Saturday, September 29, 2007
IMHO there is mounting evidence that the bull market that began some 50 months ago is an accident waiting to happen, a DOA, a flesh eating wound, a bear trap.
Strap this one for size.
The weakest sectors of economy are consumer, financials, and industrials. A SELECT GROUP of LARGE CAP DOW Stocks are pushing the index higher just as the larger group of stocks get sicker and sicker.
Health of a rally is usually shown in NUMBER of stocks ADVANCING VS DECLINING, currently the advance decline line of stocks PEAKED back in JUNE!!! According to market research when this happens usually for 4-6 months from this peak is when a significant market top can appear, that time frame begins NEXT WEEK!
Higher highs just as buying enthusiasm is heading north a rather peculiar phenom.
WHO, of sound mind is going to argue that HOUSING did not lead this economy OUT of the BEAR doldrums back in 2002-2003?????
Recent report says existing homes for sale increased to 4,581,000 (weldon's money monitor), what is astonishing is that is a 1M increase just from March!
And this total is DOUBLE what it was in 2005.
And this total is a RECORD.
And so is the avg time it takes to sell a home 10 MONTHS. in Jan it was 6.6 (source weldon)
WE are seeing the emergence of home price DEFLATION (no wonder FED is trying to INFLATE??? and has abandoned any support for the US $$)
NEW HOMES inventory up to 8.2 months!!!!!!!
Can we agree this points to a REVERSAL in consumer credit fueled by rising housing values and fueled by cash outs that went directly into consumption?
Would this NOT also point to probability that the SECULAR (long term) credit BOOM has POPPED?
(again from Weldon) Consumer loans outstand fell to $780B down by around $10B in one week. Weldon explains this equals a 67% Yr/Yr contraction.
Consumer Sentiment surveys are PLUNGING.
The US $$$ is in uncharted territory, it broke the previous monthly lows set back in 1992. A WEAK DOLLAR could put pressure on interest rates, even after the FED Lowered rates last meeting, longer term yields have RISEN!!
A falling dollar has fueled golds rise, OIL near records, anything denominated in dollars should rise like any imports??
Local governments like Maryland's are preparing a $2 B tax increase!!
We have seen a HISTORIC BULL RUN, longest in history! It has been fueled in part by an ever expanding credit and debt feast, this appears threatened if not OVER!
AT VERY LEAST, credit is NOT as easy to obtain as it once was, Banks are cautious, how can this be good for economy?
BUST is usually EQUAL TO OR GREATER than preceding BOOM, so I am worried the BOOM is done.
The effects of housing and its course to be run will take MUCH longer than when stock bubble popped, the stock market is VERY liquid, but not so for housing.
A delay of inevitable is being attempted, we already know that when gov and Fed meddles the results can be disastrous down the road......and I think we are at that forked tongue in the road.....choice PAIN A or PAIN B.
I am IN CASH WAITING FOR MUCH BETTER VALUES. we already know I am unltra conservative and do not like to hold debt....
Friday, September 21, 2007
Trannies currently under their 50 and their 100 and 200 EMA !! NOBODY saying peep about it
ALL the while the BDI is setting records, that is because we have REAL inflation and cost of moving the raw materials keeps setting records.
When this comes apart it will get awful ugly.
Long yields have moved UP near .3% since BEN CUT!!
Housing BOOM added HUGE VELOCITY to economy, it now is limp biscuit.....and you MUST ask yourself, WHY isn't it being reflected in the data?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
You don't reinflate a bubble which has popped and get same bang for buck as when first inflating it, the moves the FED can make here are limited and this will not force banks to loosen lending standards or lower mortgage rates, the 10 yr yield was basically unchanged after actually rising on the FED decision.
When you satiate demand, it takes awhile to work off the excesses, this has not been done yet. Slack demand could also be the result of a vaporization of exotic mortgage rate schemes as well as unaffordable prices, there are tons of unsold inventory to work through.
There is a good chance market will keep momentum and rise to new highs and I wonder if smart money is buying or selling, if stocks never reached prices low enough to entice buyers back why will higher prices?
