The Sad Future of Housing According to Zillow

Is housing on a ‘sugar high’?
http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/blog–is-housing-on-a-sugar-high
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Editor’s Analysis: The Banks have been paying a lot of money to plant articles around the country and in media generally to give us the impression that the recession is over, they did their job in preventing it, and the housing crisis has turned the corner with prices rising. Housing prices are rising in some places because of a glut of cheap money (see mortgage meltdown 1996-2008); other than that the whole thing is an outright lie. Even their own analysts don’t agree with the articles and statements made on behalf of the megabanks.

You can’t take half the blood out of a person and expect them not to be anemic, weak and dizzy. The megabanks took more than that out of our economic system and parked it around the world out of reach of all but the select few who are members of the club. For the rest of us, earning a living is becoming increasingly difficult, getting approval for a reasonably priced mortgage is difficult unless you go for one of the new deals that are out there at 2.5%, 15 years fixed rate, supposedly. Besides the fact that they are going to steer you into an entirely different loan product in the classic bait and switch, they are restarting the “securitization” scheme that wrecked us in the first place.

Who is making money at 2.5%? How can you even have a budget for advertising much less appear dozens of times per day on TV, radio, magazines and newspapers? The answer to these and other similar questions lies in the fact that on average, the mortgages are going to be at much higher rates than those advertised, the incidence of force-placed insurance on fully insured homes will be increased to become a regular major contributor to income to the megabanks in the form of kickbacks or commissions and simply price gouging, and no doubt someone has come up with a really creative way to make certain the loans, on the whole, go into default decreasing the value of a “portfolio” or “pool” of loans to less than half of the nominal value placed on the note — but increasing the profits from betting against the same mortgages they represented as being underwritten according to industry standards.

The fact is that the Federal Reserve cannot keep rates down indefinitely, and the rush to gold and other currencies shows that the big players who know more than you do are getting ready for a major devaluation of currency in the U.S. The “inflation” that accompanies a devaluation might work to the benefit of the homeowners who owe the old dollars but can pay with the new dollars (if they have any). But increased rates mean higher payments, and higher payments combined with no credit and low wages and low median income spells disaster for the demand side of housing. Simply  put: housing prices are going down again and they are already starting to slip.

The only reason inventories of homes for sale are “low” is because of the shadow inventory of homes set for foreclosure sales, the zombie houses that have been stripped and are worthless and the homeowners who are so far underwater that they can’t make it to the closing table. It is a very unpersuasive recovery. Zillow outlines it chapter and verse.

Working backwards, the reason for all this is simple theft using exotic sounding names of financial instruments that were never funded or used. In the end, the loan was from the investors and the debt was and is between the investors and the homeowners. Everyone else is an intermediary. Those conduits for the loan have no stake in it. They have their agreements for fees but that is about it.

There are only two ways of going on this: (1) do the same thing all over again and kick the can down the road to the next blowout recession or (2) stop kidding ourselves that housing prices are going anywhere but down unless we expose the truth of what happened in these so-called mortgage loans funded with money stolen from investors under the premise that the money would fund a REMIC trust which would then acquire loans and be secured, on record, for their interest. Anyone out there see the trust on any document in any loan closing that didn’t end up in litigation? No?

That’s because the intermediaries were and are asserting ownership stakes in loans that never came out of their pocket, loans for which they have no risk of loss and loans that were acquired on paper by other intermediaries when the debt was at all times material hereto owned by the investor lender. AND THAT is why you must LEAD with the deficiencies in the money trail and NOT with the DOCUMENT trail, which will merely have you running down a rabbit hole dug special for you.

The Future of Home Values – Taking a Closer Look at Price-to-Income Fundamentals
http://www.zillowblog.com/research/2013/04/09/the-future-of-home-values-taking-a-closer-look-at-price-to-income-fundamentals/

Shadow Foreclosures: Over 500,000 Az Homeowners Underwater

Yes, we can help at livinglies, but the numbers are so high that there is no way we have the resources to help everyone. Lawyers, accountants, analysts and others should be seeing this as a major opportunity to do well for themselves and for the owners of these homes by challenging the rights of the those collectors who are taking their money now, or demanding payment or threatening foreclosure. Arizona lawyers have been slow on the uptake here and in so doing are potentially setting themselves up for future malpractice claims for anyone, whether they aid or not, who received advice from the lawyer that was not based upon the realities of the securitization scam.

Call 520-405-1688, where you can get help in documenting the fraud, help in drafting the documents, and help in finding a lawyer. If you are a lawyer involved in foreclosure defense, bankruptcy or family law, you need to to start studying the real facts and the strategies that get traction in court.

We are planning a possible new Arizona seminar for lawyers, paralegals and sophisticated investors or homeowners. But we will only schedule it if we get enough calls to indicate that the workshop will at least pay for itself. It is a full day of information, strategy, role-playing and tactics to use in the court room.

Editor’s Analysis: Despite loosening standards for principal reductions and modifications, the foreclosure activity across the country is increasing or about to increase due to many factors.

The bizarre reason why the titans of Wall Street want these homes underwater combined with the miscalculation of the real number does not bode well for the housing market nor the economy. With median income now reported by the Wall Street Journal at 1995 levels, and the direct correlation between median income and housing prices you only need a good memory or a computer to see the level of housing prices in 1995 — which is currently where we are headed. As the situation gets worse, the foreclosure and housing problem will become a disaster beyond the proportions seen today.

Wall Street NEEDS foreclosures — not modifications, principal write-downs or settlements. The reason is simple. They have already received trillions in bailouts from the Federal Government. All of that was predicated upon the homes going into foreclosure. If the loans turn out to be capable of performing, many of those trillion of dollars ( generally reported at $17 trillion, which is more than the total principal loaned out to all borrowers during the meltdown period), the mega banks could be facing trillions of  dollars in liability as the demands are properly made for payback. The banks should not be allowed to collect the money and the houses too. Neither should they be allowed to collect the bailout money and keep the mortgages.

The “underwater” calculation is far off the mark. If selling expenses and discounts are taken into consideration, the value of homes used in that calculation is at least 10% less than what is used in the underwater calculation, which would increase the number of underwater homes by at least 15% bringing the Arizona total to nearly 600,000 people who know now that they will never see valuation even coming close to the amount owed. The prospect for strategic defaults in Arizona and elsewhere is staggering —- totaling more than 10 million homes  — or nearly twice the number of foreclosures already “completed”, albeit defectively.

As stated in the article below there is, as we have been saying for years, a huge difference between home prices and home values. Home prices can be pushed up or down based upon external factors In this case it was a flood of what looked like cheap money that is now apparent was neither cheap nor even money (because the named lender never made the loan). Home values and home prices should over the long run track each other given no manipulation of the marketplace which is exactly what Wall Street did. Home values, based upon the Case-Schiller index and thousands of other economists are based upon one simple variable — median income. Median income is now at the lowest point since 1995. That means home values are, after selling expenses and discounts, less than 90% of 1995 prices.

It is simply inevitable that people will take the hit on their credit and walk away from the homes rather than pay $200,000 for on-existent equity and that is exactly what Wall Street is counting on, forcing through its manipulation of government policy and spinning to the public media. If those homes do not go into foreclosure the mega banks’ scam will reveal itself, the assets on their balance sheet will vanish because they never existed anyway and the banks will fall. Whether they are too big to fail or not, they will fail — unless foreclosures spread out across the land.

by Kristena Hansen, www.bizjournals.com

Roughly 40 percent of all mortgaged homes in Arizona were under water during the second quarter of 2012, the third-highest negative equity rate in the nation, according to a report released Wednesday by CoreLogic Inc.

In raw numbers, that translates to about 521,600 homeowners statewide being under water for the quarter out of roughly 1.31 million total mortgaged homes, the report said.

Arizona’s negative equity rate was much higher than the national average of 22.3 percent (10.8 million homes) of all mortgaged homes that were underwater during the same period. That nationwide figure was also a gradual improvement from the first quarter’s 23.7 percent negative equity (11.4 million homes).

