I have finally updated my Alt-A and Subprime delinquency, charge-off and loss data using FDIC, NY Fed, Corelogic, First American, and Bloomberg (among others) as sources. If you thought things looked bad last year or this spring, they are getting worse - with no reprieve for the 3rd quarter despite the extreme amounts of liquidity and capital thrown at the situation by central bankers and the US government. As soon as I started writing this piece, CNBC comes out with "US to Push Mortgage Lenders To Modify More Home Loans: The
US Treasury announced plans to push lenders to modify more loans after
the administration's $75 billion housing rescue plan, called Making
Home Affordable, fell short and foreclosures continued rising.
"

Hmmm... $75 billion is a lot of money. Mayhap the problem is that the banks know how useless pushing on a string is, or mayhap $75 billion is not enough to stem $304 billion (and counting) in Alt A and subprime losses that are still in the pipeline (see graphic below).

It gets worse though. Let's glance at the non-conforming loan losses that have already occurred in comparison to the SCAP projections that justified the return of TARP in many cases. Recovery rates had the illusion of increasing ever so slightly due to an increase in prices as illustrated by the Case Shiller index. I have expressed my doubts about this housing price recovery for several reasons, the least of which is the construction flaws in the index itself which fail to capture the nature of the transient price increases, namely the activity of short term investors and flippers (see On the Latest Housing Numbers). There are some areas that have witnessed some firming of pricing though, but that firmness is the result of the Fed and Treasury trying to blow another bubble within a bursting bubble and is more than outdone by the rampant deterioration in credit quality of loans that result in the dumping of foreclosures -> REOs -> short turnaround sales/flips (via investors, which are not captured by Case Shiller, hence the illusion of a firming market in the lower end of housing prices) all over the place.

image019.png

Subprime delinquency, charge-off and foreclosure rates are still flying through the roof - with many other categories rushing to keep up. This is as I described from the beginning (2007) through the Asset Securitization Crisis series - there was an underwriting induced crisis and never a true "subprime crisis". As such, there is a very strong chance that many other loan categories may outstrip subprime loans in terms of aggregate losses. It hasn't happened yet, but the Alt-A category is hot on subprime's heels (see below). Construction and CRE will follow up the rear with unsecured consumer (ex. credit cards) and commercial loans fighting to get into the race.

image021.png

Below, you see the loss trend as of October 2009. These are losses that have most likely NOT been claimed by the banks, and they are significant. In addition, the credit deterioration trend is climbing, not falling. If I am correct in my assumption on the validity of the Case Shiller index in capturing true inventory price depreciation across investor related sales and bank "hold outs", then prices will soon start dropping again, killing recovery rates and causing losses to spike even further.

image015.png









Published in BoomBustBlog
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 00:00

On the Latest Housing Numbers

I read Diana Olick's Realty Check blog on CNBC.com on occasion. I must admit that she is considerably more credible and serious than the vast majority of personalities to be found over there. In her latest piece she questions the validity of the sales bump seen in the last three existing home sales reports. She queries Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. He volunteered,

"We have seen some bulk purchases by investors, but we are not picking up that data through the Multiple Listing Service or through our release data, but we do know that there is some bulk purchases by investors who plan on releasing those properties within a year's time, when they see a better market condition."

I don't believe "better" market conditions are coming any time soon. We are just coming off of the best market conditions anyone will see in their lifetime. Those market conditions were predicated upon unsustainable conditions, hence they came crashing down. They are crashing down, not crashed - as in past tense. I believe we have some ways to go. That is why I am not buying real estate, and I believe that those that are jumping in now are jumping in prematurely.

Personally, I don't consider Mr. Yun to be a credible source, either. He may be smart and capable, but the extreme bias of his employer (the ultimate real property perma-bull) and the incredibly biased reports of his predecessor color his opinions by default. He is not nearly as bad as David Lereah (who was literally sensationalist-style perma-bullish) was, but he is still not objective. See The Reggie Middleton Real Estate IQ Test - Who believes the NAR?

This is an excerpt from that post on Tuesday, 08 January 2008

From CNBC.com

Home Sales Seen Holding Steady In Coming Months

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes inched lower in November and should hold  steady over the next few months, a real estate trade group said. (I ask, "Why should they do that? Credit is tighter, recession evidence is stronger. Supply is greater, and demand is lower. Hmmm, let me consult the book written by that ex-NAR guru for the answer." )

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, dropped 2.6% in November, to 87.6 from an upwardly revised 89.9 in October.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to decline by 0.5 percent from October's originally reported 87.2.