LOTS OF SHORT COVERING I BET.
I can always take a trade, and I never trade on FED DAY, too volatile, I'll let the dust settle and see what shapes up and if its on the long side that's OK.
The US DOLLAR is nearing uncharted territory, I have 1992 low of 79.12 almost tested today, GOLD shot up (no inflation?) OIL near $82 !!!
If someone tells you there is NO inflation.....Keep an eye on long term rates to which mortgages apply, irregardless BILLIONS of LOW LOW payments will reset MUCH higher going forward.
http://www.investmenttools.com/futures/bdi_baltic_dry_index.htm the BDI is the rate shippers charge for DRY BULK....raw materials....at all time highs
The WORLD is stable or raising rates.....the US needs to attract buyers of their debt (which dropped dramatically last week with only $12B foreign purchased) and they DO THIS by LOWERING the rate of interest?
Greenspan: Crisis 'an accident waiting to happen'
As his new memoir pulls back the curtain on the mysteries of the Fed, Alan Greenspan spoke to Fortune's Andy Serwer about market mayhem, housing prices, and his new critics.
By Andy Serwer, Fortune managing editor
September 17 2007: 11:01 AM EDT
(Fortune Magazine) -- Alan Greenspan's memoir arrives with remarkable timing for two reasons. One is that at a time like this, with financial markets in upheaval, we yearn for guidance from the oracle who presided over 18 years of relative peace and prosperity in the U.S. economy.
The second is that a wave of revisionist thinking holds that the reign of Greenspan may not have been so great after all, that he bears some responsibility for the twin bubbles of dot-com mania and the recently deflated housing boom.
In The Age of Turbulence (The Penguin Press, 505 pages), Greenspan gives his side of the financial saga, holding forth with his trademark wonky curiosity about statistics and the appreciation of human nature that he learned from author Ayn Rand (see Daniel Okrent's review).
In an interview with Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer, the legendary Fed chief gives an up-to-the-minute diagnosis of the financial situation, his outlook on housing prices, a prescription for the coming Medicare crisis, and his take on the Bush administration's virtues and vices (read the full interview).
What's going on in the capital markets and the housing sector? Could you explain it to us, please?
This was an accident waiting to happen. If it weren't subprime, it would have been something else. We have been through this type of event innumerable times over the centuries. We get to a state of extraordinary exuberance which, when confronted with reality, turns to unrelenting fear, huge withdrawals, extraordinarily little liquidity, and considerable credit fears.
We know where it's going. We just don't know the actual, specific resolution. We have never had the capacity to defuse a bubble, and I suspect the reason is that until we essentially reach the climax of euphoria, the speculative fever doesn't break. But when it does, it turns on a dime.
How bad is it going to get? Is it going to cause a recession?
We do know that the housing market has a significant way to go on the downside. The real issue is whether house-price declines spill over into consumer expenditures, as they did on the upside, and cause the economy to shrink. That we're slowing down significantly is unquestionably the case. Whether it actually tilts into a meaningful decline is still on the table.
How would you judge chairman Ben Bernanke's response so far?
I think it's been a very sensible one, because the board is confronted with something I was not confronted with, namely, evidence of finally coming out of this disinflationary trend. Cost pressures are beginning to build around the world.
This suggests that, longer term, the Fed's going to have to be tighter. It means that stock prices are going to have some difficulty moving forward. Shorter term, clearly, it's got problems with very significant credit disruptions and turmoil. [In my tenure] we had a relatively easy task in lowering rates without concern about triggering inflation. I regret that that is no longer the case.
Now, of course, people are pointing fingers at you, saying you're at least partly responsible for the housing bubble because of what you said in 2004 about adjustable-rate mortgages being prudent. How do you respond to those critics?
I think revisionist history is coming on with a rush. Remember, subprimes were not on the horizon. They were there, but they were very small. The speech I made actually referred to a Fed study that had demonstrated that the [cost of the] insurance you're getting to have a fixed-rate mortgage was very high, and that a number of people would do far better with ARMs.
