Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index increased 0.27 percent from the prior month on a seasonally adjusted basis, after a 1.13 percent rise in August, the group said today in New York. The gauge fell 9.36 percent from September 2008, more than forecast, yet the smallest year-over-year decline since the end of 2007.
Rising home sales, aided by government programs and a decline in mortgage rates this year, have helped stem the slump in property values that precipitated the worst recession since the 1930s. Home buying and consumer spending may still be hampered by higher unemployment, which may prompt more foreclosures. (more)
The public will not bail out the financial services sector for a second time if another global crisis blows up in four or five years time, the managing-director of the International Monetary Fund warned this morning.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the CBI annual conference of business leaders that another huge call on public finances by the financial services sector would not be tolerated by the “man in the street” and could even threaten democracy.
"Most advanced economies will not accept any more [bailouts]...The political reaction will be very strong, putting some democracies at risk," he told delegates. (more)
There is an increasing concern among some commentators that the current, extremely loose monetary policy of the US central bank could fuel another round of asset-price bubbles. This in turn, it is held, could pose a serious danger to the US economy.
Some commentators, such as John Taylor (the inventor of the Taylor rule), are urging the US central-bank policy makers to start considering a tighter stance as soon as possible, in order to prevent a repetition of the Greenspan Fed's interest-rate policy, which kept rates at very low levels for too long. (The Fed lowered its policy rate from 6.5% in December 2000 to 1% by June 2003. The Fed kept the rate at 1% until June 2004). (more)
Strip the Fed of its bank regulation powers, some in Congress are demanding. Get probing audits of its behind-the-scenes operations, others say.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is always fair game for criticism and second-guessing, usually over interest rate actions. But this year the criticism is much broader as Congress responds to widespread public anger that the Fed bailed out Wall Street but not ordinary Americans, and with unemployment in double digits.
Former Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin Jr. famously said that the central bank's job was to yank away the punchbowl just when everybody is starting to party. And while (more)
“We are completely dependent on the commercial Banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the Banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible, but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon.”
--Robert H. Hemphill, Credit Manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1934
Miners used to keep canaries in coal mines as an early warning device. If the air was so bad that it killed the canary, the miners would soon be next. Japan may be the canary for the out-of-control deficit spending policies now being pursued in the United States and the United Kingdom. In a November 1 article in the Daily Telegraph called “It Is Japan We Should Be Worrying About, Not America,” international business editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote: (more)
Despite the frenetic pace of bank failures this year, 552 lenders are still at risk of going under, according to a government report published Tuesday.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said that the number of banks on its so-called problem list climbed to its highest level since the end of 1993. At that time, the agency red-flagged 575 banks.
Mounting bank failures have proven costly for the FDIC, the government agency created to cover the deposits of consumers and businesses in the event that a bank is shut down.
On Tuesday, the agency revealed its deposit insurance fund, as a result, slipped into the red for the first time since 1991. (more)
According to the government's broadest measure of unemployment, some 17.5 percent are either without a job entirely or underemployed. The so-called U-6 number is at the highest rate since becoming an official labor statistic in 1994.
The number dwarfs the statistic most people pay attention to—the U-3 rate—which most recently showed unemployment at 10.2 percent for October, the highest it has been since June 1983. (more)
Some experts say the housing market has bottomed, but one statistic indicates otherwise.
The portion of U.S. homeowners who are “underwater” on their loans — that is, they owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth — surged to 23 percent in the third quarter, or almost 10.7 million households, according to First American CoreLogic, a real estate research firm.
Many of the underwater homes will end up in foreclosure or on the already bulging market of homes for sale.
Of the 10.7 million homes underwater, nearly half have a mortgage that is at least 20 percent higher than the home’s value, according to First American.
More than 520,000 of these homeowners are in default on their mortgages. (more)