Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Inconsistencies of the Economic 'Recovery'

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

What created the Credit Crisis and the current 20 month recession (the longest since World War II) was the collapse in price of all the worthless real estate paper the was issued during the bubble years. As this blog mentioned yesterday, this problem has recently gotten 'better' because the accounting rules that determine the value this paper were changed. While playing make-believe is appropriate for five year old children, it's not a good idea for running financial system and just leads to bigger disasters later on.

The support for the real estate 'recovery' is thin to say the least. U.S. house prices supposedly went up during the last three months. This occurred even though home loans are hard to get and U.S. wages and salaries were down 4.7% year over year in June. This was the largest drop since records began in 1960. Employment is also down. As was mentioned last Friday, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.1% because a large number of people left the labor force. No matter how you look at it fewer people have a job. So who are these people who are paying higher prices for houses and what banks are lending them the money? All in all is seems highly unlikely that house prices could actually be going up given such conditions. If not, this set of numbers wouldn't be the only ones that have been altered recently to make them look better.

The other inconsistency in the real estate is getting better is that this was a drag on the big banks and brokers earnings in the second quarter. Many of them were increasing loan loss provisions. Fannie Mae, whose business is purely real estate related, illustrates the current state of affairs quite clearly. Fannie Mae lost $14.8 billion in the second quarter. Provisions for credit losses were $18.8 billion. The company stated in its earnings "We are experiencing increases in delinquency and default rates for our entire guaranty book of business, including on loans with fewer risk layers."In other words, all types of loans are going down the tubes including the prime ones. Total non-performing loans increased to $171 billion in the second quarter. They were up from $149.9 billion in the first quarter of this year and that was up from $119.2 billion in the last quarter of 2008. Well, that certainly looks like a recovery pattern, doesn't it?

Fannie Mae has requested an additional $10.7 billion from the U.S. Treasury to keep afloat. That it can get by this quarter with only an additional $10.7 billion cash infusion from the government seems optimistic. The company is essentially a bottomless pit for bailout funds. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's criteria for non-performing loans were changed around the beginning of the Credit Crisis to make it more difficult for a loan to be considered non-performing. Even with this fantasy, things still are getting worse. Somehow reality always seems to always get in the way of the government's best plans.

NEXT: More on the Real Estate 'Recovery'

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

No comments: