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  • Wed, Jul 14 2010
  • 8:09 AM » Do Europeans Support Spending Cuts?
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by The Big Picture
    > In light of our earlier post on , I found this FT article ( ) about European support for across the board spending cuts quite fascinating: “European governments have solid public support, at least for now, for the spending cuts they are making in an effort to boost economic recovery, according to the latest Financial Times/Harris opinion poll. The survey also indicates that a majority of people in the European Union’s five largest countries disagree with the decision of governments to let their budget deficits rise in order to combat the financial crisis that erupted in 2008. The poll’s results point to a fiscal conservatism among the European public that contrasts with the eagerness with which most governments ran up high deficits to protect jobs and living standards as the crisis unfolded. Moreover, the results suggest that the austerity measures now being introduced across Europe need not be politically fatal for governments as long as they give convincing explanations for their actions. However, the full impact of the austerity measures has yet to be felt in most countries.” This not as much about personal austerity as the headline suggests. As the chart above shows, the public strongly favors cutting: 1) Aid to developing countries 2) Military spending. When it comes to cuts that hit closer to home, the public is less sanguine. Specifically, they are less enamored about cutting 3) Healthcare; and 4) Education. In the US and UK, defense spending is #2 on the hit list — but way below Aid to developing countries ; Kind of ironic, when you think about how the military budget totally dwarfs foreign aid . . . > Source : Tony Barber FT (Brussels), July 11 2010 13:30 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8f9e61c0-8ce2-11df-bad7-00144feab49a.html
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 8:09 AM » Trade Data Lead to Cut in Second Quarter GDP Forecasts
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by WSJ
    U.S. trade data for May presented yet more unfortunate news for the U.S. economy, prompting a number of economists to again cut growth estimates for the second quarter.
  • 8:09 AM » Singapore Raises 2010 Growth Forecast Amid Asia-Pacific Rebound
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by NY Times
    Singapore looked set to be among the world's fastest-growing economies this year, highlighting the speed with which many parts of the region are reviving from the downturn of last year.
  • 8:09 AM » New York and Unions Press Banks on Foreclosures
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by NY Times
    The city’s comptroller, John Liu, and several unions hope to get help for people at risk of losing their homes.
  • 8:09 AM » White House Says Stimulus Saved 3 Million US Jobs
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by CNBC
    White House Says Stimulus Saved 3 Million US Jobs
  • 8:09 AM » Top States For Business 2010—And the Winner Is ...
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by CNBC
    Top States For Business 2010—And the Winner Is ...
  • 8:09 AM » Congress to Extend Middle-Class Tax Cuts: Democrats
    Published Wed, Jul 14 2010 8:09 AM by CNBC
    Congress to Extend Middle-Class Tax Cuts: Democrats
  • Tue, Jul 13 2010
  • 4:59 PM » Consummate D.C. insider firm sued for $1 billion over mortgage meltdown
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 4:59 PM by news.yahoo.com
    The Carlyle Group, the world's second-largest private-equity firm, assiduous cultivator of political influence, and favorite bête noire of left-wing conspiracy theorists, is being sued for "spectacularly" losing more than $1 billion in the collapse of the mortgage market, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: news.yahoo.com
  • 4:19 PM » Farms Get Smaller, Less Government Support
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 4:19 PM by WSJ
    More -- but smaller -- farms across the country generated greater national net income in times of drastically less government support.
  • 4:19 PM » State tax revenues rise -- finally!
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 4:19 PM by CNN
    After nearly two years of seeing their tax revenues plummet, states are finally getting a little good news.
  • 4:19 PM » Raise your credit score
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 4:19 PM by CNN
    The credit scores of millions more Americans are sinking to new lows.
