Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

amol.p
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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 07 Jan 2010 18:18

Rising U.S. Foreclosures Pressure Lenders to Consider Principal Reduction

...This was the last thing banks can do to keep people paying EMI...... :mrgreen:

Banks may be forced to resort to a remedy they’ve been trying to avoid -- principal reductions -- as another wave of foreclosures looms and payments on risky loans rise, Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine reports .While interest-rate reductions or extending loan terms do reduce homeowners’ monthly payments, they don’t give much comfort to borrowers who owe more on their homes than their properties are worth. Borrowers who don’t have equity in their homes are more likely to hand over the keys when they run into trouble. “The evidence is irrefutable.“Negative equity is the most important predictor of default.”
The foreclosure crisis is likely to deepen this year in part because payments on many adjustable-rate mortgages are set to balloon. Unless there’s a sharp recovery in property values or a change in lenders’ willingness to cut principal, at least 7 million borrowers currently behind on their payments will lose their homes.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... 4WCMDvayRA

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby vina » 07 Jan 2010 18:48

Hmm. A lot of shenanigans and skeletons tumbling out of the closet wrt to AIG. It seems that the NY Fed under Geithner specifically told AIG to pay 100cents to the dollar to the counterparties of it's CDS swaps (guess who was the largest counterparty and the most exposed to credit risk . hint.. correct answer gets a Gold Medal in Sacks) so effectively bailing out banks that were technically bankrupt (but not yet reflected in the books because the possible losses were never realized... but who woulda thunk that in the world of real time mark to market accounting, and with a bankrupt counterparty, the CDS contracts that the banks held were actually not worth zero and get reflected in the books huh ?).

So net net, if you buy all the cool aid about how the best and greatest inbheshtment bank made all the right calls and reaped those massive unheard of profits last year purely because of business acumen and Lloyd Blankefein deserved every cent of his massive bonus, well, I have the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

Meanwhile our dear Cheeni Bhais have gone and raised interest rates (while keeping the exchange rate constant.. thank you) and the markets immediately tanked :((

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Neshant » 07 Jan 2010 19:27

Rising U.S. Foreclosures Pressure Lenders to Consider Principal Reduction


People who pay their morgage on time are suckers.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Hari Seldon » 07 Jan 2010 19:42

x-post
Fear of the dragon (Economist)
That fear is all too palpable in the reverence the Economist rag now pays PRC. You can't miss it while reading this piece.
China’s share of world markets increased during the recession. It will keep rising.


China overtook Germany to become the world’s largest exporter and its share of world exports jumped to almost 10%, up from 3% in 1999 (see chart).

China takes an even bigger slice of America’s market. In the first ten months of 2009 America imported 15% less from China than in the same period of 2008, but its imports from the rest of the world fell by 33%, lifting China’s market share to a record 19%. So although America’s trade deficit with China narrowed, China now accounts for almost half of America’s total deficit, up from less than one-third in 2008.


Impressive performance by any standards. You have to give PRC that.

How high could China’s market share go? Over the ten years to 2008 China’s exports grew by an annual average of 23% in dollar terms, more than twice as fast as world trade. If it continued to expand at this pace, China might grab around one-quarter of world exports within ten years. That would beat America’s 18% share of world exports in the early 1950s, a figure that has since dropped to 8%.


Its 10% slice this year will equal that achieved by Japan at its peak in 1986, but Japan’s share has since fallen back to less than 5%. Its exporters were badly hurt by the sharp rise in the yen—by more than 100% against the dollar between 1985 and 1988—and many moved their factories abroad, some of them to China.

Re the bolded part - the Reagan-Baker duo forced the '85 plaza accords through sealing japan's fate. Quite obviously, today's US lacks anywhere near that kind of arm-twisty strength and clout with today's PRC.

However, China’s future export growth is likely to come not from existing industries but from higher-value products, such as computer chips and cars. Japan’s exports also moved swiftly up the value chain, but whereas this was not enough to support durable gains in its market share, China has the advantage of capital controls that will prevent its exchange rate rising as abruptly as Japan’s did in the 1980s. When China does eventually allow the yuan to rise, it will do so gradually.

The bolded part says it all. PRC will eat its cake and have it too. I applaud them for the sole reason that the old world western dominated world order can finally be overturned. What replaces it causes me hajaar concern, but change is overdue.

Read it all. And be wary.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Virupaksha » 07 Jan 2010 20:33

amol.p wrote:British people are the most selfish people...they made EU for their gains and will break EU to save themselves from current default situation. I bet that EU will disintigrate some where at peak of another recession. Most of EU nations are runing huge deficit and british, french,german,scotish banks can go to any level to get there money back.

british are not within the euro currency zone. They have pound as currency.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Neshant » 07 Jan 2010 20:51

Paycheck of private sector workers are siphoned off to pay for the defined, inflation protected, gold plated pension plans of the unionised public sector. Its ironic as most private sector employees don't have pension. Even the ones that do have a rather small and undefined pension plan. Most will retire much poorer than the public sector employees like teachers, police officers, firefighters, even government clerks..etc.

Basically private sector employees are funding the retirement of public sector employees who are better paid, have job security and a nice pension waiting for them at the end of the rainbow.

The private sector will now get a double whammy. Even those who have managed to scrape together some savings for a retirement may see their money inflated away. Since public pension plans are inflation protected, it won't harm those folks.

------------

US public pensions face $2,000bn deficit
By Francesco Guerrera and Nicole Bullock in New York
Published: January 4 2010

The US public pension system faces a higher-than-expected shortfall of more than $2,000bn that will increase pressure on many states’ strained finances and crimp economic growth, according to the chairman of New Jersey’s pension fund.

The estimate by Orin Kramer will fuel investors’ concerns over the deteriorating financial health of US states after the recession. “State and local governments are correctly perceived to be in serious difficulty,” Mr Kramer told the Financial Times.

If you factor in the reality of these unfunded promises, their deficits will rise exponentially.”

Estimates of aggregate funding requirement of the US pension system have ranged between $400bn and $500bn, but Mr Kramer’s analysis concluded that public funds would need to find more than $2,000bn to meet future pension obligations.