A week later I said that I may have not made it clear that what I was focusing on was a very small segment; I just gave you the pros and cons. Indeed, those who took out ARMs within the next few weeks after I made both of those statements, had they refinanced into fixed-rate, 30-year mortgages 18 months later, would have come out way ahead. So the bottom line is, take your choices, but I would have written the same speech I did in 2004.
How do you reconcile the fact that some people - namely, Bob Woodward - call you Maestro, and then there are people out there pointing fingers at you because of the housing problem or blaming you for the bubble of 2000, calling you Mr. Easy Money Fed Chairman. Which one is it?
It's neither. I think I got undue praise for what was essentially the inevitable consequence of the fall of the Soviet Union, which was obviously a seminal geopolitical event but was also a very important economic event.
Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, we had two competing economic systems - central planning and market economies - and they would vie with each other. It was not clear which had the winning side. When the Berlin Wall came down, and we really looked at what amounted to an economic experiment in Germany, where two countries [had] an identical history, the same culture, it was remarkable. East Germany, which had been expected to have the average standard of living of about 75% of West Germany, indeed had half that.
And the shock was so great in the Third World, which had been playing with central planning, that without any fanfare, the shift toward market economy, especially in China, created a huge change in the world economy. It went into a seriously impressive disinflation, which brought all interest rates down, made a huge boom in the economy, a huge increase in assets.
And when lots of people would come up to me and say, "Thank you for my 401(k)," I was embarrassed, because I had nothing [to do with it]. I do grant that the Federal Reserve understood largely what was going on, and I think we calibrated monetary policy to fit the circumstances.
We realized that bubbles will not run out until they essentially come to an end - you can't stop them prematurely. But what we can do, and did do, is make sure that the economy was sufficiently flexible and that the decline was absorbed in a sufficiently liquid environment.
And the recession that occurred subsequent to the dot-com boom is now very difficult to find in the revised data. In other words, we had a terrible decline in stock prices, lots of people lost huge amounts of money, but not many people lost their jobs.
You served many Presidents. Who's your favorite?
The person I liked the best was Gerald R. Ford. He was the most decent man in politics I ever had any relationships with.
Did he have the intellectual firepower to be President?
Yes, he did. He was not as smart as Nixon or Clinton, but I think there was enough to make up for that, which made him an extraordinary man.
Your relationship with both Bushes was strained at times. The elder Bush blamed you in part for his defeat.
I wouldn't cut rates sufficiently, quickly. Actually George W. Bush was very cognizant of the importance of having an independent Federal Reserve. Never did he in any way second-guess the Federal Reserve. I very much appreciated that.
Where I had difficulties were on the fiscal side. We had a situation where the Republican Party had the presidency and both houses of Congress and the surplus. And I said, "Nirvana." We dissipated it. In the election of 2006 the Republicans deserved to lose, and the reason is that they had originally come to office with major policy initiatives, and they went out of office solely seeking power, and in the end they achieved neither. And I find that very saddening.
What should we be worried about most right now in terms of the economy?
Strangely enough, I think it's politics. We have a dysfunctional political system in the sense that there are very serious fiscal problems out there, most importantly Medicare. As best I can judge, when the baby boom retires, we are going to have to either raise taxes very sharply or cut benefits by half. No politician wants to confront this. And this is a very sad event because what's at stake here is the fiscal stability of the American government.
How will it be resolved ultimately?
Probably the least politically difficult is essentially to make it akin to a welfare program, but those who are supporting social insurance think that is anathema. The problem is that the arithmetic is inexorable here. I don't see how you get around that.
Prudent policy would be to adjust the longer term now, not when it becomes a serious problem for people who have already retired and are told after the fact that they will not be getting the real Medicare that they expected. Tell them now, when they're still not retired and have the choices of working longer or doing other things to adjust.
I think it's unethical and immoral for a government, when confronted with these types of events, not to take action. What do we elect people for?
What should the average American who owns a home be thinking right now? Should he be scared?
Well, there is no question that there is an overhang of inventories, especially newly constructed, unoccupied single-family homes. I judge there are about 200,000 units that are excess. And at the rate we're going now, we're running off a very small number of these inventories a month.
