Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: bubble

Energy Junk Bond Investors Heading for the Exits

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, December 14, 2014:

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training.

An oil rig used for training.

As crude oil prices continue their breath-taking fall, the ripple effect is beginning to reach far beyond the gas pump. On Friday crude oil dropped below $60 a barrel, causing some experts to predict $55 a barrel the following week and $40 a barrel within a few months.

That is putting pressure on oil producers to service their massive debts — some $550 billion incurred in the last five years — and scaring bond investors who are now looking to sell.

It’s a mania, said Tim Gramatovich of Peritus Asset Management who oversees a bond portfolio of $800 million: “Anything that becomes a mania — ends badly. And this is a mania.”

Bill Gross, who used to run PIMCO’s gigantic bond portfolio and now advises the Janus Capital Group, explained that “there’s very little liquidity” in junk bonds. This is the language a bond fund manager uses to tell people that

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Swiss Issue an Unequivocal Buy Signal for Gold

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 5, 2014:

Rarely do the precious markets receive such an unequivocal, unblemished, unalloyed buy signal as the one issued by the Swiss when they voted down, 3-to-1, a referendum that would have modestly restricted the activities of its central bank.

Months earlier, polls showed that the “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative was likely to pass, but massive publicity campaigns and moves by Citigroup to cash in on it caused a huge shift in public sentiment, with the final vote on Sunday, November 30 defeating it by a 78-22% margin.

The Swiss, being a direct democracy, are known for referendums, voting on an average of five of them every year, with most of them failing. But this one caused rejoicing among observers and Swiss National Bank (SNB) officials that likely put in a bottom in the gold market. Had it passed, the referendum would have required the SNB to

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Swiss Bank Referendum Fails, Franc Drops

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, December 4, 2014:

Banknotes of the Swiss franc

Banknotes of the Swiss franc

The Swiss voted down the initiative “Save Our Swiss Gold” on Sunday, November 30, by a margin of three to one, rejecting efforts to shore up the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) balance sheet. Switzerland, a direct democracy, entertains an average of five such referendums every year, and most of them fail. This initiative would have required the SNB to boost its gold bullion holdings from its current eight percent level to 20 percent over the next five years. It would also have required the central bank to repatriate its foreign-held gold reserves, while prohibiting it from ever selling any of those reserves in the future.

When first proposed, speculators bought the Swiss franc cheap, hoping to sell it dear if the initiative passed. Investors in gold were holding their breaths as well, noting that

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George Mitchell: the one man most Likely Missing from Thanksgiving Day lists

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 28, 2014:

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a safe bet that Americans, in compiling their list of blessings for which they were most thankful on Thanksgiving Day, didn’t put George Mitchell at the top. It’s even safer to bet that most Americans don’t even know who he was, or how his life has made life better for nearly every American today.

The Economist had it right: “Few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George Mitchell.” The founder of Mitchell Energy & Development Company located in Galveston, Texas, Mitchell was responsible for drilling more than 10,000 natural gas wells and, in the process, resetting the world’s energy equation.

Although he passed away over a year ago at the age of 94, Mitchell’s advances in fracking technology are continuing to delight American drivers with

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Oil Market: Lower Gas Prices not the Only Reason to be Thankful

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014:

When news from Vienna arrived on Wall Street early Thanksgiving morning that OPEC wasn’t going to cut its production quotas to stabilize crude oil prices, those prices immediately fell even further, touching lows not seen in four years. West Texas Intermediate briefly touched $70 a barrel while Brent crude was close behind, at $73.

Oil hit a high of $147 a barrel in July 2008, so Thursday’s drop represents an astonishing 52-percent decline in just over six years. This coincides with an 80-percent increase in crude oil production by the United States over that same period. As economies around the world struggle to regain their footing, thanks to failing Keynesian policies, the demand for crude remains about where it was 10 years ago. With flat demand and increasing supply, it was only a matter of time before prices started to fall.

American consumers are benefitting enormously,

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China’s Economy Now Number One? Not Quite

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 10, 2014: 

English: Roadside billboard of Deng Xiaoping a...

English: Roadside billboard of Deng Xiaoping at the entrance of the Lychee Park in Shenzhen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following the announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that China’s economy has just surpassed that of the United States, headline writers and establishment economists had a field day. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Business Insider, “China Just Overtook the US as the World’s Largest Economy,” while London’s Daily Mail chortled, “America Usurped: China Becomes World’s Largest Economy — Putting USA in Second Place for the First Time in 142 Years.”

