American Melt Down?

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Michael, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. X-Man2 We're under no illusions. Registered Senior Member

    The bank finally sold my Moms foreclosed on home in Phoenix last week.When she bought it in 2004,it was appraised for 200k.She got it for 192k.Mom put around 15k into updates and landscaping.Last week the home sold for 49k.Whats wrong with this picture?
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Sorry for her and you, but to partially answer your question (My comments are below graph):

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    The dip in inventory (blue line) during 2009 was due to renters taking advantage of the $8000 gift (of tax dollars) to first time home buyer.
    There may be at least a pause in the now rate of inventory growth with the "foreclosure" mess as many people who would have been force back into the rental market (or tents?) will be staying in their under water homes for free for a while.

    Your mon's house as probably "dumped" by some bank for what ever they could quickly get as they do not want them sitting unoccupied. The probelm is getting steadily worse - See red line with months of unsold houses climbing. The price is also declining (today's report) but not enough yet to get buyers equal in numbers to houses coming on the market. One new problem is that while no one know which of the mortgages in the packages sold by banks has valid titles, due to "robo-signer" title companies are often not will it insure that the title is valid. Without their insurance banks will not lend so many who would like to pick up a "great bargain" at a foreclosure can not get a loan. Perhaps the person who bought your mon's house did not need a loan. It is beginning to look like only the rich, who don't need loans, will in the market buying until this "lack of due diligence" / robo-signer mess is cleared up. I.e. sad as it is, your mom may have been lucky to get her home sold as the bottom will fall out of home prices if only the rich are buying Because others can't get loans.

    As a Summary, a quote from Bloomberg:
    “It’s a fundamental imbalance between very, very weak demand and very, very high supply,” said Paul Dales, a U.S. economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in Toronto. “Prices need to change and that points to downward movement.”
    Quote from:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2010
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  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Still a third and even more serious problem than the two discussed in posts 299 and 300 associated with "Morgtage Gate" (Not the "pull back" or the "robo-signers" problems, this is an "unpaid local taxes" problem and boy are those local governments hungry for those taxes due them).

    Billy T introduction:
    When a bank sold your mortgage or swapped it with some others from another part of the country (for “diversification”) of the packages of “mortgage backed securities” MBS, (also now called “toxic trash” but given AA or better ratings, in part because of the diversification in the MBS packages and in part because many at the time believed home prices could only go up) they must locally record the change of ownership in the county’s land records offices for the transfer to a new owner to be legal (or at least safe from challenge in the courts.). To facilitate transfers of owners ship of the mortgage, usually in the mortgage there is a “nominee” granted the right the sign transfer papers. Also the banks set up a clearing house for the swaps called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS See Being electronic, of course nothing was actually signed on any paper and transfers of ownership via MERS did not record transfers in the local land records office (or pay their recording fees). Here is MoneyMorning’s discussion of the financial disaster for US this “MortgageGate” problem probably will cause:

    “…Every time there's change on the title (a change occurs when the nominee switches the lender on your title out for another), local governments require that a new title be recorded. Of course, those governments - the county or municipality that you live in - also charge a "recording fee." … Here's the problem. In creating MERS, these institutions actually changed the land-title system that this country - for much of its history - has relied upon to determine legal ownership status of land titleholders.

    Not only did the lenders sidestep (read that to mean avoid) paying billions of dollars in fees to local governments, they paid themselves from the fees that MERS collected. MERS is facing class-action lawsuits and civil racketeering suits around the country and their members {US's largest banks and many others} are being individually named in all these suits. One suit alleges that MERS owes California a potential $60 billion to $120 billion in unpaid land-recording fees. {Billy T insert: Not a problem as California is already insolvent.}

    If suits against MERS and all its members are successful, unpaid recording fees and fines (that can be as much as $10,000 per incident) would make every one of them {banks and others who wrote mortgages} insolvent. … what the Federal Reserve meant when it warned of "potential negative shocks?"

    The bottom line for investors is that until all these issues are cleaned up (which might take years, or even decades) - or until there's perhaps some sort of legislative clarity that eases uncertainty - investors face the threat of a severe "correction" in any or all of the markets that have risen on the hope that the long-hoped-for U.S. recovery is finally taking hold.