These units are going to overhang the structure and move prices inexorably lower. So I think we're going through a period that is not over yet, and it's important that we bring this to an end sooner rather than later, because it has a corrosive effect on the economy.
Bill Gross at Pimco suggested bailing out homeowners. Would that be prudent? Is there anything that can be done?
Well, you can, and as President Bush suggested, have a government-guaranteed organization like the Federal Housing Administration essentially guarantee loans and refinance them. That's a very difficult political decision, and it's a very expensive one if you do it in a wide-scale basis.
I'm not sure where I come out on that one as yet. I've always been in favor of enhancing home ownership in this country, even though it is risky in the subprime area. I don't know where you draw the line, because a lot of the subprime lending has been frankly truly egregious and I think in many cases, criminal fraud.
Is the great derivative blowup still to come?
You've got to remember, there are derivatives and there are derivatives. I mean, corn futures is a derivative.
Well, credit derivatives, esoteric ones.
Credit derivatives are an extraordinarily valuable thing. What they do is move the credit from the initiator of the loans, which are highly leveraged financial institutions. They sell the credit risk to those with less leverage [who are] capable of absorbing losses. That's had a very positive effect on international financial systems, had a very positive effect on American banking.
What you have to be careful about is collateral debt obligations, which have gotten much too sophisticated, are priced by extraordinary mathematical models, and are very difficult to value. I think people are going to be frightened to deal with those things for a long time. A lot of them are just going to disappear, because they've been tried; they don't work.
But the big derivative markets continue to increase at a very rapid rate, and the reason is that they are important instruments for risk dispersion throughout the world.
Do you communicate with Ben Bernanke and others at the Fed?
On occasion, but I've tried to stay away from anything remotely discussing monetary policy. With the exception of going to the Fed barber who does my hair. He's got a very easy job - I don't have enough of it to make a difference.
You seem to be much more at ease talking to me here, vs. your Senate testimony. Is it nice to be able to speak your mind?
Yes. There's only one restriction that I'm involved in. I don't talk about what the Fed is doing. They have enough problems without somebody carping from history about what they're doing.
Still, people have criticized you for speeches you give, saying, "Why doesn't he just shut up?"
Well, I ask them, What would they like me to do? I have been looking at the world economy since 1948. That's my profession. Do they want me to become a logger or a brain surgeon? If I had been presented with a request that, yes, we would like to appoint you chairman of the Federal Reserve, but subsequent to your term you're not allowed to discuss anything about the economy, I would have turned it down.
Is your wife, Andrea [Mitchell], happy that you're retired or does she find you just being a pain around the house?
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Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
By Tariq Panja, Associated Press Writer
Leading UK Lender Hit by U.S. Subprime Shakeout; Granted Emergency Funding by Central Bank
LONDON (AP) -- The Bank of England provided emergency funding to mortgage lender Northern Rock PLC on Friday after the bank, citing the global credit squeeze triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, said it was unable to line up short-term loans from other financial institutions.
Even after the central bank issued a statement saying Northern Rock was solvent, slow moving lines of customers snaked through its doors to make withdrawals.
"I would not put a penny into that company again," said Tony Looch, a 68-year-old customer, who withdrew his savings after standing in line for nearly two hours outside a branch in central London. "There are a lot of older people who must be really scared."
Shares in the bank plunged 31.46 percent to 438 pence ($8.88) in London as revelations of a cash shortage spooked investors.
Northern Rock CEO Adam Applegarth announced that profits would fall to between 500 million and 540 million pounds ($1 billion and $1.1 billion) -- as much as 147 million pounds ($298 million) less than expected.
The bank has been unable to raise funds since last month when the wholesale money markets it relied on for cash choked up. Applegarth said the problem was likely to continue for the rest of the year as bad U.S. loans continue rattle the market.
Though substantial funds at a penalty rate were requested by the bank, Northern Rock had billions of pounds in cash at its disposal, Applegarth said.
"We can't tell when the global (credit) freeze is going to unwind. On that basis, it made sense to get this facility now," he told Sky News. He did not disclose how much the bank had borrowed.
