Commercial Real Estate
I have to confess, I am tired of writing "structured" articles, the ones where I have to limit my thoughts to 800 words. So with this one I am taking a break. This is an unstructured stream of thought, in no particular sequence.
Get those rotten tomatos ready
The United States of America (and the rest of the world for that matter) has not fundamentally grown much at all over the last 40 years. We have instead replaced fundamental growth with the illusion of growth brought on by constantly increasing the monetary supply, aka, inflation. But like any good Ponzi scheme, even this one has a limit and investors briefly approached it in 2008. When it looked like our global banking system was going to collapse, investors started dumping everything in site, essentially a de facto rejection of dollar based assets. Alas, this terrible 'fiat' system is finally coming to its' inevitable end. And good riddance at that. The death of fiat money will be the best thing to happen to human freedom and liberty in over 100 years. However, you must realize that the deflation associated with the collapse of the dollar-based fiat monetary system will wipe out decades worth of false asset price growth in a very short time. Think days or months.
The Fed Chairman, who is too busy to tweet at the moment, has just released his pre-recorded speech on Community Banking. In its we find the following pearl: "Despite some recent signs of improvement, the recovery has been frustratingly slow, constraining opportunities for profitable lending." Wait, hold on, yesterday the same Chairman told an eager headline scanning robotic world that economic growth was upgraded from "modest" to "moderate" - so which is it? Or will the Fed merely feed the HFT robots whatever cherry picked keywords are needed to nudge the market in the appropriate direction as required? Oh wait, we forgot... Election year. Carry on.
Earlier today, we reported that Germans are increasingly concerned that their gold, at over 3,400 tons a majority of which is likely stored in the vault 80 feet below street level of 33 Liberty (recently purchased by the Fed with freshly printed money at far higher than prevailing commercial real estate rates for the Downtown NY area), may be in jeopardy,and will likely soon formally inquire just how much of said gold is really held by the Fed. As it turns out, Germany is not alone: as part of the "Rettet Unser Schweizer Gold", or the “Gold Initiative”: A Swiss Initiative to Secure the Swiss National Bank’s Gold Reserves initiative, launched recently by four members of the Swiss parliament, the Swiss people should have a right to vote on 3 simple things: i) keeping the Swiss gold physically in Switzerland; ii) forbidding the SNB from selling any more of its gold reserves, and iii) the SNB has to hold at least 20% of its assets in gold. Needless the say the implications of this vote actually succeeding are comparable to the Greeks holding a referendum on whether or not to be in the Eurozone. And everyone saw how quickly G-Pap was "eliminated" within hours of making that particular threat. Yet it begs the question: how many more international grassroots outcries for if not repatriation, then at least an audit of foreign gold held by the New York Fed have to take place, before Goldman's (and New York Fed's) Bill Dudley relents? And why are the international central banks not disclosing what their people demand, if only to confirm that the gold is present and accounted for, even if it is at the Federal Reserve?
The most profitable business of the future will be producing Space Available and For Lease signs. Betting on the intelligence of the American consumer has been a losing bet for decades. They will continue to swipe that credit card at the local 7-11 to buy those Funions, jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzels with a side of cheese dipping sauce, cartons of smokes, and 32 ounce Big Gulps of Mountain Dew until the message on the credit card machine comes back DENIED. There will be crescendo of consequences as these stores are closed down. The rotting hulks of thousands of Sears and Kmarts will slowly decay; blighting the suburban landscape and beckoning criminals and the homeless. Retailers will be forced to lay-off hundreds of thousands of workers. Property taxes paid to local governments will dry up, resulting in worsening budget deficits. Sales taxes paid to state governments will plummet, forcing more government cutbacks and higher taxes. Mall owners and real estate developers will see their rental income dissipate. They will then proceed to default on their loans. Bankers will be stuck with billions in loan losses, at least until they are able to shift them to the American taxpayer – again.
For those confused, the Fed's Beige Book has been upgraded to the Beige iPad (apparently Ben is not a fan of the black or white version). Regardless, the latest version has just been released spewing forth the usual reflexive platitudes, in which the economy is said to be better because the stock market is higher, and so forth. In other words, the same stuff that completely ignores $110 WTI. Via Bloomberg:
- FED SAYS U.S. ECONOMY EXPANDED AT `MODEST TO MODERATE PACE'
- FED SAYS CONSUMER SPENDING WAS `GENERALLY POSITIVE'
- FED SAYS MANUFACTURING EXPANDED AT `STEADY PACE' NATIONWIDE
And more such headlines which nobody will actually read, except for the algos which scalp the optimistic tone put there precisely for such a purpose.
