I am guessing the proces would look like this.
1. You laugh and walk away. Goodbye 0 down spec home in Sacramento that you bought at $800k.
2. Bank sells the houe for $500k and they have a judgement against you for $300k since this was a second home.
3. Bank uses legal proceedings to find that you own a first home and have $300k equity.
4. Banks goes after that equity.
5. I think at this point all the specualtors that came late to the party are cooked as I think the Bank can insist on cash or that you sell your prime residence.
6. Then all silliness breaks loose as everyone thinks they can try the Patterson couples Plan D of bankruptcy.
Now, how agresive will the banks really be? Well, if we have 20 million homes with negative equity and a ton of them are non-recourse, I would say the banks would be pretty motivated to get the cash where they can (the non-non-recourse ones). However, the best solution to avoid clogging the courts with 2 million law-suites (guessing that 10% of all home purchases in trouble were spec) the banks, the fed, and congess run around trying to prop up prices. We get a weird case of hurting retirees with inflation, hurting first time buyers with artificially high prices, and hurting current owners who are glued to homes that are unsellable. I suppose in general we get this stuck population with a morass of an economy.
Hmm. It does look like Japan.
Hate Greenspan all you want, but when he created the RTF we fixed the pS&L roblem, and fast. That would easily be the best thing we could do in our current situation - in my estimation.
Can anyone shed some light for me - I get the general impression now that the problem with the ARMS is that it's not the interest rates going up so much when they reset, BUT that the sheeple have to start paying more that just the interest back - has anyone else come to this conclusion?
The interest rate going up is the largest factor, but some ARMS started out with interest only payments. When the payment adjusts to the normal amortization, then principal is factored in addition to the new higher interest payment. I think that is what you are asking about.
So yes, the payment can increase by more than the increase in interest.
I agree with OO where he talks about devaluation of the dollar and its effect on prices. Further, I agree that the value of a dollar is being manipulated by those powers at be as a defense mechanism to preserve house prices.
There are of course limitations as to how low the dollar can be forced down before another special interest group gains enough momentum which is why I see no reason to believe prices won't continue to accelerate downwards.
Malcolm says: I agree that the value of a dollar is being manipulated by those powers at be as a defense mechanism to preserve house prices.
Does anyone here agree that such manipulation is potentially a good thing? If house prices were allowed to freefall to their "correct" levels, that shock could trigger a scenario very similar to the S&L crisis. There seemed to be much celebration in the blogosphere that Bear Stearns bit the dust, but in fact JP Morgan got a sweet deal. The taxpayers take the risk and JPM takes any gain. That did not particularly help my position as a saver and bubble sitter. It also doesn't really help me if a huge demographic of homeowners gets into trouble, because as the consumer economy slows down, Congress will start taxing the hell out of my earnings. They've already started handing out the candy. Not to mention the double tax of inflation. In the long run, Congress will tax the middle class to subsidize middle class homeowners and families, which will put a crushing burden on young single middle class saver/renters like myself.
Though we talked about the upcoming train wreck for years, it seems that only a handful like OO and Peter P made a lot of money speculating in gold and commodities. I don't see any kind of grand-slam money opportunity for my dry powder in the next 6-18 months... in fact, I see that I'll get eroded by inflation in a bear market while my present earnings are stripped away and redistributed to the "more deserving" homeowner family demographic.
The Roots of America’s Financial Crisis
by Jeffrey D. Sachs
CAMBRIDGE – The US Federal Reserve’s desperate attempts to keep America’s economy from sinking are remarkable for at least two reasons. First, until just a few months ago, the conventional wisdom was that the US would avoid recession. Now recession looks certain. Second, the Fed’s actions do not seem to be effective. Although interest rates have been slashed and the Fed has lavished liquidity on cash-strapped banks, the crisis is deepening.
To a large extent, the US crisis was actually made by the Fed, helped by the wishful thinking of the Bush administration. One main culprit was none other than Alan Greenspan, who left the current Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, with a terrible situation. But Bernanke was a Fed governor in the Greenspan years, and he, too, failed to diagnose correctly the growing problems with its policies.