  • 2:30 PM » CoreLogic: House Prices increase 0.9% in May
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 2:30 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From CoreLogic (formerly First American LoanPerformance): National home prices in the U.S. increased in May, the fourth-consecutive month showing a year-over-year increase. According to the CoreLogic HPI, national home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 2.9 percent in May 2010 compared to May 2009 and increased by 3.5 percent in April 2010 compared to April 2009. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices only increased by 0.9 percent in May, and April’s non-distressed HPI increased by 0.4 percent. On a month-over-month basis, May’s HPI was 0.9 percent higher than the April 2010 HPI, but the rate of increase was lower than the 1.3 percent gain from March 2010 to April 2010. ... “Home price appreciation stabilized as homebuyer tax credit driven sales peaked in late spring,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “But given that the labor market and income growth remain tepid we expect prices to moderate and possibly decline the rest of the year .” Click on graph for larger image in new window. This graph shows the national LoanPerformance data since 1976. January 2000 = 100. The index is up 2.9% over the last year, and off 28.5% from the peak. CoreLogic expects prices to "moderate and possibly decline". I expect that we will see lower prices on this index later this year. The second graph is an update on the price-to-rent ratio similar to the approach used by Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei in 2004: . Kainer and Wei presented a price-to-rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the Owners' Equivalent Rent (OER) from the BLS. This graph shows the price to rent ratio using the CoreLogic data (January 2000 = 1.0). This suggests that house prices are much closer to the bottom than the top, but that prices still have a ways to fall on a national basis. I think this index will show a further price increase in June, as tax credit related existing home sales close. But I expect the index will show declines...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 1:12 PM » Survey: Few Homeowners Have Buyer’s Remorse
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 1:12 PM by Google News
    Hey homeowners, do you regret buying your house?
  • 12:56 PM » Boston Fed’s Rosengren: Growth Slowing, Deflation Is Emerging Risk
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 12:56 PM by WSJ
    The outlook for U.S. economic growth has dimmed a bit and deflation is emerging as a risk that the Federal Reserve must stand guard against, Boston Fed President Rosengren said in an interview.
  • 12:25 PM » BLS: Low Labor Turnover in May
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 12:25 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From the BLS: There were 3.2 million job openings on the last business day of May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The job openings rate was little changed over the month at 2.4 percent. The hires rate (3.4 percent) was little changed and the separations rate (3.1 percent) was unchanged. ... [T]he number of job openings has risen by 868,000 (37 percent) since the most recent trough of 2.3 million in July 2009 . Even with the gains since July 2009, the number of job openings in May 2010 remained below those in place at the start of the recession in every industry except government , and in each region except the Northeast. Note: The difference between JOLTS hires and separations is similar to the CES (payroll survey) net jobs headline numbers. The CES (Current Employment Statistics, payroll survey) is for positions, the CPS (Current Population Survey, commonly called the household survey) is for people. The following graph shows job openings (purple), hires (blue), Total separations (include layoffs, discharges and quits) (red) and Layoff, Discharges and other (yellow) from the JOLTS. Unfortunately this is a new series and only started in December 2000. Click on graph for larger image in new window. Notice that hires (blue) and separations (red) are pretty close each month. In May, about 4.1 million people lost (or left) their jobs, and 4.5 million were hired (this is the labor turnover in the economy). When the hires (blue line) is above total separations (as in May), the economy is adding net jobs, when the blue line is below total separations, the economy is losing net jobs. The hires in May included the 411 thousand temporary Census 2010 hires. Without those hires, the JOLTS report shows only 8 thousand hires in May. Layoffs and discharges have declined sharply since early 2009 - and are near a series low - and that is a good sign. And the number of job openings has moved up recently (although down slightly in May). But the overall turnover...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 12:25 PM » Real Estate News: Homeowners vs. Home-Loan Buyers
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 12:25 PM by Google News
    Here is a look at real-estate news in today's WSJ:
  • 10:04 AM » So How Are Sales and Manufacturing?
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 10:04 AM by NY Times
    The main cause of our slowdown was my own fatigue.
  • 9:49 AM » Are we "Trending Towards Deflation" or in It?
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:49 AM by Google News
    Paul Krugman is worried we are . Inflation has been falling, but how close are we to deflation? I found myself wondering that after observing John Makin’s combusting coiffure, his prediction that we might see deflation this year. Here’s the thing: the usual way inflation is measured is by looking at the change from a year earlier. But if inflation is trending lower, that’s a lagging indicator — if prices have been falling for the past few months, but were rising before that, inflation over the past year will still be positive. On the other hand, monthly data are noisy. So what to do? Well, a crude approach would be simply to fit a trend line through those noisy monthly numbers. Here’s what happens when you do this for the Cleveland Fed’s median consumer price inflation number. On the vertical axis is the monthly inflation at an annual rate, on the horizontal axis months with Jan. 2008=0: ... What I take from this is that deflation isn’t some distant possibility — it’s already here by some measures, not far off by others. And of course there isn’t some magic boundary effect when you cross zero; falling inflation is raising real interest rates and making debt problems worse as we speak. There is a second chart and further discussion in Krugman's article. The Rising Threat of Deflation The article Krugman referred to is . Here are a few snips highlighting Makin's and Krugman's concern over prices. U.S. year-over-year core inflation has dropped to 0.9 percent—its lowest level in forty-four years. The six-month annualized core consumer price index inflation level has dropped even closer to zero, at 0.4 percent. Europe’s year-over-year core inflation rate has fallen to 0.8 percent—the lowest level ever reported in the series that began in 1991. Heavily indebted Spain’s year-over-year core inflation rate is down to 0.1 percent. Ireland’s deflation rate is 2.7 percent. As commodity prices slip, inflation will become deflation globally in short order. Meanwhile in...