    Note MoneyMorning is an investment advisory firm, but If this drags out for years (as seems likely) the housing collapse is just starting as no one is sure who owns the homes with mortgages that were packaged into MBS. For example, no one will issue "title insurance" and without that no lender will lend the potential buyer a loan. Thus the number of home buyers will be reduced while that unsold inventory of homes continues to climb even more rapidly (See graph in post 302.) Only the rich, who can pay without any mortgage will be buying homes, and they will drive hard bargains. I.e. it will be a "buyers market" like none that has ever existed before Possible getting only 15% of what you paid for your home will be common if you must sell. X-man 2's mother got 25% (see post 301) and she may have been lucky to do so as sellers will out number buyers by at least 7 to 1 if no title insurance is available (Even the rich may not want to buy as they too cannot be sure they are getting a "clear title.")

    Billy T's final comment: When Joe Homeowner learns that the bank or the investors in the MBS in which his mortgage is part, do not have any clear legal right to collect his mortgage payments, what do you think he will do? Stop paying even if he can and is not "under water." Yes, that is what I think he will do also. Thus almost all with mortgages created in the last 5 or so years (and most older ones have been refinanced to lower interest rates so are less than 5 years old) can stop paying their mortgages, at least until the courts or Congress clears up this mess. Thus the loss for the banks is not just what they must eat due to the pull back suits but may be most of all the monthly mortgage payments!

    Billy T's "bottom line": Don't invest in any bank as most of them will collapse, until a Bank Bailout two, BB2, passes Congress, and given how much anger against the banks and BB1 there is, that passage of BB2 is by no means certain.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2010
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    SUMMARY LIST of recent posts on serious, mainly housing related, "problems":

    (1a) The "pull back" problem ---------Post 299
    (1b) The "robo-signers" problem -----Post 300
    (2) The debt / economy problem* ---Post 299
    (3) The "currency wars" problem-----Post 299
    (4) The "local tax not paid" problem -Post 303
    (5) The "growing unsold inventory" problem ---Graph in post 302
    (6) Probable "hung Congress" unable to do anything. (listed speculatively, just to make a "lucky 7" of difficult problems.)

    * (2), Simply and crudely stated: No western government knows what the F... to do; but various different grand "possible solutions" experiments are starting in US, EU and England. Japan has not known what the F to do for more than two decades. Only China (and Scandinavian countries) seems to have their economic houses in order (in terms of debt to GDP ratios, trade and budget balances, etc.)
    Thus, empirically, it seems socialistic government work best economically despite right wing THEORY to the contrary.

    Yes, we do live in very "interesting times" as American "melts down."

    More on (1b) et. al. here: An article with title: "Robo-signing: Just the start of bigger problems."

    Also from current issue of The Economist, read:
    "Foreclosure delays will cause further pain in the already-pummelled market for mortgage securities. Investors will have to shoulder some of the costs of reprocessing paperwork. Some could lose the tax exemption on their holdings, if documents are shown to have been improperly filed. Banks will suffer, too. Delays eat into servicers’ margins. They can expect a wave of lawsuits from homeowners and investors. Attorneys-general are threatening fines of up to $25,000 per incorrectly filed loan. All this comes as banks are forced to buy back growing piles of poorly underwritten loans from securitised pools: JPMorgan Chase increased its “repurchase” reserves to $3 billion in the third quarter. ..."
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2010
  8. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    “The Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own,” Bernanke wrote in the Washington Post article. “That will take time and the combined efforts of many parties, including the central bank, Congress, the administration, regulators and the private sector.”

    Billy T comment:
    OK, so solution is a team effort, but FED's approach is to print more money lower interest rates to accelerate the trade killing "currency wars."

    Damed if I know what Central Bank does in US as FED sets interest rate and has the largest balance sheet, full of very questionable paper.
    Perhaps they sit on the gold at Fort Knox (assuming there is some there still, not pledged to others as backing for loans.)

    Congress is in gridlock and will only discuss who it to blame.
    Administration has been reduced to "veto central"

    Regulators are now trying to decide what is the US's financial controls policy as Congress passed the buck to them.

    The private sector is making money outside of the US and investing there, where ROE is much greater and markets are growing rapidly - thus few jobs in US are being created.

    So nothing this "team" does will stop the slide down in home prices caused by the problems listed in the last post or make net gains in employment equal to growth of the labor force.

    BTW, the banking system is sitting on about 1 trillion in cash like funds which they don't lend out, either because there is no demand for it or because the risk/ return ratio of buying Treasury bonds is better(lower). What the hell good will it do to give them 600 billion more via QE2 to sit on?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2010
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    like QE1, QE2 will also fail to get the banks lending to the economy. They will (and already are - see link below) take the low or zero cost to them "Thin air money" the Fed is depositing in them and buy US bonds rather than make loans that may go bad.