The real world revolves around cash flow. Families across the land understand this basic concept. Cash flows in from wages, investments and these days from the government. Cash flows out for food, gasoline, utilities, cable, cell phones, real estate taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, clothing, mortgage payments, car payments, insurance payments, medical bills, auto repairs, home repairs, appliances, electronic gadgets, education, alcohol (necessary in this economy) and a countless other everyday expenses. If the outflow exceeds the inflow a family may be able to fund the deficit with credit cards for awhile, but ultimately running a cash flow deficit will result in debt default and loss of your home and assets. Ask the millions of Americans that have experienced this exact outcome since 2008 if you believe this is only a theoretical exercise. The Federal government, Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks, regulatory agencies and commercial real estate debtors have colluded since 2008 to pretend cash flow doesn’t matter. Their plan has been to “extend and pretend”, praying for an economic recovery that would save them from their greedy and foolish risk taking during the 2003 – 2007 Caligula-like debauchery.
Debt default means huge losses for the Wall Street criminal banks. Of course the banksters will just demand another taxpayer bailout from the puppet politicians. This repeat scenario gives new meaning to the term shop until you drop. Extending and pretending can work for awhile as accounting obfuscation, rolling over bad debts, and praying for a revival of the glory days can put off the day of reckoning for a couple years. Ultimately it comes down to cash flow, whether you’re a household, retailer, developer, bank or government. America is running on empty and extending and pretending is coming to an end.
Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.
As I Said Was Guaranteed To Happen Two Years Ago: Greece = Kaboom! But Now Many Misunderstand The ConsequencesSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 02/15/2012 12:45 -0500
The complacency of the markets is amazing given the risks at hand. I don't think I'm that smart, so is it that so many others are that stupid? It can't be, can it?
You know times are hard when you can't even give your distressed assets away!!!
Here comes the (re)crash and the search for shortable stock is on! The good thing about bankruptcy is that despite silly manilly market, bankrupt is bankrupt and the stock will act accordingly. Ask GGP/LEH investors.
GGP part deux, as the hopium high sold by US regulators that allowed banks and borrowers to pretend bad loans were good wears off and reality sets in..
Back In May 2009 Zero Hedge was the only website to post (following a NYT Dealbook takedown for reasons unknown) the lament of one, now former, Deutsche Bank employee and whistleblower, Deepak Moorjani, who made it very clear that going all the way back to 2006, Deutsche Bank was allegedly fabricating data, and misleading investors about its commercial real estate holdings, courtesy of a lax regulatory strcuture and the "lack of a system of checks and balances". To wit: "At Deutsche Bank, I consider our poor results to be a “management debacle,” a natural outcome of unfettered risk-taking, poor incentive structures and the lack of a system of checks and balances. In my opinion, we took too much risk, failed to manage this risk and broke too many laws and regulations. For more than two years, I have been working internally to improve the inadequate governance structures and lax internal controls within Deutsche Bank. I joined the firm in 2006 in one of its foreign subsidiaries, and my due diligence revealed management failures as well as inconsistencies between our internal actions and our external statements. Beginning in late 2006, my conclusions were disseminated internally on a number of occasions, and while not always eloquently stated, my concerns were honest. Unfortunately, raising concerns internally is like trying to clap with one hand. The firm retaliated, and this raises the question: Is it possible to question management’s performance without being marginalized, even when this marginalization might be a violation of law?" The story was promptly drowned, despite our attempts to make it very clear just what practices the bank was engaging in in the follow up exclusive titled "One Whistleblower's Fight Against Goliath Over the Definition of Risk." Today, the questionably legal practices by Deutsche Bank are once again brought to the forefront with the Propublica article of former WSJ journalist Carrick Mollenkamp titled "Deutsche Analyst Sounded Alarm When Asked to Alter Numbers." This is the second time a pseudo-whistleblower has spoken out against an endemic culture of fraud at the German bank in two years. And nobody cares of course, for obvious reasons - the Zen-like tranquility of the status quo may never be disturbed, or else the endless crime and corruption lurking in the shadows will be exposed for all to see.