A cursory glance at the charts and graphs provided by these worthies shows the size of the U.S. economy at $17.4 trillion by the end of this year compared to China’s, which is predicted to be $17.6 trillion. The IMF estimated that as recently as 2005 China’s economy was less than half that of the United States, and forecast that

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Fracking Boom Continues to Set Records

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 17, 2014:

Logo of International Energy Agency

Logo of International Energy Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The explosion in production in the oil patch makes it nearly impossible to keep up. Economist Mark Perry is trying. On September 2, he reported that Texas crude oil production in June topped three million barrels per day, noting that, as a separate nation, Texas would be the world’s eighth largest oil producer. The very next day Perry reported that natural gas production from the Utica Shale formation has increased by a factor of seven in just two years, and it’s just getting started.

Less than two weeks later, Perry reported that

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Climate Changers Commit Fraud by Changing the Numbers

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, June 26, 2014: 

 

English: Remote Weather Station. Experimental ...

Remote Weather Station. Experimental site investigating effects of Global warming

The James Hansens of the world just can’t seem to catch a break. Before he supported APG – anthropogenic global warming – he scoffed at it. Climategate added to the pile of woes facing those predicting the end of humankind thanks to global warming, while the list of legitimate scientists (those without funding and therefore not beholden) continues to grow longer almost by the day.

That’s how truth will out: drip by drip by drip.

Steven Goddard, who blogs at Real Science, explained how he happened to learn about NASA’s latest manipulation of US temperature data:

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IMF’s Toolkit Inadequate for Next Housing Bubble, Official Admits

 

Bubbles.

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 16, 2014:

Last month, the Financial Times saw what’s coming: Housing prices rose last year at the fastest rate since 1995, setting the stage for the next global bust. Eleven countries they were watching had year-over-year rises in double digits, adding:

Even Germany, known for its stable housing market, is prompting concern, with the Bundesbank warning that valuations are as much as 25 percent too high in [some] big cities.

It admitted great concern that regulators won’t be able to do anything about it, either, just like last time:

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Chinese Economist at IMF warns of Global Housing Bubble

Board of Governors - International Monetary Fu...

Board of Governors – International Monetary Fund (IMF) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The false assumption that regulators can be safely counted upon to steer economies – local, national or global – to full employment with minimal inflation while avoiding booms and busts was unknowingly exposed in the latest yelp from the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Zhu Min. In Chinese, his name means “people rule” or “democracy” but his ideology is firmly rooted in the Keynesian fallacy that economies can be successfully managed by experts without assistance or input from the common folk.

In announcing that the IMF has launched a new website, Global Housing Watch, Min delights in thinking that the world’s economy can be driven by looking through the rear view mirror. He said:

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The Bubble in the Caribbean: Puerto Rico

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 30, 2013:

The complacency of municipal bond holders ended in July with the filing for bankruptcy by Detroit, an unhappy town of just 700,000 owing more than $18 billion to investors. Haircuts there have variously been estimated to be between 15 and 60 percent.

Since then, those holders have been looking around to find the next shoe to fall, and they have found it:

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Home Ownership Rates Continue to Fall; New Plans to Reflate Underway

When the Census Bureau announced on Tuesday that the rate of homeownership in the US continued its nearly 9-year decline, pundits were quick to lay the blame on higher lending requirements, bankers reluctant to make loans, increasing interest rates and a weak economy with slow job growth. In addition, young people are living at home longer due to student loan debt and poor job prospects. As a result, according to the Census Bureau, rental rates are climbing as families needing a place to live have few other options.

Having fallen from the peak of 69 percent reached in 2004, current home ownership has dropped to 65 percent, back to where it was in 1995. Robert Schiller, economics professor at Yale, thinks the rate will continue to fall further.

Home prices are increasing not because of demand by new buyers but because of investors seeing the opportunities in buying distressed properties and turning them into rentals. In some places in the country one out of every two home purchases are paid for in cash.

But something else is afoot: fewer citizens are buying into the notion that home ownership makes economic sense and is equivalent to a savings plan that can be turned into income in later years. As Emily Badger noted at The Atlantic Cities, “We have traditionally considered homeownership to be a sign of the health of the economy. But some of these people who would have been homeowners 10 years ago … have concluded that they would rather rent [today]…”

Some have no doubt been so badly mauled financially in the recession that they have few options. Others have long memories and remember the pain and suffering they endured as a result of deliberate government policies instituted to make homeownership possible to millions of unqualified buyers.

One of those with long memories is Henry Cisneros, a key player in developing the “National Homeownership Strategy” while he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Bill Clinton. Unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Cisneros took over at HUD in January, 1993 and by 1997 had boosted the US homeownership rate from 63.7 percent to 65.7 percent. Even after leaving office, his strategies continued blowing up the real estate bubble so that by the time Clinton left office in 2001 home ownership was at 67.5 percent on its way to peaking during the summer and fall of 2004.