The November number was down 20% from a year earlier.

The pending homes sales data suggests that the volume of sales will hold steady for a while before turning upwards before the end of the year, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

With all due respect to Mr. Yun, Mr. Lereah and the NAR, anyone swift enough to complete the registration form for this blog should know, by now, to discount this association's data and opinions. They do not do the industry justice with this nonsense. Realtors should actually be the first in the protest line. It is their credibility that is being called into question, for this is THEIR trade group. Credibility is the key!

case_shille__change_april_09.png

Notice how accurate that prediction was for 2008! From my blog post that day in 2008:

My take: I believe that my blog's readers are considerably above average in financial acumen and common sense. The NAR is simply not an entity to be taken too seriously, due to the obvious conflict of interest exemplified by their ex-economist, [[David Lereah]], who published some of the most absurd BS I have ever seen come from a nationally reknown organization. Examples of his work from Wikipedia: Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: Why Home Values and Other Real Estate Investments Will Climb Through The End of The Decade, And How to Profit From Them was published in February 2005 at just about the tippy top of the bubble (that takes some talent). One year later in February 2006, as the market is already on it's way down, Lereah retitled his book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Profit from It. Lereah's previous book The Rules for Growing Rich: Making Money in the New Information Economy touting investment in technology company equities was published in June 2000 at the onset of the collapse of the dot-com bubble. This extreme cheerleading has died down substantially, but the overly optimistic spin is still evident with their new economist, Lawrence Yun.

Published in BoomBustBlog
Monday, 23 November 2009 19:00

On the Latest Housing Numbers

I read Diana Olick's Realty Check blog on CNBC.com on occasion. I must admit that she is considerably more credible and serious than the vast majority of personalities to be found over there. In her latest piece she questions the validity of the sales bump seen in the last three existing home sales reports. She queries Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. He volunteered,

"We have seen some bulk purchases by investors, but we are not picking up that data through the Multiple Listing Service or through our release data, but we do know that there is some bulk purchases by investors who plan on releasing those properties within a year's time, when they see a better market condition."

I don't believe "better" market conditions are coming any time soon. We are just coming off of the best market conditions anyone will see in their lifetime. Those market conditions were predicated upon unsustainable conditions, hence they came crashing down. They are crashing down, not crashed - as in past tense. I believe we have some ways to go. That is why I am not buying real estate, and I believe that those that are jumping in now are jumping in prematurely.

Personally, I don't consider Mr. Yun to be a credible source, either. He may be smart and capable, but the extreme bias of his employer (the ultimate real property perma-bull) and the incredibly biased reports of his predecessor color his opinions by default. He is not nearly as bad as David Lereah (who was literally sensationalist-style perma-bullish) was, but he is still not objective. See  The Reggie Middleton Real Estate IQ Test - Who believes the NAR?

This is an excerpt from that post on Tuesday, 08 January 2008

From CNBC.com

Home Sales Seen Holding Steady In Coming Months

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes inched lower in November and should hold  steady over the next few months, a real estate trade group said. (I ask, "Why should they do that? Credit is tighter, recession evidence is stronger. Supply is greater, and demand is lower. Hmmm, let me consult the book written by that ex-NAR guru for the answer." )

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, dropped 2.6% in November, to 87.6 from an upwardly revised 89.9 in October.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to decline by 0.5 percent from October's originally reported 87.2.

The November number was down 20% from a year earlier.

The pending homes sales data suggests that the volume of sales will hold steady for a while before turning upwards before the end of the year, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

 With all due respect to Mr. Yun, Mr. Lereah and the NAR, anyone swift enough to complete the registration form for this blog should know, by now, to discount this association's data and opinions. They do not do the industry justice with this nonsense. Realtors should actually be the first in the protest line. It is their credibility that is being called into question, for this is THEIR trade group. Credibility is the key!

case_shille__change_april_09.png

Notice how accurate that prediction was for 2008! From my blog post that day in 2008:

My take: I believe that my blog's readers are considerably above average in financial acumen and common sense. The NAR is simply not an entity to be taken too seriously, due to the obvious conflict of interest exemplified by their ex-economist, [[David Lereah]], who published some of the most absurd BS I have ever seen come from a nationally reknown organization. Examples of his work from Wikipedia: Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: Why Home Values and Other Real Estate Investments Will Climb Through The End of The Decade, And How to Profit From Them was published in February 2005 at just about the tippy top of the bubble (that takes some talent). One year later in February 2006, as the market is already on it's way down, Lereah retitled his book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Profit from It. Lereah's previous book The Rules for Growing Rich: Making Money in the New Information Economy touting investment in technology company equities was published in June 2000 at the onset of the collapse of the dot-com bubble.  This extreme cheerleading has died down substantially, but the overly optimistic spin is still evident with their new economist, Lawrence Yun.

