The latest number from RealtyTrac is out, and it confirms that while there has been a modest dip in October foreclosure activity, it is hardly material, leaving many to wonder if banks truly did halt any of their foreclosure activity as most had indicated (seemingly dishonestly). In October 332,172 properties received a default notice, were the subject of a scheduled auction or an REO (repossession), which are all the events which RealtyTrac defines as a foreclosure, a number just 4% lower compared to September's 347K, and higher than the 325K foreclosures recorded in July rate. Yet sifting through the numbers indicates that there is a pronounced shift within the strata: in the REO category there was a 9% drop as banks repossessed only 93.2K properties, compared to 102.1K last month, which also was an all time record. It appears the REO category is the one which is seeing the biggest bang for the robosigning buck. RealtyTrac's commentary is not surprising: "October marks the 20th consecutive month where over 300,000 U.S. homeowners received a foreclosure notice,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer at RealtyTrac. “The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent 'robo-signing' controversy — which is the most likely reason for the 9 percent monthly drop in REOs we saw from September to October and which may result in further decreases in November." And as usual, Nevada, Florida and Arizona continue to be the states with the highest foreclosure rates.
California Discloses A $25.4 Billion Budget Hole, Asks If It Should Pass The "Huge Challenge" To "Future Californians"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/10/2010 16:39 -0400
The California Legislative Analyst's Office has just released the latest fiscal outlook. It's not pretty. The state discloses a $25.4 billion budget "problem" which consists of a $6 billion deficit for the remainder of 2010-2011, and a $19 billion budget deficit forecasted for 2011-2012, thanks to a $8 billion plunge in revenues for the general fund, as temporary tax increases adopted in 2009 expire. Furthermore, as the state admits: "One major reason to stop passing the state’s problems to future Californians is that the state’s long-term fiscal liabilities—for infrastructure, retirement, and budgetary borrowing—are already huge. The costs of paying down these liabilities already are reflected, to some extent, in the state’s recurring deficits, but these costs will only grow in the future. By deferring hard decisions on how to finance routine annual budgets of state programs to future years, the state risks increasing further the already immense fiscal challenges facing tomorrow’s Californians." Luckily this is all rhetorical, and Cali will just take the Bernanke pill, and kick the can down the road. And as state budgets ultimately have to balance, at least on paper, one wonders if Cravath's ploy with its pro bono Harrisburg gimmick is merely to get Sacramento on a silver platter when the Chapter 9s move to the Golden State. One can be certain that one won't be pro bono.
Cravath, Swaine To Advise On Harrisburg Bankruptcy Pro Bono, Will Charge Millions As Muni Default Dam Finally BreaksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/10/2010 14:42 -0400
Harrisburg, PA, whose bankruptcy is now about a year overdue, has just hired bankruptcy counsel: New York law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore. The financial advisor has not been decided yet although the pitches there must be fast and furious, and probably involved every single bankruptcy advisory firm which recently has had exactly zero work courtesy of Ben Bernanke providing convertible DIPs at negative rates. Cravath took a tricky strategy to beat out other law firms: it would advise the city pro bono on its imminent Chapter 9. But don't think of it as money lost: think of it as league table credit, which will send the firm to the top of the ranks, and allow it to charge $1,000 an hour when the muni dominoes start tumbling left and right: after all Harrisburg is just the proverbial cherry pop. After it - the deluge. And the bankruptcy advisory vultures are already licking their chops over what will make the Lehman fee bonanza (now in the billions) seem like Greenspan's stingy monetary policy compared to Bernanke's global paradropping of Bennies.
More Margin Fun: LCH Clearnet Raises Margins On Irish Bonds, May Proceed With Comparable Hike For Other ProductsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/10/2010 13:34 -0400
It appears commodities are not the only items that are susceptible to margin increases: the other casualty, bonds, especially those of insolvent European countries. LCH Clearnet has just hiked the margin requirement for Irish government bonds by 15% of net exposure, leading to additional selling of long positions, and resulting in the rout in spreads currently seen in Irish bonds. As Bloomberg reports, citing Simon Penn from UBS, “this is LCH recognizing that the markets are quite serious about the potential for Ireland to default or restructure.” And as the LCH acknowledges, “if we judge that it is appropriate to apply the risk framework we have for Ireland elsewhere then we will do so,” John Burke, head of fixed income at LCH, said by phone today. “Having taken the step to invoke the risk framework for Ireland, it is a significant and appropriate move.” The market is now also pricing in an almost certain comparable hike in Portuguese bonds, judging by the price action there. The LCH action has the potential for wide-reaching implications, as the organization acts as a central counterparty for a whole slew of exchanges.
David Rosenberg Muses On Yesterday's Market "Watershed" Event, Discusses The Chairman's Lies Under OathSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/10/2010 10:57 -0400
Rosie's latest letter looks at yesterday's events in the market and calls it the 'watershed' event. Alas, where Rosenberg sees a deflationary-driven event precipitating the move in gold lower, we see merely exchange intervention. Aside from that, Rosie's skepticism is of course justified. More importantly, the Gluskin Sheff strategist focuses on the topic we pointed out a few days ago, namely that Dick Fisher has now opened up the door to Bernanke's impeachment by confirming that the Fed is doing precisely what the Chairman swore under oath he would never do, i.e., monetize.
Banks, Monolines, and Ratings Agencies As The Three Card Monte (Wall)Street Hustlers! Its a Sucker’s Bet, Who’s Going to Fall for it in QE2?Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 11/09/2010 13:31 -0400
Banks, insurers and ratings agencies conspired to move junk assets that were guaranteed to implode - and implode they have. They were (Wall)Street hustling, 3 Card Monte style, but what most are dismissing is that the ponzi/hustle collapse has yet to truly happen!
