Two weeks ago we first touched upon a key tangential topic of the whole mortgage mess, namely the implication of what potential MERS fraud means for Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities. Well, the topic which has so far avoided broad media attention to the benefit of all CMBS holders may be about to go mainstream. As part of our initial inquiry, we asked: "If residential mortgage foreclosures are being halted and if the very fabric of the MBS securitization architecture is put into question, when will someone ask whether MERS® Commercial allowed such pervasive title fraud as is now apparently ubiquitous in the residential space, to take the CMBS space by storm, and how many billions in dollars will Banc of America Securities, Bear Stearns (d/b/a JP Morgan), GE Capital Real Estate, GMAC Commercial, John Hancock and Wells Fargo be forced to buy back loans that were fraudulently certified." Our question is now being reiterated by Barclays Capital. Next up Bloomberg, Ratigan, and everyone else.
I bet you won't see too many of these point's in your favorite broker's analyst reports!!!
Luckily the banks don't care about that $3 trillion footnote on their balance sheets known as CRE. Because if they did, they would all be insolvent: the Moody's REAL/Commercial Property Price Index index dropped by 3.3% in August, and is now 45.1% lower compared to the October 2007 peak. The attached chart says it all, or almost all - it actually says nothing about why banks are still trading at positive equity values.
One of the more devious consequences of QE2, is that it carries the seeds of its own destruction with it. Namely, if after flooding bank basements with another $2 trillion in excess reserves, and if bank lending picks up, suddenly the amount of currency in circulation will explode by over 300% from under $1 trillion to around $4 trillion. And while a comparable increase in wages is certainly not guaranteed to occur concurrently, what this explosion in the free money will do is lead to a very rapid and drastic destabilization in the concept of a dollar-based reserve currency. The only thing that could prevent this are the Fed's mechanisms to extract liquidity from the system. Alas, the IOER process is very much unproven, and should animal spirits kindle at the peak of the biggest liquidity tsunami in history, that money will inevitably make its way to Main Street, not Liberty 33. All this has made Goldman's Ed McKelvey warn that should increased bank lending be the end result of QE2 (and ultimately that is precisely what it should be, as that would be indicative of a healthy economy), then, to put it so everyone will get it, "this would cause too much money to chase too few goods." And, as liquidity extraction then would likely be impossible, it would be the beginning of the end: "The obvious risk to this last point is if inflation expectations surge. In a stronger growth environment than now prevails, such a surge could prove difficult to control. It would require Fed officials to remove the liquidity quickly, which is why they will concentrate on purchases of Treasuries (easier to sell back into the market) and remind us continually of the tools they have developed to withdraw the liquidity (by periodically using them in small size)." Too bad the Fed will soon be forced to buy MBS (again), REITs, ETFs and pretty much everything else.
As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of ReservesSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 10/13/2010 10:52 -0400
Before I release my opinion of JPM's most quarterly results, I want to demonstrate the risk that banks take in releasing provisions to boost accounting earnings in this environment. After reading this in its entirety, JPM shareholders should be infuriated at JPM management's actions, which are sure to be reversed in the near to medium term. It is not as if the accounting earnings boost has fooled anyone and lifted the stock, which is currently down on an up day.
The recovery of the economy depends on several important factors, but the recovery of the real estate market is near the top of the list, especially commercial real estate (CRE) because most of America's banks are loaded down with CRE debt. Here is a current assessment of the state of the CRE market.
