With Tim Geithner having proven repeatedly and beyond a reasonable doubt he has insurmountable intellectual challenges, many have wondered just who it is that makes the real decisions at the US Treasury? The answer is, The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, or the TBAC in short, chaired by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, which meets every quarter, and in which the richest people in America (here is its composition) set the fate of the US for the next 3 months in the form of a very much irrelevant report to TurboTax (link). What is of huge importance, however, are the minutes, which unlike the FOMC, are released immediately following the meeting. Below are the full minutes from the latest TBAC meeting held yesterday, just released by the US Treasury (and yes, the issuance of FRN Treasurys, corporate cash hoarding as well as the resumption of the SFP program are both discussed - like we said: these guys run the world) as well as the critical associated powerpoint.
Wondering why the future for housing as an asset is so bleak, why median housing prices continue to tumble and recently saw their biggest three month drop ever, and why there is no bottom in sight? Simple: the American public appears to have woken up to the reality that homes are no longer a flippable asset, and in fact continue to drop in price, an observation that is obvious to virtually all now. So what happens next? Why renting of course. Here is Morgan Stanley explaining (granted in a pitchbook for REITs but the underlying data is quite useful) why the Housing 2.0 paradigm is all about renting.
Two years ago, when discussing the long-term prospects for Bill Ackman's aggressive pursuit of General Growth, we noted that while the short-term post-reorg oversold bounce is warranted, the secular shift away from big-box stores and disappearance of retailers means that many more bankruptcies are sure to follow, and will be punctuated by all time highs in mall vacancies courtesy of an ever-growing shift to internet shopping. So while the incremental bankruptcies in commercial REITs have been slow in coming primarily due to record low interest rates, the mall vacancy number just hit a new all time high. According to Bloomberg Brief: "In 1979 the one-hit wonder Buggles sang “Video killed the Radio Star.” Several economic indicators suggest it’s time for a Buggles revival: “Internet Killed the Radio Store.” The popularity of Internet shopping is having a considerable impact on the retail landscape; mall vacancies are at the highest level in measured history, big box stores are looking to reduce their footprints, and those selling book, electronics, and sporting goods are closing. During the third quarter, vacancies at regional and super-regional malls rose to 9.4 percent from 8.8 percent a year earlier and 9.3 percent in the second quarter, according to the New York-based property research company Reis. This was the highest since data was compiled in 2000." In other words, in addition to the Fed, REITs are the next entity class to have gone all in on interest rates never going up: because without organic upside growth, the only marginal benefit is from continues interest benefits. Once those end, it is game over, first on the margin, and then literally.
When one compiles the annals of the great deflationists of the early 21st century, they will be hard pressed to decide who is deserving of the title most ferocious deflationist in a runoff between David Rosenberg and Gary Schilling. And while David did not have much notable to say today, despite his daily release of interesting and insightful commentary from his perch atop Gluskin Sheff, Gary Schilling took advantage of the media vacuum to appear on Bloomberg TV and preach, what else, deflation. Among the topics touched upon were the #1 issue du jour - the Chinese hard landing, presented earlier here, and the resulting collapse in copper, on bond market volatility, on investing and speculation, and lastly on the S&P, which just like Rosenberg, he see as deserving of a 10x multiple applied to a soon to be revised S&P 500 EPS of 80 (do the math). All in all sensible stuff except for one thing: his statement "Inflating away is an excess supply world is almost impossible, even for the Fed" leaves a little to be desired. While he may be spot on, it does not mean the Fed will not try. And try it will: we expect rumblings for full blown LSAP to commence in a few days, and QE4 in which the Fed will pull a BOJ and buy ETFs, REITs (in addition to MBS and Agency bonds) early in 2012, after which it will be time to quietly depart from these continental US, or else load up on lead, spam and precious metals.
Funny how much can change in a month. After everyone was making fun of David Rosenberg as recently as June, not a single pundit who owns a suit and can therefore appear on CNBC dares to mention the original skeptic. Why? Because he has was proven correct (once again) beyond a reasonable doubt (and while we may disagree as to what asset class is best held into the terminal systemic collapse, Rosenberg has been one of the most steadfast and consistent predictors of the 'non-matrixed' reality in the world). Yet oddly enough there are still those who believe that a double dip (or, more accurately, a waterfall in the current great depressionary collapse accompanied by violent bear market rallies) is avoidable. Well, here, in 12 bullet points, is Rosie doing the closest we have seen him come to gloating... and proving the the double dip or whatever you want to call it, is here.
