Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Inflation Tsunami

It's in America's best interests for the dollar to depreciate. It will stimulate trade and demand for American goods. Don't be surprised if in a year or two the dollar to euro conversion rate is 2:1.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Credit Crisis: Episode II: The Empire Strikes

The $700 billion bailout sets the stage for the third episode, Revenge of the Market Makers.
Actually, episode I should have been called A Phantom Menace? Followed by Attack of the Fed, Revenge, and the rest fits as by that time we won't be in the same Universe anymore anyway:
Episode IV - A New Hope
Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Credit Crisis: Episode I: No Hope

I created a Star Wars crawl on the credit crisis, with the text from this AP story. I think Lucas could do wonders with a movie...

Update: The site was closed due to a Lucasfilm C&A. It was fun while it lasted. Maybe some day Mr. Lucas will charge us only $.99 to make our own. [7/11/08]

Update: The AP story is now gone. I found it, or what I think is the story on (searched for home foreclosures June 5, 2008 associated press on Google). [9/24/08]
WASHINGTON (AP) – June 5, 2008 – Home foreclosures and late payments set records over the first three months of the year and are expected to keep rising, stark signs of the housing crisis’ mounting damage to homeowners and the economy.
The latest snapshot of the mortgage market showed that the proportion of mortgages that fell into foreclosure soared to 0.99 percent in the January-through-March period. That surpassed the previous high of 0.83 percent over the last three months in 2007.
The report by the Mortgage Bankers Association also found that more homeowners slipped behind on their monthly payments.
The delinquency rate jumped to 6.35 percent in the first quarter, compared with 5.82 percent for the three months earlier. Payments are considered delinquent if they are 30 or more days past due.
Both the rate of new foreclosures and late payments were the highest on record going back to 1979.
Jay Brinkmann, the association’s vice president of research and economics, told The Associated Press that the slump in house prices was the biggest factor for rising foreclosures and late payments.
With prices expected to keep dropping, foreclosures and late payments “are going to continue to go up” in the months ahead, he said.
Homeowners with tarnished credit who have subprime adjustable-rate loans took the hardest hits. Foreclosures and late payments for these borrowers also swelled to all-time highs in the first quarter.
The percentage of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages that started the foreclosure process climbed to 6.35 percent. The rate was 5.29 percent in fourth quarter, the previous high.
Late payments rose to 22.07 percent from 20.02 percent, the previous high.
The association’s survey covers just over 45 million home loans.
More problems also cropped up with loans to more creditworthy borrowers.
The percentage of such loans falling into foreclosure was 0.54 percent, compared with 0.41 percent at the end of last year. Late payment rose to 3.71 percent, compared with 3.24 percent.
The numbers were higher for prime borrowers with adjustable rate mortgages. The proportion of those loans falling into foreclosures jumped to 1.55 percent from 1.06 percent. The delinquency rate rose to 6.78 percent, compared with 5.51 percent.
“The number one problem is the drop in home prices,” Brinkmann said. Declining prices, especially in newer built areas, “are hurting people’s ability to recover when they run into trouble – a divorce or loss of job,” he said. “In other days, you could sell the home. But because home prices have fallen so much, in many of those cases, the homes are going into foreclosure.”
California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona accounted for 89 percent of the total increase in new home foreclosures, he said. Those are places where prices have fallen sharply and there was a lot of home building, creating too much supply, Brinkmann said.
The housing crisis is at the center of the country’s economic troubles.
After a five-year boom, the market fell into a deep slump two years ago. That dragged down sales, and prices with it. As the value of homes plummeted, many newer homeowners found themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth.
Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages were clobbered when their initially low rates reset to much higher ones. That made it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with monthly mortgage payments.
As foreclosures and late payments climbed, financial companies took multibillion losses when their investments in mortgage-backed securities soured. A credit crisis erupted and spread, crimping other types of financing. The fallout plunged Wall Street in turmoil, disrupting the normal functioning of markets.
All those troubles have pushed the economy to the brink of a recession, if the country isn’t already in one. Consumers and business have tightened their spending. Employers have cut more than a quarter-million jobs in the first four months of this year.
To bolster the economy, the Federal Reserve made aggressive interest rate cuts. That has helped homeowners facing rate resets on their adjustable-rate mortgages. But with inflation on the rise, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke this week sent his strongest signal yet that the central bank’s rate-cutting campaign that started in September is coming to an end.
The Bush administration has taken steps to help distressed homeowners. It has urged lenders to freeze rates for some homeowners and encouraged lenders to rework mortgage terms so troubled borrowers can stay in their homes.
Congress is considering giving government-backed mortgages to thousands of strapped borrowers. The White House has expressed some concerns.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Oh yeah, and oil would be up to $135 a barrel, which a year from now, will seem pretty cheap, when we're paying $6 a gallon at the pump, and there are riots in the streets that Homeland Security is suppressing. Maybe the conspiracy theorists aren't so crazy after all.

Update: At close to $150 a barrel, $135 sounds cheap! [7/11/08]

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Economy: One Year Later

If I told you last year that housing would drop, major lenders like Accredited Home Lenders and New Century Financial would be gone, Countrywide would be absorbed into Bank of America, Bear Stearns would be bought at fire sale prices by JPMorgan, investment brokers and banks would write down record losses, the Fed would cut a combined total of 3.25%, finance the Bear Stearns take over, and virtually photocopy money for banks, would you have believed me?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poole retires, Bullard on board

St. Louis Fed Names Bullard to Succeed Retiring Poole (Update2)
Bullard's published research indicates that he, like Poole and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, espouses a numeric inflation goal. A research paper that Bullard co-wrote last year said that ``independent central banks will set low positive inflation targets in economies that possess highly developed financial markets.''

In a research paper titled ``A Model of Near-Rational Exuberance,'' written in March 2007, and revised in January, Bullard and his co-authors said that too much reliance by economists and central bankers on their own judgment has drawbacks.
Drawbacks, yes-- namely, they can't stop relying on their own judgment. If they did, the Fed wouldn't have bowed to market pressures and lowered rates, setting the stage for the impending CPI bubble and the hyperinflation that will follow.

Where Is the Next Bubble?

The next bubble: Priming the markets for tomorrow's big crash

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Trimming the Investment Firms

Last week, the Times had a great article explaining the credit mess to the layperson:
Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club

Today it came out with another good article:
What Created This Monster?

I thought a hedge fund would collapse-- I didn't know an investment firm would.

I disagree with the first article that the crisis has been going on for 7 months (which would mean it started in September)-- I think it started in August with the first big dip in the market.

More news that the crisis is spreading into other areas of credit:
CIT Taps Credit Lines and Talks of Asset Sales

Time to short Visa?
Visa Has a $45 Billion Debut on Wall St.

The trend for IPOs these days is to start them off big, then bleed them [investors] dry:
The Blackstone Group

(Which I always confuse with Blackrock, Inc, which is on the good side of this equation.)

Reminds me of the end of the tech boom.