Mortgage Meltdown and Credit Crisis: News and Comment 4-2-08

U.S. economy in ‘very difficult period,’ Bernanke says

By Greg Robb

Last update: 9:30 a.m. EDT April 2, 2008

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – The outlook for U.S. growth has worsened since January and the possibility of a recession can’t be ruled out, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday. “It not appears likely that real gross domestic product will not grow much, if at all, over the first half of 2008 and could even contract slightly,” Bernanke said in testimony prepared for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. “Clearly, the U.S. economy is going through a very difficult period.” His testimony supports the view that the Fed is not done cutting interest rates. The central bank has lowered its target overnight lending rate to 2.25% from 5.25% last fall, the largest percentage decline on record. Bernanke suggested the central bank is slowing down the pace of its rate cuts. “Much necessary economic and financial adjustment has already taken place, and monetary and fiscal policies are in train that should support a return to growth in the second half of this year and next year,” he said. Inflation remains a concern, he noted, and some signs indicate that the public expects prices to continue rising. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: State Department Overview of Global economic transactions needed, along with a department of trained, serious, non-political economists who can report the actual effects and trends of global commerce on our foreign relations.

 

  1. According to the Secretary of State and the National Security Council, counterfeiting undermines currency and constitutes an ACT OF WAR if sanctioned or promoted by one government to the detriment of another. 
  2. By promoting the expansion of “money” supply through the latest “funny money schemes” of Wall Street, the United States has been the source of counterfeiting “cash equivalents” which are currently only part of the way through the process of undermining the financial strength, viability, social services and credibility of local and federal governments around the world. 
  3. These cash equivalents (derivatives) are the modern day equivalent of counterfeiting. 
  4. While it is not likely that a military response is on the horizon, it IS likely that economic and political responses will be coming from countries that include our friends and allies. 
  5. The effect on our foreign relations is immeasurable right now. 
  6. The effect on our own economy is understated intentionally by government reporting agencies: food prices in Arizona are up 19% (demonstrating that the true rate of inflation of geometrically higher than what the government is reporting). 
  7. Food and oil and other necessities are rising sharply in the U.S. because the dollar is sinking to new lows every month. Citizens must be made aware that the economic policies and choices we make, right down to individual purchases at the grocery store or other retail locations has a direct impact on the statement we are making in our foreign relations.
  8. Paulson’s “sweeping” proposals do nothing except sweep the problems under a rug too small to hold the debris. 
  9. What must be included in any plan for changes in how the government plays referee in in the marketplace (i.e., regulation), is a new division of the State department that assesses the impact of global economic commerce and recommends policy adjustments to heal and promote our relationships with sovereign nations. 

Swiss finance minister reportedly expects tax shortfall due to UBS

Switzerland’s finance minister Hans-Rudolf Merz expects the country to receive 1 billion Swiss francs, or $1 billion, less in taxes for 2007 as a result of the crisis at UBS AG (UBS: UBS Ag he told Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger in an interview published Wednesday. See full story

By Polya Lesova MarketWatch 4/2/2008 9:06:00 AM Crude-oil futures rise modestly as traders look to data on U.S. petroleum inventories and eye strength in the dollar. See full story 

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Somehow people must be educated to understand the relationship between a weak dollar caused by excessive borrowing and flooding the marketplace with “funny money” and the price of gas at the pump. As the value of U.S. currency declines, more of it is required to purchase anything on the world market, including oil. If OPEC follows through on converting from dollars to Euros the effect will be magnified and the price of gas at the pump could easily exceed $10 per gallon same time next year. Wake up, America!]

Wider access to high-risk currency trading lures more investors

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By Gergana Koleva MarketWatch4/1/2008 7:33:00 PM

With over $3 trillion worth of foreign currencies changing hands every day, a growing number of retail investors who seek a boost to their portfolios and a hedge for the falling dollar are viewing the high liquidity of foreign exchange trading as a tonic for troubled times. See full story

National City mulling deal with KeyCorp: report

BOSTON (MarketWatch) — National City Corp. (NCC:

National City Corporation which has seen its stock battered due to its exposure to troubled loans and softening real estate markets, is contemplating a plan to sell itself to KeyCorp (KEY: KeyCorp (New) The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Fannie Mae revises standards for mortgages: report

Fannie Mae (FNM: Fannie Mae has told lenders it will require a credit score of at least 580 for most individual loans as part of the latest move to make its standards more stringent for mortgages it buys or guarantees, according to a report Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal. See full story 

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Talk about locking the barn door after all the horses are gone! What is needed besides changes in future regulation is a solution now, today, to the massive credit crisis which now extends to all new loans including auto loans. 

 

  • The solution does NOT lie in piecemeal, patchwork of rule changes by different agencies that will conflict with each other, congressional legislation that will conflict with other federal and state legislation, or bailouts of certain players because they are either more important or less “culpable” in the eyes of the beholder. 
  • What is needed is a fast consensus of ALL the players, agencies and leaders from across the spectrum from homeowners and borrowers, through lenders, appraisers, mortgage brokers, investment bankers, retail securities sales, and investors in derivatives to 
  • STOP foreclosures and evictions, 
  • KEEP homeowners in homes unless they can’t even afford to maintain them, 
  • RESTORE the balance sheet of investment bankers and investors, and 
  • HEAL the wounded dollar and staunch the bleeding — by reducing payments on al forms of excessive debt (caused either by artificially — i.e., manipulated — higher housing prices during 2001-2006, or caused by the nearly $1 trillion drain on credit card revolving debt that was promoted in every conceivable way despite interest rates so high that any financial planner or economist could tell you that the average person would NEVER pay it all back]. 
  • IMMUNIZE EVERYONE from civil and criminal action to get their cooperation (yes, Amnesty. It is more important to save our economy and standing in the world than to see a few “examples” in jail, or millions of people out on the street. We need no homeless people not a surge in their number. We need stable, rising house prices, not a view with “no end in sight.”).
  • EDUCATE the American public that this crisis transcends ideology and politics. Whatever your feeling about “entitlements”, personal responsibility and suffering the consequences, we are all bearing the brunt of this crisis every time we go to buy food, gas or other necessities. We are all bearing the brunt of this every time we expect social services like education, fire, police or paramedical help — and they are diminished because the local treasury has been depleted by losses in CDOs/CMOs and by inflation. We are all putting the burden on our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for spending money we didn’t need to (like over paying for medical care and drugs compared to all other countries and going to wars to protect an interest in oil which should have been abandoned long ago as a fuel source)

Obama comes closest in his proposals. But even he has failed to grasp all the horns of the bull]

Manhattan apartment sales fall most in 18 years as buyers wait

Manhattan apartment sales plunged the most in 18 years last quarter as buyers faced the prospect of a recession and job cuts at Wall Street securities firms. See full story at Bloomberg.com

Paulson says Treasury `flexible’ on housing measures

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson indicated the Bush administration is willing to consider congressional plans to stem foreclosures by expanding government guarantees for mortgages. “I think you will continue to see flexibility as we learn and go forward,” Paulson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Beijing. See full story at Bloomberg.com

Lehman in market abuse claim

Lehman Brothers (LEH: Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc  on Tuesday said it had sent information to the Securities and Exchange Commission about possible abusive short-selling in its shares in recent days. Erin Callan, Lehman chief financial officer, said the SEC was examining whether hedge funds acted in concert to drive down the bank’s share price in the days following the near collapse of Bear Stearns. Such behavior could constitute market manipulation, subject to civil and criminal sanctions. See full story at FT.com

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