Financial experts, agreed, saying there was little risk of the bank, which holds 113 billion pounds ($226 billion) in assets, would collapse.
That meant little to investors, who began dumping shares of other British Banks. Alliance & Leicester PLC and Bradford & Bingley fell between 6 and 7 percent Friday. HBOS PLC and Barclays PLC fell by around 3.5 percent.
Treasury chief Alistair Darling said there was no threat of insolvency at the bank and urged customers not to panic.
"There's plenty of money in the system," he said. "All the banks have money, but at the moment they're not lending to each other in the way they usually do."
Uncertainty over exposure to the U.S. subprime mortgage markets has played out in the interbank lending rates, a facility that is the cornerstone of Northern Rock's business model.
A statement for the central bank said said "The decision to provide a liquidity support facility to Northern Rock reflects the difficulties that is has had in accessing longer term funding and the mortgage securitization market, on which Northern Rock is particularly reliant."
In Britain, the key three-month interbank lending rate, or LIBOR, now sits at 6.82 percent -- more than a full percentage point above the 5.75 percent base rate and just above the Bank of England's emergency lending rate of 6.75 percent.
"This isn't about solvency, this is about a short-term problem that the Northern Rock has in getting liquidity -- that is, getting some cash from the normal interbank lending market," said Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers' Association.
"I think that anybody who is waking up this morning who is either a saver with Northern Rock or has got a mortgage ... can be absolutely confident that they have got their money with or they have borrowed from a very sound financial institution," she told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Bankers warned against making parallels between Northern Rock and troubled Countrywide Financial Corp. in the United States-- which is releasing 13,000 employees and has been forced to borrow billions of dollars as it struggles to weather a wicked downturn in the U.S. housing market.
The British bank is more diligent in its lending policy, no longer has a subprime book and has a repossession rate of less than 1 percent, said Eric Leenders, an executive director of the British Bankers Association.
"It's a very healthy business which has run into a simple liquidity issue owing to the market jitters around the U.S. subprime mortgage market," Leenders said.
The Bank of England's intervention is the first of its kind since it assumed the role of "lender of last resort" when it was made independent from the British government in 1997.
Northern Rock PLC: http://www.northernrock.co.uk
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Fed can't stop recession
Even if the central bank starts to cut rates aggressively, many of the risks for the U.S. economy are beyond its reach.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Problems in housing, the financial markets and the first job decline in four years have made a Federal Reserve rate cut next week all but certain. But it has also raised talk about a recession - and whether the Fed is able to prevent one.
While most economists still don't believe the nation will fall into a recession, there is general agreement that the economy now faces a greater risk than there was only a month or two ago.
But many economists also say that the Fed can do little at this point to address many of the factors threatening continued economic growth. Some economists even argue that rate cuts could make matters worse.
The mortgage market would seem to be where the Fed could have the most effect. Most directly, a rate cut will reduce the rates for adjustable rate mortgages, one type of loan that has caused the problems for lenders and subprime borrowers, those with less-than-perfect credit.
An estimated 2 million homeowners face sharply higher mortgage payments when their current loans reset over the next year. So a Fed rate cut could possibly stave off a wave of foreclosures.
That's key since more foreclosures could have the potential to hurt consumer spending as a whole, said David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor's.
"About 1 or 2 percent of the population is going to be seriously affected by these resets. That's not trivial," said Wyss. "One thing a Fed rate cut will do is reduce that reset shock fairly quickly."
But others say a rate cut won't solve the problem for those who have been paying low teaser rates on their mortgages with the expectations that they would be able to refinance before rates reset. The fact that investors no longer are willing to buy securities backed by such non-traditional mortgages could make it impossible for hundreds of thousands of those homeowners to refinance.
"A rate cut even down to zero percent doesn't make those attractive investments," said Edward Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, which now puts the chance of recession at about 30 to 35 percent. "The Fed is in the situation where they should not be thinking about saving housing. They should be thinking about isolating the problem strictly to the housing sector."