A shortfall of that size could force state governments to take unpalatable decisions such as pouring more public money into their funds or reducing pension benefits. State and local governments have already cut spending to close budget deficits.

The Pensions crisis
FT multimedia feature: The dilemmas faced by individual savers, companies and governments and offers potential solutions to the pensions time bomb
Mr Kramer, chairman of New Jersey’s investment council and also a senior partner at the hedge fund Boston Provident, warned that outdated accounting models and unrealistic expectations of future returns had led states to underestimate their pension requirements.

Public pension funds do not use mark-to-market accounting, relying instead on actuarial numbers that average out value of assets and liabilities over a number of years – a process known as “smoothing”. Mr Kramer’s analysis used the market value of the assets and liabilities of the top 25 public pension funds at the end of the year.

He also looked at market interest rates, which are used by corporate pension funds and are lower than the rate of return of about 8 per cent employed by public funds, to calculate future returns. Using the 8 per cent rate of return, the funding requirement of the US public pension system would still be about $1,000bn.

Mr Kramer, a power broker in the Democratic party, criticised the financial metrics used by public funds and argued that his assumptions were more realistic.

“The accounting treatment of public retirement plans is the political leper colony of government accounting. It is a no-go zone,” he said.

Pension funds’ requirements are expected to compound the pressure on local finances. Thirty-six of the 50 US states, including California and New York, have plunged into budget deficits since fiscal year 2010 began, which for most states was July 1 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

http://wallstreetblips.dailyradar.com/s ... n-deficit/

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Singha » 07 Jan 2010 21:28

there is also some amt of scamming going on by Govt employees in terms of over time which I believe they claim 1.5x the hourly wage. some tasks which can get done in day get done in overtime. and income is hugely padded by this.

ramana
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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby ramana » 07 Jan 2010 22:54

To all the gurus and chelas, looks like world economy is coming out of the deep dive of 2008. So taking into account, Indian capabilities, resources and coming constraints like climate change controls, price of gold and oil, power dynamics (US-PRC) etc, what type of economy will emerge in India?

My thoughts are
- I dont see India becoming PRC light or medium to supply the world mfg goods.
- It will be more of the knowledge economy type.
- Not just IT/ViTy but basic research and industrial product development in lot of areas: medicines, hardware, software etc.
- Most mfg in India will be to supply its internal demand.
- A lot of urbanization of the Indian rural areas.
- Finance for secondary markets

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby vera_k » 07 Jan 2010 23:11

Based on the chart I posted earlier, India looks to be in a very vulnerable position. Much depends on the government's ability to reduce the fiscal deficit so that it can borrow cheaply for the infrastructure buildout. Like it or not, India has to become a labour intensive low cost provider to employ the demographic dividend brigade, and the infrastructure buildup is necessary to make that a reality. The alternative is more of a EU style economy with lots of people getting cash from the government and high taxation for everyone else.

As an example, Gujarat which is a laggard when it comes to knowledge-economy based industry is growing faster and generating more employment than other states like Karnataka, Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh that are known for knowledge and innovation based industry.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby ramana » 07 Jan 2010 23:37

Which chart? There are 100 pages in this thread!

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Suraj » 07 Jan 2010 23:55

Actually I disagree about India being vulnerable, based on that data, for two reasons. First, as Hari mentioned, the debt is almost entirely Rupee-denominated domestic debt. I'll try to find a very detailed Deutsche Bank report on the composition and nature of Indian domestic debt, and how India, despite having a chronically high debt/GDP, has consistently outperformed others with a similar situation (e.g. Turkey and Argentina) because their debt had a much greater $-denominated composition.

Second, the numbers listed are actually about what they have historically been for a few decades. The lower levels of debt/GDP since 2004 or so was primarily driven by the combination of the FRBM act + the rapid economic growth that resulted in government revenues outstripping the rate at which they could be spent (e.g. ShauryaT's post earlier about defence allocations being unspent). The current increase to about 10% is driven by the stimulus measures, which I expect to be withdrawn over the course of 2010 simply because economic growth has bounced back, resulting in debt/GDP falling, as the estimate in the same chart indicates.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby vera_k » 08 Jan 2010 00:05

For this discussion, I don't see how it matters whether the debt is rupee or $ denominated because either way it drives up borrowing cost and thus lowers competitiveness. I was not speaking of a vulnerability to external default.

The fact that the deficits have been high for a few decades is no consolation here because the resultant high borrowing cost is one factor that can be said to have crimped growth for the same decades.

The chart I was referring to is Chart 3 here: http://tinyurl.com/ykq89fb

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Suraj » 08 Jan 2010 00:09

vera_k: Regarding crowding out the private sector, GoI has reduced the statutory liquidity ratio, and enabled companies to obtain funding through ECB/FCCB channels. Most large companies are not affected by effective prevailing interest rates. My issue lies primarily with the term vulnerable. Sure, we are. We've always been, considering chronically high interest rates. What's new in that chart ?

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby vera_k » 08 Jan 2010 00:14

Much new job creation takes place in small scale businesses and they don't have access to ECCB or other mechanisms for large business. I used the term vulnerable in the sense of vulnerable to not catching up with the PRC. The chart just presented a stark comparision, that's all.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby AnimeshP » 08 Jan 2010 01:13

Suraj wrote:Actually I disagree about India being vulnerable, based on that data, for two reasons. First, as Hari mentioned, the debt is almost entirely Rupee-denominated domestic debt. I'll try to find a very detailed Deutsche Bank report on the composition and nature of Indian domestic debt, and how India, despite having a chronically high debt/GDP, has consistently outperformed others with a similar situation (e.g. Turkey and Argentina) because their debt had a much greater $-denominated composition.

Second, the numbers listed are actually about what they have historically been for a few decades. The lower levels of debt/GDP since 2004 or so was primarily driven by the combination of the FRBM act + the rapid economic growth that resulted in government revenues outstripping the rate at which they could be spent (e.g. ShauryaT's post earlier about defence allocations being unspent). The current increase to about 10% is driven by the stimulus measures, which I expect to be withdrawn over the course of 2010 simply because economic growth has bounced back, resulting in debt/GDP falling, as the estimate in the same chart indicates.