    Read the details at:

    Billy T comment:
    I suspect QE3 will come about mid 2011 and QE4 by the end of 2011. With interest rates at ~zero for more than a year and the QEs not working to solve the structural problems of the economy, the FED has no other ideas/ options/, but to print more money and hope. The run on the dollar is becoming ever more certain to occur and collapse its value, wipe out both your debts and savings etc..
  10. Pinwheel Banned Banned

    QE3,QE4,QE5,QE6,QE7....where will it end.
  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    When China or other major lender says "enough already." Your promises and green paper are worthless now. Seller of oil agreeing and wanting payment in gold or stable currencies, etc.
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    "... Job openings in the U.S. dropped in September for a second month, signaling a sustained labor market rebound will take time to develop, ... Openings decreased by 163,000 to 2.93 million, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of people hired rose from the prior month and separations declined.

    The unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for a third month in October even as payrolls increased 151,000, Labor Department figures showed last week. Growth in the world’s largest economy may need to quicken before enough jobs are created to make up for the recession-driven loss of more than 8 million positions. ..."


    I think that help wanted volume was decreased by the 151,000 new hires taking open places, but also decreased by employers changing their minds - closing 62,000 job openings they that they had open last week. (163 -151= 62)

    I.e. Not only are workers giving up looking (dropping out of the listed "un employed" so official unemployment is not rising.) But also employers are stopping trying to find people for 62,000 of the jobs that they had open last week. Is that correct processing of this data?
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    With little public notice the Chinese currency is beginning to become the world’s reserve and trade settlement currency. Still a long way from displacing the dollar in these roles but on its way since the June 2010 agreement between China and Spanish bank, HSBC.

    A few years ago China’s central bank made currency swaps with about a dozen other central banks. Brazil is one. I.e. Brazil’s central bank gave the Chinese Central bank a bunch or Real for a then equal value amount of Yuan. AFAIK, both are still just holding these foreign currencies in their reserves instead of dollars as are a dozen or more other countries holding a small part of their reserves in Yuan.

    The new, big news (a tiny item buried deep inside my newspaper today) is that a Brazilian holding company (Tellerina, owner of Etna, Vivara, has ordered something (not disclosed) from China and paid with Yuan (amount not disclosed). They did not get these Yuan from Brazil’s central bank, but from the Brazilian branch of HSBC!

    Although this was the first such deal HSBC has financed with Yuan in Brazil, the newspaper article states that HSCB has made similar deals in 33 other countries in the last 5 months (Since June, when China and HSCB made arrangements for HSCB to supply Yuan for international trade.) HSBC is one of (the largest?) foreign bank active in China. (Newspaper article notes that five Brazilian employees of HSBC are working in HSBC offices in China.)

    IMHO, this is front page news, not a small item to be buried deep inside the newspaper!

    SUMMARY: The Yuan is ALREADY being both held by many countries as part of their reserves and used, at least by firms dealing with HSBC*, for settlement of international commercial trade deals. How long will it be before the sellers of oil want payment in the appreciating Yuan, instead of the declining dollar? The high standard of living in the USA has been based on fact cheap goods could be imported and paid for with pieces of green paper - that is ending now. I.e. the American melt down has begun, as all should be able to see now.

    * HSBC's TV slogan: "Your local international bank." seems to be increasingly correct.

    For more financial & sexually interesting Chinese news, go here:
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2010
  14. Jeff 152 Registered Senior Member

    And here I thought I was the most pessimistic person about the economy on the forum

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    Great post - really illustrates how deep of a mess we're in.

    What are your thoughts on the supposed "recovery" going on now in the labor market and equities? Do you think there is anything there or just a temporary prolonging of the inevitable (a la another Liquidity phase in the 6L cycle you posted a while back?)

    Speaking of that 6L cycle that you tend to bring up a lot, I'm curious - the basic premise seems very similar to the Austrian theory of business cycles, but I don't think you have ever said that or supported Austrian theory. Obviously your theory is more tailored to the current situation and incorporates some new points, but it seems that the reasoning behind your theory and the essential axioms it relies on are very similar to the Austrian theory. I like your 6L theory and agree with it (and essentially that is the premise that I think of when I think of Austrian business cycle theory), so my question is what is your distinction between your theory and the Austrian one?

    Also, it would seem that you would agree that the current monetary policy and stimulus is just sending us back to the first phase and will just result in an even bigger crash next time (and THE crash by your count, which I also agree with), but in some places it seems like you are arguing that it is necessary, or perhaps a necessary evil to save the economy. So what are your thoughts on this with actions such as QE2? Do you agree or think it is necessary or think we are better off biting the bullet now instead of delaying the inevitable?

