Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

January 15, 2009

Housing Correction Undermined by Foreclosures

Rapidly rising unemployment and a shortage of mortgage credit to new buyers is seen driving future declines in prices. Another factor that is being largely ignored should have government policy makers shaking in their economic boots.

housing-correctionUnemployment is going to soar in the course of this year and it’s going to increase into the first quarter or even into the second quarter of 2010. The housing market is going to see a tough year through 2010. A commonly overlooked factor is the continuation of rising foreclosures. Continued foreclosures and lack of government response will make economic matters worse by undermining the housing market and the pricing correction underway. The latest theory is that bailout of the foreclosure crisis is essential to avoid continued contraction and freefalling housing prices. They aren’t half wrong. ~ E. Manning

January 14, 2009

U.S. Politics: Banks Must do their Part

financial security trouble

financial security trouble

What the Bush administration thoroughly disregarded as a possible solution for toxic banking assets and mortgage foreclosures for the last year, Obama and the new government order in Congress have picked up as a gold card solution.

Perhaps the FDIC is no longer a lonely stepchild agency calling in the political wilderness. Calls by bankers and lawmakers to use the remaining bailout funds for the “original purpose” of buying toxic assets have resulted in new political impetus. The view of the FDIC is that the government’s financial rescue efforts have not gone far enough and that troubled asset relief is necessary to get banks lending at more normal levels and to attract private capital.

The plan places (more…)

January 12, 2009

Real Expectations for U.S. Jobs and Economy

lowering expectations

lowering expectations

When compared to the political wisdom being spread about in Washington, D.C. recently, the Federal Reserve, the government watchdog for the U.S. economy stands out in contrast. At the last FOMC meeting, the Fed admitted that (more…)

November 22, 2008

Stimulus, Not Economic Nosedive

Three more banks failed, mostly due to California’s slumping mortgage industry. But stimulus is on the mind of President-elect Barack Obama. “If we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year,” the Democratic president-elect said in a weekly radio address at http://www.change.gov, another change showing the influence of the digital economy. Now, the nation risks sinking into a deflationary spiral. While the spiral of devaluation is not really news for economists, a little truth is refreshing to hear.

obama-address-11222008To counteract that prospect, Obama is proposing an aggressive two-year plan to generate 2.5 million jobs focusing on a deteriorating infrastructure. He was not shy about employment numbers for the U.S. economy. Obama did not eliminate the mention of rising unemployment numbers, identifying with those that are awake nights for concern about whether next month’s money will meet debts or whether those that go to work in the morning return home that afternoon with pink slips. He has committed to a stimulus that he says is up to the job. ~ E. Manning

October 1, 2008

Economic Bailout Drumbeat: Securities, Transparency & Housing Value

The White House, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Congressional leaders coupled with candidates McCain and Obama, kept up a steady drumbeat of support for the ultimate bailout plan that has yet to materialize. For the moment, the U.S. political perception is that the world markets are stabilized. The reality is that on the surface, stability is a mirror on the pond of finance. Economists discuss among themselves that the reality of life in America remains that the nation is living way beyond its means. Political ideology in the States coupled with irresponsible spending has brought the nation to its knees. Generally, economists long for a pragmatic economic policy that is not driven solely by politics and special interests. An enlightened public is necessary to drive true reform to force politicians to do what they should.

Cutting bankers some slack by buying their bad securities is a bad idea. Is this not like overpricing the junk in your basement to resale as new? Garage sale junk rarely goes up in value. Depending on failed securities to magically increase in value when they are currently worthless is self-deception. Expecting financial junk to appreciate in value when there is no market for it because the premise of that junk is fatally flawed is no less deceptive. Failed banking securities are not wine.

The technical aspects of buying out bad securities is equally problematic. What is worse, depending on Congressional oversight to save the world is an exercise in futility. The lack of “transparency” is the chief issue behind the entire process. There is still no transparency in the process. Designing that transparency on many levels is probably mythical. Nobody within the brightest barrel of economists truly knows how to accomplish this transparency, but readily admit that the possible solution is highly technical.

The basis of the last several decades of wealth creation has been based on the foundation that housing prices could only increase. If U.S. economists had spent any time looking at Japan, most of us  would know the likelihood of truth. A few of us do. Since the crash of the 90s, housing prices in Japan have continued to move downward with no prospect of increase. Real estate is no longer the quality investment that it was in Japan and this nation is looking at the same scenario. ~ E. Manning

August 14, 2008

American Households Face Financial Headwinds

Americans survived the attack of Hurricane Katrina and much of the nation felt the effects for years. What Americans are going now is not a hurricane or strong storm winds, but headwinds of a financial nature brought about by a number of converging factors. If you pick up the paper or look at the internet, you can hardly avoid the headlines and the details of economic carnage.

financing prosperity
financing prosperity

Aside from the banking and mortgage crisis, automakers are on top of the economic worry list, facing a continual onslaught of sliding auto sales as Americans can no longer afford to finance overpriced vehicles. Instead, many Americans out of necessity are keeping what they already drive. That is life in America today in the current economic cycle of life.