To add to Suraj's points ... here is a news article explaining India's external debt position as of Sep-09
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/biz/ ... 401117.cms

and here is a RBI press release on India's external debt position as of March 2009

http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_PressR ... prid=20940

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby SwamyG » 08 Jan 2010 01:16

Ramana garu: Your question prompts me to post this article. This does not answer your question, but talks about socio-political doctrine for Burma and in the process discusses some of the economic constructs of the World in the past and how some of the important players have moved.

Gurus will not find much new in that.....still a simple perspective of some political and economic concepts.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby svinayak » 08 Jan 2010 06:22

Image

Hari Seldon
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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Hari Seldon » 08 Jan 2010 08:28

vera_k wrote:Much new job creation takes place in small scale businesses and they don't have access to ECCB or other mechanisms for large business. I used the term vulnerable in the sense of vulnerable to not catching up with the PRC. The chart just presented a stark comparision, that's all.


Excellent points.

However, India's case is quite different from that of the emerged khanomies because around half our commercial transactions aren't tracked at all and don't show up anywhere in any official stats.

Hence our debt/GDP and fiscal deficit as % of GDP as well as borrowing options for small biz etc are quite happily distorted. Add to that the fact that even SDRE white GDP is happily understated as Suraj saar can no doubt vouch for.

OK, just to be clear, not everything is a happy distortion. Informal sector lending means much higher rates of interest than what might be available from an SBI loan, for instance. And here we are paying higher rates on external borrowings thanks to distorted external debt rating than fundamentals can justify as compared to, say, UK-stan.

But not for long, I reckon. Not for long.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Suraj » 08 Jan 2010 08:43

Comparing debt/GDP against that of PRC is problematic on both fronts - their financial/accounting system is so unique (for the lack of a better word) that what qualifies as officially stated debt there doesn't always match our own definition, and gets understated. Further, they have a consistent upward bias on the GDP due to measures like greater efforts to revise their base year, and include informal economic activity into their figures.

Prevailing interest rates these days, even with ~10% debt/GDP, is still significantly lower than they used to be a decade or two ago, and effective rates even lower. Banks want to loan out their cash to make it work, but as RBI credit offtake data this fiscal has shown, companies are just not borrowing as much as during previous years, because their balance sheets are flush with cash from the last 3-4 years, and utilization of capacity added until now has not yet topped out. So we'll head towards a situation where capacity utilization peaks as stimulus borrowing tapers, so that the crowding out effect then will be lower.

As I said previously, 'vulnerable' suggests we're in a situation where present circumstances are extraordinary. In reality, it's not, and in general, it is a situation the average SME is used to. Sure, significantly lower interest rates would be great, but we also have a lower inflation threshold because our economic system has far more supply side bottlenecks that China does, so that a significantly looser monetary policy has a greater tendency to drive up prices quickly.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 08 Jan 2010 09:09

ravi_ku wrote:
amol.p wrote:British people are the most selfish people...they made EU for their gains and will break EU to save themselves from current default situation. I bet that EU will disintigrate some where at peak of another recession. Most of EU nations are runing huge deficit and british, french,german,scotish banks can go to any level to get there money back.

british are not within the euro currency zone. They have pound as currency.



I am not talking of currency...I am saying european union........but as I said earlier....

Britain threatens to freeze Iceland out of EU as loan payback vetoed..... :mrgreen:

Britain warned Iceland that it would be frozen out of the European Union after its President abruptly vetoed the repayment of a £3.6 billion loan.
Lord Myners, the financial services minister, said that if the decision was allowed to stand Iceland would be frozen out of the international financial system and would not be able to join the European Union.

It is only the second time in 60 years that an Icelandic president has vetoed a parliamentary Bill.

Lord Myners said that Iceland risked pariah status if voters said “no” to the package. “The UK Government stepped in to ensure that all retail depositors with Icesave were fully paid out, and now we expect the Icelandic Government to ensure that we are repaid that amount which Iceland owes us.” He said that Iceland was fully aware that it would sacrifice any relationship with the International Monetary Fund and possible entry to the EU if it failed to repay the money. “I don’t think it’s a case of us having to warn them,” he said. “The Icelandic Government recognised that this was the case.”

Under European Economic Area rules, a nation cannot join the EU if it has failed to insure its own banking deposits outside its borders. In any case, Britain and the Netherlands have the power to veto Iceland’s application.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 977152.ece

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 08 Jan 2010 09:25

Lloyds faces £200m loss as property company withers into receivership

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/b ... 980049.ece

Schools face millions of pounds in cuts for being prudent

Thousands of schools face having hundreds of millions of pounds cut from their budgets as a punishment for being prudent.

A third of schools, including nurseries and special schools, have amassed almost £500 million in surplus cash in case of future cutbacks, official figures revealed.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_a ... 979055.ece

Renters' market: Prices fall 3%, vacancies up 8%

There haven't been this many vacant rental apartments for at least 30 years, according to a new industry report.

The national apartment vacancy rate rose to 8% in the last three months of 2009, according to Reis Inc., a commercial real estate information provider. That is the highest level Reis has ever reported.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/07/real_es ... /index.htm

7 million lost jobs: Gone forever?

http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/07/news/ec ... /index.htm

Auto execs: Still too many plants

The U.S. auto industry has been decimated in recent years by a rash of plant closings. But according to a survey of top industry executives, more shutdowns could be on the way.

The survey, conducted annually by accounting firm KPMG, found that 88% of top industry executives thought there is still too much capacity at North American auto plants.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/07/news/co ... /index.htm

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Singha » 08 Jan 2010 09:59

NYT

The Way We Live Now
Walk Away From Your Mortgage!
Chris Schedel

By ROGER LOWENSTEIN
Published: January 7, 2010

John Courson, president and C.E.O. of the Mortgage Bankers Association, recently told The Wall Street Journal that homeowners who default on their mortgages should think about the “message” they will send to “their family and their kids and their friends.” Courson was implying that homeowners — record numbers of whom continue to default — have a responsibility to make good. He wasn’t referring to the people who have no choice, who can’t afford their payments. He was speaking about the rising number of folks who are voluntarily choosing not to pay.


