Posts Tagged ‘wall street’

Amazingly, the US Department of labor reported only 524,000 jobs were lost in December. The market was almost overjoyed, as they had expected a number in the range of 650,000 to 750,000. The 524,000 did not include the “revision” to the prior months numbers downward by 154,000. Thus, adding the 154k to the 524k, one may come to a sum of 678,000, right in line with the nightmare expectations.

There is also further distortion due to a “birth-death” quotient applied by the Department of Labor, but we will not get into that here, except to say that it is currently making the reported numbers look better than they really are, rather than worse.

Other very weak numbers not reported in the headlines include:

Average workweek has declined to 33.3 hours among all employed workers in December. This is the lowest number of hours worked since Uncle Sam started watching these numbers in 1964. (Some economists anticipate that this number will correlate to another 500,000 job losses in the coming months.)

Since January 1, nine calendar days ago and 6 business days ago, major employers (those with 5,000 plus employees each) have announced job cuts of more than 30,000. On a daily basis this is an average run rate of 5,000 per day, or annualized rate of additional 1.1 million of job cuts!

Some may say that the run rate of 1.1 million is less than half of the newly unemployed of 2.5 million fellow Americans in the US during 2008, but there are numerous other facets as well.

Keep in mind, when an unemployed worker takes a job at because they must at 30%, 50% or 75% of their former compensation, they are no longer statistically unemployed.

Key numbers to continue to watch includes average compensation per hour, average numbers of hours worked, and the U6 unemployment numbers which reflect a much broader and economically relevant calculation of the unemployment levels.

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Two Wall Street Journal columns jump from their website today.
After Dow’s Collapse, Guarded Hope

After the U.S. stock market’s third-worst year in more than a century, many investors are hoping for a turnaround in 2009. But considering the pain that has continued for more than a year, they are reluctant to bet on it.

Stimulus Versus Recession

The U.S. is preparing massive efforts to battle the twin threats of deep recession and deflation in 2009. The results will affect the investment climate for years to come.

These two observations are right on target, but the impact and implications so grand, that the folks at the WSJ should be shouting from the building tops in Manhattan, Greenwich, The Hamptons, and DC.

First, it should not be understated but the International Monetary Fund had estimated financial security losses in the range of $1.4 trillion as of this past October. To date, US institutions have only written off less than $800 billion! The IMF estimates were before the $50 billion evaporation of Madoff assets and the severe financial market declines of late October and November.

Additionally, there have been several estimates in the area of $2 trillion for the total losses to be expected by the inability of the “two pillars” of homeowners/credit users and small businesses to obtain any lifelines quickly and without “strings” of steel to further sink them. The lifelines are not appearing on Uncle Sam’s drawing boards at the moment, which means that we should not count on them in the near future. Uh, oh!!

Current LIBOR based mortgage rates are in the area of 2.25% currently for up to $2 million!!! The rates are less than the average yield of a local CD for a few months. Fixed rate conforming mortgages are at less than 5% for 30 years. We can expect mortgage rates to further decline as the Fed continues to intervene in the market for Fannie and Freddie securities. (They have billions of $ in their pockets to manipulate the market and lower the rates further.) Unfortunately, other than the variable LIBOR loans, jumbo fixed mortgages are still in the range of 8% or so. Because the government is ignoring this sector of the market, there has been only increases in the rates as the riskiness of the credits have increased.

Banks are demanding more collateral, rather than less. In a time of declining asset values, with collateral worth less, fewer and fewer are able to meet the stricter lending requirements. Where is Super Paulson and our Hero Bernacke when we need them???????? Will HOPE and CHANGE help? Or should we turn to God as our only salvation?

Today’s WSJ made the analogy of an individual escaping from a very painful marriage. The journalist stated that this individual would be very likely to resist remarrying. The journalist paralleled the experience to a stock investor during 2008 and their fear of buying stocks in 2009. I thought this very appropriate.

In a world of great interconnection, with great uncertainties, the need for faith and confidence in systems and governments, unified and coordinated efforts are crucial. Given all we have seen from our government over the past year and years, can we have confidence? Should we have hope?

Given the way America has been raped and brutalized by Wall Street, can we have faith in the Heroes of Capitalism to save us?

Please share your thoughts and ideas………

According to a press release, “The Federation of Small Businesses is . . . calling on the Government, the banks, local councils and consumers to play their part during the year by providing support to small businesses in fighting regulation, accessing finance and maintaining cash flow to buck the increasing trend of business closures.”

The Federation for Small Businesses needs to do more than just issue a press release.

The government has financed the banks, protected Wall Street and back stopped the auto industry, but government and our political and financial leaders have ignored the needs and potential catastrophic impact of the small business failure.

Limiting interest rates is just one limited step. Encouraging banks to lend, promoting a major SBA program similar to “HOPE for Homes”, encouraging lenders to extend credit rather than reduce amounts available, are but a few of the many steps they could take.

The FSB is to be commended, but at the same time must call upon the communities across the US to mobilize and lobby Uncle Sam to work to protect our small businesses, their employees, and the core of the American Economy.