In a remarkably candid and forthright article about Cisneros’ role in creating the real estate bubble, The New York Times told the story of a compassionate government bureaucrat with big dreams of providing home ownership to people who couldn’t afford them under current rules. So he changed the rules and invited bankers, realtors and homebuilders to participate in the party guaranteed by taxpayers. In 2008 as he contemplated the damage he had wrought while head of HUD, Cisneros claimed that his intentions were honorable, at least in the beginning, but that his plans to provide low-interest loans and much weaker underwriting requirements through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were hijacked by “unscrupulous participants – bankers, brokers, secondary market people. The country is paying for that, and families are hurt because we … did not draw line.” He expressed regret that his efforts had not only lured people into homes they couldn’t afford, but that his policies ultimately ejected them from those homes as a result. He said, “I’ve been waiting for someone to put all the blame on my doorstep.”

His strategy was to lower underwriting standards by allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to require less documentation and approve higher debt to income levels than normal. He reduced down payment requirements from 20 percent to 10 percent, and then to 5 percent, then down to 3 percent and ultimately to 0 percent. His strategy allowed these unqualified buyers to cover their closing costs with another loan, putting them into a home with truly nothing out of the own pockets. Lenders were happy with the new rules as the US taxpayer stood behind the loans bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Cisneros created a monster.

Once the ball got rolling, it was impossible to stop or even slow down. Said Cisneros:

You think you have a finely tuned instrument that you can use to say: Stop! We’re at 69 percent homeownership. We should go no further. There are people who should remain renters.

But you really are given a sledgehammer and an ax. They are blunt tools.

I’m not sure you can regulate when we’re talking about an entire nation of 300 million people and this behavior becomes viral.

Cisneros drank his own Kool-Aid. He joined with a major homebuilder to develop a housing project in San Antonio, Texas which made him wealthy but which turned sour during the collapse.

Those lessons are about to be learned again as there are new efforts to reflate the ownership bubble. Under the Dodd-Frank Act there’s something called the Qualified Mortgage Rule (QMR) which requires lenders to keep part of the loans they make in their own portfolios – they must have “skin in the game” to reduce the chances of another bubble. But more than 50 organizations tied to the real estate industry are advocating a softening of that rule, putting more government money into the market, with less risk to the lenders. One of those supporting such softening is Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute, who sounds an awful lot like Cisneros:

I’m not suggesting indiscriminate access to home ownership, but there are many borrowers who are capable of demonstrating the capacity to pay…

[They include] those who had a job loss or foreclosure, in many cases through no fault of their own [and a result are] being shut out of a rising market.

Gary Thomas, the president of the National Association of Homebuilders, expressed his delight at the softening of the rules:

If what we’re heard about the [weakening of] the proposed QMR rule is true, the we are very pleased that the agencies are moving towards a broad definition that will benefit the American people by ensuring access to safe, affordable options for buying a home.

And then of course there’s the inevitable college professor who hasn’t learned from history, or from Cisneros. Christopher Mayer, professor of real estate at Columbia Business School, exulted:

Having a path that people can become a homeowner is an important path. And it’s really important for middle to lower-income folks who have a hard time saving…

At present efforts to reflate the real estate bubble through relaxing underwriting requirements and low-interest loans don’t appear to be working very well. But Washington has a mission where past experience and lessons and pain and hardship don’t matter. The Cisneros mentality remains alive and well in Foggy Bottom.

 

 

 

President’s Speeches on the Economy Draw Attention Away from His Scandals and Falling Poll Numbers

From the New York Times to Politico.com the president’s speech to students at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois on Wednesday was headline news. More than an hour long, it contained enough platitudes, sound bites and falsehoods to keep pundits busy and away from more about the Benghazi, IRS, NSA surveillance scandals and Obamacare fallout which have caused the president’s poll numbers to plummet. It was time to get out of Dodge and take

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Central Banks’ bubble is bursting, sending markets down worldwide

When the Japanese stock market lost more than 6 percent of its value on Wednesday in a massive selloff, pundits jumped on the move to try to explain what happened, and what it all means. Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Markets, wrote:

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This is an amazing admission.

[To] conspiracy  theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world  is a rigged game.

We found this out in recent months, when

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The China party is over, says the Wall Street Journal

And it’s about time, too!  The Journal is just a little late to notice what’s happening, and has been happening, over there for at least the last two years.

Let’s put things into perspective.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.
Copyright © 2021 Bob Adelmann