Such voluntary defaults are a new phenomenon. Time was, Americans would do anything to pay their mortgage — forgo a new car or a vacation, even put a younger family member to work. But the housing collapse left 10.7 million families owing more than their homes are worth. So some of them are making a calculated decision to hang onto their money and let their homes go. Is this irresponsible?

Businesses — in particular Wall Street banks — make such calculations routinely. Morgan Stanley recently decided to stop making payments on five San Francisco office buildings. A Morgan Stanley fund purchased the buildings at the height of the boom, and their value has plunged. Nobody has said Morgan Stanley is immoral — perhaps because no one assumed it was moral to begin with. But the average American, as if sprung from some Franklinesque mythology, is supposed to honor his debts, or so says the mortgage industry as well as government officials. Former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. declared that “any homeowner who can afford his mortgage payment but chooses to walk away from an underwater property is simply a speculator — and one who is not honoring his obligation.” (Paulson presumably was not so censorious of speculation during his 32-year career at Goldman Sachs.)

The moral suasion has continued under President Obama, who has urged that homeowners follow the “responsible” course. Indeed, HUD-approved housing counselors are supposed to counsel people against foreclosure. In many cases, this means counseling people to throw away money. Brent White, a University of Arizona law professor, notes that a family who bought a three-bedroom home in Salinas, Calif., at the market top in 2006, with no down payment (then a common-enough occurrence), could theoretically have to wait 60 years to recover their equity. On the other hand, if they walked, they could rent a similar house for a pittance of their monthly mortgage.

There are two reasons why so-called strategic defaults have been considered antisocial and perhaps amoral. One is that foreclosures depress the neighborhood and drive down prices. But in a market society, since when are people responsible for the economic effects of their actions? Every oil speculator helps to drive up gasoline prices. Every hedge fund that speculated against a bank by purchasing credit-default swaps on its bonds signaled skepticism about the bank’s creditworthiness and helped to make it more costly for the bank to borrow, and thus to issue loans. We are all economic pinballs, insensibly colliding for better or worse.

The other reason is that default (supposedly) debases the character of the borrower. Once, perhaps, when bankers held onto mortgages for 30 years, they occupied a moral high ground. These days, lenders typically unload mortgages within days (or minutes). And not just in mortgage finance, but in virtually every realm of our transaction-obsessed society, the message is that enduring relationships count for less than the value put on assets for sale.

Think of private-equity firms that close a factory — essentially deciding that the company is worth more dead than alive. Or the New York Yankees and their World Series M.V.P. Hideki Matsui, who parted company as soon as the cheering stopped. Or money-losing hedge-fund managers: rather than try to earn back their investors’ lost capital, they start new funds so they can rake in fresh incentives. Sam Zell, a billionaire, let the Tribune Company, which he had previously acquired, file for bankruptcy. Indeed, the owners of any company that defaults on bonds and chooses to let the company fail rather than invest more capital in it are practicing “strategic default.” Banks signal their complicity with this ethos when they send new credit cards to people who failed to stay current on old ones.

Mortgage holders do sign a promissory note, which is a promise to pay. But the contract explicitly details the penalty for nonpayment — surrender of the property. The borrower isn’t escaping the consequences; he is suffering them.

In some states, lenders also have recourse to the borrowers’ unmortgaged assets, like their car and savings accounts. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found that defaults are lower in such states, apparently because lenders threaten the borrowers with judgments against their assets. But actual lawsuits are rare.

And given that nearly a quarter of mortgages are underwater, and that 10 percent of mortgages are delinquent, White, of the University of Arizona, is surprised that more people haven’t walked. He thinks the desire to avoid shame is a factor, as are overblown fears of harm to credit ratings. Probably, homeowners also labor under a delusion that their homes will quickly return to value. White has argued that the government should stop perpetuating default “scare stories” and, indeed, should encourage borrowers to default when it’s in their economic interest. This would correct a prevailing imbalance: homeowners operate under a “powerful moral constraint” while lenders are busily trying to maximize profits. More important, it might get the system unstuck. If lenders feared an avalanche of strategic defaults, they would have an incentive to renegotiate loan terms. In theory, this could produce a wave of loan modifications — the very goal the Treasury has been pursuing to end the crisis.

No one says defaulting on a contract is pretty or that, in a perfectly functioning society, defaults would be the rule. But to put the onus for restraint on ordinary homeowners seems rather strange. If the Mortgage Bankers Association is against defaults, its members, presumably the experts in such matters, might take better care not to lend people more than their homes are worth.

Roger Lowenstein, an outside director of the Sequoia Fund, is a contributing writer for the magazine. His book “The End of Wall Street” is coming out in April.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Hari Seldon » 08 Jan 2010 10:54

Sri Paul Krugman in an elaborate CYA op, says:

Plunging prices of houses and CDOs … don’t produce any corresponding macroeconomic silver lining. … This suggests that we’re unlikely to see a phoenix-like recovery from the current slump. How long should recovery be expected to take?

Well, there aren’t many useful historical models. But the example that comes closest to the situation facing the United States today is that of Japan after its late-80s bubble burst, leaving serious debt problems behind. And a maximum-likelihood estimate of how long it will take to recover, based on the Japanese example, is … forever. OK, strictly speaking it’s 18 years, since that’s how long it has been since the Japanese bubble burst, and Japan has never really escaped from its deflationary trap.

This line of thought explains why I’m skeptical about the optimism that’s widespread right now about recovery prospects. The main argument behind this optimism seems to be that in the past, big downturns in the world’s major economies have been followed by fast recoveries. But past downturns had very different causes, and there’s no good reason to regard them as good precedents


There are other examples of insiders bailing out when the going's still good, seems like. Sri Chris Dodd, senate banking committee chairman has announced retirement this November. Off to some island gifted by his bankster buddies, perhaps? Mish says it all on Sri Dodd when he says:
The only notable achievement of Chris Dodd since his first election to the senate in 1980 is his decision to step down now.

or words to that effect. States in the states in a sorry-arse condition are seeing their governers suddenly discover religion and decide not to stand for re-election (check CO and NJ for starters). Maybe they know something the rest of us don't?

