Why Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program Failed (Spoiler Alert: Thank Bank Of America et al)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/16/2013 20:41 -0400
Back when the Executive and Congress at least pretended not to abdicate all power to the Fed, one of the centerpiece programs designed to boost the housing market for the benefit of the poor (as opposed to letting Ben Bernanke make marginal US housing a rental industry owned by a handful of private equity firms and hedge funds), was Barack Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, which attempted to prevent foreclosures by lowering distressed borrowers’ mortgage payments. Under the program, homeowners would be given trial modifications to prove they can make reduced payments before the changes become permanent. The program was a disaster as of the 3 million foreclosures that were targeted for modification in 2009, only 905,663 mods have been successful nearly five years later - a tiny 13% of the 6.9 million who applied (still, numbers which Obamacare would be delighted to achieve). Part of the reason: the program's reliance on the same industry that sold shoddy mortgages during the housing bubble and improperly sped foreclosures afterward. But there was much more. For the definitive explanation of everything else that went wrong, we go to Bloomberg's Hugh Son whose masterpiece released today explains how and why once again the banks - and especially one of them - won, and everyone else lost.
Those who adhere to the don’t-stop-til-you-get-enough theory of sovereign borrowing, and by extension argue for a scrapping of the debt ceiling, couldn’t be more misguided. In free markets with no Fed money market distortion, interest rates can be a useful guide of the amount of real savings being made available to borrowers. When borrowers want to borrow more, real interest rates will rise, and at some point this crimps the marginal demand for borrowing, acting as a natural “debt ceiling.” But when markets are heavily distorted by central bank money printing and contrived zero-bound rates, interest rates utterly cease to serve this purpose for prolonged periods of time. What takes over is the false signals of the unsustainable business cycle which fools people into thinking there is more savings than there really is. Debt monetization has a proven track record of ending badly. It is after all the implicit admission that no one but your monopoly money printer is willing to lend to you at the margin. The realization that this is unsustainable can take a while to sink in, but when it does, all it takes is an inevitable fat-tail event or crescendo of panic to topple the house of cards. If the market realizes it’s been duped into having too much before the government decides it’s had enough, a debt crisis won’t be far away.
Meet Mike Caldwell. He is the maker of what seems to be the most popular physical bitcoins on the market, the Casascius coin. All Mr. Caldwell does is have people who want the coins produced send him a certain quantity of bitcoin and then for a $50 fee he puts the private key on a physical coin and sends them back. For this horrible crime of ingenuity and creativity, the U.S. government naturally, has decided to target him. Because they are too busy ignoring the real financial crimes happening out out there…
A zombie government armed with accounting tricks has bailed out a zombie banking industry using even more financial phoniness. A few numbers pushed here and there, and the industry is earning record profits. But out in the real world where people live and work, things aren't so rosy. Zombies make negligent landlords and dangerous neighbors.
What would you do in the country that has only 4% of its population that earns more than $5 per day to eke out its existence if you wanted to sell in that country?
A new opportunity to play "What's wrong with this picture" arose recently, with Larry Summers’ recent speech at the IMF and Paul Krugman’s follow-up blog. The two economists’ messages are slightly different, but combining them into one fictional character we shall call SK, their comments can be summed up "...essentially, we need to manufacture bubbles to achieve full employment equilibrium." With this new line of reasoning, SK have completely outdone themselves, but not in a good way. Think Jamie Dimon’s infamous “that’s why I’m richer than you” quip. Or, Bill Dudley’s memorable “but the price of iPads is falling” excuse for increases in basic living costs. Dimon and Dudley managed to encapsulate in single sentences much of what’s wrong with their institutions. Yet, they showed baffling ignorance of faults that are clear to the rest of us.
CBO estimates that U.S. may be able to push the debt ceiling deadline to as late as June of next year, but OECD is already freaking out about the prospect of a U.S. debt ceiling bind....
The stock below is up 1200% year-to-date. The company in question is insolvent by any and all measures and has a "parent" under great pressure to take whatever gains it can get (as opposed to leave anything for shareholders). The company is exposed to the worst of the worst in the housing market. The smart money (as they are called) is piling in. The company is, of course, Fannie Mae (or Freddie Mac - same discussion). This chart, like none other, reflects the "investment" thesis in America today, as Grenwood's Walter Todd notes, “Either you’re going to make a lot of money or you’re going to lose everything you put into it."
