Summary: Without an economic incentive to foreclose, it would not be in the bank shareholders best interests to pursue foreclosure even though borrowers clearly defaulted & owe money to the lender. The economics of distressed assets in mortgage and commercial banking are quickly changing. I am quite open to discussing this in the mainstream media if any are interested in hearing the "Truth go Viral!" I want all to keep this in mind when pondering the release of reserves by the banks. My JPM quarterly review is still on its way, and I will share a substantial amount with the public.

About a week or so ago, I posed a controversial question, Is the US Government About to Forgive Mortgage Debt? Let’s Crowdsource Our Way Through a Scenario or Two! In that missive I warned that the recovery rate on many of the repossessed properties was not only at a historic low, but actually approaching zero, save a few blips from .gov bubble blowing and shenanigans by banks in the form of kicking cans down the road. I also said that the time may very well come when there may be no economic incentive for banks to foreclose on certain properties, and that pool of properties may grow larger than many could imagine. I know it is difficult for many to come to grips with this, but the math really ain't that hard.

Even Tyler Durden, whose controversial ZeroHedge site I read and contribute to with a passion, is being too optimistic. Yeah, that's right! You know things are bad when ZeroHedge is too optimistic! In his post "Quantifying The Full Impact Of Foreclosure Gate: Hundreds Of Billions To Start", he assumes there WILL be something to foreclose upon. I assert that in increasingly more common instances, there will be no economic interest to foreclose upon. It is starting at the fringes and the margin, but it is moving closer to the center faster than many think. And the longer, and deeper "Fraudclosure" investigations continue, the closer and faster to the center it will get. This is, of course, not even considering the fact that all of this investigating and shining the light in dark corners will reveal the true elephant in the room (and it is not hastily signed affidavits that can be quickly fixed) which is that many, if not most, high LTV mortgage originations were fraudulent to begin with. That means that not only would it not be cost effective to foreclose, but everybody and their momma will be scrambling to put the fraudulent loans back to the originating banks - see The Robo-Signing Mess Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Mortgage Putbacks Will Be the Harbinger of the Collapse of Big Banks that Will Dwarf 2008! for my realistic take on the situation and the expenses that it entails. Yes, the elusive recovery rate is going to be pushed that much lower. Long story short, bank expenses will skyrocket, along with efficiency ratios, which were already increasing to begin with at the same time housing sales economic activity and prices will drop and credit losses will spike. Oh, what fun we have in store.

Here is and excerpt from Is the US Government About to Forgive Mortgage Debt? Let’s Crowdsource Our Way Through a Scenario or Two to refresh your collective memories and then I will run through an example that clearly shows a high LTV property in Nevada that the lender literally has no economic incentive to foreclose upon if there is litigation to be had.

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As those that follow me know, I have been bearish on US banks since 2007. That bearish outlook resulted in massive returns ensuing years, just to have nearly half of it returned due to rampant shenanigans and outright fraud. Needless to say, it pissed me off - but it did much more than that. It created a re-bubble before the bubble that was bursting had a chance to fully deflate. As a result, what we have now is one big mess that is getting messier by the minute.

On Friday, July 16th, 2010 I posted "After a Careful Review of JP Morgan’s Earnings Release, I Must Ask – “What the Hell Are Those Boys Over at JP Morgan Thinking????”. The impetus of such was that this bank that all seem to be in awe of was taking a big risk in order to pad accounting earnings for a quarter or two. Below is an excerpt of my thoughts:

Trust me, the collateral behind many more mortgages will continue to depreciate materially as government giveaways and bubble blowing for housing fade!

The delinquency and NPA levels drifted down a bit, but they are still at very high levels. Charge-offs came down but the reduction in provisions has been quite disproportionate bringing down the allowance for loan losses. In 2Q10, the gross charge- offs declined 26.6% (q-o-q) to $6.2 billion (annualized charge off rate – 3.55%) from $8.4 billion in 1Q10 (annualized charge off rate – 4.74%). But the provisions for loan losses were slashed down 51.7% (q-o-q) to $3.4 billion (annualized rate – 1.9%) against $7.0 billion (annualized rate – 3.9%) in 1Q10. Consequently, the allowance for loan losses declined 6.2% (q-o-q) from $35.8 billion from $38.2 billion in 1Q10. Non performing loans and NPAs declined 5.1% (q-o-q) and 4.5% (q-o-q) respectively. Thus, the NPLs and NPAs as % of allowance for loan losses expanded to 45.1% and 50.7%, respectively from 44.6% and 49.8% in 1Q10. Delinquency rates, although moderated a bit, are still at high levels. Credit card – 30+ day delinquency rate was 4.96% and the real estate – 30+ day delinquency rate was 6.88%. The 30+ days delinquency rate for WaMu’s credit impaired portfolio was 27.91%.