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 08 Jan 2010 11:40

double post--deleted
Last edited by amol.p on 08 Jan 2010 11:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 08 Jan 2010 11:42

Further Slide Seen in Commercial Real Estate

There are 920 football fields of available office space in Manhattan. More than 180 major buildings totaling $12.5 billion in value — from Columbus Tower at 1775 Broadway to the office tower 400 Madison Avenue — are in trouble, meaning in many cases they face foreclosure or bankruptcy, or have had problems making mortgage payments. Rents for commercial office space fell faster over the past two years than in any such period in the last half century.

According to more veteran colleagues, he said, things have not been so dire since at least the early 1990s.And that is not the most sobering assessment.“It hasn’t hit bottom,” Mr. Von Der Ahe added.
Rents, they say, will go lower. Vacancy rates are likely to rise, too. Owners of troubled properties will face a final day of reckoning and in some cases lose their properties.

“We’re projecting the biggest value losses in the nation,” said Aaron Jodka, a senior real estate economist at Property and Portfolio Research, a Boston-based independent real estate research and advisory firm. He predicts that by 2011, the value of New York metropolitan area office buildings will decline by 58 percent from its late 2007 peak. It is already down 40 percent.

Read all....

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/nyreg ... f=business

Partners Near Default on Stuyvesant Town

The owners of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the sprawling sister complexes overlooking the East River in Manhattan, will miss a $16 million loan payment on Friday, which would put them in technical default on their mortgages, and the 20,000 residents in limbo.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/nyreg ... f=business

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Singha » 08 Jan 2010 15:52

tomsdispatch.com

The Melting of America
The Story of a Can’t-Do Nation
By Orville Schell

Lately, I’ve been studying the climate-change induced melting of glaciers in the Greater Himalaya. Understanding the cascading effects of the slow-motion downsizing of one of the planet’s most magnificent landforms has, to put it politely, left me dispirited. Spending time considering the deleterious downstream effects on the two billion people (from the North China Plain to Afghanistan) who depend on the river systems -- the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, Amu Darya and Tarim -- that arise in these mountains isn’t much of an antidote to malaise either.

If you focus on those Himalayan highlands, a deep sense of loss creeps over you -- the kind that comes from contemplating the possible end of something once imagined as immovable, immutable, eternal, something that has unexpectedly become vulnerable and perishable as it has slipped into irreversible decline. Those magnificent glaciers, known as the Third Pole because they contain the most ice in the world short of the two polar regions, are now wasting away on an overheated planet and no one knows what to do about it.

To stand next to one of those leviathans of ice, those Moby Dicks of the mountains, is to feel in the most poignant form the magnificence of the creator’s work. It’s also to regain an ancient sense, largely lost to us, of our relative smallness on this planet and to be forcibly reminded that we have passed a tipping point. The days when the natural world was demonstrably ascendant over even the quite modest collective strength of humankind are over. The power -- largely to set an agenda of destruction -- has irrevocably shifted from nature to us.

Another tipping point has also been on my mind lately and it’s left me no less melancholy. In this case, the Moby Dick in question is my own country, the United States of America. We Americans, too, seem to have passed a tipping point. Like the glaciers of the high Himalaya, long familiar aspects of our nation are beginning to feel as if they were, in a sense, melting away.

The eight years of George W. Bush’s wrecking ball undeniably helped set our descent in motion. Then came the dawning realization that President Barack Obama, who strode into office billed as a catalyst of sure-fire change, would no more stop the melting down of the planet’s former “sole superpower” than the Copenhagen summit would stop the melting of those glaciers. After all, a predatory and dysfunctional Washington reminds us constantly that we may be approaching the end of the era of American possibility. For Obama’s beguiling aura of promise to be stripped away so unceremoniously has left me feeling as if we, as a country, might have missed the last flight out.

And speaking of last flights out, I’ve been on a lot of those lately. It’s difficult enough to contemplate the decline of one’s country from within, but from abroad? That -- take my word for it -- is an even more painful prospect. Because out there you can’t escape an awareness that what’s working and being built elsewhere is failing and being torn apart here. To travel is to be forced to make endless comparisons which, when it comes to our country, is like being disturbed by unnerving dreams.

In the past few months, as I’ve roamed the world from San Francisco to Copenhagen to Beijing to Dubai, I’ve taken to keeping a double-entry list of what works and what doesn’t, country by country. Unfortunately, it’s largely a list of what works “there” and doesn’t work here. It’s in places like China, South Korea, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, and (until recently) the United Arab Emirates -- some not even open societies -- that you find people hard at work on the challenges of education, transport, energy, and the environment. It’s there that one feels the sense of possibility, of hopefulness, of can-do optimism so long associated with the U.S.

China, a country I’ve visited more than 100 times since 1975, elicits an especially complicated set of feelings in me. After all, it’s got a Leninist government which was not supposed to succeed; and yet, despite all predictions, it managed to conjure up an economic miracle that, whatever you may think about political transparency, the rule of law, human rights, or democracy, delivers big time. When you’re there, you can feel an unmistakable sense of energy and optimism in the air (along with the often stinging pollution), which, believe me, is bittersweet for an American pondering the missing-in-action regenerative powers of his own country.

As I’ve been traveling from China’s gleamingly efficient airports to our chaotic and all-too-often broken-down versions of the same, or Europe’s high-speed trains to our clunky railroads, I keep that expanding list of mine on hand, my own little version of what works and what doesn’t. Over time, its entries have fallen into one of three categories that I imagine something like this:

1. Robust, full of energy, growing, replete with promise and strength, the envy of the world.

2. Alive and kicking, but in a delicate balance between growth and decline.

3. Irredeemably broken, with little chance of restored health anytime soon.

And here then, as I imagine it, is the shape of America today in terms of what works and what doesn’t, what’s growing and what’s failing:

1. Bio-technology, developing dynamically and delivering much of the world’s most innovative technological research, thinking, and ideas; Silicon Valley, which still has enormous inventiveness, energy, and capital at its disposal; civil society which, despite the collapse of the economy, still seems to be expanding, still luring the best and brightest young people, and still superbly performing the ever more crucial function of being a goad to government and other established institutions; American philanthropy, which is the most evolved, well-funded, and innovative in the world; the U.S. military, the best led, trained, equipped, and maintained on the planet, despite the way it has been repeatedly thrust into hopeless wars by stupid politicians; the fabric of much of small-town American life with its still extant sense of cohesiveness and community spirit; the arts, both high-culture and pop, boasting a still vibrant film industry that remains the globe’s “sole superpower” of visual entertainment, and the requisite networks of symphony orchestras, ballets, theaters, pop music groups, and world-class museums.