- What can possibly go wrong: Tepco Successfully Removes First Nuclear Fuel Rods at Fukushima (BBG)
- Japan's Banks Find It Hard to Lend Easy Money (WSJ)
- U.S. Military Eyes Cut to Pay, Benefits (WSJ)
- Airbus to Boeing Cash In on Desert Outpost Made Field of Dreams (BBG); Dubai Air Show: Boeing leads order books race (BBG)
- Sony sells 1 million PlayStation 4 units in first 24 hours (Reuters)
- Russian Tycoon Prokhorov to Buy Kerimov's Uralkali Stake (WSJ)
- Google Opening Showrooms to Show Off Gadgets for Holidays (BBG)
- Need. Moar. Prop. Trading: Federal Reserve considering a delay to Volcker rule (FT)
- Raghuram Rajan plans ‘dramatic remaking’ of India’s banking system (FT)
- SAC Capital's Steinberg faces insider trading trial (Reuters)
- Desperate Philippine typhoon survivors loot, dig up water pipes (Reuters)
- Fading Japanese market momentum frustrates investors (FT)
- China's meager aid to the Philippines could dent its image (Reuters)
- Headline du jour: Granted 'decisive' role, Chinese markets decide to slide (Reuters)
- Central Banks Risk Asset Bubbles in Battle With Deflation Danger (BBG)
- Navy Ship Plan Faces Pentagon Budget Cutters (WSJ)
- Investors pitch to take over much of Fannie and Freddie (FT)
- To expand Khamenei’s grip on the economy, Iran stretched its laws (Reuters)
- Short sellers bet that gunmaker shares are no long shot (FT)
- Deflation threat in Europe may prompt investment rethink (Reuters)
Meet The Man Responsible For Regulating $234 Trillion In Derivatives: The CFTC's New Head Timothy MassadSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/12/2013 11:38 -0400
It's official - goodbye Gary Gensler, we hardly knew you... as a commodities regulator that is, although Bart Chilton (who is finally also stepping down due to being too burdened by lack of funding to actually do anything) was kind enough to provide much needed perspective on how the CFTC truly works. In place of the former Goldmanite, today Obama will announce that going forward America's top derivative regulator and CFTC head will be Timothy Massad, the Treasury Department official responsible for overseeing the U.S. rescue of banks and automakers after the credit crisis.
Bloomberg may be in hot water for scuttling an article that "might anger China" as exposed over the weekend, but that was only after winning investigative prizes for its series of reports exposing the epic wealth of China top ruling families in 2012: a topic that has received prominence at a time when the forced wealth redistribution plans of developed and developing nations, usually originated by these same uber-wealthy families, is all the rage. Another country, whose oligarchic wealth had largely escaped press scrutiny, was Iran. At least until today, when in a six month investigation culminating in a three-part report on the assets of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Reuters exposed Setad, an Iranian company that manages and sells property on order from the Imam. In a nutshell, the company has built up its wealth by seizing thousands of properties from Iranian citizens. According to the investigation, Setad’s assets are worth $95 billion – 40 percent more than Iran’s total 2012 oil exports. It is this confiscated "wealth" that has allowed the Iranian clergy, and especially the Ayatollah, to preserve their power over the years.
Ben Bernanke is participating in an IMF panel with Larry Summers, Ken Rogoff, and fromer Bank of Israel chief Stan Fischer... Full speech below...
After a blistering October for stocks, drunk on yet another month of record liquidity by the cental planners, November's first overnight trading session has been quiet so far, with the highlight being the release of both official and HSBC China PMI data. The official manufacturing PMI rose to 51.4 in October from 51.1 in September. It managed to beat expectations of 51.2 and was also the highest reading in 18 months - since April 2012. October’s PMIs are historically lower than those for September, so the MoM uptick is considered a bit more impressive. The uptrend in October was also confirmed by the final HSBC manufacturing PMI which printed at 50.9 which is higher than the preliminary reading of 50.7 and September’s reading of 50.9. The Chinese data has helped put a floor on Asian equities overnight and S&P 500 futures are nudging higher (+0.15%). The key laggard are Japanese equities where the TOPIX (-1.1%) is weaker pressured by a number of industrials, ahead of a three day weekend. Electronics-maker Sony is down 12% after surprising the market with a profit downgrade with this impacting sentiment in Japanese equities.
The two leading economic of the developed world are now engaged in an open pissing contest. Will anyone win, or will everyone lose? And will Germany offer Edward Snowden asylum as a result? Can US foreign policy be even more screwed up? Find out inside.