Earlier this month, we highlighted the fact that the Carlyle Group was the latest in a series of “smart money” private equity firms to decide it was time to exit the suddenly extremely crowded “buy-to rent” residential real estate trade. Well it appears Carlyle has already started to make its move. In case you can’t figure out what appears to be the key logic behind the shift in focus, try this line on for size:
Because the cost of relocating a home is expensive, residents are less likely to move away. “Our customers have no alternative shot at homeownership, nor do they [normally] even have the credit scores and quality to seek anything better,” Mr. Rolfe said. “They never leave the park they are in, and the revenues are unbelievably stable as a result.”
In neo-feudalistic America, always, always go long serfdom.
When President Obama nominated Janet Yellen to be the next Chair of the Federal Reserve Board the praise he offered was similar to what had already poured in from around the country. In their assessments of Ms. Yellen's long career, Congressman, editors, and academics have underscored how her prescience and caution distinguish her from the reckless overconfidence that have plagued her male colleagues at the Federal Reserve. As proof of her wisdom supporters have 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. However, a brief review of the speeches in question reveals that she issued no such warnings at that time.
As RealtyTrac observes in its latest flipping report, while home-flipping among high-end homes, or those reserved exclusively for the New Normal aristocracy which buys and sells with reckless abandon almost exclusively on an all cash basis, is up 34% over the prior year with flipping on houses priced between $2 and $5 million was up a ridiculous 350%, overall flipping activity is finally starting to subside and in the third quarter was down by a third from Q3 and over 10% down from the the prior year. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the ultra-luxury flips were limited to New York and the four core California bubble markets. "More than three-fourths of all high-end flips were in five markets: the New York metro area and four coastal California markets — Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. Flips on homes priced between $1 million and $2 million increased 42 percent year over year, while flips on homes priced between $2 million and $5 million increased 350 percent year over year."
On the surface, the latest Q3 bank numbers to come out of Bank of America today, were not quite as bad as those previously reported by the other TBTFs, namely JPM, Wells and Citi. At a (massively adjuste4d) EPS of $0.20, this was just 1 cent below the expected $0.21, even as net revenue of $21.74 billion missed expectations of $21.95 billion. So far so good. At least so good until one realizes that of the $5.1 billion in pretax income, some 1.4 billion, or over a quarter, was from the usual accounting magic well of gimmicks: loan loss reserve releases! In fact, the $1.391 billion in reserve reduction driven by $1.7 billion in charge offs offset by a tiny $0.3 billion in provisions, was the highest reserve release in the past year, only lower than last Q3's $2.3 billion, when the bank - just like today - was in desperate need of any source of fake earnings. Why? Because the bank's loan origination group, just like all other banks', cratered, and saw non-interest income in its real estate services division implode by $1.5 billion to just $844 million. So much for whatever housing recovery the rose-colored glasses ones had envisioned...
If we look at the foundations of retirement--Social Security, stocks, bonds and real estate--it seems we may have reached Peak Retirement.
I like Professor Shiller and respect his work. Really, I do, but... Massive bubbles, the sort of the proportion of the 2008 crisis, are nigh impossible to miss if you can add single digits successfully and are able to keep your eyes open for a few minutes at a time. Yes, I truly do feel its that simple. I saw the property bubble over a year in advance, cashed out and came back in shorting - all for a very profitable round trip. Was I a genius soothsayer? Well, maybe in my own mind, but the reality of the situation is I was simply paying attention. Let's recap:
It’s become almost cliche these days to point out how many governments are broke beyond belief. The theater playing out in the US right now is irrelevant. America’s debt challenge is not a political problem. It’s an arithmetic problem. Same in Japan and most of Europe. However, most of these ‘rich’ western nations aren’t doing anything about it. It’s business as usual, and their debts are only getting bigger. Poorer countries don’t have this luxury of kicking the can down the road and delaying the inevitable. They must face their financial reckoning now... and they are finding increasingly unique ways to encourage 'revenues'.