Monday, 23 November 2009 19:00

On the Latest Housing Numbers

I read Diana Olick's Realty Check blog on CNBC.com on occasion. I must admit that she is considerably more credible and serious than the vast majority of personalities to be found over there. In her latest piece she questions the validity of the sales bump seen in the last three existing home sales reports. She queries Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. He volunteered,

"We have seen some bulk purchases by investors, but we are not picking up that data through the Multiple Listing Service or through our release data, but we do know that there is some bulk purchases by investors who plan on releasing those properties within a year's time, when they see a better market condition."

I don't believe "better" market conditions are coming any time soon. We are just coming off of the best market conditions anyone will see in their lifetime. Those market conditions were predicated upon unsustainable conditions, hence they came crashing down. They are crashing down, not crashed - as in past tense. I believe we have some ways to go. That is why I am not buying real estate, and I believe that those that are jumping in now are jumping in prematurely.

Personally, I don't consider Mr. Yun to be a credible source, either. He may be smart and capable, but the extreme bias of his employer (the ultimate real property perma-bull) and the incredibly biased reports of his predecessor color his opinions by default. He is not nearly as bad as David Lereah (who was literally sensationalist-style perma-bullish) was, but he is still not objective. See  The Reggie Middleton Real Estate IQ Test - Who believes the NAR?

This is an excerpt from that post on Tuesday, 08 January 2008

From CNBC.com

Home Sales Seen Holding Steady In Coming Months

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes inched lower in November and should hold  steady over the next few months, a real estate trade group said. (I ask, "Why should they do that? Credit is tighter, recession evidence is stronger. Supply is greater, and demand is lower. Hmmm, let me consult the book written by that ex-NAR guru for the answer." )

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, dropped 2.6% in November, to 87.6 from an upwardly revised 89.9 in October.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to decline by 0.5 percent from October's originally reported 87.2.

The November number was down 20% from a year earlier.

The pending homes sales data suggests that the volume of sales will hold steady for a while before turning upwards before the end of the year, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

 With all due respect to Mr. Yun, Mr. Lereah and the NAR, anyone swift enough to complete the registration form for this blog should know, by now, to discount this association's data and opinions. They do not do the industry justice with this nonsense. Realtors should actually be the first in the protest line. It is their credibility that is being called into question, for this is THEIR trade group. Credibility is the key!

case_shille__change_april_09.png

Notice how accurate that prediction was for 2008! From my blog post that day in 2008:

My take: I believe that my blog's readers are considerably above average in financial acumen and common sense. The NAR is simply not an entity to be taken too seriously, due to the obvious conflict of interest exemplified by their ex-economist, [[David Lereah]], who published some of the most absurd BS I have ever seen come from a nationally reknown organization. Examples of his work from Wikipedia: Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: Why Home Values and Other Real Estate Investments Will Climb Through The End of The Decade, And How to Profit From Them was published in February 2005 at just about the tippy top of the bubble (that takes some talent). One year later in February 2006, as the market is already on it's way down, Lereah retitled his book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Profit from It. Lereah's previous book The Rules for Growing Rich: Making Money in the New Information Economy touting investment in technology company equities was published in June 2000 at the onset of the collapse of the dot-com bubble.  This extreme cheerleading has died down substantially, but the overly optimistic spin is still evident with their new economist, Lawrence Yun.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 00:00

Back to the Homebuilders vs. the Banks

In 2007 I put out a lot of research and opinion on the home builders and attempted to portray them in a light that the sell side analyst community and apparently the buy side investors failed to notice. See

In December of 2007 I predicted that they will compete in a losing battle with the soon to be larger residential home and land owners looking to move properties at highly discounted prices: the banks sitting on foreclosed properties - Bubbles, Banks and Builders.

Well, although I do feel I have been relatively prescient in my predictions and predilections, all of you guys who were waiting for me to be wrong can now have your day. As it turns out, the largest residential land home owner will probably not turn out to be Countrywide (see Would you buy Countrywide if all of its bad mortgages were magically wiped off the books?) or any other bank or builder after all, but most likely the FDIC, or in more direct terms - You, Mr. and Mrs Taxpayer, see: FDIC Holds $1.8 Billion in Property From Closed Banks: WSJ Link. There are properties repossessed this year by the FDIC that were actually also repossessed during the S&L Crisis. Talk about not learning your lesson!

