Last week I posted a Bloomberg news article supporting my suspicions that investors are putting bad loans back to the banks at an increasing rate. I used JP Morgan as a specific example -Banks
Swallow Another $30 billion or So in More Losses as Their Share Prices
Surge (Again).

A few commenters on syndicated sites appeared to have really underestimated the significance of this development. In the article, it is alleged that Freddie and Fannie are forcing banks to eat up to $30 billion in soured mortgages under the warranties and representations clauses of the sales contract. To highlight the significance of this development, let me remind all that Fannie and Freddie are benchmarks for mortgage lending in the US.

(Bloomberg) -- Taxpayer losses from supporting
Fannie
Mae
and Freddie
Mac
will top $400 billion, according to
Peter Wallison,
a former general counsel at the Treasury who is
now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The situation is they are losing gobs of money, up to
$400 billion in mortgages,” Wallison said in a Bloomberg
Television interview. The Treasury Department recognized last
week that losses will be more than $400 billion when it raised
its limit on federal support for the two government-sponsored
enterprises, he said.

The U.S. seized the two mortgage financiers in 2008 as the
government struggled to prevent a meltdown of the financial
system. The debt of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home
Loan Banks grew an average of $184 billion annually from 1998 to
2008, helping fuel a bubble that drove home prices up by 107
percent between 2000 and mid-2006, according to the S&P/Case-
Shiller home-price index.

The Treasury said on Dec. 24 it would provide an unlimited
amount of assistance to the companies as needed for the next
three years to alleviate market concern that the government
lifeline for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest source of
money for U.S. home loans, could lapse or be exhausted.

Lax regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to the
mortgage companies taking on too many risky loans, Wallison
said.

“It turns out it was impossible to regulate them,” he
said. “They were too powerful.” He said no one knows how much
will be needed to keep the companies solvent.

Published in BoomBustBlog

The year 2009 was the year of reflation theories and bubble blowing. Theses of "Green Shoots", catching the bottom, and QE reigning supreme were the order of the day. Sure enough, asset prices (nearly all of them) went one direction, straight up. We all saw it coming, but guys like me who actually count the money and rely on the fundamentals didn't believe it was a sustainable gain. It wasn't a bull market, but a bear market rally. After nearly one year, the reflationists have had their hay day, or have they?

Published in BoomBustBlog
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 18:00

The Spanish Inquisition is About to Begin...

Now, it is time to see if fundamentals return to the market. 

From Bloomberg: BBVA Fourth-Quarter Profit Plunges 94% to $44 Million on Asset Writedowns

 Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA said fourth-quarter profit slumped to 31 million euros from 519 million euros a year earlier as the lender wrote down the value of some assets.

BBVA fell the most in eight months in Madrid trading after saying net income fell to 31 million euros ($43.6 million) from 519 million euros a year earlier, the Bilbao, Spain-based bank said in a filing today. That missed the 1.05 billion-euro median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of nine analysts as the bank took a 704 million-euro writedown for its U.S. franchise.

BBVA said it took the writedowns after analyzing its “most problematic portfolios” as it prepares for a tough year with recessions in its biggest markets of Spain and Mexico.

“Whenever there are writedowns like this, there must be a clear negative message behind that,” said Peter Braendle, who oversees about $57 billion at Swisscanto Asset Management in Zurich and holds BBVA shares. “My concern is that the worst may not be over, especially in Spain.”

Extra Provisions

The bank took 1.05 billion in charges as it adjusted the value of its U.S. business. Other writedowns included 200 million euros of provisioning charges for assets acquired in Spain as it reported additional losses on its Iberian consumer loan book, BBVA said.

Today’s writedown represents about 15 percent of the goodwill attached to the U.S. business, according to estimates by Banco BPI SA. U.S. provisions were 715 million euros higher than in the third quarter as the bank adjusted the value of commercial real estate collateral. The bank also took a charge of 73 million euros on its Mexican cards business and a 90 million-euro charge to account for Venezuelan inflation.

Bad loans as a proportion of total lending climbed to 4.3 percent from 2.3 percent a year ago. “Doubtful risks” on BBVA’s books leapt to 15.6 billion euros from 12.5 billion euros in September and 8.6 billion euros a year ago.

Loan Losses

“I don’t think the U.S. goodwill writedown is as important as all the new non-performing loans,” said Simon Maughan, an analyst at MF Global Securities Ltd. in London. “It’s catch-up time for loan losses. For those people who may have had their doubts about the Spanish methodology for timely reporting of NPLs, here is some strong evidence to support their view.” Let it be known that I issued this warning one year ago! [Reggie]

Profit from Spain and Portugal fell 24 percent to 496 million euros from a year ago, the bank said. Bad loans as a proportion of total lending almost doubled to 5.1 percent from 2.6 percent as lending shrank 1.2 percent.

Earnings from Mexico dropped 29 percent to 268 million euros, the bank said. BBVA booked a loss of 122 million euros from its U.S. business compared with a 21 million-euro gain a year ago.