Repeat after us: gold is not a currency. But, just in case we are wrong, pretty soon one may see it accepted as pseudo legal, non-federal reserve note equivalent just about everywhere. First: the ICE, where "Gold bullion will be permitted for initial margin only and will be accepted by the clearing house by electronic transfer in increments of 1 troy ounce, and will be priced daily using the London Gold Fixing Price in US Dollars." In other words, the ICE will gladly take your gold. Period.
Two more lawsuits in the neverending safa fraudclosuregate, this time against JP Morgan. "Two purported class action lawsuits have also been filed against Washington Mutual Bank and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and against Chase Home Finance, LLC in California state court alleging common law fraud and misrepresentation, as well as violations of state consumer fraud statutes. These investigations and actions follow the Firm’s decision in late September 2010 to commence a temporary suspension of obtaining mortgage foreclosure judgments in the states and territories that require a judicial foreclosure process. "
Morgan Stanley On How Only A "Deux Ex Machina" Can Save The European Periphery, And Why The Fed May Have To Do God's Work Out Of The MachineSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/09/2010 00:33 -0400
Morgan Stanley's Arnaud Mares, who a few months ago made the jarring claim that a European default is all but inevitable (and the only question is what shape it will take), has followed up with the next piece in his Sovereign Subjects series, in which he attempts to quantify the practical inputs that would lead to sovereign default, and, more importantly, to government overthrow. Obviously the two are linked, and as Mares notes "out of 19 cases surveyed, on 18 occasions default was followed by the incumbent government losing elections." Which means that Europe is certainly interested in resolving its unresolvable issues in a way that affords fiscal adjustment in a way that does not almost inevitably lead to some form of government overhaul. The problem is that as the following chart demonstrates, the "fiscal adjustment" option which is the only one that at least gives the possibility of preserving incumbency, and unfortunately, this option is that one that not only impairs only taxpayers and not creditors, but is also prolonged over time and not instantaneous. This is also the option that guarantees a build up of resentment not only toward the ruling politicians, but toward the banking oligarchy, has the potential to result in a far greater, and more violent outburst of "social discontent", and just happens to be the state in which America will be trapped for a long time. Yet back to the core topic at hand: in looking at the only feasible way in which a "fiscal adjustment" could work, Mares approaches the issue from a game theory angle, and finds that only a "Deux Ex Machina" can prevent a systemic collapse. While he refers to the IMF, we believe the Federal Reserve, and its various systemic backup facilities (such as the FX swap line), are a much more appropriate subject to fill these shoes. We believe that since to every quid there is a quo, the Fed will not give Europe an infinite handout for free: the leverage the Fed will use, will be to force the ECB to keep the Euro artificially high, threatening with pulling all support if Europe defects in a world in which its consistency is predicated upon the Fed's ongoing generosity. Which is why in the race to the bottom, an eventual EURUSD parity thesis may have to be revised.
Fitting in perfectly with the previous article by Ron Paul suggesting the dissolution of the US welfare state, we now read that insolvent California is borrowing $40 million each day from the Federal government to pay for unemployment insurance. And while we won't comment on the ethics of all of America paying for one insolvent state's unemployment problems, what does need to be highlighted is that California, which already owes $8.6 billion to the government will have to cut a check for $362-million to Washington by the end of next September. As California, as pointed out earlier, is insolvent, it will never make this payment. Which means that we now have a timeline of when the Fed will start bailing out bankrupt states, and that QE3 will next focus monetizing on municipal debt.
Steve Keen has long been one of the most accurate economic prognosticators. This, and the fact that he does not conform to the prevalent mold of economic thinking, has made him, and his blog Debt Watch, one of Zero Hedge's must reads. Today, as part of Chris Martenson's recently launched "Straight Talk" series, Keen answers a variety of questions on the economy, and demonstrates why at the end of the day it is "all about the debt" and why deleveraging is the primary force that the Fed has to battle, and the only important outcome for the future of capital markets is whether the Fed's response will be too much (hyperinflation), or too little (deflationary crunch).
"As the Fed seeks to blow up the global monetary system, I take comfort in the fact that gold cannot fight a currency war because it is not a currency. Gold is money. Currencies used to be backed by money until the global fiat system was introduced under President Nixon. Fiat currency can be printed at will until the economy collapses, as has happened many times in history. Money is impossible to devalue at the whim of politicians because it is naturally scarce. Even in the ruins of Europe after the Second World War, when there was no central authority and chaos reigned, an ounce of gold was worth what it always had been." - Peter Schiff
Given that interest rates are already quite depressed, Bernanke seems to be grasping at straws in justifying QE2 on the basis further slight reductions in yields. As for Bernanke's case for creating wealth effects via the stock market, one might look at this logic and conclude that while it may or may not be valid, the argument is at least the subject of reasonable debate. But that would not be true. Rather, these are undoubtedly among the most ignorant remarks ever made by a central banker. - John Hussman
- Germany Attacks US Economic Policy (FT)
- Forget left and right. The real divide is technocrats versus populists (Reuters)
- China Is `Available' to Support Portugal Through Financial Crisis, Hu Says (Bloomberg), they also better be available to support Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece, and all those other bankrupt European countries
- Hatzius is now bullish: Goldman Says Bernanke Engineers `Substantial Pickup' (Bloomberg), he will be even more bullish when QE2 is expanded to $4 trillion
- BofA May Pay Bonuses in Stock as Deadline Looms on Capital Gap (Bloomberg), unclear if it will throw in toxic MBS as part of compensation
- Citigroup debt funds probed by SEC (Reuters)
- Andy Xie: To Hell Through QE (China Int'l Business)
The Maestro speaks at Jekyll Island ...