Published in BoomBustBlog
Monday, 16 November 2009 19:00

Back to the Homebuilders vs. the Banks

In 2007 I put out a lot of research and opinion on the home builders and attempted to portray them in a light that the sell side analyst community and apparently the buy side investors failed to notice. See

In December of 2007 I predicted that they will compete in a losing battle with the soon to be larger residential home and land owners looking to move properties at highly discounted prices: the banks sitting on foreclosed properties - Bubbles, Banks and Builders.

Well, although I do feel I have been relatively prescient in my predictions and predilections, all of you guys who were waiting for me to be wrong can now have your day. As it turns out, the largest residential land home owner will probably not turn out to be Countrywide (see Would you buy Countrywide if all of its bad mortgages were magically wiped off the books?) or any other bank or builder after all, but most likely the FDIC, or in more direct terms - You, Mr. and Mrs Taxpayer, see: FDIC Holds $1.8 Billion in Property From Closed Banks: WSJ Link.  There are properties repossessed this year by the FDIC that were actually also repossessed during the S&L Crisis. Talk about not learning your lesson!

Monday, 16 November 2009 19:00

Back to the Homebuilders vs. the Banks

In 2007 I put out a lot of research and opinion on the home builders and attempted to portray them in a light that the sell side analyst community and apparently the buy side investors failed to notice. See

In December of 2007 I predicted that they will compete in a losing battle with the soon to be larger residential home and land owners looking to move properties at highly discounted prices: the banks sitting on foreclosed properties - Bubbles, Banks and Builders.

Well, although I do feel I have been relatively prescient in my predictions and predilections, all of you guys who were waiting for me to be wrong can now have your day. As it turns out, the largest residential land home owner will probably not turn out to be Countrywide (see Would you buy Countrywide if all of its bad mortgages were magically wiped off the books?) or any other bank or builder after all, but most likely the FDIC, or in more direct terms - You, Mr. and Mrs Taxpayer, see: FDIC Holds $1.8 Billion in Property From Closed Banks: WSJ Link.  There are properties repossessed this year by the FDIC that were actually also repossessed during the S&L Crisis. Talk about not learning your lesson!

It's bound to happen if regulators don't stop playing hide the sausage and don't start forcing banks to take their medicine. First, a quick recap of the nonsense currently taking place. This post is designed to convince banks that they are considerably better off taking their medicine now than going on with the government endorsed plan of pretending your not sick and risking major surgery, plus chemo and radiation just a year or two later. My next post will be a selection of REITs that didn't make my shortlist, followed by a new REIT report for subscribers that will explicitly show property values of each and every property in said REITs portfolio (and potentially the lender or CMBS/mortgagee pool collateralized by said properties - that's right, someone may be called out).

After dealing with European banks during my work with GGP, I have come to the conclusion that most regional, community and even global banks have no where near the capacity and/or expertise to properly evaluate and value the projects/assets that they have invested in. Well, if that is the case, this is your chance to rectify that problem - on the cheap, at least on a relative basis. So if you are in an appropriate position in your bank, fund or lender - read this evidence that supports the proactive behavior of snatching the big crumbs off the table before there is a mad dash for the micro-specs of bread that may or may not be left if one were to wait it out while playing "hide the sausage games". I'll give you the tools to make a convincing argument, trust me. Here is the broader macro argument for lenders pulling bad debt from under the REIT and CRE industry, thus supporting a bearish thesis for said players.

First: A picture is worth a thousand words...

fasb_mark_to_market_chart.png

Instance asset gains and market value stemming from just a small tweak of truth. Financial stocks fly, moving farther and farther from their fundamental values.

Second: We have the obvious manipulation that is occurring in the REIT space (see Here's a Big Company Bailout by the Taxpayer That Even the Taxpayer's Missed!). Zerohedge speculates "Is Goldman Preparing To Upgrade The REIT Sector?"

Third: We have government complicity in the purposeful opacity of the values of the mortgage assets (see the FDIC "Prudent Commercial Real Estate Loan Workouts" guidance issued Oct 30th, as reported by the WSJ: Banks Hasten to Adopt New Loan Rules and the new FDIC guidance that states performing loans "made to creditworthy borrowers" will not require write downs "solely because the value of the underlying collateral declined").

Fouth: We have a false sense of security that nearly everybody believes should make us insecure, yet somehow we have those long in the markets feelng warm and fuzzy. See You've Been Bamboozled, Hoodwinked and Lied To! Here's the Proof. What Are You Going to Do About It?.