    I'm curious what you think because your posts are very thorough and your predictions of collapse came true (another similarity with austrians who were also predicting a crash by the same mechanisms in the mid-early 2000s)
  15. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member


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    US may lose both Venezuela’s oil and Bolivia’s Lithium. Also Iran's oil will increasing go to China (perhaps India too)

    “Bolivian President Evo Morales announced this week that Iran will “partner” in the development and manufacturing of the country’s lithium reserves … Morales made the announcement on the completion of a three-day official visit to Tehran, where the governments of Bolivia and Iran reaffirmed a political and economic alliance, along with several cooperation agreements, according to state news agency ABI.

    “Bolivia is aware of the broad scientific knowledge of Iran, to be partner country in the industrialization of lithium,” Morales said in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Bolivian media reported that Iran confirmed on Wednesday a revolving credit of 200 million euros for projects of industrialization, and opened its market for Bolivian agricultural products like soybeans, rice and sugar ..."


    Billy T comment: Anger at CIA’s establishment of dictatorships* and US exploitation of South American since the Morrow doctrine is still very intense, especially in the countries with socialist governments such as Bolivia and Venezuela. Currently Venezuela supplies oil to the US but that is because the refineries that can process their heavy oil only exist in southern US. Now China and Brazil’s PetroBras are separately constructing refineries that can process that oil in Venezuela.

    *Most recently in Honduras last year but 20 years ago all over the continent, with more than 50,000 left leaning students killed in “operation condor”. In South America “9/11” refers to the day in 1973 when the CIA supported locals kill the democratically elected President of Chile because he was an openly declared communist. The new US supported government drugged and dumped into the sea from US supplied helicopters many thousands of supporter of democracy. – Part of the 50,000 that would die in the next few years. Still today, on Sunday, a few old ladies dressed in black, silently stand in public squares of cities in Chile for a few hours to remember their “disappeared” children.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 15, 2010
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Here is both the good news and the bad news:

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    Green arrow just points to October 2010's all time low of "core inflation."

    Core inflation (that excludes food & energy but includes cost of homes) increased Year on Year only 0.6%, an all time low! (Why FED thinks it MUST print more money and keep interest rates at historic lows for potential home buyers.) - I.e. the grey bars are getting shorter mainly because the value of your home continues to decline and that scares the FED that deflation may hit US economy.

    The cost of living (CPI)at 1.2% is below the FED's goal (2.5%) but as it does include food and energy, it will be climbing as these items are now.

    SUMMARY: Once again, QE2 will give the bankers essentially zero cost money they can invest in Treasury Bonds to safely profit (They don't want to loan it out to you or small business as there is risk in that.) Most of these QE2 funds, which don't just return to the Treasury, will, like those of QE1, flood into much more rapidly growing economies. - "Exporting inflation" to them with too much local buying and hurting the local exporters as their currency grows stronger.

    With the growing prosperity of these growing "emergent markets", their people are eating more meat*, etc. so food prices are going up and may soar as there is real danger of global food shortage in 2011, unless crops are unusually large. I.e. unlike the prospering banker you are likely to find it more expense to live (assuming you still plan on eating) and you can no longer borrow against your "under water " home to make ends meet, as many did a couple of years ago.
    All just part of America's "melt down."

    * and driving more in more cars and flying more, etc. so the excluded from core inflation "energy" costs are going up too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2010
  17. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    HSBC is a British bank, which was originally founded in Hong Kong back in the 1800's (HSBC stands for Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation).

    The yuan is still soft-pegged to the dollar. The exchange rate has barely moved at all since 2008.
  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for the correction. I am not sure why I thought it was Spanish. Perhaps in Brazil it is a sub division of the Spanish branch o HSBC or I may have just confused it with Banco Santander, which bought a major Brazilian bank chain about two years ago.
    I think about 3% up wrt the dollar but possibly down wrt the Euro?

    Again I am just using my memory as too lazy to search.
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    It's moved around a bit in recent months (and has been on a downward trend this week); forwards currently appear to reflect an expectation of around a 2% strengthening over the next year. But that is a pretty minor change and, anyway, in the same direction as is desired by present pro-inflationary US monetary policies. At this point we would very much like foreign reserve holders to dump some of their dollars and so inject some of that stored inflationary pressure back into the US economy, weaken our currency, etc. Yuan appreciation in the double-digit percentage is exactly what the US would like to see, and exactly what China pointedly refused to countenance at the recent G20 meeting.

