors would feel wealthier (the “wealth effect”) and would be more inclined to start spending more, thereby jump-starting the economy. This has not been the case. Instead the entire capital market structure has become mispriced.


Rumors Of Spain's Housing Market Resurrection Are Greatly Exagerated

Two days after Spain reported its first positive sequential GDP print (unclear just how adjusted the definition of GDP was to get to this watershed moment after 9 quarters of declines) and a day after it unemployment supposedly dropped more than expected (what was left unsaid is that the Spanish working age population dropped 85,200 in Q3 and -279,000 YoY and that of the 39,500 "jump" in Q3 employed people, virtually all were self-employed or temps while employees on permanent contracts were down by 146,300), the 5 second attention span investing herd is now convinced the housing market in Spain has dropped. This was "formalized" after billionaire Bill Gates invested $155 million, also known as pocket change, in Spain's infrastructure group Fomento de Construcciones & Contratas. Surely, if anyone knows how to time housing market turns it is the guy who brought us MS-DOS 3.1. Unfortunately, the mythical housing bottom may have been just that - mythical - following news that Spain's bad bank (oh yeah - lest we forget, Spain has a wonderful rug under which it can hide all insolvent bank NPLs)  failed to attract high enough bids in its first sale of commercial real estate and will cut the size of the portfolio being offered to make it easier to sell, according to Bloomberg which cited three people familiar with the matter.

Janet Yellen Exposed Part 2 - Justifying Speculative Leverage

Last week, Peter Schiff began his epic take-down of the myth of Janet Yellen's forecasting ability. As proof of her wisdom supporters had pointed to speeches she delivered in 2005 and 2006 in which she supposedly issued clear warnings about the dangers then building in the frothy real estate markets.  Without any attempt at reasonable fact checking, these claims have been parroted by the media.. and that is what Schiff so diligently destroyed. However, Schiff notes in this follow-up, there is a key statement she makes (in justifying the 'fundamentals' behind the housing bubble) that relates to credit and speculative leverage that is crucial to understand the way she sees the world and thus - what to expect from her Fed.

Guest Post: The Growing Rift With Saudi Arabia Threatens To Severely Damage The Petrodollar

The number one American export is U.S. dollars.  It is paper currency that is backed up by absolutely nothing, but the rest of the world has been using it to trade with one another and so there is tremendous global demand for our dollars.  The linchpin of this system is the petrodollar.  For decades, if you have wanted to buy oil virtually anywhere in the world you have had to do so with U.S. dollars.  But if one of the biggest oil exporters on the planet, such as Saudi Arabia, decided to start accepting other currencies as payment for oil, the petrodollar monopoly would disintegrate very rapidly.  For years, everyone assumed that nothing like that would happen any time soon, but now Saudi officials are warning of a "major shift" in relations with the United States.  In fact, the Saudis are so upset at the Obama administration that "all options" are reportedly "on the table".


Tim Knight from Slope of Hope's picture

Everything you say about the U.S. economy jibes with my experience as a real estate investor in Chicago.  The vast majority of my tenants are low-income (their rents are mostly subsidized by our fine government), but a couple make a decent living and reside in luxury condos downtown.  Based on what I've seen during the past 5 years that I have been doing this, I completely agree that our financial system is totally, utterly screwed.

Ordinary Americans Priced Out Of Housing: Institutional Purchases Hit Record, Half Of All Deals Are "All-Cash"

If there was any doubt that the US housing "recovery" is anything but the latest speculative play by deep-pocketed (namely those who already have access to cheap funding) investors, who are now engaged in rotating cash gains out of capital markets and into real estate, on their way hoping to flip newly-acquired properties to other wealthy investors, then the most recent, September, RealtyTrac report will put that to rest. To wit: Institutional investors (purchasing 10 or more properties in the last 12 months) accounted for 14 percent of all sales in September, up from 9 percent in August and also 9 percent in September 2012. September had the highest percentage of institutional investor purchases of any month since RealtyTrac began tracking in January 2011....All-cash purchases nationwide represented 49 percent of all residential sales in September, up from a revised 40 percent in August and up from 30 percent in September 2012. In other words, institutional purchases are now at all time highs, with all-cash accounting for half of all transactions!

