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Posts Tagged ‘foreclosures’

Cracks in the foundation are starting to rear their ugly heads and investors need to wake up smell the risk.  In my latest client newsletter, I wrote about the great disconnect that exists between Wall Street and Main Street.  On the one hand, you have Wall Street who just assumes that this is a normal cycle and the worst is behind us.  Then you have Main Street that is really suffering.  We all know several people who are facing tough financial times or at least have heard the stories. 

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that 1 out of 4 homes are underwater.  That means these homeowners owe more than the worth of the home.  If you look into the stats even more closely, you get a real disturbing picture.  The numbers show that 65% of the homes in Nevada, 48% of the homes in Arizona, and 45% of the homes in Florida all have values of the home less than what is owed on the home. 

This translates into a large number of potential foreclosures.  The real estate markets cannot even get close to starting the recovery process until the foreclosure crisis starts a recovery.  I think that we are a long way away from that starting.  Overall, I don’t think that we can get a healthy recovery until you fix the real estate and foreclosure problem.  All of these problems tie together spelling risk for the economy and risk for the markets. 

There is no question that these risks are known by the market.  However, the market expects that this recovery will take place much sooner.  Therein lies the problem.  I don’t think that Wall Street’s time table is even close to reality. 

Wall Street also thinks that most of the debt crisis is behind us…well maybe until last week when Dubai revealed they are going to stop making the interest payments on 60 billion dollars worth of debt.  Dubai is on the verge of defaulting on 60 billion dollars worth of debt.  That would have some serious implications for a global economy that is already walking a tightrope. 

Todd Harrison, president of Minyanville.com, described how the crisis would unfold. 

  • Dubai defaults.
    European banks (such as HSBC (HBC) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS)) are counter-party on much of that risk.
  • The virus spreads through the fragile region (debt insurance has now spiked in Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Russian, Ireland and in particular, Greece).
  • The strain migrates to stateside financial institutions, as you would expect with $500 trillion in derivatives tying the world together.  We see a “flight to quality” with a sustained rally in the US dollar.
  • Santa has a grumpy Christmas
  • It was announced on Sunday that their central bank would bail them out.  Oh good, another bail-out.  It might be a little early to see how this plays out. 

    How many more Dubai’s are out there that the market doesn’t know about?  We are talking a debt crisis of epic proportion.  I still don’t think that we have seen the end of the debt crisis. 

    We are also seeing the reality of the condition of the consumer.  Consumer sales were not that great this Black Friday  and don’t look to translate into a strong Christmas buying season.  Be careful if you are drinking the kool-aid.  These markets can go down as fast as they went up.

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    It really is amazing to me as I look over the latest consumer confidence numbers.  The prior month’s reading showed a better than 50% surge in confidence. This last month reported a 34% higher than expected surge again in consumer confidence.   The reason for the optimism, reports the conference board, is the “recent jumps in the stock market, low mortgage rates and smaller job losses.” 

    Following the report of the confidence numbers, we see that home values fell 18% last month as foreclosures surged.  This sure doesn’t inspire confidence.   My favorite part of that report is the optimism over “smaller job losses.”  Remember that the stock market had a very good day once the May unemployment numbers came out showing a much better than expected number.   The loss of jobs was nothing like everyone feared. Of course, the Government estimated that 226,000 jobs were created that month.  That goes a long way to make the end result “look” as if the unemployment numbers are turning around.

    So, here we go once again.  Although the consumer is facing enormous debt problems, the country’s future has been a mortgage away, foreclosures are in crisis mode, real estate is nowhere near the bottom, unemployment is not getting any better, etc., the consumer is confident.  Once those numbers were released today the market took off.  Investors were simply giddy over the new found confidence.   I realize that some of you might wonder when I might get some confidence back in these numbers and the system.  It will be tough for me to get overly excited when the system is broken and the numbers are highly suspicious.  Do you really believe that there is that much confidence?  Well, the stock market is making a big bet that those numbers reflect reality. 

    There is a huge confidence bubble being created.  I wouldn’t want to be heavily invested when that bubble bursts.

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