Fannie Mae

Guest Post: The Grand Game Of Perception Management

The task of the financial/political/media Status Quo is to convince Americans to overlook the abundant evidence of economic deterioration and focus on heavily juiced "evidence" of robust "growth." The game plan is this: if the Status Quo can convince you that the economy has righted itself and from here on in everything will get better and better, every day and in every way, then we will abandon financial rationality and start buying homes we can't afford on credit, cars we can't afford on credit and boatloads of stuff from China that we don't need on credit (of course looking cool is a "need," i.e. having an iPad to carry around). In other words, believing it is so will make it so. That is the essence of the campaign to stimulate "animal spirits" confidence: though the economy is actually tanking, if they can only convince us the Dow is moving to 15,000 and then on to 20,000, jobs are being created left and right and things are looking up everywhere, then the resulting piranha-like shopping-feeding-frenzy will create the expansion that is currently chimerical.

"Lehman 2.0" Imminent Warns John Taylor

Hubris is at the heart of this. Everyone says this cannot happen – we won’t allow it. Says who? The EU says: if it is written in an agreement, it must be totally correct, unchangeable, and followed at all costs. New realities can’t intervene and no slippage is allowed. Why the Germans are so sure that they know the future is beyond me. They are fallible too, but they won’t admit it, and the Greeks can’t make them budge. Haven’t they looked around? Santorini has a different economic and social cost structure than Wiesbaden. Humanity (and common sense) seems totally lacking in the negotiations with the Greeks and a violent backlash would be totally understandable. Why the countries that have been fattening up their current account surpluses selling products to Greeks, whom they should have known were basically broke – just as they always have been – should be paid 100% on the euro is beyond me. Major losses should apply not only to sovereign borrowings but also to accounts receivable for cars, electronics, and other consumer goods. The market has not opened its eyes to the impact this Greek unraveling will have. The Eurozone will be mortally wounded and the world will suffer a significant recession – maybe as deep as 2008. European banks will lose much of their capital base and many should be bankrupt, but just as in the Lehman aftermath, the governments will try to save the banks and the banks’ bondholders, solvent or not. As the bank appetite for Eurozone sovereign paper will be decimated, austerity will probably follow shortly, followed by deflation and uncontrollable money creation. The European recession should be one for the record books.

Frontrunning: February 16

  • Europe Demands More Greek Budget Controls in Bid to Forge Rescue (Bloomberg)
  • Moody's Warns May Downgrade 17 Global Banks, Securities Firms (Reuters)
  • Officials at Fed Split on More Bond Buys (Hilsenrath)
  • Greek deal delays pressure periphery (Reuters)
  • Talk, but No Action, to Break US Grip on World Bank Job (Reuters)
  • Greek Rhetoric Turns Into Battle of Wills (FT)
  • Greece Seeks Monday Bailout Deal, EU Questions Remain (Reuters)
  • US Lawmakers Announce Payroll Tax-Cut Deal (Reuters)
  • China Leader-In-Waiting Xi Woos and Warns US (Reuters)
  • China's FDI falls 0.3% in Jan (Reuters)

Guest Post: Bad Week For Freedom

It was a bad week for freedom loving people, but I believe there are enough patriots left in this country to change our course. We are being buried under a blizzard of lies on a daily basis. We have a choice. We can support the existing corrupt crony capitalist establishment (Obama & Romney) or we can declare war on lies, deceit and misinformation by rallying behind the only person who would truly attempt to reverse decades of corruption, sleaze, incompetence, bloat, debt accumulation, and a warped version of free market capitalism – Ron Paul. He is the only public figure willing to level with the American people and tell them the truth. Will we let the concept of truth fade out of the world? The choice is ours. 