2. Higher and secondary-school education, in which America still boasts some of the globe’s preeminent institutions, though the best are increasingly private as jewel-in-the-crown public systems like California’s are driven into the ground thanks to devastating, repeated budget cuts; a national energy system which still delivers, but is terminally strung out on oil and coal, and depends on a grid badly in need of some new “smartness”; environmental protection, which compares favorably with that in other countries, though always under-funded and so, like our extraordinary national park system, ever teetering above the abyss; the court system, overburdened and under-funded, but struggling to deliver justice.

3. The federal government, essentially busted; Congress, increasingly paralyzed and largely incapable of delivering solutions to the country’s most pressing problems; state government, largely broke; the Interstate highway system and our infrastructure of bridges and tunnels, melting away like a block of ice in the sun because maintenance and upgrading is so poor; dikes, water systems, and many other aspects of the national infrastructure which keeps the country going, similarly old and deteriorating; airlines, some of the sorriest in the world with the oldest, dirtiest, and least up-to-date planes and the requisite run-down airports to go with them; ports that are falling behind world standards; a railroad passenger system which, unlike countries from Spain to China, has not one mile of truly high-speed rail; the country’s financial system whose over-paid executives not only ran us off an economic cliff in 2008, but also managed to compromise the whole system itself in the eyes of the world; a broadcast media which -- public broadcasting and aspects of a vital and growing Internet excepted -- is a grossly overly-commercialized, broken-down mess that has gravely let down the country in terms of keeping us informed; newspapers, in a state of free-fall; book publishing, heading in the same direction; elementary education (that is, our future), especially public K-12 schools in big cities, desperately under-funded and near broke in many communities; a food industry which subsidizes sugar and starch, stuffs people with fast-food, and leaves 60% of the population overweight; basic manufacturing, like the automobile industry, evidently headed for oblivion, or China, whichever comes first; the American city, hollowing out and breaking down; the prison system, one of America’s few growth industries but a pit of hopelessness.

As you may have noted, category one is close to a full list, category two, close enough, while category three is just a gesture in the direction of larger-scale decline. Unfortunately, it seems ever expandable. You’ll undoubtedly be tempted to add to it yourself. (I have the same impulse every time I’m elsewhere and see some shiny new industrial or designer toy we don’t make or even have.) When I told a friend about this tallying obsession of mine, he suggested that it might turn out to be a great website. (See the vigorous world of the Internet in category one above.) And so it might -- a kind of electronic stock market Big Board where the world could weigh in and help track all those things people find encouraging or discouraging about the U.S. and other countries.

The initial impulse for my list, however, was self-protective. I was searching for “things that work” here, the better to banish that dispiriting sense of an American decline into the sort of can’t-do-itive-ness that Congress has come to exemplify. Consider my exercise some kind of incantatory ritual -- a talisman -- meant to hold off the bad spirits just as, when I arrive in Beijing in winter and find the mercury near zero (an increasing rarity these last years) or stumble into a snowstorm in New York City, I’m relieved. For me, such manifestations of real winter are signs that nature may not yet have totally surrendered to us, that global warming is still being challenged, and that things may not be as far gone as I sometimes fear.

And yet that list of can-do’s remains so unbearably short and the cant-do’s grows by the trip. I’d love to be convinced otherwise, but like the ice fields of the Greater Himalaya melting before our eyes, American prowess and promise, once seemingly as much a permanent part of the global landscape as glaciers, mountains, and oceans, seems to be melting away by the day.

Orville Schell is the Director of the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations, where he leads a project on climate change and the Tibetan Plateau. He is former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, the author of many books on China, and a frequent traveler in his various journalistic pursuits.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Abhijeet » 08 Jan 2010 16:09

A superb article, and deeply patriotic (how old fashioned).

I notice that India is not among his list of countries that are "hard at work on the challenges of education, transport, energy, and the environment". Till the government starts working here, it won't be, and rightly so.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Singha » 08 Jan 2010 18:25

indians dont work hard, we work smart. maybe he just didnt get a chance to visit here. :mrgreen:

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Hari Seldon » 08 Jan 2010 19:30

Am a cynic and netas far from impress me anymore. Sri NM is Desh's only honorable exception, IMVVHO. And there is but one neta in the entire US that I found worthy of respect, nay reverence - Sri Ron Paul. The clarity, the poise, the precision, the articulation - all that is possible only from one who knows what he is talking about. Don't take my word for it, see for yourself only.

Keynesianism Delivers a Decade of Zero (Ron Paul uvacha)

The Austrian free-market economists use common sense principles. You cannot spend your way out of a recession. You cannot regulate the economy into oblivion and expect it to function. You cannot tax people and businesses to the point of near slavery and expect them to keep producing. You cannot create an abundance of money out of thin air without making all that paper worthless. The government cannot make up for rising unemployment by just hiring all the out of work people to be bureaucrats or send them unemployment checks forever. You cannot live beyond your means indefinitely. The economy must actually produce something others are willing to buy. Government growth is the opposite of all these things.

Bureaucrats are loathe to face these unpleasant, but obvious realities. It is much more appealing to wave their magic wand of regulation and public spending and divert blame elsewhere. It is time to be honest about our problems.

The tragic reality is that this fatally flawed, but widely accepted, economic school of thought called Keynesianism has made our country more socialist than capitalist. While the private sector in the last ten years has experienced a roller coaster of booms and busts and ended up, nominally, about where we started in 2000, government has been steadily growing, because Keynesians told politicians they could get away with a tax, spend and inflate policy. They even encouraged it! But we cannot survive much longer if government is our only growth industry.

Krugman seems pretty disappointed with zero, but if we continue to listen to Keynesians in the next decade instead of those who tell us the truth, zero will start to look pretty good. The end result of destroying the currency is the wiping out of the middle class. Preventing that from happening should be our top economic priority.