Frontrunning: October 24

  • Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On (BBG)
  • More Democrats voice Obamacare concerns as website blame goes around (Reuters)
  • Contractors Point Fingers Over Health-Law Website (WSJ)
  • Jury Decides Against BofA on 'Hustle' Program (WSJ)
  • Credit Suisse to overhaul interest rates trading business (FT)
  • Home Builders Target Higher End (WSJ)
  • The Many Lives of Iron Mountain (NYer)
  • Busy tourist season nudges Spanish unemployment lower (Reuters)
  • Morgan Stanley Joins BofA in Broker Recruiting Truce (BBG)
  • Ending World’s Longest Nonstop Flight Adds Five Hours (BBG)

Guest Post: Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back To The United States

"I have been cursed at a Chinese border. In Dubai, my passport was studied by three veiled women for over an hour and my suitcase completely dismembered. In the Philippines I had to bribe someone in order to get my visa extended for a few days. Borders, they can be tough, especially in countries known for corruption.

But never, ever, will I return to the United States of America."

- Excerpt from a must read article by Niels Gerson Lohman

Frontrunning: October 23

  • Top China Banks Triple Debt Write-Offs as Defaults Loom (BBG)
  • PBOC suspends open market operations again (Global Times)
  • Eurozone bank shares fall after ECB outlines health check plan (FT)
  • O-Care falling behind (The Hill)
  • Key House Republican presses tech companies on Obamacare glitches (Reuters)
  • J.P. Morgan Faces Another Potential Huge Payouta (WSJ)
  • Yankees Among 10 MLB Teams Valued at More Than $1 Billion (BBG)
  • Free our reporter, begs newspaper as China cracks down on journalists (Reuters)
  • Peugeot Reviews Cost-Saving Alliance With GM (WSJ)

Futures Slump As China Tapering Fears Trump Hope Of Extended Yellen Liquidityhose

There was some hilarious news overnight: such that supposedly Spain's GDP rose 0.1% in Q3 thus ending a 2+ year recession. There is no point to even comment on this "recovery" - we will merely remind that starving your economy of imports for the sake of generating a GDP-boosting trade surplus, while consumption declines, solves nothing and point readers to charts of Spanish non-performing loans, housing prices, and unemployment, oh and the massive Bad Bank of course, and leave it at that. In terms of real news, futures are lower following a drubbing in Asia over the previously discussed concerns over tighter Chinese monetary policy. Amusingly, as Reuters notes, this has hit global shares still high on hopes of extended U.S. stimulus on Wednesday, when the dollar tentatively steadied at an eight-month low after its latest slide. The immediate casualty is the USDJPY, which continues to slide and is approaching the 200SMA. In short: fears that China may have resumed tapering have offset yesterday's hope that "horrible" job numbers mean no Fed tapering until mid-2014.... New Normal fundamentals.

Stocks Stuck Ahead Of Postponed Payrolls

Overnight global markets have gone decidedly nowhere, in expectation of the long-overdue September payroll report, and seemingly oblivious of the Goldman pre-announcement all clear that "Any positive number will be discounted because it came before the DC theatrics and if it’s weak it confirms that tapering should be put off longer." In other words, both the September, and accompanying July and August revisions (recall it was the revisions where the August NFP number ended the FOMC's taper talk) are meaningless because everything will be spun bullish. For those who do care - mostly headline reacting HFT algos - here is the summary: consensus is for 180k (unemployment rate unchanged at 7.3%). Note that the survey period for today’s payrolls report was prior to the shutdown which started on October 1st. As for how the amusingly named "market" will react to the news: see Goldman quote above, or better yet: just call the NYFed trading desk.

China New Home Prices Rise in 69 Of 70 Cities

China's attempts to curb runaway inflation in its housing market - which in a country in which the relatively young capital markets lack the breadth and depth of their western equivalents remains the only venue in which to park any of the excess cash generated from the global central bank liquidity avalanche - continue to be met with failure after failure. Overnight, the China Statistics Bureau reported that in September new home price across the country's 70 tracked cities, rose in virtually all of them, or 69 compared to a year ago. On a monthly basis, or compared to August, new home prices rose in only 65 of China's cities, compared to 66 in the month prior. And while the CSB data differs from the Shanghai Uwin data reported yesterday, the government's data while less stunning still shows the extent of the Chinese housing bubble and the persistent inflation plaguing the country: Beijing new home prices rose 1% M/m; and 16% Y/y; Shanghai new home prices rose 1.4% M/m; and 17% Y/y in September.

Peter Schiff Asks "Is This The Green Light For Gold?"

It is rare that investors are given a road map. It is rarer still that the vast majority of those who get it are unable to understand the clear signs and directions it contains. When this happens the few who can actually read the map find themselves in an enviable position. Such is currently the case with gold and gold-related investments.