CALCULATING NEGATIVE EQUITY

Negative equity, or being under water, refers to homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their home’s present estimated value. CoreLogic determines negative equity rates by the number of underwater homeowners versus all residential properties in a certain area with an outstanding mortgage.

CoreLogic experts say the improving negative equity landscape nationwide is largely due to the recent rebound in home prices, dwindling sales of lender-owned properties and low inventory of existing homes.

Home prices and home values, however, are distinctly different. Prices represent how much homes actually sell for, while home values are only an estimate and are therefore much harder to determine.

Michael Orr, a real estate expert at Arizona State University, said home value estimates will vary widely depending on who is making the assessment. That makes it tricky to hone in on best practices for calculating negative equity, he said.

Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic, explained how his firm makes its determinations.

Shadow Inventory: 1 in 5 homes are underwater and current on payments

HOME PRICES SET TO DROP AGAIN!

Editor’s Comment: You can spin this anyway you want, but the facts speak for themselves. People are worn out living under mountains of debt, some need to move for job purposes, and some need to reduce their payments because they are running out of resources to pay a mortgage balance that is based upon a valuation that was never valid in the first place.

With no proper redress of grievances from government despite thousands of cases showing that the banks were engaged in the largest economic crime in human history, these people will be forced to make the decision of strategic default — albeit on loans that are probably invalid starting at origination for reasons expressed in most of recent articles.

As pensions get slashed, household income continues to drop, wages are cut and expenses rise, it is fantasy to think or believe that most of these people won’t eventually walk from their homes, grieving over their loss of lifestyle and loss of social networks built up over years or even decades where homeowners were scammed into refinancing their homes based upon fraudulent appraisals.

The goal of the banks in pushing foreclosures is obvious. They are not stupid. The lower they can get housing prices, the less it will cost to buy them and the more profit they will get when they sell or rent them. Where they are mistaken is that they seem to believe that the bottom is near, and that their profits from these foreclosures will materialize anytime soon. True, since they were neither the lender who funded the loan nor were they the purchaser who bought the obligation, note and mortgage, whatever they get is profit — the ultimate “free house.”

When you combine the huge numbers of homes where the homeowners are declared delinquent or in default and combine those with the even larger number of homes where the owners simply cannot stay, there is nothing other than an over-abundance of supply and an underwhelming number of people who are willing or able to buy.

lps-underwater-borrowers-face-challenges-if-prices-drop-again

It’s Not Even a Bubble: Foreclosures on the Rise

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Editor’s Comment: Realtors and Banks want you to think that you need to buy now before the  market takes off and prices spiral upward. I say don’t believe a word of it.

If you are buying to live in a house, you should know that the actual and shadow inventory of foreclosures will keep intense downward pressure on housing prices for many years to come. Some estimates, including mine, are that the housing market might take more than 10 years to recover and that it could be as much as 20 years. This is why so many people are renting rather than buying. Rental values are going up because there is actual demand for renting.

If you are buying for investment, see the above paragraph. You might have a viable investment if you are willing to stay in for the long pull and you are willing to take on the duties and obligations of a landlord.

If you are selling and you are waiting for the market to bottom out, or maybe you see a spike and you think you’ll wait just a little bit longer to get a higher price, forget it. Sellers, as realtors will even tell you, are mostly unrealistic about the sales price of their property. This is because they bought or once saw the price of their property at twice the price as the offers now. The reason is simple — prices went up but values stayed the same or even declined. The difference between prices and values has never been as big a deal as it is now.

Prices can be forced up by actual demand but never as much as we saw from the late 90’s to the peak at 2006. The prices went up because the payments went down or appeared to go down.

Free money was everywhere and nobody was reading the fine print or even questioning why Banks would offer such deals as teaser rates and other nonsensical things to entice people into signing up for mortgages, whose payment would eventually rise above their household income or where the payment was the equivalent of doubling the interest rate because they were going to be sitting with a home that declined to its real value.

The truth is that even if a recovery eventually occurs, it will be 20+ years before we see those prices again. And that will only result from inflation which eventually will pick up steam.

And by all means remember what I have been writing about these last few weeks. The title they are offering you, with a deed signed by a bank, or even a satisfaction of mortgage signed by a bank may not be worth the paper it is written on and the title policy normally excludes that sort of risk from what they  are covering in title insurance. So if you don’t pose the hard questions and negotiate a real title policy that covers all the known risks, you could be the angry owner of a white elephant that cannot be sold later nor refinanced.

From CNBC:

Home prices rose, just barely, in the second quarter of this year annually for the first time since 2007, according to online real estate firm Zillow. That prompted the popular site to call a “bottom” to home prices nationally. The increase was a mere 0.2 percent, but in today’s touch and go housing recovery, that was enough.

Nearly one third of the 167 markets Zillow tracks in this survey saw annual price gains from a year ago.

“After four months with rising home values and increasingly positive forecast data, it seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own.”

Zillow’s report, which compares prices of homes sold in the same neighborhood, also showed a stronger 2.1 percent gain quarter to quarter, which is the biggest uptick since 2005. The biggest price gains, however, are in the markets that saw the biggest price drops during the latest housing crash. Phoenix, for example, saw a 12 percent annual price gain on the Zillow index.

That has other analysts claiming that the overall surge in national prices is due to price bubbles in certain markets.

“Strong demand, particularly in areas of California, Arizona and Nevada, are pushing up home prices very quickly in the short-term. And because many of the home purchases in these areas are cash transactions, there appears to be less braking of prices by our current appraisal system than seen in other parts of the country,” noted Thomas Popik, research director for Campbell Surveys and chief analyst for HousingPulse. “The trend raises the distinct possibility of housing price bubbles emerging in some of these hot housing markets.”

The supply of foreclosed properties for sale has been dropping steadily, as lenders try to modify more loans or actively pursue foreclosure alternatives, like short sales (where the home is sold for less than the value of the mortgage). Investors, eager to take advantage of the hot rental market, are having to spread out to more markets in order to find the best deals.

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“We were heavily into Phoenix early in the cycle. Those markets are heating up,” said James Breitenstein, CEO of investment firm Landsmith in an interview on CNBC Monday. “We see a shift more to the east, states like North Carolina, Michigan, Florida.”

While home prices on the Zillow index are improving most in formerly distressed markets, like Miami, Orlando and much of California, they are still dropping in other non-distressed markets, like St. Louis (down 4 percent annually) Chicago (down 5.8 percent annually) and Philadelphia (down 3.5 percent annually).

“Those people looking at current results and calling a bottom are being dangerously short-sighted,” said Michael Feder, CEO of Radar Logic, a real estate data and analytics company. “Not only are the immediate signs inconclusive, but the broad dynamics are still quite scary. We think housing is still a short.”

Radar Logic sees price increases as well, but blames that on mild winter weather that temporarily boosted demand. This means there will be payback, or weakness in prices during the latter half of this year. And even without the weather hypothesis, they see further trouble ahead:

“On the supply side, higher prices will entice financial institutions to sell more of their inventories of foreclosed homes and allow households that were previously unable to sell due to negative equity to put their homes on the market. As a result, the supply of homes for sale will increase, placing downward pressure on prices. On the demand side, rising prices could reduce investment buying,” according to the Radar Logic report.

Investors are driving much of the housing market today, anywhere from one third to one quarter of home sales. That makes these supposedly national price gains more precarious than ever, because they are based on a finite supply of distressed homes and that supply is dependent on the nation’s big banks. First time home buyers, who should be 40 percent of the market, are barely making up one third, and millions of potential move-up buyers are trapped in their homes due to negative and near negative equity.

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The Rain in Spain May Start Falling Here

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Editor’s Comment:

It is typical politics. You know the problem and the cause but you do nothing about the cause. You don’t fix it because you view your job in government as justifying the perks you get from private companies rather than reason the government even exists — to provide for the protection and welfare of the citizens of that society. It seems that the government of each country has become an entity itself with an allegiance but to itself leaving the people with no government at all.

