It’s nerve-wracking to live in the historical moment of an epic turning point, especially when the great groaning garbage barge of late industrial civilization doesn’t turn quickly where you know it must, and you are left feeling naked and ashamed with your dark worldview, your careful preparations for a difficult future, and your scornful or tittering relatives reminding you each day what a ninny you are to worry about the tendings of events. Persevere. There are worse things in this life than not being right exactly on schedule.
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- 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)
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- Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay (WSJ)
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A national average sounds an alarm: investors that drove up the housing market are bailing out
Case Shiller Has Second Consecutive Monthly Decline, Warns Of "Bleaker Picture For Housing", Momentum GoneSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/25/2014 10:28 -0400
While the sell-side community urgently continues to pimp Seasonally Adjusted Case Shiller data, despite the Case-Shiller index creators' own wishes that NSA data be used, it is becoming increasingly difficult to mask the fact that home price momentum is fading. This is precisely what one sees when looking at the change in unadjusted prices, which in December posted the second sequential decline in a row, dropping by -0.08%, following a -0.05% drop in November for the 20-City Composite index, and the biggest sequential decline since November 2012. The annual increase of 13.42% was in line with the expected 13.4%, and was the third month in a row of declines in annual house prices, something we have known for a while, and which the 2 month delayed Case Shiler index finally confirmed. Finally, we are grateful to Case Shiller for being the first to admit that it was not all the weather: "Some of the weakness reflects the cold weather in much of the country. However, higher home prices and mortgage rates are taking a toll on affordability." Let's hope there is no rain in the Spring and sun in the summer then as everything else is already bad and getting worse.
Even as the primary housing market was slowly circling the drain, the one silver lining was that the US rental market, largely dominated by several Wall Street investment firms, most notably Blackstone, was doing relatively well. It was doing so well that equity sponsors such as Blue Mountain couldn't wait to offload their prized REIT property to the public, culminating with last August's IPO of American Homes 4 Rent, the second-largest US homes-for-rent operator after Blackstone. And since the stock price of all these corporations was performing admirably or at all time highs, supported by the record fungible liquidity sloshing among the world's interconnected markets, nobody was very concerned.
It is time to get concerned.
“Guidance” is the new organizing credo of US financial life with Janet Yellen officially installed as the new Wizard of Oz at the Federal Reserve. Guidance refers to periodic cryptic utterances made by the Wizard in staged appearances before congress or in the “minutes” (i.e. transcribed notes) from meetings of the Fed’s Open Market Committee. The cryptic utterances don’t necessarily have any bearing on reality, but are issued with the hope that they will be mistaken for it, especially by managers in the financial markets where assets are priced and traded.
Those of our readers focused on the state of the housing market will undoubtedly remember this chart we compiled using the data from the largest mortgage originator in the US, Wells Fargo. In case there is some confusion, as a result of rising interet rates (meaning the Fed is stuck in its attempts to push rates higher), the inability of the US consumer to purchase houses at artificially investor-inflated levels (meaning housing is now merely a hot potato flipfest between institutional investors A and B), and the end of the fourth dead-cat bounce in housing (meaning, well, self-explanatory), the bank's primary business line - offering mortgages - is cratering. So what is a bank with a limited target audience for its primary product to do? Why expand the audience of course. And in a move that is very much overdue considering all the other deranged aspects of the centrally-planned New Normal, in which all the mistakes of the last credit bubble are being repeated one after another, Reuters now reports that the California bank "is tiptoeing back into subprime home loans again."
People Powered Privacy Savior ... Or Honey Trap Pushed By the Central Banks and TBTF?
Reality will reassert itself in 2014, with lemmings, flippers, and hedgies getting slaughtered as the housing market comes back to earth with a thud. The continued tapering by the Fed will remove the marginal dollars used by Wall Street to fund this housing Ponzi. The Wall Street lemmings all follow the same MBA created financial models. They will all attempt to exit the market simultaneously when their models all say sell. If the economy improves, interest rates will rise and kill the housing market. If the economy tanks, the stock market will plunge, creating fear and killing the housing market. Once it becomes clear that prices have begun to fall, the flippers will panic and start dumping, exacerbating the price declines. This scenario never grows old.
If a third of all US homes cannot trade due to being underwater or not sufficiently above water to clear closing costs, then the US economy is going to suffer
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- Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs (BBG)
- Investors Look Toward Safer Options as Ground Shifts (WSJ)
- Fed Policy Makers Rally Behind Tapering QE as Yellen Era Begins (BBG)
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- Russia to await new Ukraine government before fully implementing rescue (Reuters)
- U.S. readies financial sanctions against Ukraine: congressional aides (Reuters)
- Companies resist president’s call for minimum wage rise (FT)
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- Top Democrat puts Obama trade deals in doubt (FT)
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Two Las Vegas casinos will become the first known US gambling premises to accept the increasely popular cryptocurrency. The co-owned Golden Gate (Las Vegas' oldest casino) and The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel will begin accepting bitcoins on Wednesday as payment for hotel rooms and related purchases, but, as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, state regulators are unlikely to allow casinos to exchange chips for bitcoins any time soon, according to A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
While Amazon's online business is booming (in revenues - but decidedly not profits), its somewhat sunning inactions at CES this past week raised more than a few eyebrows. Quietly and with no grandiose Michael-Bay-style presentation, Wired reports the 'we-can-make-a-profit-any-time-we-like-if-we-really-wanted' company placed an Amazon Vending Machine at the Las Vegas Airport. As Wired continues, any foray by Amazon into the world of offline retail is a big deal... when Amazon ventures into the physical world - whether with in-store delivery lockers or grocery trucks or vending machines - the company’s sheer scale and ambition demand that you think in terms of world domination. Hhmmm...
- Carney Guidance Threshold Strained as BOE Holds Policy (BBG)
- Does one laugh or cry: China Tells Banks to Improve Disclosures in Shadow-Lending Fight (BBG)
- Big Business Doubles Down on GOP Civil War With Tea Party (BBG)
- CIA sued for records on possible role in Nelson Mandela arrest (RT)
- Bridge Scandal Destroys Christie's 'Nice Jerk' Image (BBG)
- Borrowers Hit Social-Media Hurdles (WSJ)
- U.S. Leverage in Iraq Tested As Fears of Civil War Mount (WSJ)
- Austerity drive cuts into Chinese inflation (FT)
- Dish Pulling Its Bid for LightSquared (WSJ)
- BlackRock agrees to end analyst surveys (Reuters)
- Germany defends economic policies after US criticism (FT)
- Bank of Korea Holds Rate Even as Yen Clouds Export Outlook (BBG)
It's been one of the worst years for gold in a generation. A flood of outflows from gold ETFs, endless tax increases on gold imports in India, and the mirage (albeit a convincing one in the eyes of many) of a supposedly improving economy in the US have all contributed to the constant hammering gold took in 2013. Perhaps worse has been the onslaught of negative press our favorite metal has suffered. It's felt overwhelming at times and has pushed even some die-hard goldbugs to question their beliefs... not a bad thing, by the way. To us, a lot of it felt like piling on, especially as the negative rhetoric ratcheted up. This is why it's important to balance the one-sided message typically heard in the mainstream media with other views. Here are some of those contrarian voices, all of which have put their money where their mouth is...