Two days after Spain reported its first positive sequential GDP print (unclear just how adjusted the definition of GDP was to get to this watershed moment after 9 quarters of declines) and a day after it unemployment supposedly dropped more than expected (what was left unsaid is that the Spanish working age population dropped 85,200 in Q3 and -279,000 YoY and that of the 39,500 "jump" in Q3 employed people, virtually all were self-employed or temps while employees on permanent contracts were down by 146,300), the 5 second attention span investing herd is now convinced the housing market in Spain has dropped. This was "formalized" after billionaire Bill Gates invested $155 million, also known as pocket change, in Spain's infrastructure group Fomento de Construcciones & Contratas. Surely, if anyone knows how to time housing market turns it is the guy who brought us MS-DOS 3.1.
Unfortunately, the mythical housing bottom may have been just that - mythical - following news that Spain's bad bank (oh yeah - lest we forget, Spain has a wonderful rug under which it can hide all insolvent bank NPLs) failed to attract high enough bids in its first sale of commercial real estate and will cut the size of the portfolio being offered to make it easier to sell, according to Bloomberg which cited three people familiar with the matter.
Bloomberg reports why rumors of the Spanish housing market's resurrection, may have been exagerated:
The bad bank, known as Sareb, received more than 30 offers for the portfolio that were lower than it expected, said one of the people, who declined to be named because the information isn’t public. It will reduce the number of buildings in the package known as Corona to four from seven, the person said. A spokeswoman for Madrid-based Sareb declined to comment.
Spain created Sareb last year to absorb 50 billion euros ($69 billion) of real-estate assets from lenders including Bankia group that took aid as part of the nation’s European bailout. Its failure to attract high enough bids may undermine growing optimism in Spain as the stock market has surged 21 percent this year and foreign investors including Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates buy into Spanish companies.
In August Sareb agreed to sell a majority stake in a group of almost 1,000 homes known as Project Bull to private-equity firm H.I.G. Capital LLC. It also sold loans advanced to Inmobiliaria Colonial SA with a nominal value of 245 million euros to Burlington Loan Management Ltd.
Also known as two greatest fools. So far, all alone.
On the bright side, this only means that the Fed will need to send out some more memos to banks (and hedge funds) warning about lax lending practices, which will remain unread until the next crash, in the meantime the same banks, and hedge funds, will scramble to pick up whatever carry trades are left in the global fungible market - if it means ultimately rushing into whatever dregs the Sareb has to sell to the greater fool, so be it.