  • 9:05 AM » If you’re worried about a microfinance bubble: Part 1, ominous signs
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:05 AM by affordablehousinginstitute.org
    By: Is microfinance a bubble about to pop? Investment bubbles tend to arise in new asset classes, where nobody quite knows what the long-term equilibrium price may be. From an up to an upper up? “ is a composite index of growth of microfinance institutions in India and uses information on numbers of borrowers and size of loan portfolio at 14 MFIs.” So we have the dot-com bubble, , , a , and now – the microfinance bubble? Borne on the wind? That’s the premise behind an intriguing article, Threat of Microfinance Defaults Rise in India as SKS Plans IPO , which looks at the bubble worries arising contemporaneously with numerous initial public offerings (IPOs) in the works for major microfinance institutions (MFIs). Savita Ramesh Rathore stood at the door to her dimly lit workshop in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum, filled floor-to-ceiling with bundles of old clothes, and tallied up the cost of her son’s wedding last year. Savita Ramesh Rathore poses for a photograph in the slum of . For thirty-plus years microfinance has been a rising star, its visibility and credibility capped by the . Three months ago, she got a 10,000 rupee [$200 – Ed.] loan from urban lender . to repay some of that debt. Award-winning lender Although its efficacy has been by some , most people believe it’s an essential tool in the box of global anti-poverty strategies. A global trend: Certainly the people who borrow from MFIs value the capital, or they wouldn’t borrow the money: “Jewels, clothes, food, the town hall,” said Rathore, 50, who makes towels from discarded clothes. She borrowed 30,000 rupees ($645) from moneylenders charging 60% interest and took additional loans from friends to pay for the wedding. “Women who are part of microfinance initiatives have found that it has empowered them …” Readers encountering moneylending and microfinance for the first time instinctively recoil from the interest rates – and far be it from me to defend loan sharks – but you have to recalibrate your brain around the tiny...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: affordablehousinginstitute.org
  • 9:04 AM » Money supply chart of the day
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:04 AM by Reuters
    If can wonk out with meditations on the velocity of money, then I can wonk out with a chart: The red line, here, is the total US money supply, and as you can see it’s started leveling off recently. (Source data .) In fact, in many months it has actually declined — a rare occurrence, historically speaking. The blue bars are the month-on-month change in M2; it declined as much as 0.65% in January 2010, and in the first five months of this year — all that we have data for so far — it has fallen in three and risen in only two. The money supply in April 2010, at $8.5 trillion, was lower than it was in November 2009: it’s almost unheard-of for the money supply to shrink over so many months. More generally, I’d take issue with Matt’s assertion that the Fed’s response to the crisis has “involved a sharp increase in the M2 money supply”. Yes, M2 rose in the wake of the crisis. But the sharp rise in M2 dates back much further than that — in fact, you can trace it all the way back to the mid-1990s. The red line doesn’t start rising more sharply when the crisis hits, nor do the blue lines get noticeably larger. There’s one big jump in M2 between August 2008 and January 2009, right at the height of the Lehman collapse, during which it rises from $7.79 trillion to $8.32 trillion, a rise of just under 7%. But we’ve seen that kind of thing before: between November 2000 and May 2001, M2 grew by more than 5%, and then between May 2001 and October 2001, it went on to grow another 4% on top of that. But I do agree with Matt that we should start publishing M3 data again. If America’s economic statistics are “arguably the most robust in the world”, as says, then we should be able to know what’s happening to broad money, without using narrower money as a proxy. These things are very wonky, and only one part of a much bigger puzzle. But they’re still important.
  • 9:03 AM » America's Best Places to Live
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:03 AM by CNN
    These terrific small cities -- even now -- boast plenty of jobs, great schools, safe streets, low crime, lots to do, and more. See Money's top 100 -- including detailed city profiles, homes for sale, and job openings.
