Thursday, May 28, 2009

Picking Up the Tab

The President went to Nevada to help raise funds for Harry Reid and pander to the good people of Nevada. I don't know what else the President did while he was in the great state of Nevada, but none of it was front page news, except the appearance at the fund raiser.

It seems to me, Senator Reid's campaign should be paying for thousands of dollars worth of jet fuel, security arraignments and whatever else it costs when the President travels. As a tax payer who has been on the short end of just about every proposal President Obama and Senator Reid have put forward in the last few months, I don't like the idea of picking up the tab on Senator Reid's re-election efforts. Someone other than the tax payers should be on the hook for the cost of the President campaigning. Ditto for his hollywood fund raiser. The man has to stop chasing celebs around.

This sounds like exactly the kind of waste, which the President has been speaking out against. This whole thing sounds very hypocritical in my opinion. I guess that’s the Obama double standard at work.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If It's Too Good To Be True ...

Grandma had a saying ... if its too good to be true, than it probably isn't. For the last few days Turbo Tax Timmy has been running around telling anyone who would listen, that the banks are healing. Perhaps this is one of those misuses of statistics that the NAR is so fond of.

Unless you have your head buried in the sand, there is no way you could possibly believe that we are in recovery. There is a massive wave of Alt-A and Option ARM resets just a few months away.Then there is commercial real estate, the proverbial "other shoe" that is just waiting to drop. Nobody who should have known bettter, could foresee the failures in residential real estate. Its stands to figure that same lack of foresight will be dogging commercial real estate. As everyone’s home equity piggy bank dries up, as company's lay people off there will be decreased demand for Abercrombie clothes, vacations, dining out, gourmet junk from stores like Williams Sonoma, Sony big screens and a whole host of other consumer goods, which as we have seen, has fed back on itself to perpetuate even more economic downturn. If those stores aren't making money, the chains will shut them down or the chains will just go out of business leaving real estate investments swinging in the breeze. The chart below shows that delinquencies are on the rise in all facets of commercial real estate. So, my question to the Secretary of the Treasury and his MA from Johns Hopkins is this ... Are things really turning around or are you just trying to will a recovery with a nice bouquet of flowers while whispering sweet nothings in everyone’s ear?

Nothing being the operative word. This blogger is not buying this idea that we're in recovery or even some contrived pre-recovery phase. Best case, the carnage is taking a break, because there are tens of thousands of homes which are due to be foreclosed. The only reason they haven't been foreclosed is because the President imposed a moratorium on foreclosures which just ended. The banks are hiding somewhere in the region of 600,000 homes. That’s six hundred thousand homes that banks will need to liquidate, thus adding additional inventory to the already bloated inventory of homes on the market. As noted above, there will be more foreclosures starting later this year and all through next year as the holders of shifty loans on homes they can't afford begin to face the music of a rate recast with few options for refinancing. Lastly, there is that other shoe. There are some people placing that the bank's exposure to commercial real estate losses as high as $1.8 trillion. Somehow, I don't think the bankers had the foresight to get coverage on their commercial real estate holdings from AIG, like they did with their residential real estate. There will be no intermediary to help the government backstop the commercial real estate losses, like there was with the residential real estate paper that went bad. It was easy for banks to report profits with billions in TARP dollars backstopping them. What are they going to do when the commercial paper goes bad?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You Can't Handle the Truth

Somebody better press Col. Nathan Jessup's dress blues and see if we can squeeze Jack Nicholson into them, because that’s what needs to happen, pretty much every where across the country.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Right now we are at a point where our economy is sadly broken. We want to be at a point where our economy functions normally and predictably. So, how do we get there? I'll tell you how, we take our medicine, we let the mechanisms within our economy function normally, as they have for generations. We stop undercutting contract and bankruptcy law with artificial "fixes" that will only prolong our slump and make a more bitter pill to swallow when we're forced to do so.

There is no pretty way to say it. You don't need a JD from Harvard or an MA from Johns Hopkins to figure it out. Its time to stop meddling with the complex economic machinery that drives entire world, we no longer have the power to just makes things happen like we did 20 years ago. Its time for real leadership. Leadership that realizes that the needs of the many vastly out weigh the needs of the feeble minded few who willingly and with great vim and vigor over extended themselves. Over extended home owners, I am sorry, its time to line up a rental and drop the keys at the bank. Mr. Banker, you leveraged everything but the door knobs, its time for a margin call. Put up or sell out, your short sighted profit mongering has come to an end. The people who didn't share in your gains certainly do not want to share in your losses. I used to say save the banks, we all rely on them. I was wrong, they can't be saved.

Its sink or swim time. Those with the anvil strapped to their backs are going to the bottom. A regular poster here, likened the current situation to forest fire. It was such an apropos analogy. Before man learned how to fight fires, forest fires were nature's way of renewing. The flora and fauna that was burnt died, but its nutrients were returned to the soil. Soon after the fire ended, new species began to sprout up and life began a new.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Wall St Journal is Even on Board

Yesterdays WSJ piece closed with some really interesting comments. I'd like to say that those comments were an original sentiment, but I have been standing on top of the hill waving my arms like a mad man and screaming the exact same things. The closing comments of the article were also rather chilling for the "its almost over" crowd.
I looked at Case-Shiller's index back to 1987 and compared it to federal data on average earnings. The result, rebased to 100 in January 1987, can be seen here. And it's alarming. By this (admittedly very simple) measure, today's home prices are actually more expensive, in relation to average earnings, than at the peak of the 1989 property bubble.

Equally noteworthy is that when the last property bubble burst, it took about eight years before the market showed really strong signs of revival. This bubble was far, far bigger