The Bank of Japan is back pounding the QE/debasement/Keneysian madness table: this time they don't buy bonds, they buy REITs and ETFs. Did you hear that Mr. Bernanke? You no longer have to wait for a business to be insolvent to buy (bail?) it. More and more countries are in the pool. Central banks joining the game range from Peru with a few millions worth of USD, Brazil, to Japan committing to $300Bn of FX intervention with the first $20Bn unsterilized, to the Fed where estimates for QE 2.0 range from $300Bn to $500/750 Bn every quarter. Commodities love it obviously and last night Japanese quantitative escapade did not leave Copper or Gold insensitive as they scream to new (recent or all time) highs. - Nic Lenoir
The biggest melting ice cube (since Movie Gallery) has just melted: Blockbuster finally accepted the inevitable and filed for Chapter 11 in New York Southern (Case 10-14997, legal: Weil Gotshal, CRO: Alvarez & Marsal). As part of the "pre-arranged" (but not "pre-negotiated") bankruptcy process, "the recapitalization plan would substantially reduce the Company's indebtedness -- from nearly $1 billion currently to an estimated $100 million or less when implemented." The Company has secured a commitment of $125 million in new "debtor-in-possession" (DIP) financing from the Senior Noteholders, chief among who is Carl Icahn, who has built up a major stake in the company's $675 million Sr. Secured notes, which will be converted into post-reorg equity. As the attached affidavit demonstrates, the company had 3,306 total video stores in the US (including franchises), and 2,333 international ones. We are confident that the company's renegotiation of lease payments much lower will only force REITs to surge to all time astronomical highs, because after all, who needs cash flow?
BofA's chief technical research analyst Mary Ann Bartels has released a note in which she demonstrates the bullish and bearish technicals currently in the market (although with the only thing mattering anymore is when and how big any given Fed permanent open market operation will be, we question the utility of technicals even). While Bartels is still holding on the a call for a "deeper equity market correction" while noting the obvious ("The equity market this year has frustrated both the bulls and the bears, and this is likely to continue into year-end, in our view") she points out that the broader market signals are mixed. She points out that "most short-term indicators have generated a sell signal and Net Tab is not oversold. We still need to break and hold above S&P 500 1150 to invalidate a potential head and shoulders distribution top. A test of the July low (1010) is still not ruled out. A break above1150 would point to a test of the April high of 1220." Today's action shows just how hard the market is trying to breach the upside resistance and disprove all the economic fundamentals that unequivocally point to an ongoing and accelerating deterioration in the economy. Below are the key charts supporting Bartels' call.
In the monthly CMBS Market Trends update from Fitch we read that the hotel delinquency rate has just passed the psychological 20% delinquency threshold for the first time. As of August, 20.80% of all hotel-backed loans is in some stage of delinquency (up from 18.64% in July): that means that one in five (and rising) hotel-backed loans will likely never be repaid and proceed to liquidation. These and such are the ways, when underlying assets refuse to generate enough cash flow to satisfy interest requirements, let along create equity value... Which should explain why publicly-traded REITs are trading at near record highs.
The Great Global Macro Experiment, BoomBust Cycles, and the Refusal to See the Truth: Bubble Economics in the Mainstream MediaSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 09/01/2010 11:19 -0400
Those who feel that CRE is a good buy now due to cap rate spreads over treasury yields are ignoring a) that treasuries are most likely in a bubble and b) this thesis if applied last year when spreads were even higher would have lost you a lot of money. Just because something costs less than it did when it was very expensive doesn't mean it is cheap. Being less broke then extremely broke still means that your broke, doesn't it???
So, Mr. Private Equity Fund Man says, "Give me $10 in order for me to lose you $8, and I'll give you $2 dollars back for your inconvenience." Am I in the wrong business or what?
Paul Farrell knocks it out of the ballpark today: "Yes, it's going to get worse, a whole lot worse ... Bill Gross warns this is the "New Normal. Forget 10% returns. Think 5%". ... Economist Larry Kotlikoff, author of The Coming Generational Storm, warns: "Let's get real. The U.S. is bankrupt. Neither spending nor taxing will help the country pay its bills" ... Economist Peter Morici warns: "Unemployment is stuck near 10%. Deflation coming. Stock market threatens collapse. The Federal Reserve and Barack Obama are out of bullets. Near zero federal funds rates, central bank purchases, a $1.6 trillion deficit have failed to revive the economy." ... Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers, warns: "We came close to another Great Depression, next time we may not be so lucky." Why? Because Wall Street's already well into the next bubble/bust cycle -- the "doom cycle."
We are getting a sense why traditionally optimistic and hopeful Americans tend to broadly despise realists...
It appears that the Monster Energy chugging traders on Wall St. had their "Animal Spirits" re-invigorated when they were watching Closing Bell yesterday where Amanda was showing off her cleavage in black. No doubt to prime the pump for today's announcement of QE2 by the FOMC.