    Competing with China for reserve currency status is the farthest thing from anyone's mind - they're many years away from making the sorts of institutional and policy changes required to function as a reserve currency (see here: ), and even then will be many years behind the yen, pound or Euro in the reserve currency game.

    The recent moves you cite above - using the yuan to settle current accounts or denominate commodities - is not the same thing as setting up a reserve currency. See here:

    A reserve currency is, by definition, one that you hold big sums of, not one that you keep a limited supply of in order to conduct international transactions. A reserve currency needs to have a large, transparent, liquid domestic asset market and a lack of capital controls on money moving in and out of the country (which means no more managed exchange rate regime and no more state-directed credit allocation. Those being the two pillars of the Chinese politico-economic strategy, I see little chance of either occurring in the near future).

    Moreover, I don't see where the CCP even wants the yuan to become a reserve currency any time in the near term. Given the choice between managing the exchange rate and controlling credit allocation (both keys to their remaining in power despite lacking democratic or ideological legitimacy) and serving as a reserve currency, I can't see them opting for the latter. Rather, their goals seem to be much more circumscribed: "internationalization" of the yuan (which mostly means conducting trade with non-US countries without having to convert everything to dollars in the middle - just like nearly every country on Earth has long done) and eventual inclusion in some kind of re-invigorated IMF SDRs. But that latter one seems quite remote and speculative - we don't seem anywhere near the day that SDRs will replace national currencies as reserves. And at no point have I heard Chinese officials voice any desire for the yuan itself to be used directly as a reserve currency.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I agree. (and a good link to read also, but in does include others speculating that these initial steps I mentioned in post 310 are steps towards the day when the RMB will / may be a reserve currency.)

    Post continues to note that a dozen or more countries already hold tiny part of their reserves in RMB and that firms in 34 countries have used HSBC supplied RMB to pay for imports from China. - Admittedly only baby steps, but every journey begins with the first steps.

    Goldman Sacks estimates that in only 20 years the Chinese economy will be greater than the US {and that is not based on the US being in deep depression as I expect. If I am correct that a run on the dollar triggers that depression, the "China passing US economy" could happen in a decade.} In any case, with the steps already taken it is hard to imagine that the world's largest economy would not be a major reserve currency, especially if the dollar alternative has lost most of its value following a run.

    In my opinions, it is only a question as to which QEx is one step too many by the FED. Between my terminal date predicted long ago for the run on the dollar (Halloween 2014) and now, we could be up to QE6 if the QEs only come at the rate of one per year.
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    It is not just money that is flooding into fast growing emergent markets, but jobs too:

    "...Bayer is planned to reduce the global headcount of 108,700 by an aggregate of about 2,000 by 2012. Approximately 4,500 positions – including roughly 1,700 in Germany – are to be cut, while some 2,500 new jobs will be created over the same period, particularly in the emerging markets. ..."


    As an old billboard said in dying town:
    "Will the last person to leave, please turn off the lights." That seems to apply to America's middle class.
  22. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    "... Sales of existing homes fell more than forecast in October as foreclosure moratoriums and a lack of credit disrupted the U.S. housing market.

    Purchases decreased 2.2 percent to a 4.43 million annual rate from 4.53 million in September, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. ... The median price fell 0.9 percent from a year earlier.

    An overhang of distressed properties and an unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent may restrain home sales, while concerns over faulty foreclosure proceedings threaten to further delay the mending process. ...

    Distressed sales, which include foreclosures and short- sales in which the bank agrees to take less than the full amount of the mortgage, accounted for 34 percent of total sales, about the same as in prior months. ..."


    Billy T comment:
    Banks are flush with cash and mortgage rates are at historic lows. It is mainly that the population is broke (actually in debt still) that is making 1/3 of sale be the deeply discounted homes which banks took back and are now dumping at thousands of dollars less than the mortgage. - Banks are beginning to pay for pushing mortgage off on people they knew could not pay.

    "... the number of people on food stamps continues to rise. As of the end of August, a total of 42.4 million people were receiving food stamps. This was an increase of 553,000 over July's number, or 1.32%. The year-over-year increase was 6.1 million people, or 17%. ..."


    Billy T comment:
    Perhaps they could eat some of those "green shoots" everyone was talking about two years ago?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2010
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    If tired of the stream of gloom reported here, read "good news" here:

    I don't think these month on month gains are corrected for the fact that Christmas is coming and the population is growing. If they continue thru Jan 2011, and unemployment starts to fall, I may agree that prospect for near term decline are growing less.

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