Net interest income climbed to 3.59 billion euros from 3.09 billion euros a year ago.

The bank had a core capital ratio of 8 percent compared with 6.2 percent a year ago. BBVA said it would keep its commitment to distribute 30 percent of 2009 profit in dividend payments.

 This was foreseen nearly one year ago, to date. This bank got caught up in the bear rally and apparently (like many banks) was not deserving of the outrageous boost in the share price. Reference the past analysis.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010 18:00

The Spanish Inquisition is About to Begin...

Now, it is time to see if fundamentals return to the market. 

From Bloomberg: BBVA Fourth-Quarter Profit Plunges 94% to $44 Million on Asset Writedowns

 Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA said fourth-quarter profit slumped to 31 million euros from 519 million euros a year earlier as the lender wrote down the value of some assets.

BBVA fell the most in eight months in Madrid trading after saying net income fell to 31 million euros ($43.6 million) from 519 million euros a year earlier, the Bilbao, Spain-based bank said in a filing today. That missed the 1.05 billion-euro median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of nine analysts as the bank took a 704 million-euro writedown for its U.S. franchise.

BBVA said it took the writedowns after analyzing its “most problematic portfolios” as it prepares for a tough year with recessions in its biggest markets of Spain and Mexico.

“Whenever there are writedowns like this, there must be a clear negative message behind that,” said Peter Braendle, who oversees about $57 billion at Swisscanto Asset Management in Zurich and holds BBVA shares. “My concern is that the worst may not be over, especially in Spain.”

Extra Provisions

The bank took 1.05 billion in charges as it adjusted the value of its U.S. business. Other writedowns included 200 million euros of provisioning charges for assets acquired in Spain as it reported additional losses on its Iberian consumer loan book, BBVA said.

Today’s writedown represents about 15 percent of the goodwill attached to the U.S. business, according to estimates by Banco BPI SA. U.S. provisions were 715 million euros higher than in the third quarter as the bank adjusted the value of commercial real estate collateral. The bank also took a charge of 73 million euros on its Mexican cards business and a 90 million-euro charge to account for Venezuelan inflation.

Bad loans as a proportion of total lending climbed to 4.3 percent from 2.3 percent a year ago. “Doubtful risks” on BBVA’s books leapt to 15.6 billion euros from 12.5 billion euros in September and 8.6 billion euros a year ago.

Loan Losses

“I don’t think the U.S. goodwill writedown is as important as all the new non-performing loans,” said Simon Maughan, an analyst at MF Global Securities Ltd. in London. “It’s catch-up time for loan losses. For those people who may have had their doubts about the Spanish methodology for timely reporting of NPLs, here is some strong evidence to support their view.” Let it be known that I issued this warning one year ago! [Reggie]

Profit from Spain and Portugal fell 24 percent to 496 million euros from a year ago, the bank said. Bad loans as a proportion of total lending almost doubled to 5.1 percent from 2.6 percent as lending shrank 1.2 percent.

Earnings from Mexico dropped 29 percent to 268 million euros, the bank said. BBVA booked a loss of 122 million euros from its U.S. business compared with a 21 million-euro gain a year ago.

Net interest income climbed to 3.59 billion euros from 3.09 billion euros a year ago.

The bank had a core capital ratio of 8 percent compared with 6.2 percent a year ago. BBVA said it would keep its commitment to distribute 30 percent of 2009 profit in dividend payments.

 This was foreseen nearly one year ago, to date. This bank got caught up in the bear rally and apparently (like many banks) was not deserving of the outrageous boost in the share price. Reference the past analysis.

Monday, 18 January 2010 23:00

It's HELOC Deja Vu,All Over Again

A little more than a year and a half ago, I penned "A little more on HELOCs, 2nd lien loans and rose colored glasses",:

I syndicate my work across various sites on the web and occasionally go through the comments to see what people think. I get viewers of all types, from first time investors and the curious to multi-billion dollar portfolio managers and directors of analytical departments of the bulge brackets. It is the guy in the middle, the arm chair investor that seems to throw some of the wierdest comments, though. One of which was, "banks are more complicated than HELOC exposure and LTVs and it will take more than that to determine a bank short". Well, that comment is partially true. Today's banks are much more complex than LTVs and 2nd liens, but when these risky products on the downturn are multiples of your tangible capital, it really doesn't take more than that to start causing some severe solvency issues. You can have a trillion dollars in assets, but if you have $20 billion in equity with $100 billion in investments that will take a 50% loss, you are underwater by $30 billion. You can talk about these banks using terms such as "complicated", "complex", "fancy" and all of the other high falutin' adjectives that you can think of, but at the end of the day, if you lose more than you own you are insolvent. Now, that's a simple concept and it works quite well for my investment pursuits. This is coming from a guy who use to design offshore, option embedded structured products to fund illiquid private sector liabilities for things such retiree health care risks. Having some experience in the structured product arena, being an entrepreneur, and simply having to balance the family budget, I have come to learn - without a doubt - that complicated usually means less valuable. Either that, or it means an opportunity to charge the client more through lack of transparency in the pricing and profit structure.