Gasoline prices have brought about hardship and fueled inflationary pressures for the nation and the world. Complaining sources indicate that retail sales have fallen again after downward pressure from lack of taxpayer stimulus payments. All of that bad news is presented with the auto industry, which is pulling down retail sales figures. Indications were that stimulus payments received by Americans did what they were designed to do, but never enough for the longing imaginations of business. Were it not for autos, retail sales would be up .4 percent, comparable to the month before. The nation has seen gains in retail since February for small ticket items, a bright spot despite the bleak outlook. The majority of Americans are buying smaller purchases for disposable items. Devalued money only goes so far and consumers are stretching it to the max.

retailer desperation
retailer desperation

Retailers are once again grousing about less than perfect sales as back-to-school shopping hits the retail scales. This reality reflects the desperate nature of retailers. Business inventories are overstocked, even despite negative forecasts, business chose to invest in stock for sales in the hope for a better holiday. They choose to talk about the cautious consumer, further enforcing a negative business mindset by downplaying the prosperity they have. The reality is that business is counting on the Holiday Season to somehow pull them through into a pinnacle of victory that rarely comes. They talk the same games every year. Talking business down even when business is up is not the way to foster prosperity.

Enough with the auto industry and consumer financing schemes! Americans don’t need all that now. This writer has made certain that he is on a spending vacation. Many others are in the same reality, whether out of necessity or self-imposed discipline. Americans need to regroup and explore the economic world they live in for any advantage that they can find to keep them moving forward. The nation is catching its collective breath after a financial burnout. The nation cannot continue to finance away the future for the moment nor continue to give money away. Money is our blood, sweat and tears: the building blocks of life. Bankers and Americans alike must face the facts. We are at a new place in the business cycle and in life.

If we stop grousing about how bad things are when they are not Mr. Retailer, we can actually enjoy what we have. Prosperity is relative. Unfortunately, Retail America has outrageous expectations and government statisticians are ever hopeful of a tax windfall, yet eternally unsatisfied that they can’t fleece their victims more effectively to bolster government agendas with more give-away programs.

big ticket greed

big ticket greed

Hope springs eternal in government to squirm away from the worst slump in housing in many decades and a severe credit crunch from pushing the country into a deep recession, ignoring the fact that we didn’t get here as a nation simply as part of an economic cycle or downturn. Bankers and financiers brought us here, fare and square to this place in the road and aside from a few unscrupulous home buyers, Americans are victims from lack of banking regulation and integrity, endless profiteering through investment vehicles combined with government inattention, always hoping for better on the gravy train of tomorrow. The nation has been firmly addicted to credit and keeping up with the Joneses. This part of the cycle is payment for that.

It time for a new chapter in America including rethinking what we do for a better future, inflation aside. Todays sales figures will ultimately take care of themselves as the nation rebalances from a huge economic and worldwide debacle perpetrated through boundless greed and financed through predatory lending across the board by winners like GMC, Capital One and Countrywide. Financial predators have abounded.

What the nation does will either slow down the cycle of recovery or get it over with faster. The decision is up to America, partly grounded in our own attitudes. As a retired financial analyst and economist, I know the difference between economic theory and reality. I’ve lived it in the trenches. This writer is for getting the economic pain over with instead of prolonging the pain through more addictive medication. ~ E. Manning

July 30, 2008

Federal Reserve Installs More Confidence

Rhetoric aside, tough times are clearly ahead in the eyes of the U.S. Federal Reserve system. Not one to be outdone, the Fed has moved to expand and strengthen confidence in the U.S. financial system.

The Fed is adopting longer terms for banking institution loans through its lending provisions. Since other central banks are involved in the economic bailout, the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank are “adapting the maturity of their operations” as well.

In the words of the Federal Reserve, “continued fragile circumstances in financial markets” continue to exist. Federal Reserve provisions would be withdrawn should the FOMC Board decide that “conditions in financial markets are no longer unusual and exigent.”

Provisions include:
1. Extension of the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) and the Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF) through January 30, 2009.
2. The introduction of auctions of options on $50 billion of draws on the TSLF.
3. The introduction of 84-day Term Auction Facility (TAF) loans as a complement to 28-day TAF loans.
4. An increase in the Federal Reserve’s swap line with the European Central Bank to $55 billion from $50 billion.

~ E. Manning

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