Today’s financial crisis has its immediate roots in 2001, amid the end of the Internet boom and the shock of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It was at that point that the Fed turned on the monetary spigots to try to combat an economic slowdown.
What was distinctive this time was that the new borrowing was concentrated in housing. It is generally true that lower interest rates spur home buying, but this time, as is now well known, commercial and investment banks created new financial mechanisms to expand housing credit to borrowers with little creditworthiness. The Fed declined to regulate these dubious practices. Virtually anyone could borrow to buy a house, with little or even no down payment, and with interest charges pushed years into the future.
What was stunning was how the Fed, under Greenspan’s leadership, stood by as the credit boom gathered steam, barreling toward a subsequent crash. There were a few naysayers, but not many in the financial sector itself. Banks were too busy collecting fees on new loans, and paying their managers outlandish bonuses.
I can't say I made lots of money in my "speculation", I only preserved my purchasing power of my savings.
However, inflation is a beast that once set loose, will be extremely hard to contain. The powers must walk a very tight slope between devaluing the dollar and managing the inflation, particularly the expectation of inflation. The expectation of inflation, once entrenched, will feed on itself and fortify the inflationary pressure even further as people start to hoard unnecessarily. Countries suffer on deflation, but collapse on uncontrollable inflation.
It is obvious for a debtor nation like ours that inflation is the easier way out. But we must not let it get out of control. Growing up, I have seen empty shelves before in a fairly rich society due to inflationary fear, and empty shelves in developing countries where people kill each other to get hold of the last bag of rice. I am not sure if we will ever get to that stage, but if the general public starts hoarding daily necessities at home (and we have plenty of space in this country for such a practice), it usually doesn't end well.
So printing money to support the home price for a slow diffusion of the housing bomb is ok. Just don't print too much, well once you start printing it is hard to stop. It doesn't matter in the end, we the peons (or worker bees) will always foot the bill be it deflation or inflation.
Are we really printing money? I don't think that's the only mechanism to shaft savers and the younger middle class. In fact, creating new money probably isn't even the worst mechanism. I think we (meaning my demographic) will take it in the shorts as the Fed accepts MBS packages of bad loans as collateral in exchange for their U.S. Treasuries, and then turns around and gets that money from taxpayers. The government doesn't necessarily have to print the money to cover that gap... it can increase capital gains taxes, raise income tax and implement other measures that transfer cash from specific demographics to either the Fed or to other demographics.
The demographic that might benefit the most is the uber-elite that started this mess. And while that might seem to be a "necessary evil", I am starting to have my doubts about a system that hands out big bonuses in the same years when economic bellwethers smoulder into charcoal.
Uncle Sam could also cover the gap by spending less. I'm thinking that's got a tiny probability of happening, since in times of crisis everyone in trouble expects the government to play mommy. And the best person to take money from is---you guessed it---someone who isn't in trouble! Yet... :o
We often overload the word "inflation". So let me differentiate and say this. We are seeing deflation of asset (stocks, housing) values in nominal currency values and seeing inflation of prices for most daily necessities (commodities).
The inflation of prices in commodities like oil, wheat and rice are NOT benefiting the homedebtors. They are hurting everyone. So it's not correct to say that savers are screwed. Their cash is losing purchasing power, but they have more cash than loanowners ! So who is actually worse off ?
Inflation in asset prices helps the asset holder. Especially if the asset is financed with a fixed rate. Even more if the income is also rising with inflation and the newly earned cash receives higher short term interest. Absolutely none of this is true. We are seeing deflation in asset value AND the debtors (for the most part) have not financed their debts with fixed rate AND the incomes are not rising at all AND short term interest rates are super low.
There is a lot of myth in the bubble blogging community as well. Savers are getting screwed BUT the debtors are getting royally f*cked. Inflation in commodity prices is NOT going to save them and deflation in their only asset is going to kill them.
Your dry powder is already more valuable than what it was an year ago as measured in terms of real estate and will continue to be more valuable as the deflation picks up the speed. Yes, you will spend an additional $300 on gas and groceries per month, but you will have saved a magnitude more in your house purchase.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not arguing in favor of current situation. I am just trying to put a correct perspective - inflation in asset prices will help loanowners NOT inflation in commodity prices. These are VERY VERY different things. And I do not see inflation in asset prices for a long long time. That's the silver lining to us as savers.