Following the geographic default graph for HELOCs reproduced from the last posting, you see the two states that have been in the news the most lately have big spikes in my pretty little graph.

Published in BoomBustBlog

Here are some very interesting facts on the latest trend in Alt-a mortgages that have been in the news as of late. The following charts were culled from my mortgage default model which was built primarily from date gathered from the FDIC and the NY Fed.

Published in BoomBustBlog

In continuing the rant on the possibility of the US entering a stagflationary environment, as was hinted by Alcoa's quarterly report (see "Is My Warning of the Risks of a Stagflationary Environment Coming to Fore?"), I have decided to graphically illustrate the historically most successful inflation hedges. Click graphic below to enlarge.

inflation_correlation.png

For those "gold bugs" who have never ran the numbers, gold offers less inflation protection than your house does. The same goes for WTI crude and probably most other categories of oil.

Published in BoomBustBlog

Just the other day I stated "Why does everyone confuse a bubble with economic progress" in a post about a very probable bubble in China (see "It Doesn't Take a Genius to Figure Out How This Will End" then get your chuckles on with "Goldman Seems to Trust the Chinese Economic Reporting a Tad Bit More Than I Do!"). Well, as if on cue, Stocks, Metals Decline Around World After China Curbs Lending; Yen Weakens:

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks fell around the world, driving the MSCI Emerging Markets Index down the most in three weeks, and metals declined after China moved to curb lending. The yen dropped after Japan’s new finance minister said he would welcome a weaker currency.

The MSCI emerging markets gauge slipped 0.7 percent at 9:45 a.m. in London, led by China as the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 1.9 percent, the biggest decline among benchmark indexes tracked by Bloomberg. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.3 percent. Copper retreated from a 16-month high and oil snapped an 11-day rally. The yen weakened against all 16 most- traded currencies.

Central bankers in China, the engine of the global economic bubble recovery, sold three-month bills at a higher interest rate for the first time in 19 weeks after saying their 2010 focus is controlling record loan growth. The Federal Reserve said in the minutes of its latest meeting that the U.S. economic recovery might require additional stimulus measures to be sustained.

Bubble Blowing Growth will probably reverse slow this year as tight credit will damp the artificially derived and probably outright lied about demand side,” said Zhang Ling, who helps oversee $7.2 billion at ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management Co. in Beijing. “That will dash investors’ hope of another year of fast bubble blowing growth.”

Published in BoomBustBlog

Note to my subscribers and readers for the year end and the new year.

I will be the first to admit that 2009 was a disappointing year for my investment results. Although the first quarter of the year was the strongest that I ever had during the Asset Securitization Crisis, and I clearly saw the trend reversal coming at the end of the quarter (actually almost to the day since I put a comment out on BoomBustBlog that I was preparing for a very aggressive bear rally, but that granularity in timing was more luck than anything else), I significantly underestimated the length, breadth and depth of the trend reversal. I want all to be clear that I am not making excuses, but the probably reason for the lack of clarity was rampant and clandestine intervention in the equity and debt markets (moe on this later). There has been a lot of chatter in around the web about my performance, and although I am very disappointed at how the year turned out, I would like to put this into perspective. I am not a daytrader nor a swing trader and my research is not aimed in those directions. My stated investment horizon for the research on the blog is 3 to 18 months with a likely targeted range of action of 6 to 9 months. Since I rely primarily on the fundamentals and can't control markets and stock prices, I need to wait for my thesis to pan out.This entails taking some volatility at times. Of course I am the first to admit that the most aggressive rally in 70 years may be a bit much, but one must be able to ride the ups and downs of irrational market moves until one's thesis plays and your are proven right or wrong.This recent bear market rally was probably a once in a lifetime event, and in the case that it was not, we now have the tools to deal with it on an invested basis - even as a pure fundamental investor.

Click any graphic to enlarge.

historical_performance_-_2_years.png.png

Published in BoomBustBlog

For all of those who feel China is going to take over the free world, just remember that when you blow a bubble (particularly a balance sheet bubble) it is bound to pop. The damage from the pop invariably does more harm than the boost from the bubble. It has always been the case, particularly when leverage is involved - which makes the impact that much more devastating. If anybody can attest to this, it should be us Americans (British, Spanish, Irish, those from Dubai, Japanese...).

Methinks that before China gets a chance to become a preeminent world power, their profusely blown asset bubble (by way of a most accomadating fiscal policy) will blow up in their face and they will go through what the US, Japan and UK just (is still) went through, exacerbated by the fact that they are still a net export reliant economy when the bubble blowing is removed. With the developed world in sluggish mode, they will have very little to fall back on as their asset prices collapse to equilibrium and debt from their steriodal lending system is left under or uncollateralized and unable to be serviced.

Why does everybody confuse bubbles with economic progress?

From Bloomberg:

Published in BoomBustBlog