Oye Paul pappey, tussi great ho. Jai Ho.
Last edited by Hari Seldon on 09 Jan 2010 05:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Hari Seldon » 09 Jan 2010 05:36

^^^A return to the gold standard is impractical, I agree. However the idea driving it is not. Effectively Paul wants an end to the egregious fractional reserve banking (FRB) system that is at the root of the current kleptocratic mess the khanomy is sliding into.

Most new money issued in the khanate is not public money, it is debt owed to private parties (banks) that create $9 worth of debt for every $1 worth of deposits or reserves they have. Yes, it is that egregious. The Fed, at the end of the day, exists to facilitate this action, seems like.

Secondly, pre-1913 bubbles were way different than the post Fed creation great crises. Wouldn't conflate one with the other.

A fiat money system wherein the Fed is nationalized (and therefore all issued new money and credit is nationalized) is the critical point here. The Fed is a private entity today, its board governed by the 14 regional Feds which in turn are constituted by the big banks in each region. FRB puts the fruits of new enterprise and the labor of the American people into the hands of the owners of the said debt - the FRB pushing banking cartel.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 09 Jan 2010 09:37

Singha wrote:indians dont work hard, we work smart. maybe he just didnt get a chance to visit here. :mrgreen:


Work hard means they put there entire dedication to achieve everything. they have a common goal & aim. But Indians always try to follow the shortest route.......we are not hard workers and we have to accept it with pinch of salt.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby amol.p » 09 Jan 2010 10:45

Eurozone jobless figure hits double digits

Unemployment woes in the Eurozone show little signs of abatement as the latest official data confirms a ten-percent jobless figure for the euro-based economies.

The Friday report by the EU statistics body has put the unemployment figure at its highest level for over a decade.

The latest data comes as the continent is grappling with one of its worst economic downturn in decades.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=11 ... id=3510213

JAL shares drop as it logs $13.3bn yearly loss

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=11 ... id=3510213

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Sanjay M » 09 Jan 2010 12:41

amol.p wrote:


Its not just Arnie....all the states are going the same way.....to start with steep decrease in tax collection.........

State Tax Revenue in U.S. Drops Most Since 1963, Study Says

U.S. state tax collections fell the most in 46 years in the first three quarters of 2009 as the recession shrank revenue from sources including personal income, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government said. Revenue dropped 13.3 percent, or $80 billion.

“2010 is going to be very difficult for the states and the next year is likely to be significantly worse,” Rockefeller Deputy Director Robert Ward said in an interview. corporate income tax declined 22.6 percent, according to the study........{ how come US GDP is expanding at 2.2%........seems some madrassa maths is being used}

The Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package made up as much as 40 percent of the revenue losses states suffered, Ward said by telephone.

“It is a very significant amount of compensation but by no means eliminates the problem,” he said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... 39Yk&pos=5


Arnie Formally Asks Washington for $7B

Meanwhile, US Leftocrafts will never give up sops for their vote banks :roll:

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Neshant » 09 Jan 2010 19:39

Bank panics were caused by many of the same crooks that set up the federal reserve who spread rumours of impending bank collapses to shut down smaller competitors. Read up on JP Morgan and what he did leading to the collapse of thousands of banks which he then used as a reason for why the federal reserve was needed.

Fiat money suits America because it does not intend to repay its debts in full - only pennies on the dollar. In the past, the benefits of this was ploughed into the R&D, science, technology, industry of America pushing it that much further ahead of other nations. In recent times however, that was used only to finance consumer consumption and other non-productive industries like banking & scamming.

Because gold is honest money its generally disliked by dishonest men.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby shyamd » 09 Jan 2010 21:17

Hank Greenberg Tells WSJ Goldman Sachs Behind AIG’s Collapse
Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Hank Greenberg, former chief executive officer at American International Group Inc., said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is responsible for the collapse of the insurer during the economic crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

“It certainly wouldn’t be difficult to come to that conclusion,” Greenberg is quoted as telling the newspaper.

Greenberg blamed new standards for credit-default swaps - -pushed by Goldman or Deutsche Bank AG, he said -- and subprime, housing-backed derivatives sold and then shorted by Goldman as contributing to AIG’s collapse, the newspaper reported.

“Mr. Greenberg appears to base his views on news reports rather than facts,” Lucas van Praag, a Goldman spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. “It is interesting that he doesn’t mention the devastating conclusions about AIG reached by the company’s own auditors.”

As I said, a month ago, Goldman is gonna face a lot of criticism and it could be end of the bank as they get exposed in the upcoming bear market.

The WSJ article:
Can AIG Be Saved?
The former chairman wonders why Goldman Sachs got paid in full on its AIG exposure while AIG itself was forced into slow-motion liquidation.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby ldev » 09 Jan 2010 22:19

Image

Re the return to gold standard discussion. The above chart is very illuminating. The issue is to control the natural tendency of governments to get into deficits. If they cannot exercise disclipine the gold standard forces them into a straitjacket - that ofcourse throws out the baby with the bathwater. So long as countries are on a secular growth trend line with increases in GDP eclipsing the annual fiscal deficit, then all is well, witness China and India in the above chart from 2007 to projected 2014. In comparision look at the advanced economies. What is worse is that the monetary policy consequences of the actions taken by advanced economies have a global impact on savings, investments and thereby on interest rates mostly by virtue of the very size of those deficits in absolute terms.

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Jay » 10 Jan 2010 03:59

Sorry, off topic, but want to nip it in the bud....

Will the real Ron Paul please stand up...
http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Ron_Paul

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Neshant » 10 Jan 2010 04:02

its only unfeasible for those pushing their fiat money as payment for goods & services.

for everyone else, its very feasible

especially if you don,t want to be scammed into rendering hard work for worthless paper in the end

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby svinayak » 10 Jan 2010 04:31

shyamd wrote:
As I said, a month ago, Goldman is gonna face a lot of criticism and it could be end of the bank as they get exposed in the upcoming bear market.

The WSJ article:
Can AIG Be Saved?
The former chairman wonders why Goldman Sachs got paid in full on its AIG exposure while AIG itself was forced into slow-motion liquidation.