And the average man in the streets of Boston or Barcelona cannot be fooled or confused any longer. Hollande in France was elected precisely because the people wanted a change that would align the government with the people, by the people and for the people. The point is not whether the people are right or wrong. The point is that we would rather make our own mistakes than let politicians make them for us in order to line their own pockets with gold.

Understating foreclosures and evictions, over stating recovery of the housing Market, lying about economic prospects is simply not covering it any more. The fact is that housing prices have dropped to all time lows and are continuing to drop. The fact is that we would rather kick people out of their homes on fraudulent pretenses and pay for homeless sheltering than keep people in their homes. We have a government that is more concerned with the profits of banks than the feeding and housing of its population. 

When will it end? Maybe never. But if it changes it will be the result of an outraged populace and like so many times before in history, the new aristocracy will have learned nothing from history. The cycle repeats.

Spain Underplaying Bank Losses Faces Ireland Fate

By Yalman Onaran

Spain is underestimating potential losses by its banks, ignoring the cost of souring residential mortgages, as it seeks to avoid an international rescue like the one Ireland needed to shore up its financial system.

The government has asked lenders to increase provisions for bad debt by 54 billion euros ($70 billion) to 166 billion euros. That’s enough to cover losses of about 50 percent on loans to property developers and construction firms, according to the Bank of Spain. There wouldn’t be anything left for defaults on more than 1.4 trillion euros of home loans and corporate debt. Taking those into account, banks would need to increase provisions by as much as five times what the government says, or 270 billion euros, according to estimates by the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based research group. Plugging that hole would increase Spain’s public debt by almost 50 percent or force it to seek a bailout, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

“How can you only talk about one type of real estate lending when more and more loans are going bad everywhere in the economy?” said Patrick Lee, a London-based analyst covering Spanish banks for Royal Bank of Canada. “Ireland managed to turn its situation around after recognizing losses much more aggressively and thus needed a bailout. I don’t see how Spain can do it without outside support.”

Double-Dip Recession

Spain, which yesterday took over Bankia SA, the nation’s third-largest lender, is mired in a double-dip recession that has driven unemployment above 24 percent and government borrowing costs to the highest level since the country adopted the euro. Investors are concerned that the Mediterranean nation, Europe’s fifth-largest economy with a banking system six times bigger than Ireland’s, may be too big to save.

In both countries, loans to real estate developers proved most toxic. Ireland funded a so-called bad bank to take much of that debt off lenders’ books, forcing writedowns of 58 percent. The government also required banks to raise capital to cover what was left behind, assuming expected losses of 7 percent for residential mortgages, 15 percent on the debt of small companies and 4 percent on that of larger corporations.

Spain’s banks face bigger risks than the government has acknowledged, even with lower default rates than Ireland experienced. If losses reach 5 percent of mortgages held by Spanish lenders, 8 percent of loans to small companies, 1.5 percent of those to larger firms and half the debt to developers, the cost will be about 250 billion euros. That’s three times the 86 billion euros Irish domestic banks bailed out by their government have lost as real estate prices tumbled.

Bankia Loans

Moody’s Investors Service, a credit-ratings firm, said it expects Spanish bank losses of as much as 306 billion euros. The Centre for European Policy Studies said the figure could be as high as 380 billion euros.

At the Bankia group, the lender formed in 2010 from a merger of seven savings banks, about half the 38 billion euros of real estate development loans held at the end of last year were classified as “doubtful” or at risk of becoming so, according to the company’s annual report. Bad loans across the Valencia-based group, which has the biggest Spanish asset base, reached 8.7 percent in December, and the firm renegotiated almost 10 billion euros of assets in 2011, about 5 percent of its loan book, to prevent them from defaulting.

The government, which came to power in December, announced yesterday that it will take control of Bankia with a 45 percent stake by converting 4.5 billion euros of preferred shares into ordinary stock. The central bank said the lender needs to present a stronger cleanup plan and “consider the contribution of public funds” to help with that.

Rajoy Measures

The Bank of Spain has lost its prestige for failing to supervise banks sufficiently, said Josep Duran i Lleida, leader of Catalan party Convergencia i Unio, which often backs Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government. Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez doesn’t need to resign at this point because his term expires in July, Duran said.

Rajoy has shied away from using public funds to shore up the banks, after his predecessor injected 15 billion euros into the financial system. He softened his position earlier this week following a report by the International Monetary Fund that said the country needs to clean up the balance sheets of “weak institutions quickly and adequately” and may need to use government funds to do so.

“The last thing I want to do is lend public money, as has been done in the past, but if it were necessary to get the credit to save the Spanish banking system, I wouldn’t renounce that,” Rajoy told radio station Onda Cero on May 7.

Santander, BBVA

Rajoy said he would announce new measures to bolster confidence in the banking system tomorrow, without giving details. He might ask banks to boost provisions by 30 billion euros, said a person with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because the decision hadn’t been announced.

Spain’s two largest lenders, Banco Santander SA (SAN) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), earn most of their income outside the country and have assets in Latin America they can sell to raise cash if they need to bolster capital. In addition to Bankia, there are more than a dozen regional banks that are almost exclusively domestic and have few assets outside the country to sell to help plug losses.

In investor presentations, the Bank of Spain has said provisions for bad debt would cover losses of between 53 percent and 80 percent on loans for land, housing under construction and finished developments. An additional 30 billion euros would increase coverage to 56 percent of such loans, leaving nothing to absorb losses on 650 billion euros of home mortgages held by Spanish banks or 800 billion euros of company loans.

Housing Bubble

“Spain is constantly playing catch-up, so it’s always several steps behind,” said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, a consulting firm in London specializing in sovereign-credit risk. “They should have gone down the Irish route, bit the bullet and taken on the losses. Every time they announce a small new measure, the goal posts have already moved because of deterioration in the economy.”

Without aggressive writedowns, Spanish banks can’t access market funding and the government can’t convince investors its lenders can survive a contracting economy, said Benjamin Hesse, who manages five financial-stock funds at Fidelity Investments in Boston, which has $1.6 trillion under management.

Spanish banks have “a 1.7 trillion-euro loan book, one of the world’s largest, and they haven’t even started marking it,” Hesse said. “The housing bubble was twice the size of the U.S. in terms of peak prices versus 1990 prices. It’s huge. And there’s no way out for Spain.”

Irish Losses

House prices in Spain more than doubled in a decade and have dropped 30 percent since the first quarter of 2008. U.S. homes, which also doubled in value, have lost 35 percent. Ireland’s have fallen 49 percent after quadrupling.

Ireland injected 63 billion euros into its banks to recapitalize them after shifting property-development loans to the National Asset Management Agency, or NAMA, and requiring other writedowns. That forced the country to seek 68 billion euros in financial aid from the European Union and the IMF.

The losses of bailed-out domestic banks in Ireland have reached 21 percent of their total loans. Spanish banks have reserved for 6 percent of their lending books.

“The upfront loss recognition Ireland forced on the banks helped build confidence,” said Edward Parker, London-based head of European sovereign-credit analysis at Fitch Ratings. “In contrast, Spain has had a constant trickle of bad news about its banks, which doesn’t instill confidence.”

Mortgage Defaults

Spain’s home-loan defaults were 2.7 percent in December, according to the Spanish mortgage association. Home prices are propped up and default rates underreported because banks don’t want to recognize losses, according to Borja Mateo, author of “The Truth About the Spanish Real Estate Market.” Developers are still building new houses around the country, even with 2 million vacant homes.

Ireland’s mortgage-default rate was about 7 percent in 2010, before the government pushed for writedowns, with an additional 5 percent being restructured, according to the Central Bank of Ireland. A year later, overdue and restructured home loans reached 18 percent. At the typical 40 percent recovery rate, Irish banks stand to lose 11 percent of their mortgage portfolios, more than the 7 percent assumed by the central bank in its stress tests. That has led to concern the government may need to inject more capital into the lenders.