  • 9:02 AM » Tight Credit Standards Halt Some Buyers
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:02 AM by Google News
    If a borrower, even one with good credit, doesn't meet all the tightened lender requirements, they might find their mortgage application rejected.
  • 9:02 AM » The Big View of Michael Lewis's "The Big Short"
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:02 AM by Google News
    Author's note: This is the first of two posts on The Big Short. This one addresses the overall theme of the book. The next will focus on the book's details—in particular, the question of whether issuers obfuscated or even deliberately misled investors about subprime mortgage securities. In The Big Short...
  • 9:01 AM » Explaining local supply elasticities: Quantifying the importance of space limitations in housing prices
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 9:01 AM by Google News
    It's an old joke among real estate professionals: the price of a house depends on three factors—location, location, and location. A half-million dollars will buy a sprawling estate in Wichita but only a modest apartment in New York. Economists have long suspected that geographic space limitations have a lot to...
  • 8:49 AM » Small Businesses Get More Pessimistic
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 8:49 AM by WSJ
    Small businesses continue to feel highly pessimistic about the U.S. economic outlook, according to a NFIB report that showed a monthly indicator of sentiment turning weaker in June.
  • 8:48 AM » Confidence in Obama reaches new low, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 8:48 AM by Washington Post
    Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the countr... - - - -
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 8:47 AM » Is Chapter 13 Reducing the Foreclosure Rate?
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 8:47 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code is known as section. It is available to those with regular income who find themselves with a debt service burden that "busts their cash flow budget". Its official name is "Individual Debt Adjustment". Chapter 13 for individuals has some parallels to Chapter 11 reorganization for corporations and partnerships. Catherine Curran in The New York Post that underwater homeowners with second mortgages who are facing financial distress are increasingly seeking protection under Chapter 13. In order for the filing to work to the homeowner's advantage, the market value of the home must be less than the first mortgage outstanding principal.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:46 AM » America's Credit Scores Stink
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 8:46 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: Recent from FICO Inc. shows that the average American’s balance sheet is continuing to deteriorate. As the debt binge of the last decade has imploded the average credit score has plummeted: Figures provided by FICO Inc. show that 25.5 percent of consumers — nearly 43.4 million people — now have a credit score of 599 or below, marking them as poor risks for lenders. It’s unlikely they will be able to get credit cards, auto loans or mortgages under the tighter lending standards banks now use.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:46 AM » Will Accounting Magic Rescue Banks Again?
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 8:46 AM by Seeking Alpha
    Back in 08/09 I tried to make fun of a piece of accounting magic called FASB-159. It works like this: sell as much debt as you can during good times and, when things go bad and your debt's value plunges, the decrease in your debt's market value becomes an increase in your earnings, effectively. As you can imagine, this was a huge help to banks' earnings reports back then -- the worse off your are in your credit outlook, the better off you are in earnings. FASB rules are so screwed up it's easy to make fun of them. But I suspect it's hard to beat FASB-159. It's wrong on so many levels, I'm not sure where to start -- let's just call it stupid simply because the end result is non-sensical, shall we? It's amazing that FASB has managed to stay under the radar of public outrage. It is without a doubt one of the top criminal institutions directly responsible for the over-growth of the financial sector, the off-balance-sheet scam, and increasing opacity of corporate earnings over the past two decades.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:46 AM » Fannie, Freddie 'Black Holes' of Reform: Strategist
    Published Tue, Jul 13 2010 8:46 AM by CNBC
    Fannie, Freddie 'Black Holes' of Reform: Strategist
  • Mon, Jul 12 2010
  • 3:19 PM » Does the Government Have Authority in Private Label Mortgage Securities?
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 3:19 PM by CNBC
    Today the FHFA, overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, made an unprecedented move, issuing 64 subpoenas to "various entities," seeking information on private-label mortgage-backed securities in which the two invested, specifically "the contents of loan files, which include documents used in the underwriting process, such as loan applications and property appraisals."
  • 3:19 PM » Elegant Home, Price Slashed…Tainted Chinese Drywall Included
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 3:19 PM by Google News
    Realtors in Williamsburg, Va. are taking caveat emptor to a whole new level.