While the lower provisioning was able to beef up the bottom line in this quarter, the same is not sustainable in the future as JPM cannot afford to reduce its allowance for loan losses substantially. This is a one shot, blow your wad and go to sleep deal!  There is no margin for error in the future, and one can only assume that the reason this was done was to pad accounting earnings and to take advantage of the extremely short term, and obviously naïve, memory of the financial media and retail/institutional investor. Given the high charge-off rates and delinquency levels, the provisioning will probably need to be bolstered again in the not too distant future.

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Now that the Robo-Signing scandals have achieved full notoriety through the media, it is time to address the real issues facing investors in bank stocks. We also believe that the media is staring at the wrong target. Each major media outlet is copying what is popular or what the next outlet broke as a story versus where the true economic risks actually lie - which is essentially the real story and where the meat actually is. This is what is truly at stake - the United States is now at risk of losing its hegemony of the financial capital of the world! Why? Because when we had the chance to put the injured banks to sleep and redirect resources to into new productivity, we instead allowed politics to shovel tax payer capital into zombie institutions as they turned around and paid it right back out as bonuses. As a result, significant capital has been destroyed, the original problem has metastized, and the banks are still in zombie status, but with share prices that are multiples of the actual values of the entities that they allegedly represent - a perfect storm for a market crash that will make 2008 look like a bull rally! For those who feel I am being sensationalist, I refer you to my track record in making such claims.

The Japanese tried to hide massive NPAs in its banking system after a credit fueled bubble burst by sweeping them under a rug for political reasons. Here's a newsflash - it didn't work, it hasn't worked for 20 years, and despite that Japan is embarking on QE v3.3 because it simply doesn't believe that it is not working. Here are the steps the US is consciously taking it its bid to enter a 20 year deflationary spiral like Japan, and may I add that these steps were clearly delineated on BoomBustBlog ONE YEAR ago (Bad CRE, Rotten Home Loans, and the End of US Banking Prominence? Thursday, November 12th, 2009), so no one can say this is a surprise.

Step one: Hide the Truth!

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Is it possible for the US Government to choose to forgive mortgage debt? Sounds outrageous? Read on for the legal theory behind this claim and let me know what you think? I thought it was little esoteric as well, but as I looked deeper... Well, I'll let you be the judge.

A lot of attention accrued to Representative Grayson's calling out of foreclosure fraud, and for good reason. The story is absolutely amazing, and kudos to a member of congress that defends his constituency.

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It's not as if other entities have failed to take notice. ZeroHedge has its usual witty commentary regarding the possibility of foreclosure transactions potentially being unwound due to fraudulent foreclosure activity. The NYT ran an article stating that Fitch will look into lowering the credit rating of companies that participated in the submission of inappropriate foreclosure paperwork, which apparently seems to include an awful lot of companies. It goes on to state (as excerpted by Zerohedge):

Fitch Ratings said that Wednesday it was asking mortgage companies about their internal processes for executing foreclosure affidavits. If it finds the processes lacking, Fitch will consider downgrading the company’s rating.

The agency also said if the issue is widespread, the resulting delays and extra costs to foreclose could increase losses related to residential mortgage-backed securities.

Here's the twist. A lawyer who happens to have followed my writings over the years has suggested that most are missing the big picture in focusing on fraudulent foreclosure documents. He contends (and I'm paraphrasing here, these are not my words, per se) "that since the U.S. has ownership interest in many (if not most) delinquent and distressed mortgages, this fact will be counted as policy in litigation. As a consequence it matters A LOT if you can say that your client has a Fifth Amendment Due Process right (or third party beneficiary Federal common law right) to a HAMP modification which is in FACT a minimization of the risk of default (not that flaky 31% number) BECAUSE, among other things, the U.S. has no economic incentive to foreclose". Now, I am no lawyer and thus the legal issues are beyond my domain, but I must admit I found the theory interesting. So, I've decided to crowdsource this one in anticipation that some of the more astute legal minds can shed some light on the validity of the theory. I'll supply the financial stuff in this post, and I'll rely on the legal eagles to peer review the theory.