“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” –   George Orwell

Is The Foreclosure Settlement A Shadow Bailout For Broke California

Just over a week ago we highlighted the desperate plight of cash-strapped California. With a $3.3bn short-term 'hole', they were looking for cash-management solutions under every rock and hard place they could find. Today we hear that California joins the Obama bank foreclosure settlement enabling $18bn of bank-funded cash (implicitly via Federal Reserve/Government coffers) can flow to the left coast. Los Angeles alone will receive $4bn which while eventually wending its way down to the consumer (to be spent and implicitly spurring further economic activity or perhaps more likely to pay down other debt in this balance sheet recessionary environment), as Bloomberg asks, "Why should a taxpayer in Houston or Wichita bail out irresponsible California homeowners, banks and the state’s public employees’ retirement fund?" To add to California's 'aid', BofA has become the first bank to sign up for the 'Keep your Home' program where Federal dollars are given to banks to encourage them to reduce mortgage balances on struggling (over-levered and perhaps once greedy) California homeowners. Certainly it is a happy coincidence that perhaps a short-term cash crisis could be band-aided in the Golden State by this well-timed joining of California to the settlement.

Kiss The Foreclosure Settlement Goodbye: Bank of America, Wells And JP Morgan Are Sued Over Use Of MERS

A little over a year since the day that the world first learned about robosigning and the broader problem of fraudclosure, which is merely the functional equivalent of infinite rehypothecation of an underlying asset between a daisy-chain of lien holders, we get the first legal incursion into this farce. From Bloomberg we learn that:

  • BANK OF AMERICA, WELLS FARGO, JPMORGAN SUED BY NEW YORK OVER MERS
  • NY AG SUIT CITES FRAUDULENT FORECLOSURE FILINGS

In other words, kiss that foreclosure settlement goodbye. In the meantime, the  electronic momos keep taking BAC ever higher even as this news confirms that the bank is about to suffer a multi-billion impairment shortly.

 

As A Reminder, The President's Mortgage Plan Is "Dead On Arrival"

Obama's latest attempt to stimulate the housing sector and inflate home prices "before waiting for them to hit bottom" (which they never will as long as central planning tries to define what clearing prices are) is a noble reincarnation of now an annual, and completely ineffectual, theatrical gambit. There is, unfortunately, one major snag. It is Dead on Arrival (just like every single iteration of the Greek bailout), for the simple reason that it has to get congressional approval. Which it won't. And that's not just the view of biased political pundits. Wall Street agrees.

Obama Lays Out His Latest "Mortgage Plan"

Listen to the Landlord in Chief lay out his REO to LBO plan live and in stereo. Since everyone will end up paying for it, directly or indirectly, sooner or later it probably is relevant.

¥1,086,000,000,000,000 (Quadrillion) In Debt And Rising, And WhyThe ¥ Will Soon Be A $: "A Lost Decade... Or Two"

Yesterday the Japanese Finance Ministry made a whopper of an announcement: in the year ending March 2013, total Japanese debt will surpass one quadrillion yen, or ¥1,086,000,000,000,000. This is roughly in line with the Zero Hedge expectations that by this March total Japanese debt would surpass one quadrillion yen. In USD terms, at today's exchange rate, this is precisely $14 trillion. And while smaller than America's $15.4 trillion (net of all post debt ceiling breach auctions), which was $14 trillion about a year ago, the GDP backing this notional amount of debt, which just so happens is greater than the GDP of the entire Euro area, is a modest ¥481 trillion, so by the end of the next fiscal year, Japan will have a Debt to GDP ratio of 225%. And that's not counting all the household and financial debt. So prepare to add quadrillion to the vernacular. At this exponential rate of increase quintillion will appear some time in 2015 and so on. Yet the scariest conclusion is that as Bloomberg economist Joseph Brusuelas points out, America is not only next, it already is Japan. Actually scratch that, America is worse than Japan, which at least generated a real housing bubble in the years just preceding the onset of its multi-decade credit crunch, something not even America could do in comparable terms. More importantly, "the debt-to-GDP ratio of the U.S. recently surpassed 100 percent, and it did so in the four years after the onset of the recession, compared with the six years it took the Japanese debt-to-GDP ratio to do so." The Japanese may be better than America in most things, but when it comes to destroying its economy, the US has no equal. Brusuelas' conclusion: "If below trend growth is the most probable scenario in the U.S., the most likely alternative is that the U.S. economy is headed for a lost decade… or two." So... go all in?