‘The New Ireland’

Spain, like Ireland, can’t simply let its financial firms fail. Ireland tried to stick banks’ creditors with losses and was overruled by the EU, which said defaulting on senior debt would raise the specter of contagion and spook investors away from all European banks. Ireland did force subordinated bondholders to take about 15 billion euros of losses.

The EU was protecting German and French banks, among the biggest creditors to Irish lenders, said Marshall Auerback, global portfolio strategist for Madison Street Partners LLC, a Denver-based hedge fund.

“Spain will be the new Ireland,” Auerback said. “Germany is forcing once again the socialization of its banks’ losses in a periphery country and creating sovereign risk, just like it did with Ireland.”

Spanish government officials and bank executives have downplayed potential losses on home loans by pointing to the difference between U.S. and Spanish housing markets. In the U.S., a lender’s only option when a borrower defaults is to seize the house and settle for whatever it can get from a sale. The borrower owes nothing more in this system, called non- recourse lending.

‘More Pressure’

In Spain, a bank can go after other assets of the borrower, who remains on the hook for the debt no matter what the price of the house when sold. Still, the same extended liability didn’t stop the Irish from defaulting on home loans as the economy contracted, incomes fell and unemployment rose to 14 percent.

“As the economy deteriorates, the quality of assets is going to get worse,” said Daragh Quinn, an analyst at Nomura International in Madrid. “Corporate loans are probably going to be a bigger worry than mortgages, but losses will keep rising. Some of the larger banks, in particular BBVA and Santander, will be able to generate enough profits to absorb this deterioration, but other purely domestic ones could come under more pressure.”

Spain’s government has said it wants to find private-sector solutions. Among those being considered are plans to let lenders set up bad banks and to sell toxic assets to outside investors.

Correlation Risk

Those proposals won’t work because third-party investors would require bigger discounts on real estate assets than banks will be willing to offer, RBC’s Lee said.

Spanish banks face another risk, beyond souring loans: They have been buying government bonds in recent months. Holdings of Spanish sovereign debt by lenders based in the country jumped 32 percent to 231 billion euros in the four months ended in February, data from Spain’s treasury show.

That increases the correlation of risk between banks and the government. If Spain rescues its lenders, the public debt increases, threatening the sovereign’s solvency. When Greece restructured its debt, swapping bonds at a 50 percent discount, Greek banks lost billions of euros and had to be recapitalized by the state, which had to borrow more from the EU to do so.

In a scenario where Spain is forced to restructure its debt, even a 20 percent discount could spell almost 50 billion euros of additional losses for the country’s banks.

“Spain will have to turn to the EU for funds to solve its banking problem,” said Madison Street’s Auerback. “But there’s little money left after the other bailouts, so what will Spain get? That’s what worries everybody.”

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Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again.
Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

As I observe the zombie like reactions of Americans to our catastrophic economic highway to collapse, the continued plundering and pillaging of the national treasury by criminal Wall Street bankers, non-enforcement of existing laws against those who committed the largest crime in history, and reaction to young people across the country getting beaten, bludgeoned, shot with tear gas and pepper sprayed by police, I can’t help but wonder whether there is anyone home. Why are most Americans so passively accepting of these calamitous conditions? How did we become so comfortably numb? I’ve concluded Americans have chosen willful ignorance over thoughtful critical thinking due to their own intellectual laziness and overpowering mind manipulation by the elite through their propaganda emitting media machines. Some people are awaking from their trance, but the vast majority is still slumbering or fuming at erroneous perpetrators.

Both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement are a reflection of the mood change in the country, which is a result of government overreach, political corruption, dysfunctional economic policies, and a financial system designed to enrich the few while defrauding the many. The common theme is anger, frustration and disillusionment with a system so badly broken it appears unfixable through the existing supposedly democratic methods. The system has been captured by an oligarchy of moneyed interests from the financial industry, mega-corporations, and military industrial complex, protected by their captured puppets in Washington DC and sustained by the propaganda peddling corporate media. The differences in political parties are meaningless as they each advocate big government solutions to all social, economic, foreign relations, and monetary issues.

There is confusion and misunderstanding regarding the culprits in this drama. It was plain to me last week when I read about a small group of concerned citizens in the next town over who decided to support the Occupy movement by holding a nightly peaceful march to protest the criminal syndicate that is Wall Street and a political system designed to protect them. My local paper asked for people’s reaction to this Constitutional exercising of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Here is a sampling of the comments:

“What are those Occupy people thinking?! The whole concept is foreign to me. There are always going to be the haves and the have nots. Get over it. Blame yourself for not paying more attention in school or not working hard enough. Just wish people would take responsibility.”

“If they worked half as hard actually working as they do being a pain in everyone else’s ass, they’d be rich! Being born does not guarantee success or wealth. Only hard work does. Maybe we should let them all occupy a jail cell or two.”

“If the goal is to irritate hardworking suburban commuters on their way home, that sounds like the perfect time and location.”

“Let’s hope they don’t pitch tents and trash Lansdale. They need to look for a job, not occupy the streets.”

“I work, and even if I wasn’t working I wouldn’t (march); I would be out looking for a JOB!”

I was dumbfounded at the rage directed towards mostly young people who haven’t even begun their working careers and have played no part in the destruction of our economic system underway for the last 30 years. The people making these statements are middle aged, middle class suburbanites. They seem to be just as livid as the OWS protestors, but their ire is being directed towards the only people who have taken a stand against Wall Street greed and Washington D.C. malfeasance. I’m left scratching my head trying to understand their animosity towards people drawing attention to the enormous debt based ponzi scheme that is our country, versus their silent acquiescence to the transfer of trillions in taxpayer dollars to the criminal bankers that have destroyed the worldwide financial system. I can only come to the conclusion the average American has become so apathetic, willfully ignorant of facts and reality, distracted by the techno-gadgets that run their lives, uninterested in anything beyond next week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars or Jersey Shore, and willing to let the corporate media moguls form their opinions for them through relentless propaganda, the only thing that will get their attention is an absolute collapse of our economic scheme. Uninformed, unconcerned, intellectually vacant Americans will get exactly that in the not too distant future.

Greater Depression Hidden from View

“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.”Aristophanes, Plutus

 

The anger and vitriol directed at OWS protestors by middle class Americans is a misdirected reaction to a quandary they can’t quite comprehend. They know their lives are getting more difficult but aren’t sure why. They are paying more for energy, food, tuition, and real estate taxes, while the price of their houses decline and their wages stagnate. More than a quarter of all homeowners are underwater on their mortgage and many are drowning in credit card and student loan debt. At the same time, government drones tell them the economy is in its second year of recovery and corporate profits are at all-time highs. Government statistics, false storylines, and entitlement programs are designed to confuse the public and obscure the fact we are in the midst of another Depression. Everyone has seen the pictures of the Great Depression breadlines, farmers forced off their land during the dustbowl, and downtrodden Americans in soup kitchens. The economic conditions today are as bad as or worse than the Great Depression. This Depression is hidden from plain view because there are no unemployment lines, bread lines, or soup lines. We are experiencing an electronic Great Depression, as food stamps, unemployment compensation, Social security payments and welfare benefits are electronically delivered to millions of recipients.

There have been over 12 million foreclosure actions since 2007, with millions of Americans losing their homes. Another 16 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages as home prices continue to fall and the economy sinks further by the day. The value of household real estate has fallen from $22.7 trillion in 2006 to $16.2 trillion today, a loss of $6.5 trillion concentrated among the middle class. In contrast, mortgage debt has only decreased by $600 billion mostly due to write-offs by the banks that created fraudulent mortgage products to lure Americans into debt.

The unemployment rate in the United States reached 25% during the Great Depression. The government manipulated fictional unemployment rate reported to the public by drones at the BLS is currently 9.0%. They conveniently ignore the millions of people who have given up looking for work and those who have taken jobs as part-time pickle ploppers at McDonalds, when they previously assembled automobiles at GM. The true number of unemployed/underemployed is 23%.