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FHFA authorizes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to raise LTV limits to 125%: HUD Press Release

  • Deteriorating consumer finance conditions have made many homeowners fall short of previous HUD stimulus plans

    [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="407" caption="How Big A Bubble Can We Blow with Taxpayer Monies???"][/caption]

  • Homeowners can only qualify if they are current on their mortgage payments, severely effecting the “effectiveness” of the program
  • The FHA continues to swallow up the mortgage origination market, which is no surprise considering the wild, bubblicious loan terms that they are offering

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This is part one of my update on residential real estate mortgages, whose credit conditions have seen a marked improvement over the past year. Of course (yes, you know  there is always a but), I believe the improvement is the result of the rampant government intervention in the mortgage markets. As we shall see in part two for this update, even with rampant intervention some of the major mortgage institutions are so sick as to appear to be beyond mere assistance. Brace yourself for Financial Meltdown 2.0, open source edition.

Is it really a Housing Double Dip if Conditions Never Stopped Getting Worse?

Many analysts have speculated housing would reenter a “double dip” courtesy of falling home prices, decreasing home sales, increasing housing inventory, and other issues that have not been resolved since the collapse of the housing market began nearly three years ago.  Inevitably, housing policy at the federal level has completely failed to support any regeneration of demand.

Mortgage Rates Can’t Find Rock Bottom: WSJ

  • The Freddie Mac survey of 30 year mortgage rates has shown new record lows in rates for 11 straight weeks
  • 15, 10, and 5 year rates have also continued their free fall as employment data fails to ease fear in the housing market
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Last week, I made clear to my readers and subscribers that the bank malaise is not over, despite what may appear to be encouraging moves by the executive staff. Housing prices are still on their way down, save temporary blips from government bubble blowing and the outright concealment of non-performing assets by banks, see Anecdotal Evidence That Banks Are Hiding Depressed High End Real Estate. Now, many may see this as consipiracty theory, which is why I always included hard analysis behind my posts. After a Careful Review of JP Morgan’s Earnings Release, I Must Ask – “What the Hell Are Those Boys Over at JP Morgan Thinking????”

The boys over there at the "Morgan' appear to be partying like it was 1999, releasing all types of reserves and provisions (which coincidentally padded a very weak earnings quarter) as if I didn't make it "Very Clear In March, US Housing Has a Way to Fall":

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Who says only Americans are trying to delever?

Even with exposure to foreign events and insolvent counterparties at the top of every financial institution’s worry list for the rest of 2010, the microeconomic picture for debtors in the UK remains mediocre.  Americans were not the only ransacked with debt during the past decade, as Brits watched their securitized debt levels rise to incredible rates.  The Bank of England makes a point to state that without record low interest rates, defaults would be another issue for banks to look out for (interpreted: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will win the World Cup before the central bankers at the BoE even consider raising interest rates).  Soon after, they state that it would be easier to raise rates in times of robust growth than the uncertainty of current conditions, which is absolutely novel.

Domestic Credit:

  • A majority of UK households have a large amount of equity in their home value
  • Unsecured mortgages made up 2/3 of write offs since 2007, and even as they have stagnated, credit card write offs have increased to record highs
  • The beginnings of a potential CRE resurgence in the UK have been limited to prime properties, with higher yield projects being shunned
  • Even as prices are rising, they are still a third below 2007 peaks (and still probably overpriced if it is anything like the US CRE market)
  • If tighter credit conditions prevent voluntary restructuring, CRE prices will fall further on corporate liquidations and forced foreclosures
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From Bloomberg, early in the morning you get the usual, inaccurate analyst chatter: Sales of Existing Homes in U.S. Probably Climbed on Tax Credit

Sales of U.S. previously owned homes rose in May to the highest level in six months as buyers rushed to beat a June tax-credit deadline, economists said before a report today.

Purchases of existing houses, which are tabulated when a contract closes, increased 6 percent to a 6.12 million annual rate, according to the median of 73 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. To receive a government incentive worth as much as $8,000, buyers must have signed contracts by the end of April and need to complete deals by the end of this month.

Credit-induced gyrations will make the underlying health of the market difficult to determine over the next couple of months. A slump in builder shares since early May signals investors are concerned the damage caused by the end of government stimulus, mounting foreclosures and unemployment will exceed the benefits of lower mortgage rates.

Then the actual report comes out: Existing Home Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell to 5.66 Million Rate in May

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Sales of U.S. previously owned homes unexpectedly fell in May, a sign demand was probably pulled into prior months before a June tax-credit deadline.

Purchases of existing houses, which are tabulated when a contract closes, decreased 2.2 percent to a 5.66 million annual rate, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. To receive a government incentive worth as much as $8,000, buyers must have signed contracts by the end of April and need to complete deals by the end of this month.