Buried under the hysteria of a potential US default is the fact that we are stagnating but no one seems to grasp why that is. One of the reasons, a very important one, is that local and regional banks and their small business borrowers are bogged down with bad commercial real estate. In this article we discuss bank credit, banks and their real estate loans, the so-called "liquidity trap," and why the economy is not growing. It attempts to quantify the problem that local and regional banks have with their commercial real estate loans. We also explain how, why, and when the economy may grow again.
Are you putting yourself first? If not , read this and share some stock recommendations with your fellow ZH members...
Had a great lunch with two real estate pros who don't see any recovery in US housing and the risk that the Canada bubble is about to burst...
LGD - To Infinity and Beyond! What's the Possibility of Certain European Banks Having a Loss Given Default Approaching 100%?Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 06/22/2011 13:19 -0400
With mainstream acceptance of my presumptions of the potential of serial sovereign debt defaults, its time to take a more realistic look at how it may happen & the potential consequences.
1999, the year the Matrix was released and the year dot.com companies trampled on the rules of fundamentals in investing. A look at the sustainability of Groupon's valuation and business model...
According to Mebane Faber, by investing in a portfolio with uncertain outcomes, pension funds could experience increasingly volatile and even negative returns. Paradoxically, in an effort to chase the universal 8% rate, pension funds may be laying the groundwork for returns even lower than the risk free rate...
Exclusive: The Fed's $600 Billion Stealth Bailout Of Foreign Banks Continues At The Expense Of The Domestic Economy, Or Explaining Where All The QE2 Money WentSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/12/2011 00:25 -0400
Courtesy of the recently declassified Fed discount window documents, we now know that the biggest beneficiaries of the Fed's generosity during the peak of the credit crisis were foreign banks, among which Belgium's Dexia was the most troubled, and thus most lent to, bank. Having been thus exposed, many speculated that going forward the US central bank would primarily focus its "rescue" efforts on US banks, not US-based (or local branches) of foreign (read European) banks: after all that's what the ECB is for, while the Fed's role is to stimulate US employment and to keep US inflation modest. And furthermore, should the ECB need to bail out its banks, it could simply do what the Fed does, and monetize debt, thus boosting its assets, while concurrently expanding its excess reserves thus generating fungible capital which would go to European banks. Wrong. Below we present that not only has the Fed's bailout of foreign banks not terminated with the drop in discount window borrowings or the unwind of the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, but that the only beneficiary of the reserves generated were US-based branches of foreign banks (which in turn turned around and funnelled the cash back to their domestic branches), a shocking finding which explains not only why US banks have been unwilling and, far more importantly, unable to lend out these reserves, but that anyone retaining hopes that with the end of QE2 the reserves that hypothetically had been accumulated at US banks would be flipped to purchase Treasurys, has been dead wrong, therefore making the case for QE3 a done deal. In summary, instead of doing everything in its power to stimulate reserve, and thus cash, accumulation at domestic (US) banks which would in turn encourage lending to US borrowers, the Fed has been conducting yet another stealthy foreign bank rescue operation, which rerouted $600 billion in capital from potential borrowers to insolvent foreign financial institutions in the past 7 months. QE2 was nothing more (or less) than another European bank rescue operation!
Stocks outperformed credit at the index level today but there was a significant shift in internals in corporate credit that provides the context for continued weakness in risk assets.
Reggie Middleton’s Real Estate Recap: As I Have Clearly Illustrated, It’s a Real Estate Depression!!!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 05/25/2011 13:14 -0400
I called it the coming RE Depression in 2007! I put MY money where my mouth was and sold off all of my investment real estate. I put YOUR money where my mouth was and shorted all that had to do with real estate (REITs, banks, builders, insurers). I called almost every major bank collapse months in advance. I warned the .gov bubble blowing does not = organic economic recovery. Now I'm saying we need to, and will, continue what's left of the crash of 2009, with ample global company. There will be no RE recovery this year, and there will be a crash. OK, you heard it here!
Now that, my friends, is how you buy yourself some good Government!