Since 2007, unemployment has officially gone up by 7 million. In reality, the same percentage of the working age population should be employed today as in 2007 (63%). Since only 58.4% of the working age population is employed today (lowest since 1983), another 4 million needs to be added to the official unemployment tally. The fact is there are 240 million working age Americans and only 140 million are employed. This means there are 100 million working age Americans not working, but our government only classifies 14 million of them as unemployed. There is certainly millions of stay at home moms, students, and legitimately disabled among the 86 million people classified as not in the labor force, but you can’t tell me that another 20 to 30 million of these people couldn’t or wouldn’t work if given the opportunity.

The deception in government reported figures is borne out by the most successful government program of the Obama administration, which has been adding participants at an astounding rate. The Food Stamp program has been a smashing success as we’ve added 13.8 million Americans to this fine program since Obama’s inauguration, a mere 43% increase in less than three years. There are now 45.8 million Americans dependent upon food stamps for survival, 14.7% of the U.S. population. This program began in 1969 and enrollment always surges during recessions and declines during recoveries. But a funny thing happened during our current “recovery”. The government reported our recession over in December 2009. It was certainly over for the Wall Street psychopaths as they rewarded themselves with $43 billion of bonuses in 2009/2010. The number of Americans on food stamps has risen by 6.8 million during this government sponsored “recovery”. You’ll be happy to know that Obama’s good buddy – Jamie Dimon – and his well run machine at JP Morgan earns hundreds of millions administering the SNAP program.

Since 2007, Federal government transfer payments have increased from $1.7 trillion annually to $2.3 trillion, a 35% increase in four years. This is surely a sign of a recovering economy. Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy has stolen $400 billion per year from senior citizens and savers and handed it to the very bankers who caused the pain and suffering of millions. Personal interest income has declined from $1.4 trillion to $1.0 trillion, while Wall Street faux profits have soared. The game plan of the oligarchy has been to transfer hundreds of billions from taxpayers to bankers, report profits through accounting entries reducing loan loss reserves, pump up their stock prices and convince clueless lemming investors to buy newly issued shares at inflated valuations. The plan has failed. The zero interest rate policy’s unintended consequences have caused revolutions throughout the Middle East and massive food inflation across the developing world.

The single biggest reason the middle class feel frustrated, angry and like they are falling behind is due to the Federal Reserve and the relentless never ending inflation they produce in order to support their masters on Wall Street and provide cover for the trillions in debt spending by politicians in Washington DC. It is no surprise that beginning in 1980 when government spending began to accelerate much more rapidly than government revenues, the government decided to “tweak” how it measured inflation. The government reports inflation at 3.5% today. The truth is inflation is running in excess of 10% if measured exactly as it was in 1980. That’s right, we have a recession and we have inflation in double digits. No wonder the masses are restless.

  

The reason middle class Americans are being methodically exterminated and driven into poverty is the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Since 1971, when Nixon extinguished the last vestiges of the gold standard and unleashed politicians to spend borrowed money without immediate consequence, the U.S. dollar has lost 82% of its purchasing power using the government manipulated CPI. In reality, it has lost over 90% of its purchasing power. The average American, after decades of being dumbed down by government sanctioned education, is incapable of understanding the impact of inflation on their lives. As their wages rise 2% to 3% per year and inflation rises 5% to 10% per year, they get poorer day by day. The Wall Street banks, who own the Federal Reserve, step in and convince the average American to substitute debt for real wealth in order to keep living the modern techno-lifestyle sold to them by mainstream corporate media.

The oligarchy of moneyed interests have done a spectacular job convincing the working middle class they should be angry at 20 year old OWS protestors, illegal immigrants and the inner city welfare class, rather than the true culprits – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. This is a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual slothfulness of the average American. U.S. based mega-corporations fired 864,000 higher wage American workers between 2000 and 2010, while hiring almost 3 million workers in low wage foreign countries, using their billions in cash to buy back their own stocks, and paying corporate executives shamefully excessive compensation. The corporate mainstream media treats corporate CEO’s like rock stars as if they deserve to be compensated at a level 243 times the average worker. The S&P 500 consists of the 500 biggest companies in America and while the executives of these companies have reaped millions in compensation, the stock index for these companies is at the exact level it was on July 9, 1998. Over the last thirteen years workers were fired by the thousands, shareholders earned 0% (negative 39% on an inflation adjusted basis), and executives got fabulously rich.

Man made inflation has stealthily devastated millions of lives over the last four decades. When the weekly wages of the average worker are adjusted for inflation, they are making 12% less than they did in 1971. Using a real non-manipulated measure of inflation, the average worker is making 30% less than they did in 1971. Sadly, our math challenged populace only comprehend their wages have doubled in the last forty years, without understanding the true impact of inflation. Thankfully, the Wall Street debt dealers with a helping hand from Madison Avenue propaganda peddlers stepped up to the plate and imprisoned the middle class with the shackles of $2.5 trillion in consumer debt. So, while real wages have fallen 30% since 1971, consumer debt has increased by 1,700%.

 

Americans have been snookered into renouncing their citizenship and converting to being mindless consumers. Citizenship requires a person to be actively engaged in the community with obligations to fellow citizens and future generations. Consumerism requires people to love things, embrace debt, worry about what others have, and become driven by the accumulation of possessions and the appearance of wealth. The disgusting exhibition that Madison Avenue maggots have coined Black Friday is the ultimate display of consumerism. In a nauseating display of senseless spending driven by retail conglomerates, Americans act like Pavlov’s salivating dogs by lining up for hours to stampede over and pepper spray other consumers to get the ultimate deal on that Chinese made toaster oven, Vietnamese made laptop, Korean made HDTV, or Mexican made tortilla maker. They don’t seem to grasp the irony of going deeper into debt buying cheap crap made in foreign countries by the workers who took their jobs. The mainstream media proclaims a hugely successful Black Friday as millions bought crap they didn’t need with money they don’t have, while millions more ate their Thanksgiving meals in food shelters – unreported by the media.This repulsive manifestation of consumerism is applauded and encouraged by our government, as described by George Monbiot:

“Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.”

The masses have been brainwashed by those in power into thinking consumer spending utilizing debt is essential for a strong economy, when the exact opposite is the truth. Saving and investment are the essential ingredients to a strong economy. Debt based spending only benefits bankers, mega-corporations, and politicians.

Mass Manipulation through Propaganda

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928 

Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda to control the masses, would be so proud of his disciples running our country today. He clearly believed only an elite few were intellectually capable of running the show. Essentially, he hit upon the concept of the 1% telling the 99% what they should think and believe over eighty years ago. The mechanisms for controlling the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the population are so much more efficient today. The conditioning begins when we are children, as every child will be bombarded with at least 30,000 hours of propaganda broadcast by media corporations by the time they reach adulthood. Their minds are molded and they are instructed what to believe and what to value. Those in control of society want to keep the masses entertained at an infantile level, with instant gratification and satisfying desires as their only considerations. The elite have achieved their Alpha status through intellectual superiority, control of the money system, and control of the political process. Their power emanates from eliminating choices, while giving the illusion of choice to the masses. People think they are free, when in reality they are slaves to a two party political system, a few Wall Street banks, and whatever our TVs tell us to buy.

Our entire system is designed to control the thoughts and actions of the masses. In many ways it is done subtly, while recently it has become more bold and blatant. It is essential for the ruling elite to keep control of our minds through media messages and the educational system. It is not a surprise that our public education system has methodically deteriorated over the last four decades. The government gained control over education and purposely teaches our children selected historical myths, social engineering gibberish and only the bare essentials of math and science. The government creates the standardized tests and approves the textbooks. We are left with millions of functionally illiterate children that grow into non-critical thinking adults. This is the exact result desired by the 1%. If too many of the 99% were able to ignore the media propaganda and think for themselves, revolution would result. This is why the moneyed interests have circled the wagons, invoked police state thug tactics, and used all the powers of their media machine to squash the OWS movement. It threatens their power and control.

“Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

A highly educated engaged citizenry would be a danger to the existing social order. The 1%, educated at our finest universities, does not want average Americans to obtain a great education for a reasonable price. They want them to get a worthless diploma at an excessively high price tag and become debt slaves to the Wall Street 1%. They want uneducated, indebted consumers, not educated productive citizens. Our republic has been slowly perverted since the time of its inception. The insidious process had been slow and methodical until 1913. The establishment of the Federal Reserve by an elite group of bankers and their politician friends and the establishment of a personal income tax created the conditions that have allowed a small cabal of powerful men to dictate the course of our economic, political, social, and military policies for the last 98 years. Anyone that chooses to open their eyes and awake from the propaganda induced stupor can see the result of allowing a small group of corrupt authoritarian men using their power to pervert our government into tyranny. The majority remains oppressed, buried under trillions of debt, while the shysters reap obscene profits, poison the worldwide economic system, and walk away unscathed in the aftermath of their crimes.

The ruling oligarchy has become so brazen in the last few years that it has attracted the attention of the critical thinking minority. The advent of the internet has allowed these critical thinking few to analyze the un-sanitized facts, discuss the issues, and provide truth amidst a blizzard of lies. The proliferation of truth telling websites (Zero Hedge, Mish, Financial Sense, Naked Capitalism) has allowed truth seekers to bypass the government sanctioned corporate media. The pillaging of society by the politically powerful, corrupt 1% is plain to see in the graphs below.

 

The divergence in household income was not the result of hard work, superior intellectual firepower, or the media touted entrepreneurial spirit of the rich. It was the result of the 1% capturing the economic and political system of the United States and using it to ransack the wealth of the formerly working middle class. The fatal flaw which will ultimately result in a fitting end for the powerful elitists is their egos. They are psychopaths, unable to feel empathy for their fellow man. Enough is never enough. They always want more. Life is a game to them. They truly believe they can pull the right strings and continue to accumulate more riches. But they are wrong. They are blinded by their hubris. There are limits to growth based solely on debt and we’ve reached that limit. The world is crumbling under the weight of crippling debt created by these Wall Street psychopaths, while the corrupted bought off politicians try to shift the losses from the bankers who incurred them to the citizens who have already been fleeced. Nomi Prins captures the essence of our current situation:

“Today, the stock prices of the largest US banks are about as low as they were in the early part of 2009, not because of euro-contagion or Super-committee super-incompetence (a useless distraction anyway) but because of the ongoing transparency void surrounding the biggest banks amidst their central-bank-covered risks, and the political hot potato of how many emergency loans are required to keep them afloat at any given moment.  Because investors don’t know their true exposures, any more than in early 2009. Because US banks catalyzed the global crisis that is currently manifesting itself in Europe. Because there never was a separate US housing crisis and European debt crisis. Instead, there is a worldwide, systemic, unregulated, uncontained, rapacious need for the most powerful banks and financial institutions to leverage whatever could be leveraged in whatever forms it could be leveraged in. So, now we’re just barely in the second quarter of the game of thrones, where the big banks are the kings, the ECB, IMF and the Fed are the money supply, and the populations are the powerless serfs. Yeah, let’s play the ECB inflation game, while the world crumbles.”

Those in power are beginning to lose control. You can sense their desperation. Their propaganda is losing its impact as the pain for millions of Americans has become acute. The outrage and anger flaring across the country on a daily basis, reflected in the OWS movement, is just the beginning of a revolutionary period descending upon this nation. The existing social order will be swept away, but they will not go without a fight. They will use their control of the police, military and media to try and crush the coming rebellion.

 The Dream is Gone

“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” – Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

In addition to controlling the monetary system and brainwashing the inhabitants with relentless propaganda, the ruling class has used their control of the political process to impose thousands of laws, statutes, rules, and regulations upon the citizens. Again, an apathetic, distracted, trusting populace has been easily convinced that more laws will make them safe and secure. They have willingly sacrificed liberty, freedom and self reliance for the façade of safety, security and protection. The overwhelming number of government rules and regulations are designed to control you and insure your compliance and obedience to those in power. In a non-corrupt society inhabited by citizens willing to honor their obligations, government’s function is to insure property rights and defend the country from foreign invaders. Citizens don’t need to be herded like sheep with threats of imprisonment to do what is right. We don’t need 90,000 pages of regulations telling us the difference between right and wrong.

  

There were 400 pages of Federal Tax rules when the 1% personal income tax was implemented in 1913. Did the 18,000% increase in tax rules since 1913 benefit the average American or did they benefit the 1% who hires the lobbyists to write the rules which are passed into law by the politicians who receive their campaign contributions from the 1%? Do you ever wonder why you pay more taxes than a billionaire Wall Street hedge fund manager? Do you think our tax system is designed to benefit billionaires and mega-corporations when corporations with billions of income pay little or no taxes? Complexity and confusion benefits those who can create and take advantage of the complexity and confusion. Corporations and special interests have used their wealth to bribe politicians to design loopholes, credits, and exemptions that benefit their interests. The corruption of the system is terminal.

 

“The mistake you make, don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can’t put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”George Orwell

The American people are paying the price for allowing a few evil men to gain control of our government. The American people cowered in fear as the 342 page Patriot Act was somehow written in a few weeks after 9/11, introduced in Congress on October 23, passed the House on October 24 with no debate, passed the Senate on October 25 with no debate, and signed into law on October 26 by George Bush. A law passed by the ruling elite that stripped Americans of their freedoms and liberties was passed using fear mongering false patriotism propaganda to squelch dissent and the American people had no say in the matter. The government has used fear to keep the American people under control. We now unquestioningly accept being molested in airports. We shrug as our intelligence agencies eavesdrop on our telephone conversations and emails without the need for a court order. It is now taken for granted that we imprison people without charging them with a crime and assassinate suspected terrorists in foreign countries with predator drones. Invading countries and going to war no longer requires a declaration of war by Congress as required by the Constitution. The State grows ever more powerful.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Americans sit idly by, watching their 52 inch HDTVs,  as young people across the country are beaten, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets and tear gas, and scorned and ridiculed by corporate media pundits for exercising their free speech rights to peacefully protest our corrupt system. The American tradition of civil disobedience is considered domestic terrorism by those in authority. Our beloved protectors in the Orwellian named Department of Homeland Security write reports classifying Ron Paul supporters and returning Iraq veterans as potential terrorists. If the powers that be get their way, the internet will be locked down and controlled, as it poses a huge threat to their thought control endeavors. Freedom to think, learn, question and organize resistance is unacceptable in the eyes of the elite. The country has reached a tipping point. Will enough right thinking Americans stand up and fight to bring down this corrupt system, or will we be herded silently to slaughter. The truth is there is something terribly wrong in this country. We are facing a myriad of problems that will require courage and common sense to overcome. We need only look in the mirror to find the guilty party. It is time to stop letting fear dictate our actions. Conflict is coming to this country due to the evil sanctioned by our corrupt leaders and the upright men and women who will bear the burden of destroying that evil.

Our civilization has adopted the worst aspects of the two most famous dystopian novels in history – Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. The question is whether the population of this country is too far gone to recover. The answer to that question will determine whether the country chooses authoritarian dictatorship or a renewal of our founding principles. Aldous Huxley understood the three pillars of Western civilization fifty years ago and that their destruction would result in a collapse of our economic system:

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are over-consuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.”

The three pillars sustaining the American empire edifice of never ending war, ever accumulating debt and excessive consumerism are crumbling. The growing corruption and weight of un-payable debt have weakened the very foundation of our grand experiment. The existing structure will surely collapse. My entire adult life has tracked the decline of the American empire. I had become comfortably numb. I came to my senses and began to question all the Federal government/Wall Street/Corporate Media sponsored truths about eight years ago. Many others have also awoken and begun to challenge the false storylines dictated by those in power.