  • 2:16 PM » Bankruptcy and 2nd Liens
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 2:16 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Catherine Curan writing at the NY Post: Underwater homeowners are jumping onto an unexpected financial life raft that lets them escape crippling second mortgage debts and keep their homes -- Chapter 13 bankruptcy. ... How it works is this: If the home is appraised at less than the value of the first mortgage, the owner can apply for permission in bankruptcy court to reclassify the second mortgage debt. That changes it from a secured debt, which must be repaid, into an unsecured debt, which does not have to be paid in full. The homeowner can then focus on paying off the first mortgage. "This is the only time where you see such a huge percentage of houses worth less than the first loan, allowing us to basically get rid of the second loan," says [New York City bankruptcy attorney David Shaev of Shaev & Fleischman], who estimates that 20 percent of his Chapter 13 clients who own homes qualify for this type of workout. "We're at a unique place in history." For many borrowers, this makes a Chapter 13 bankruptcy a better choice than a foreclosure. With a foreclosure, the borrower loses the house - and the 2nd lien holder might still pursue the borrower (unless they release the lien for some compensation, like under ). With a bankruptcy - under certain circumstances - the borrower keeps the house, and the 2nd lien is converted to unsecured debt and does not have to be paid in full. This is probably part of the reason for sharp increase in .
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 12:28 PM » Bernanke Urges Small-Business Lending
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 12:28 PM by WSJ
    Bernanke urged banks and regulators to seek out ways to ensure that small businesses get the credit they need to create jobs.
  • 12:28 PM » Banks worldwide need to repay or roll over trillions in loans
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 12:28 PM by www.smartbrief.com
    The International Monetary Fund, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank warned that financial institutions worldwi --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.smartbrief.com
  • 8:49 AM » Deflation and the Fed
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 8:49 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Paul Krugman: Inflation has been falling, but how close are we to deflation? I found myself wondering that after observing John Makin’s combusting coiffure, his prediction that we might see deflation this year. ... What I take from this is that deflation isn’t some distant possibility — it’s already here by some measures, not far off by others. And of course there isn’t some magic boundary effect when you cross zero; falling inflation is raising real interest rates and making debt problems worse as we speak. And in the NY Times: Back in 2002, a professor turned Federal Reserve official by the name of Ben Bernanke gave a widely quoted speech titled “.” Like other economists, myself included, Mr. Bernanke was deeply disturbed by Japan’s stubborn, seemingly incurable deflation, which in turn was “associated with years of painfully slow growth, rising joblessness, and apparently intractable financial problems.” This sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to an advanced nation with sophisticated policy makers. Could something similar happen to the United States? And an interesting point from Mike Bryan, vice president and senior economist at the Atlanta Fed: CPI will be released on Friday, and expectations are for another slight decline in the headline number. Persistent deflation (like in Japan) would be a serious problem. Perhaps if rents are increasing slightly, as suggests, the U.S. might avoid deflation without further Fed action (I'm not confident that rents have bottomed given the high vacancy and unemployment rate - especially if I'm correct about growth slowing in the 2nd half of 2010). Note: Last week I asked "" and I excerpted from Bernanke's 2002 speech. If the trend towards deflation continues, I think the FOMC - based on Bernanke's speech - might set "explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt".
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 8:49 AM » WSJ: "$1.65 trillion Euro zone bank debt coming due in 2010 and 2011"
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 8:49 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Mark Whitehouse at the WSJ Real Time Economics: (ht jb) $1.65 trillion: Euro zone bank debt coming due in 2010 and 2011. ... As investors fret about European banks’ exposures to Greece and other financially troubled countries, those banks’ borrowing costs are rising sharply. ... This year and next, some $1.7 trillion in euro-area bank debt will come due, far more than among banks in the U.S., the U.K. or elsewhere. The results of the stress tests will be on July 23rd.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 8:49 AM » Number of the Week: Euro Zone Debt Is Coming Due
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 8:49 AM by WSJ
    Many European banks have sought to sweep their problems under the carpet in the hopes that they could solve them in a more profitable future. Now, though, they’re running out of time with $1.65 trillion of euro zone bank debt coming due in 2010 and 2011.
  • 8:17 AM » More Americans' Credit Scores Sink to New Lows
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 8:17 AM by CNBC
    More Americans' Credit Scores Sink to New Lows
  • 7:46 AM » No margin for error in Wall St bill's final test
    Published Mon, Jul 12 2010 7:46 AM by Reuters
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats will have little margin for error this week as they push for final congressional approval of the most comprehensive rewrite of financial rules since the Great Depression.
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