How did it all come apart so quickly? Here are the pieces Mr. Greenberg says he sees falling into place. In 2005, a trade group called the International Swaps and Derivatives Association got together and drafted new standards for the kinds of credit default swaps AIG had been writing.

Previously, Mr. Greenberg explains, losses to the underlying securities were paid off at maturity. Now, cash payments would have to be forthcoming to cover any drop in value or credit downgrades even before any losses were realized.

"I don't know whether Goldman Sachs was the force behind the ISDA change or Deutsche Bank," Mr. Greenberg concedes. "That's something investigative reporters are going to have to spend time digging out."

The next piece fell into place, he says, with recent reports in the press about how, at the top of the housing bubble, "a couple of people there [at Goldman Sachs], bright guys, decide the housing market is going to collapse." Goldman went to work creating new subprime housing-backed derivatives , Mr. Greenberg says, and "began marketing the hell out of them and at the same time shorting them" (or betting they would fall in value).

Bingo. When the housing boom imploded, Goldman demanded giant cash collateral payments from AIG on a "mark to market" basis for housing-backed securities whose price was plummeting even if the underlying payment streams were intact. True, Goldman was hardly the only one demanding cash, but Mr. Greenberg is suspicious about the size of the payments Goldman demanded based on Goldman's own "marks" (i.e. estimate of the securities now-depressed value). "Goldman had the lowest marks on the Street by everything I hear," he says. "There was no exchange. Where was the price discovery? It was all in the eye of the beholder."

In short, it added up to a perfect trap for AIG. As panic spread through the financial sector, impossible amounts of cash were required of the firm under insurance contracts that had years to run and (as Mr. Greenberg argues and events seem to be showing) would likely end up performing adequately in the long run.

But this is just half the puzzle, he says. When the government took over AIG, why did it insist that Goldman and other firms receive 100 cents on the dollar on their AIG exposure, while the terms of AIG's own bailout were so onerous as to force the firm into slow-motion liquidation? When the government's bailouts of Citigroup, Bank of America, GM and Chrysler were clearly designed to restore the firms to health, why was AIG's apparently designed to create a wasting asset that would wither and die in taxpayer hands?

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Re: Perspectives on the global economic meltdown

Postby Hari Seldon » 10 Jan 2010 05:21

My fears about the khanomic unemployment rate seem to be borne out here. Sure, khan stats don't hold a candle to shanghai stats (yet) but blatant numbers manipulation to politically convenient ends is not unthinkable anymore, IMHO. Sample the following:

No doubt there are people who see this week's BLS Non-Farm Payroll survey as "not good, but not all that bad either". They can point for instance to the fact that the 85,000 jobs lost according to the report is much better than the 800,000 jobs lost back in March 2009. The Wall Street Journal puts it like this:
”Even though the payroll number was worse than expected, the data reflects an improvement in the jobs market.”.


But unfortunately, this is all smoke, mirrors, bias and outright falsehood. The Household part of the monthly BLS survey mentions 465,000 lost jobs. 647,000 full time jobs left the building. :shock:
But that's not even remotely where the true problem lies.


As clear an indictment of BLS numbers as any I have seen. Have alleged in the past that the BLS is making unemp rate % look prettier by downsizing (without justification) the size of the labor poo and making job growth numbers look prettier first by massaging, then fudging and then by outright recursive creativity (Birth-death model ki jai ho). The folk at the automatic earth seem to agree.

And no, before janta jump to wrong conclusions, I would be hajaar happy to be wrong on this one.

The reason why unemployment, as per the Household survey, stayed at 10% and "only" 85,000 jobs are reported MIA in the Payroll survey can be found in the labor force numbers. From November to December 2009, the "persons not in the labor force" category went up by 843,000 (over 1 million when not seasonally adjusted), and now stands at 83,865,000. The vast majority of those singing off, i.e. not actively looking for work, are people who can't see any jobs anywhere in their environment.

The worse the economy gets, the fewer people are counted as unemployed. It’s a lovely invention, but it's also am awfully perverted one.{exactly.}

That is also true for seasonal adjustments in other categories.
...
A similar idea is true for continuing claims. Michael Widner at Stifel, Nicolaus says:

”We could conceivably have nearly 11 million people collecting unemployment and see the data reported as a 3.something million figure."

Startling only. But don't be unduly alarmed, gentle readers, its not like the sky is falling or anything. The khanate will find a way out. It always does.

U6 unemployment is up. Average and median unemployment duration is up on all counts. The amount of people without a job for more than half a year is soaring, and these people now form 40% (6.1 million) of the total unemployed.

The employment to population ratio fell to 58.2%, the lowest in at least 27 years.

The national payroll level went from 130.8 million in 2000 to 130.9 million today. {A lost decade anybody? And not just in equities, but also in jobs, seems like.}

100,000 jobs added for the 13 million people who were added to the "available" labor pool. In other words, 13 million unemployed were added.

Extended benefits and Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the two programs set up for the long-time jobless, are bursting through their seams. A slight decrease in initial and continuing jobless claims may seem to indicate something positive, but the reality is that people don't leave these programs because they find jobs, but because they've exhausted their benefits and are forced into extended and emergency programs. There are strong suggestions that the latter grew by some 43% in just the past month. {Mish and zero hedge have posts on this one showing back of the envelope calcs on how this has come about. Worth a look.}

And though we've seen no mention of it this week, we haven't forgotten that the BLS "owes" us the 824,000 jobs they "forgot" to count till March 2009.


Take FWIW only coz its an opinion-analysis piece, not a news report. Myself, I tend to take the analysis of these knowledgeable folk more seriously than that of gubmint agencies, mainstream media talking heads and bankers. But that's just me.

Bottomline:
No matter where you stand, no matter what you see the economy doing in 2010, it should be clear to everyone who can read by now that reporting on unemployment in the US is a god-forsaken mess, strongly biased towards what pleases Washington, i.e. numbers much lower than the real ones. That said, while many citizens may still be fooled by the official data, you can bet that Washington knows perfectly well what the real numbers are, and many hours of backroom meetings are dedicated to the topic. How much of that reflects genuine care for constituencies, and how much mere worry about election numbers, we’ll leave up to you to ponder.


Hari Om.


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