David Stockman blasted the GSE-profiteers just last week but the manic run-up in the stocks of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has abruptly come to an end as the FT reports, the US Senate banking committee on Tuesday released a highly anticipated plan that would maintain government backing of mortgages but wind down the GSEs. Not a great day for Mr. Ackman - who owned 10% at last filing.
- Russian markets hit as Putin tightens grip on Crimea (Reuters)
- Ukraine Sees More Russian Incursions as Standoff Worsens (BBG)
- Ukraine Crisis Roils Global Markets (WSJ)
- Cold War Ghosts Haunt East Europe in Moves for Crimea (BBG)
- How Moscow Orchestrated Events in Crimea (WSJ)
- Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine (BBG)
- Euro-zone PMI slowed less sharply than estimated (MW)
- Two top Microsoft execs to leave in reshuffle (Reuters)
- Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay (WSJ)
- IQ-Boosting Drugs Aim to Help Down Syndrome Kids Learn (BBG)
So you want to be a mortgage banker? then listen now to what i say Just get liability insurance... and get ready to pay and pay...
- Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
- Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
- Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
- Because we don't already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
- Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
- Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
- Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
- U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)
When Arthur Levitt's SEC adopted Rule 2a-7 in 1998, it handed the TBTF banks and GSEs a mortgage monopoly on a silver platter.
Is the Treasury's rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unfair to private shareholders? Yup. And they deserve it.
- Goldman to Fidelity Call for Calm After Global Stock Wipeout (BBG)
- Turnabout on Global Outlook Darkens Investor Mood (Hilsenrath)
- EU Said to Weigh Extending Greek Loans to 50 Years (BBG)
- Second Storm Hitting Northeast Halts Planes, Schools (BBG)
- Small Banks Face TARP Hit (WSJ)
- As Sony prepares PCs exit, pressure mounts for reboot on TVs (Reuters)
- IBM Uses Dutch Tax Haven to Boost Profits as Sales Slide (BBG)
- ECB faces dilemma with inflation drop (FT)
- London Subway Strike Snarls Traffic as Union Opposes Cuts (BBG)
So far in 2013, Bank of America lost money on 9 trading days out of a total 188. Statistically, this result is absolutely ridiculous when one considers that the bulk of bank trading revenues are still in the form of prop positions disguised as "flow" trading to evade Volcker which means the only way a bank could make money with near uniform perfection is if it either i) consistently has inside information that it trades on or ii) it consistently front-runs its clients (the latter incidentally was a topic we covered back in 2009 relating to Goldman Sachs, and which the bank sternly rejected). We now know that when it comes to Bank of America at least one of the two happened.
The housing recovery is ultimately a story of the "real" employment situation. With roughly a quarter of the home buying cohort unemployed and living at home with their parents the option to buy simply is not available. The rest of that group are employed but at the lower end of the pay scale which pushes them to rent due to budgetary considerations and an inability to qualify for a mortgage. The optimism over the housing recovery has gotten well ahead of the underlying fundamentals. While the belief was that the Government, and Fed's, interventions would ignite the housing market creating a self-perpetuating recovery in the economy - it did not turn out that way. Instead, it led to a speculative rush into buying rental properties creating a temporary, and artificial, inventory suppression. While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a "driver" of economic growth in 2014 - the lack of recovery in the home ownership data suggests otherwise.
It would appear that the government, via its mortgage-financing subs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is providing yet another $50 to $100 million fillip to banks - but this time at the expense of their ignorance. As Reuters reports, the FBI is investigating "unsophisticated tradecraft," such as hand signals and special telephone ring tones, that some traders are conspiring to rig rates on large orders submitted by the GSEs - front running them in the interest rate swaps market. Of course, no one is surprised at yet another manipulation or malfeasance but the 'high-level-employee' whistleblower's exposure is perhaps not surprising since the size of 'hedging' orders from the mortgage-managers provides an incentive for front-running ahead of the trades - "GSEs frequently submit large interest-rate swap trades, making them easy targets for front running and lucrative targets for market manipulation."
If we have learned anything since the global financial crisis peaked in 2008, it is that preventing another one is a tougher job than most people anticipated. Not only does effective crisis prevention require overhauling our financial institutions through creative application of the principles of good finance; it also requires that politicians and their constituents have a shared understanding of these principles. Today, unfortunately, such an understanding is missing. “Firefighting is more glamorous than fire prevention.” Just as most people are more interested in stories about fires than they are in the chemistry of fire retardants, they are more interested in stories about financial crashes than they are in the measures needed to prevent them. That is not a recipe for a happy ending.
Are current underwriting practices overly stringent? Yes and no. With the exception of the sub-prime era, underwriting has never been easier. At the same time, it has never been more difficult for many qualified borrowers to get a loan. This strange phenomenon is among the unintended consequences of ill-guided public policies.
Here's a question-- if you're in the Land of the Free, do you think those green pieces of paper in your wallet are dollars?
They're not. A US dollar was defined by the Coinage Act of 1792 as 416 grains of standard silver. No, those green pieces of paper are Federal Reserve notes. "Notes" in this case meaning liabilities to the central bank of the United States. That makes you, me, and anyone else holding those green pieces of paper essentially creditors of the Federal Reserve, whether we signed up for it or not.
The financial crisis is surely a touchy subject at the Fed, where the biggest PR challenge is “bubble blowing” criticism from those of us who aren’t on the payroll (directly or indirectly). But Foote, Gerardi and Willen are, of course, on the payroll. They tell us there’s little else that can be said about the origins of the crisis, because any “honest economist” will admit to not understanding bubbles... " Unfortunately, the study of bubbles is too young to provide much guidance on this point. For now, we have no choice but to plead ignorance, and we believe that all honest economists should do the same." This smells to us like a strategy of gently acknowledging criticism (of the Fed’s interest rate policies), while at the same time attempting to neutralize it.
First hint of what happens when the heavily subsidized industry is being encouraged to try to stand on its own wobbly feet.