The mortgage problems have clearly led to a broader credit crunch in financial markets, which has already put a crimp on the financing of some proposed mergers.
While a Fed rate cut may help get those markets functioning more fluidly once again, there is debate among economists about how great a risk the credit crunch poses to the overall economy.
"It's pretty hard to draw strong lines between the credit crunch on Wall Street and the economy, except in real estate," said David Kelly, economic adviser for Putnam Investments. "If there are some deals delayed, it's not a problem for real economic activity. In fact, usually mergers and acquisitions cost jobs. They don't create jobs, except with Wall Street firms. Outside New York, there shouldn't be much impact."
But Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics for Moody's Economy.com, said that getting the credit markets working again is important for business confidence, which is a key driver in decisions by companies whether to hire new workers and invest in plants and equipment.
"Businesses are still sitting on a ton of cash. The question is if they are going to go out and use that," he said. And he believes this is an area where a Fed rate cut can have the most positive effect.
"They need to know if the Fed is on the job and ready to respond," he said.
But Putnam's Kelly said that if the Fed signals that next week's cut is the first of a series of many, it could put some needed spending by businesses and consumers on hold, as they wait to see how low the rates will fall, and how much the economy is going to slowdown.
"The Fed could contribute to the problem while fixing it if they're not careful," said Kelly. "If the Fed promises further cuts, it gives people reasons to have doubts about the economy and a reason to wait to make investment decisions. If you're trying to pick up a house at a bargain, will you do it now or wait six months? You'll wait six months."
Another risk to the economy would be a drop in foreign investment here, according to some economists. And a Fed rate cut might cause more problems than it fixes because lower rates would make some U.S. investments, such as government-issued Treasurys, less attractive to foreigners.
Leamer and Wyss said a steeper drop in foreign investment would be a big problem for the economy because that flow of funds has been key to keeping long-term rates low.
"Last year we had $1 trillion come in net foreign investment, most of it into the bond market, and most into private bonds, not Treasurys," said Wyss. "If that money stops coming in, that's going to be a big increase in borrowing costs."
A sharp drop in foreign investment would also feed into the slide in the value of the dollar, which hit a record low against the euro on Thursday. While that would make U.S. exports more competitive, it also would likely raise the price of imported goods and hurt the spending power of U.S. consumers, who have come to count on low-price imports for everything from food to clothes to cars.
Wyss and Leamer say they're not predicting a sharp drop in foreign investment, but that it is a concern. And economists say there's relatively little the Fed can do to keep investors from outside the United States from pulling back on U.S. assets if it is cutting rates.
"The Fed has to make its primary concern what is happening to the domestic economy," said Wyss. "You can't focus on the dollar."
The Fed also has little ability to affect another risk to the economy: high oil prices. Crude oil prices hit $80 a barrel for the first time Wednesday.
While the economy has kept growing with oil in the $60s and $70s, economists say rising prices are a bigger risk now given how vulnerable the economy is. High oil and gas prices would be just one more thing for an already nervous consumer to worry about.
"I think if this lasts for two to three months, it's going to be a problem," said Faucher about oil prices. "If this was happening when the economy was going great guns, I wouldn't be as concerned. But more than just the costs, this can affect consumer psychology. If it shows up at the pump, then we've got some problems."
Monday, September 10, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Remember the internet bubble back in 2000? remember what happened next?
Do you want to argue with me we didn't have a real estate/mortgage/credit bubble after that?
Do you want to argue that this bubble has now gone splat?
When was the last LBO DEAL? IS M and A activity still HOT?
Do you think the FED can bail out the worlds economies and banking system?
Do you find it odd last 30 days we have experienced the wildest volatility in last 60-70 years?
Volume on decline was massive, on the rallies weak, not a sign to me THE BOTTOM is in.
Many of my investing friends are LONG, I am not of course given the usually bad Sept-OCT seasonal is here.
I await a signal that internal strength has been restored to market for a safer ride.
The slew of 90% DOWN VOLUME days came when the market was not yet oversold, but more neutral, so I think we have some rough seas ahead, and I don't think we have seen the worst just yet.