The young people leading the protests across this land are showing tremendous courage and a tenacity of spirit that has been dormant for decades among the lethargic, distracted, over-medicated public. Despite being subjected to government education conditioning, these young people have zeroed in on the enemy. They may not have all the solutions, but they have correctly identified the corrupt banking system as the central nervous system of this vampire squid sucking the life out of our nation. I will support any effort to shine a light on our crooked system. My three young sons deserve a chance at a better life than they will get under the thumb of this oligarchic criminal enterprise. As a child I caught a fleeting glimpse of the American Dream. I turned to look, but it was gone. I choose not to become comfortably numb. I choose to do whatever it will take to renew the opportunity for my sons to achieve the American Dream.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

E

 

HOME PRICES CONTINUE TO DROP WITH ANOTHER 15%-20% TO GO

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EDITORIAL NOTE: With a few places as an exception, home prices, once predicted as bottoming out LAST YEAR, continue to drop and are expected to take another plunge of 15%-20%. Experts who once predicted the bottom in 2010 are now saying it will be sometime in 2012. Here is what I say: home prices will continue to drop and could even go to near zero because of the rise of title problems caused by exotic Wall Street scenarios in which the title to most properties were affected. As for when they hit “bottom” it will be when the foreclosure nightmare is over. Even the optimistic experts concede that is, on average, another 8 years, with New York topping the list at 57 years.

The reason is simple arithmetic. Start with joblessness, lack of capital for new businesses, and add a healthy amount of fraudulent foreclosures pushing the market downward while the Banks report higher and higher profits through accounting tricks that would baffle the most avid puzzle fanatic. Basic fact pattern: as the prices go lower people “default” on mortgages that have probably long since been paid off. The further prices go down the more people are underwater — either worse than before or for the first time. I spoke with one homeowner who bought his home for $550,000 and only took out a mortgage for $175,000. “Now I see and feel the problem,” he said. “I never thought that I could ever be underwater because the mortgage was so low compared with the purchase price. Yet here I am, the house listed for $175,000, the broker telling me I’ll be lucky to get $140,000 and after all selling expenses I might see $125,000 or less.”

He’ll need to come to the table with money in order to sell and he knows that whoever he pays is probably not entitled to the money. he just wants out of a neighborhood that is a virtual ghost town. What was once a thriving community is  bereft of the family, secure atmosphere on the brochures.

Home Prices Drop in Nearly 3/4 of U.S. Cities

home valuesWASHINGTON — Home prices dropped in nearly three quarters of U.S. cities over the summer, dragged down by a decline in buyer interest and a high number of foreclosures.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that the median price for previously occupied homes fell in the July-September quarter in 111 out of 150 metropolitan areas tracked by the group. Prices are compared with the same quarter from the previous year.

Fourteen cities had double-digit declines. The median price in Mobile, Ala. dropped 17.7 percent, the largest of all declines. Phoenix and Allentown, Pa., Atlanta, Las Vegas and Miami also experienced steep declines.

Eight cities saw double-digit price increases. The largest was in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the median price rose 23.7 percent. South Bend, Ind., Palm Bay, Fla., and Youngstown, Ohio, also saw large price increases.

The national median home price was $169,500 in the third quarter, down 4.7 percent from the same period last year.

Most analysts say that prices will sink further because unemployment remains high and millions of foreclosures are expected to come onto the market over the next few years.

Sales of previously occupied homes dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in the third quarter, slightly ahead of last year’s pace for the same period. Sales were lower than usual for the summer season last year because a federal tax credit inspired more buying in the spring.

This year, sales are on pace to finish behind last year’s total, which was the lowest in 13 years.

Sales are low even though the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgages is hovering near 4 percent.

Regionally, the median home price in the Midwest fell 2.2 percent to $142,300 in the quarter from the year before, even as sales activity jumped 25 percent. In the South, the median price also slid 2.2 percent to $153,200 and home sales increased 15.5 percent.

The Northeast’s median home price dipped 6.5 percent during the period to $236,700, as sales rose from the previous year by 11.6 percent. The median home price in the West dropped by 9 percent to $205,700 in the third quarter from a year ago. Sales there increased 16.7 percent.

Also see:
Where Are the Real Home Bargains? Not Where You Think!
Mortgage Rates Stay Low, But Homebuyers Aren’t Budging

Top 10 Cities For Military Retirement
Gallery: 10 Cheapest Places To Retire

Underwater Homes Officially Reported at 25% of ALL HOMES

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary COMBO TITLE AND SECURITIZATION SEARCH, REPORT, ANALYSIS ON LUMINAQ

EDITOR’S QUESTION: Just what do they expect these people to do? The actual number of underwater homes  is now approaching 20 million or 40% of all homes — again because of the way they measure it, leaving out things that directly affect the actual price paid and the proceeds of sale. If they think that people are going to sign modifications (i.e., new mortgages waiving all defensive rights against the fraud perpetrated upon them) they better think in terms of reality — who would agree to owe $400,000 on property that is worth $150,000?

I don’t care what you do to the interest rate. The principal MUST be corrected to reflect the reality of the transaction when it first occurred — but that would mean acknowledging appraisal fraud, which would allow people to sue for punitive damages, compensatory damages etc. The only alternative is to use present fair market value which is even lower.

In order for the megabanks to prevail they need your house with you out of it.  In order for the economy to recover, you need to stay in your house, recover any home taken from you so far, and recover at least part of the meager wealth you had before this giant fraud began. No modification plan publicly discussed allows for that to happen. They say that is the goal but it isn’t — not without principal correction to true market value when the loan transaction occurred.

Number Of Underwater Mortgages Rises As More Homeowners Fall Behind

DEREK KRAVITZ 03/ 8/11 01:40 PM AP

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WASHINGTON — The number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth rose at the end of last year, preventing many people from selling their homes in an already weak housing market.

About 11.1 million households, or 23.1 percent of all mortgaged homes, were underwater in the October-December quarter, according to report released Tuesday by housing data firm CoreLogic. That’s up from 22.5 percent, or 10.8 million households, in the July-September quarter.

The number of underwater mortgages had fallen in the previous three quarters. But that was mostly because more homes had fallen into foreclosure.

Underwater mortgages typically rise when home prices fall. Home prices in December hit their lowest point since the housing bust in 11 of 20 major U.S. metro areas. In a healthy housing market, about 5 percent of homeowners are underwater.

Roughly two-thirds of homeowners in Nevada with a mortgage had negative home equity, the worst in the country. Arizona, Florida, Michigan and California were next, with up to 50 percent of homeowners with mortgages in those states underwater.

Oklahoma had the smallest percentage of underwater homeowners in the October-December quarter, at 5.8 percent. Only nine states recorded percentages less than 10 percent.

In addition to the more than 11 million households that are underwater, another 2.4 million homeowners are nearing that point.

When a mortgage is underwater, the homeowner often can’t qualify for mortgage refinancing and has little recourse but to continue making payments in hopes the property eventually regains its value.

The slide in home prices began stabilizing last year. But prices are expected to continue falling in many markets due to still-high levels of foreclosure and unemployment.

1 in 10: U.S. Mortgage Delinquencies Reach a Record High — Going UP?

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Editor’s Note: While the media, Wall Street and government sources try to placate us, there are inescapable truths right now and inescapable consequences right around the corner. Other than people who own their home outright or who are relatively close to that point, nearly every homeowner in America has several problems: (1) title is clouded if they refinanced or purchased a home in the last 10 years unless their loan product was local and thus not securitized and (2) they are hopelessly lost in debt that was fabricated by the sellers of Wall Street loan products because whether they know it or not, their home is worth less right now than what they owe, especially after you take into consideration the costs of sale (brokerage commissions etc.) and costs of closing.