I am not talking about now. I am talking about what is to come.
If you listen to BB, Paulson, Summers and some Fed governors, it is very obvious that they will do anything to prevent the housing price from coming down because the repercussions will mean a total collapse of financial system as we know it.
The first stage is monetary inflation, which we are in right now. At this stage, money will chase hard assets - mainly basic necessities. As things get worse, fiscal stimulus will take over ($1600 is a chump change compared to what will come). The first stage sets the tone of initial inflation, while the second stage seals it. The end goal is to cause an overall inflation in the economy so that people's pay will catch up to meet the housing price, not the other way around. Fiscal stimulus is particularly attractive for the US because we are about the only country that can issue (theoretically) unlimited amount of debt in our own currency, which means we can contain inflation far longer than other countries.
I am not saying that they will definitely be successful, but this is the direction they are heading. If they are successful, be prepared for persistent double digit inflation that will take some drastic events to halt.
Till now the Govt/Fed has tried a lot of tricks already and nothing has worked. The deflationary destruction of credit has proven to be far more difficult beast to tame than what was anticipated by the Greenspan worshipers.
The endgame is of course inflation. It has always been the (planned or unplanned) goal for every policymaker.
The end goal is to cause an overall inflation in the economy so that people’s pay will catch up to meet the housing price, not the other way around
Absolutely. But it's going to take a LONG time for incomes to start rising. For that we need job creation. What is happening now, and will happen in near term is job destruction. The deflationary pressure on wages brought by globalization is not going away. A lot more radical changes first need to happen before we talk about that scenario.
What I am trying to say is, it's not going to happen overnight. We will see it coming. Right now it way too early to put a specific timeline on the beginning of the grand asset inflationary cycle.
Anyone who thinks we are near that point, should take on as much fixed rate debt as they can service. The debtors of yesterday do not have that choice. The savers of today have that choice at the lowest levels of interest rate in history. But if you think asset deflation is going to continue, you might want to wait and try to time that bottom - rather than timing the interest rate bottom.
In any case, I disagree about the savers are getting screwed theme. Yes, they are, but that's only half the truth. During this massive deflationary event the savers are going to do better in near term AND will get enough opportunity to switch sides to take advantage of coming inflation. So why the complaining ?
Stuck, good points on inflation in commodities vs assets. I've had similar conversations here and concluded the same things.
Yes, I agree declining home prices more than offset the extra amount someone will spend on gas. What some people effectively did point out to me is that it still screws someone maybe a renter, maybe someone who owns their house, basically anyone who is not going to capitalize on the downturn in housing because what little they've saved is now worth less, and those daily living expenses are now less manageable than before. I've read, and seen first-hand that some people are having to quit jobs because the commute now makes it an uneconomical proposition.
I've read some good points yesterday and this morning about balancing the definite need to adjust monetary policy to avert a total meltdown with avoiding hyperinflation. It is definitely a good idea to weigh the impact on those affected who had absolutely nothing to do with this mess. It unpopular but morally sound to recognize the potential abuses of government power to preserve the wealth of a certain irresponsible group at the expense of those working their way up or who have lived conservatively.
I think, both savers and debtors are screwed. In bush economics, rich screw middle towards poor. Policies helped money managers book profits early and take it away. Now losses are booked for 401k's. Reduce interest rates again and game on for money managers.
Some very scary artcels today.
Read Msh. Mish links to a wall street journal article. Read it.
I find myself trying to think where the logical end-game is to all of this financial market turmoil. We have certainly seen extreme action in the recent past (price fixing by Nixon, Greenspan selling the assets of failed S&Ls) and very, very extreme action in the far past - Great Depression actions and New Deal legislation.
The problem as I see it is that the legislature was so much more capable back then. We had serious legislative porfessionals who could make thgouhful decisions on appropriate courses of action.
Now we seem to have people who vote on Turkey genocide, and how much more taxpayer money we can give away to how many more people 'jut to make it fair'.