- Headline of the day: U.S. Risks Joining 1933 Germany in Pantheon of Deadbeat Defaults (BBG)
- As Senate wrestles over debt ceiling, Obama stays out of sight (Reuters)
- The "Truckers Ride for the Constitution" that threatened to gum up traffic in the capital was a dud as of Friday afternoon (WSJ)
- China New Yuan Loans Top Estimates as Money-Supply Growth Slows (BBG)
- Vegetable prices fuel Chinese inflation (FT)
- China Slowing Power Use Growth Points To Weaker Output Data (MNI)
- London Wealthy Leave for Country Life as Prices Rise (BBG)
- Gulf oil production hits record (FT)
- Every year like clockwork, analysts start out bizarrely optimistic about future results, then “walk down” their forecasts (WSJ)
- Weak Exports Show Limits of China’s Growth Model (WSJ)
Commodities are no longer on investors’ radar screens. Various signals, however, are pointing to a new rally within the commodities super cycle.
Hong Kong's richest are busy offloading local assets which institutions are happy to buy. It's exhibit A why institutional money often represents dumb money.
For the greater part of human history, leaders who were in a position to exercise power were accountable for their actions. The problem we are faced with today is that our political and (frequently) business leaders are not being held responsible for their actions. Thomas Sowell sums it up well: "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." Fortunately, there is an institution that exercises control over the academics at the Fed; it is called the 'real' market economy... and it has badly humbled the professors at the Fed.
- Janet Yellen, a Backer of Pushing the Fed's Policy Boundaries (WSJ)
- Jos. A. Bank proposes to buy Men's Wearhouse for $2.3 billion (Reuters)
- J.P. Morgan to Cull Business Clients (WSJ)
- RBS Said to Pass Currency Trader Chats to FCA Amid Probe (BBG)
- Prosecutors give SAC settlement ultimatum (FT)
- U.S. builders hoard mineral rights under new homes (Reuters)
- Bill Comes Due for Brazil's Middle Class (WSJ)
- US expected to slash aid to Egyptian government (AP)
- Samsung launches world's first smartphone with curved screen (Reuters)
- Microsoft’s $7.2 Billion Nokia Bet Not Luring Apps (BBG)
- China raises hurdles for foreign banks (FT)
It’s clear to everyone by now that the government of the largest country in the world is careening towards default in just over 200 hours. Yet curiously, even though the US government’s completely ridiculous, untenable fiscal situation is a front page embarrassment for the entire world to see, markets have barely budged. A few very short-term rates have shot up, but for the most part, stocks are very close to where they were before the shutdown. Stocks and bonds haven’t moved because nobody cares what’s happening in the US government anymore. And that’s because every serious investor understands that the US government long since abdicated any economic power to the banking sector. Everyone knows that the Fed is going to keep printing money, ergo they’re going to keep sending markets higher. And this debt ceiling charade only proves it. The secret is out there in the open. And now it’s completely obvious who’s really in charge.
"You don't need me to tell you that the developed countries, the US, Europe, Japan, are insolvent.... I don't want to paint a picture of clarity about the workout of this thing. Because once a society, a financial system gets in a position of the central bank being trapped, and being unwilling or frightened of stopping this merry go round, things get very dicey. They may move to stopping the money printing, markets collapse, then they panic, go the other way... We are in a period where confidence should be jostled and it could be lost at any time for a variety of reasons, how this works out nobody knows.... There is one right thing to do right now: after five years of 0% interest rates, after $3.5 trillion here and several trillion sprinkled around the globe, this Fed chairman, the next Fed chairman, should say: "We've done enough. It is up to the president and Congress to remove the impediments for growth and provide the catalysts for growth, and help this country grow. The country is capable of growing at a far faster rate than it has been. And I think that the Fed, which is the only central bank which has a dual mandate, has embraced this dual mandate in a very harmful way because they actually revel in the role of being Atlas, holding up the world by themselves."
His government has ramped up spending to ward off unrest, helping drive inflation to a 15-year high last year, and pushing Algerians into the currency and real estate markets as they seek to shield savings.
“To protect themselves against inflation, and therefore the devaluation of the dinar, Algerians are investing in property, gold and foreign currencies,” Abderrahmane Mebtoul, a professor of economics at the University of Algiers, said in an interview.