The future is even more bleak as prices continue to fall under pressure from an increasing number of homes in inventory. If we stopped building now it would probably take close to 10 years to sell all the houses that are actually in the pipeline. Many of them are not counted right now as “inventory” but they are there nonetheless. Prices will fall under even more pressure as an increasing number of people, their real income decreasing for the last 30 years, simply pick up sticks and leave the keys on the counter. They can rent or even own a home for far less than the payments being demanded on their existing home. In many cases it is a simple calculation of whether to take a “hit” on their FICO score or try to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars they might never recover. As stated, they can’t pay it anyway because median income is dropping. In other words inventory will increase just from voluntary abandonments. Just staying in the house a few months during the process of foreclosure and eviction can put some money back on the table for the homeowner who is already strapped whether payments are being made or not.

Housing prices are tied to median income more than anything else. Unemployment, underemployment, and decreasing wages —actual dollars as well as relative purchasing power is lowering REAL median income every month. Those FOR SALE signs and the prices being asked are not real. Sure some buyers might bite, but most are going to wait until there is some indication that we have hit bottom. So prices will come under increasing pressure from lower median income and an absence of buyers. Using Schiller’s inflation adjusted index, it is obvious when we are still 15%-25% from the bottom using today’s “asking” prices as the baseline.

So that house that the seller thinks is “worth” $300,000 because they bought it for $450,000 is actually only going to fetch perhaps $250,000, less expenses. In all probability the Seller does not have the resources to make up the difference between the actual net selling price or proceeds and the alleged amount due (ignoring the fact that the amount due has probably been paid several times over to the investors who advanced the money that went mostly into the pockets of the Wall Street masters of the universe and partly into the funding of the loan). The only options are short-sale with permission from an entity that does not have any authority to approve it, loan modification with principal reduction with the same authority problem, attack the pretender lenders using the tools provided here, or walk from the house and forget about the whole thing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what many people will elect out of those choices.
November 20, 2009

U.S. Mortgage Delinquencies Reach a Record High

The number of people at least one month behind on their house payments rose to a record in the third quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday.

Nearly 10 in 100 homeowners are delinquent, according to the association’s data, up from about seven out of 100 in the third quarter of 2008.

These numbers do not include those who are actually in foreclosure, a figure that also rose sharply. The combined percentage of those in foreclosure as well as delinquent is 14.41 percent, or about one in seven of mortgage holders.

“Despite the recession ending in mid-summer, the decline in mortgage performance continues. Job losses continue to increase and drive up delinquencies and foreclosures because mortgages are paid with paychecks, not percentage point increases in G.D.P.,” Jay Brinkmann, the association’s chief economist, said in a statement.

The data indicates that borrowers in trouble are no longer just those who took out subprime loans. High-quality prime fixed-rate mortgages now represent the largest share of new foreclosures.

The survey is based on a sample of more than 44 million mortgage loans serviced by mortgage companies, commercial banks, thrifts, credit unions and others. The association’s records date back to 1972.

Mortgage Meltdown: Renting vs Owning

This CNN reporter makes some good points, although contrary to the philosophy expressed in this blog site. 

Our premise has been to stop the clock, freeze foreclosures and evictions and work out a plan that gives the occupant a chance to make payments, maintain the home, and reinstate the defaulted loans so that bank balance sheets and investor balance sheets could be restored. With proper regulation and normal market conditions returning, all the participants would be able to participate and recover in a longer upward cycle that the usual boom, but nonetheless end the day in one piece or nearly so. We are seeking to avoid a flood of another 1.5 million homes driving prices and values down to frightening levels.

The premise of this article is that the stress on homeowners would be reduced if they just went out and rented a house or apartment and this might be correct. Rental values are far below the cost of making a mortgage payment that include principal, interest, insurance and taxes. And as pointed out in a recent post to this blog, “Jingle mail” is another strategy that helps homeowners recover — but it takes nerve to finesse the system and get 6-24 months without payments. Nonetheless, combining the savings from the jingle mail strategy and the notion of getting out of a collapsing market to rent, many people might indeed be far better off than looking for ways to save their house. 

 
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Many problems with mortgage bailouts

There are calls for the government to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. But some experts think a mortgage rescue could cause more problems than it solves.

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Congress appears eager to help more than a million homeowners facing foreclosure, but a proposal aimed at fixing the battered housing market could instead end up as the latest blow to a recovery.

An ambitious plan proposed by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd calls for up to $300 billion in loan guarantees from the Federal Housing Administration to refinance loans that homeowners can’t afford as long as the original lender reduces the principal on the loan to 85% of the home’s current market value.

Backers say borrowers would get out from under unworkable debt and original lenders would get back more than they would foreclosing. It would also prevent 1.5 million foreclosures and halt home-price declines since it would keep more houses from flooding an already battered market.

Critics, including some in Congress, say the rescue plan rewards reckless behavior and transfers risk to homeowners and lenders who were responsible during the housing boom.

But some experts think this is the wrong solution for purely financial reasons.

The plan won’t work

Robert Shiller, a Yale economist who has long argued there was a bubble in home prices, thinks the plan will do little to stop the slide in housing prices.

The runup earlier this decade, fed by low interest rates from the Federal Reserve and lax underwriting standards by lenders, created a bubble that hasn’t yet completely deflated.

Shiller notes that prices shot up 85% when adjusted for inflation from 1997 through mid-2006 and have fallen only about 15% since then.

Shiller adds that when compared to measures such as rents and household income, housing prices are still out of equilibrium

“I’m not sure we can achieve continuing high home prices,” he said.

If he’s right, more borrowers may find themselves owing more than their house is worth, which could add to the number of foreclosures and homes on the market.

In addition, the FHA would be left with a large portfolio of loans backed by houses worth less than the mortgage. In other words, instead of banks facing foreclosure risk, the government (and hence taxpayers) would be on the hook for billions of dollars in bad loans.

And the FHA is already strapped. The agency’s estimated losses are already soaring and the FHA has been warning Congress it might no longer be able to count on premiums paid by borrowers to cover its losses.

Housing prices should be falling

Not everyone agrees with Shiller. Some think the Dodd-Frank plan willat least slow the decline in home prices. Problem is, that could ultimately be bad news for the economy too. That’s because some think that, as painful as it may be, the best way to fix the housing crisis is for the free market to run its course.

After all, lower home prices might actually help stimulate demand again.

“What the market is in the process of doing is bringing home prices back to where they should be by any traditional measure,” said Barry Ritholtz, CEO and director of equity research Fusion IQ. “If home prices don’t go down, it means newlyweds can’t go out and find a home they can afford.”

The Bush administration seemed to be worried about just this kind of impact when the Dodd-Frank bill was first proposed.

“We must work to limit the impact of the housing downturn on the real economy without impeding the completion of the necessary housing correction,” said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in a speech last month.

And Keith Hembre, chief economist of First American Funds, also is concerned that other efforts by the government to respond to problems in housing, including the Federal Reserve’s recent move to accept mortgage-backed securities and collateral from lenders, will create more problems than they solve.

“Fixing the prices of one asset will distort the price of others,” he said, adding that the Fed’s actions could lead to inflation in other parts of the economy, as the Fed’s efforts to inject money into the troubled credit markets could lead to an even weaker dollar and higher commodity prices, which would feed price pressures down the road.

There should be more renters

William Wheaton, a professor with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate, says one quiet shift that occurred during the housing boom was that more homes and apartments went from being rental units to being owner-occupied.

Wheaton argues many of the homeowners now facing foreclosure could be better off renting the same home at current market prices, rather than trying to refinance the mortgage.

He adds that if there isn’t a significant increase in the supply of homes for rent, rents will rise, which will just make things more difficult for those who do lose their homes.

For this reason, he thinks the government would be better off giving tax assistance to companies willing to buy foreclosed properties and then rent them to the current occupants.

“That could be just as good if not better for housing market, because it would also keep the foreclosed homes off the market, and limit the damage to house prices while also preventing rents from soaring,” he said.

But Wheaton admits that such a move probably has little political support in Congress because politicians want to be seen as doing what they can to promote and preserve home ownership, even if people better off paying less in rent for a comparable home than they’re now paying to own a home.

“It’s very popular to say you’re in favor of home ownership, even if it doesn’t make any economic sense,” he said. To top of page

 
 
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