At the end of the day I will say that many American firms have a pretty strong cash balance. I see the governement, for all of its misteps, not exacerbating the problems as it had done previously. So, no, no Depression.
But hang on to your hats, we are going to see some really scary actions (at least for those of usthat follow such things) from the Fed, Congress, and a host of new agencies that are about to be created. I am also going to move up my prediction about Public Works. Fed spending, within 2 years, will move to massive infrastructure projects. I have no idea if money is to be made there (like buying stock of business construction firms) as I think we will see new laws preventing the kind of contract profiteering we saw in Katrina.
I shoudl mention the cost of Iraq and oil, but I am still forming my opinion on this topic.
Ah yes. Sorry. The requirements of certain investors to hold certain levels of assets? So now that MBIA and Ambac are lower, the bonds they back are lower and thus portfolio rebalancing is needed?
Is there a timeframe on that? Like 'Thou hast 90 days to rebalance thine portfolio' and people will either scrqamble like mad, or find someone way to get MBIA nd Ambc lifted back to AAA?
I think the President will veto the bill in its current format for exactly the reason stated - it is silly to give bulders retro-active taxbreaks. Even if ALL builders went bankrupt, the barrier to entry for restarting home construction firms from scratch is like 0. And, according to all statistics, we do not need new homes for a very long time.
But we need to be careful not to complain too loudly about the unfair builder taxbreaks less Congress say, "You are right! Here is YOUR tax-break to help you cover this years loss with the taxes you've paid over the last many years"
Umm HELLO! The bill comes due at some point. Quit shoveling money at everything. How about a little corporate and personal reponsibility!
It's Thursday, so it must be H.4.1 time. Big news is that the Fed sold $28 billion of Treasuries (only $560 billion to go). Some cash came off the street this week, but a lot went out the door with repos ($21 billion). "Discount window to non-depositories" (aka Primary dealer credit facility) is down by $5 billion but the depositories took $3 billion of that back at the discount window. Oh, and the great Treasury swap meet (aka TSLF) is proving popular; the account hit the half way mark at $100 billion.
OO will get on me if I don't mention the H.3 data too. So, bottom line, non-borrowed reserves almost hit $100 bilion, which, surprise!, is what TAF currently stands at. Someone help me out here, but doesn't his mean the vault would be empty if not for the Fed's generosity? Doesn't exactly make one sleep well at night.
Btw, I have to applaud Newsom for what he did yesterday.
Chinese Consulate and their CIA-equivalent has been extremely active in organizing the SF Parade to show hand. I have received at least 6 emails from different sources urging people of Chinese ethnicity to go. The Consulate rounded up buses departing from South Bay from as far as San Jose, they also bus'd a lot of people from Arizona and LA as well. I am not sure what the turn out is, I think it is around 5000-8000 people, which far outnumbered the pro-Tibetans.
If the torch were to pass through this crowd, there would be almost no risk of protester violence because, frankly, there were way too many Chinese out there. However, that would have provided a very good venue for the Chinese government to leverage this media opportunity to broadcast the patriotism of their people on OUR LAND, which I don't like. The Chinese consulate started planning this since 2 weeks ago so this is a major effort for them.
Newsom must have seen through all this. So his last-minute diversion was brilliant. If I were in his shoes, I would have done exactly the same, while saving face for the Chinese government, he didn't give them anything back either.
I couldn't find the press release on the Fed site, but this would be welcome news (unless it means that they've run out of "acceptable collateral") : Wall Street bond dealers bid for less than the $50 billion of Treasuries that the Federal Reserve offered at an auction today, a sign that strains in credit markets may be easing.
The New York Fed's third weekly auction under the new Term Securities Lending Facility drew $34 billion in bids for the available securities, for a bid-to-cover ratio of 0.68, the central bank said on its Web site today. The two previous auctions of $75 billion and $25 billion had bid-to-cover ratios of more than 1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aW6E8UIovljk
Did you notice that there is 25 new listings in Mountain View since last Friday, but the total listings barely has budget from ~160? Me thinks the local realtors are heavily pruning old/expired/unsold listings to keep the total from rising.