Now, for those of you who believe that the government's "pretend and extend" policy has any chance in hell of working, or better yet, that we are not following in the footsteps of Japan, let's take a pictorial trip through recent history. There are nearly no Japanese banks in the top 20 bank category on global basis by 2003 - NONE (save potentially Nomura, which arguably survived in name, alone). As you can see, they literally dominated 90% of the space in 1990!

Click to enlarge...

top_20_banks.jpg

Source: Cap Gemini Banking M&A

I want the banks that read my upcoming real estate analysis to take heed to history. It truly does tend to repeat itself. If you are an officer in a bank with CRE exposure, reach out to me from your work email and I will supply you with an abbreviated copy of one of the recent reports, gratis. This should whet your appetite to subscribe for more.

Well, are we following the Japanese "Lost Path". Notwithstanding the damning evidence of hide the truth and hide amongst lies linked to above, ponder the following rather dated, but still quite poignant data...

Published in BoomBustBlog

I'll admit it to everyone, I am absolutely disgusted with my investment performance over the past two quarters. I came into the second quarter up nearly 500% for the two years running thanks to top notch research across myriad sectors (see zipResearch_Samples 11/17/2008 for examples) and loss about half of that profit fighting the bull rally that I easily saw coming but severely underestimated the length, depth and breadth of. Having switched over to market neutral in the third quarter (see Recent strategy analysis sample available to the public) caused me to simply hover with a few percentage point gains here and there, since by then most of the drastic moves were over, but I was biding my time in mostly cash waiting for the fundamentals to kick back in. You see I am a fundamental investor, and I kill it when 2+2=4, and I do even better when it equals something else. The caveat is when it does equal something else, I have to wait until it starts moving back towards that number 4 for me to realize my meal. This severe boom/bust market is basically custom tailored to my investment style (see "The Great Global Macro Experiment, Revisited", and realize why I call it BoomBustBlog!) just to an aggravated extreme!

Hey, y'all! It appears as if we may be approaching that time where 2+2 may again equal 4.

By now I'm sure we have soaked in the head-fake that was the "better than expected" GDP number. Well, the gross number was only marginally better than expected, and if one bothers to taken even the most cursory glance beneath the surface.... Whoa! Stimulus was quoted as the reason the economy expanded, but this is just not true. Stimulus is something that stimulates. That just didn't happen in this case. The main drivers reported for the GDP pop came from automobiles (the cash for clunkers so-called stimulus plan) and residential investment (the government tax break, more so-called stimulus). This is how I see it. Automobile sales are already down since the clunker plan ended, so there is no speculation as to whether or not this government effort stimulated anything, It didn't. All the government did was to literally "purchase" a few GDP basis points. There was no multiplier effect. There wasn't even a material economic impact that lasted a month after teh plan ended. Basically, the government put $XX billion into car sales to get a $XX billion less slippage and administrative costs purchase of a few GDP points for the months in question. Basically, a waste of money that should have went into guaranteeing ABS for small business loans to take over the hole that CIT is making in entrepreneurial lending - with more realistic underwriting, of course.

How about the housing boost? Well, home sales and home prices have trended downward from what I can see, as soon as the deadline for the first time homebuyer credit approached. Damn near in real time. Again, now real multiplier and no lasting effect. I mean it didn't even last a month into expiration. Again, a waste of money in an attempt to reflate a bursting bubble.

So, what is it that I do see for the economy. Well, from my perch in NYC...

Published in BoomBustBlog

I read the Real Deal magazine, a NYC real estate rag. Although they have never quoted me or even bothered to feature my rather dashing picture in their publication, a reporter or two does keep in touch to get my opinion on things valuation related. This is some of their latest stuff:

Manhattan residential market reports
bring good news, experts cautiously optimistic

Third-quarter Manhattan market reports released by the city's residential
brokerages this week paint a grim picture compared to the same period last
year, but show a marked improvement from earlier
this year
. "For New York, the worst is over," said Dottie
Herman
, president and CEO of the city's largest residential brokerage, Prudential
Douglas Elliman. Still, experts caution that while the pace of decline is
slowing, recovery is not yet imminent. "I'm very pleased with what we saw
this summer and it’s a step in the right direction, but I still think we have a
ways to go," said real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, the CEO of Miller
Samuel, who prepared Elliman's report.

Well, I wouldn't stake my future on those prices skyrocketing any time
soon. To begin with, there is a market difference between prices
improving verses prices getting worse at a slower pace. Words, after
all, do have meanings, don't they? Below is the Case Shiller seasonally adjusted index for Condos, to put things into perspective.

Published in BoomBustBlog