The decline raises the risk the retrenchment following the expiration of the tax credit will be deeper than anticipated. A slump in builder shares since late April has exceeded the retreat in the broader market on concern the damage from the end of government stimulus, mounting foreclosures and unemployment may cause renewed weakness.

Now, this is the BoomBustBlog version from March of this year where I made it crystal clear that housing will fall further and significantly. The governmetn incentives are just market interference and pricing distortions, prolonging the pain: It’s Official: The US Housing Downturn Has Resumed in Earnest

Let’s take a look at some charts sourced from the upcoming BoomBustBlog subscriber “A Fundamental Investor’s Peek into the Alt-A and Subprime Market”should be released withing 24 hours or so. This release will include all of the raw data necessary for users to run their own calculation and draw their own conclusions. update, which

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In the chart above, you can see where CA has made some progress interms of appreciation. CA, FL, and NV account for nearly 50% of nationwide price damage. Let’s take a closer look…

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As a follow-up to our piece on the Australian macro outlook (Australia: The Land Down Under(water in mortgage debt), We looked into the four largest Australian banks - Australia and New Zealand banking Group Limited, Commonwealth bank of Australia, National Australia Bank Limited, Westpac Banking Corporation. All the banks, except Commonwealth bank of Australia, have ADR.

The banks are trading at very high multiples when compared with their US counterparts. The current average price-to-tangible book value of the four Australian banks is 2.5x against the current multiples of less than 1.5x for US banks. The Australian banks are enjoying a premium largely owing to lower charge-off rates, delinquency levels and the NPL levels than their US counterparts. While the housing loans account for a substantial portion of the total portfolio of Australian banks, the housing bubble in Australia is yet to burst to result in defaults in this sector. Also, the Australian banks have additional shelter from two factors:

  • The housing loans in Australia are recourse loans (borrowers are personally liable to pay even after foreclosure)
  • The loans given in excess of LTV (Loan-to-value) of 80% have Lender Mortgage Insurance which covers the losses of the lending bank

The average Texas ratio of the four Australian banks is 25% and average NPL coverage ratio ( NPL+90 days past due to allowance for loan losses) is 68%. While the NPLs and the past due loans of the Australian banks have increased over the last year, a major portion of the increase is coming from business loans and commercial property while the delinquency rates in residential mortgage in Australia have remained stable (except for Commonwealth bank where substantial increase has been seen in the past due loans in the housing sector). The reported delinquency rates for mortgage or housing loans in Australia for the four banks are summarized below.

  • Commonwealth bank of Australia – The total delinquent loans (1+ days past due) remained at 3.0% in 1H10, equal to the level of 3.0% in 1H09. However, owing to the aging of the some portion of the delinquent loans, the mortgage delinquency (90+ days) rate increased to 0.77% in 1H10 against 0.45% in 1H09 while the mortgage delinquency (30-80 days) rate remained stable at 0.86% and mortgage delinquency (less than 30 days) rate declined to 1.36% in 1H10 against 1.72% in 1H09.

The full analysis is available for download to subscribers below. Subscribers are also urged to review the Macro outlook document as well.

As excerpted from Australia: The Land Down Under(water in mortgage debt:

A few minutes ago, I posted an informational piece on Australia’s creeping protectionism in the form of taxing multi-national mining companies in ”In Australia, Tax as a Contagion“. This begs the questions, “Why is Australia So Tax Happy as to Potentially Chase Away Investment in the Down Under?” Well, the answer most likely is because it is actually a ”Land Down Under(water in mortgage debt) and foreign export reliance. We, at the BoomBust feel that the government is actually attempting to take a proactive stance in meeting the consequences of what is probably going to befall most export reliant countries which is why Brazil and Chile are strongly considering following suit!

As an extension of the Chinese macroeconomic discussion at BoomBustBlog throughout 2010, there may be an “Asian Contagion” spreading as a result of a Chinese

investment slowdown.  Those at risk are the countries and regions that have supplied China with the commodities necessary to build empty cities.  While the (comparatively, in terms of GDP) enormous Chinese stimulus package from the first part of the financial meltdown in 2008 has generated incredible growth in GDP and asset prices, the game appears to be over for flipping 1000 square foot apartments in Shanghai.  After the direct hit taken to China, the picture looks very grim for Australia, where a bursting Chinese housing bubble could drive industrial commodities lower, sparking higher unemployment in one of the nation’s largest sectors, and in turn pop their domestic housing and property bubble.  In the near to medium term, Australia is showing some major red flags.

Australian property bubble, wikipedia

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