As a small business owner suffering from a reduction in income levels due to the recession, I am very familiar with the shortage of credit for small businesses. It impacts the small businesses directly, as credit cards and other signature loans are their liquidity lifeblood. Also, customers and clients rely on credit to purchase services and products and with credit levels being reduced and credit needs not being fulfilled, consumption and purchase levels are down significantly.

Much comes back to the Federal Government and their missteps regarding the TARP and providing capital to our banks. One would think that the government bailout would have helped the small businesses indirectly, but then again, nothing has been as “one would have thought” over the past 6 months.

Today’s Wall Street Journal cites the anticipation of looming “mortgage cram-downs”, as a result of the failure of government’s steps to cease the increase in foreclosures.

The article notes that there are 7.5 million homes underwater currently and that foreclosures are expected to exceed 8.1 million over the next four years!!!! It also notes that Congress was hoping to help 400,000 homeowners through its latest program, “Hope for Homeowners”, but only 357 have applied for the program to date.

Sounds like one of the pillars we discussed yesterday on this blog is still not being secured!!! Unless action is taken, we will see the Red Plague sweep the homeowners and consumers downriver, like the banks and Wall Street firms were washed away this past year.

Unfortunately, the free market and refinancing will not solve the liquidity crunch paralyzing the homeowner/consumer pillar and the small business pillar.

Some insight and real hope are desperately needed. And fast!

If the world is literally flooded with dollars, why is it near impossible to refinance a home or refinance and restructure outstanding consumer credit?

Merrill Lynch is offering a Libor based adjustable rate mortgage for up to $2,000,000 for the current rate of 2.375% with NO POINTS!!!! How many are applying? Very few.

Why? Loan to Value requirements have dropped by on average 20% while appraised home values have tumbled as well. Additionally, if the home is located in a state where the values are declining, then the penalty box of “declining market” is applied and the LTV limits are reduced further.

Credit card companies continue to reduce available credit. Analysts expect that the US will see credit line reductions of $2 trillion dollars in 2009. They also expect credit card rates to continue to sky rocket rather than decline in parallel with the Libor, prime and the Fed funds rate.

Hence, headlines may be deceptive.

With the further expected declines in employment levels and compensation, as well as further tightening of credit and increases in cost of consumer credit, there likely is significantly more pain to come for the consumer-class and homeowner-class ignored to this point buy the bailout plans and liquidity programs of the wealthy rulers in DC and their Wall Street financiers.

Happy Holidays!!!

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With credit lines continuing to be cut, banks not negotiating outstanding loans, and new loans only being extended to those who do not need the money, there is but ONE QUESTION: WHERE IS THE MONEY?

How can $340 billion have not have any impact? How can Paulson and Congress let the greed of the banks and institutions destroy whatever remaining confidence Americans had in the government?

As Dr. Michael Savage has said, the US has just witnessed the greatest legal theft of $340 billion in the history of the world. The only beneficiaries have been the creditors, shareholders and CEOs of those institutions receiving the $. Please show me examples of the Americans and Main Street who have benefited!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paulson, Bernacke, Bush and our favorites Pelosi, Reid, and VP Cheney are all to be blamed. The should be held accountable for the fraud they have perpetuated on the American Taxpayers. We have been duped.

Those without jobs, those who have lost and will lose their jobs and credit, will pay. Pelosi, Reid, Cheney, Bush, Bernacke and Paulson can continue to dance all day until the sun sets and beyond, while we all suffer from the Red Plague they have contributed in spreading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tell me your thoughts…………

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The equity markets have recovered more than 20% from their recent lows. Some companies are up as much as 50% or more. The markets generally are six months ahead of the true news, so should we be optimistic? Is the light at the end of the tunnel? Should we be excited about the prospects of $500 billion of government projects and an additional $2 trillion of liquidity?

As noted by Davis Berman on his blog: “As the Wall Street Journal’s MarketBeat noted on Tuesday, the auction on three-month Treasury bills on Monday yielded a mere 0.005 per cent – the lowest yield since 1941. But here’s the really wacky part: Traders noted that the yield on three-month bills dipped into negative territory on Tuesday afternoon, as in below 0 per cent.”  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081209.WBmarkets20081209143427/WBStory/WBmarkets

So great optimism on the equity side of the equation and absolute fear on the side of bond investors……

A friend mentioned today that he heared murmers that gas may go as low as $1 per gallon.  When was the last time we saw that??? What does that mean about our economy???? What will our labor be worth??  What will the price of milk and eggs be?    How bad will the overall global economy have to be to allow gas prices to fall so low???????????  I am afraid to speculate? What do you think???

Will the market retest lows?  Is there sufficient cause for optimism to have the markets hold steady and rise through Inaugeration Day?

Will unemployment continue to rise?  Will housing prices continue to fall?

Will Washington really save Detroit?

Did Washington really agree to absorb approximately $300 billion in losses at Citigroup?

Is this sane or insane?

Help me!!!!! I am confused.  Leave your comments…..

The biggest banks that have received the biggest free giveaway of American taxpayers’ wealth, are now stealing the life blood of every household and the economy and our government is either blessing the theft or ignoring it.  The Red Plague of losses, illiquidity and falling values and prices continues.

Traditionally, interest rates on credit cards were competitive and set based on one’s credit ability, payment history, and market rates.  Today, credit card companies are bumping their rates up to 30+% because they want to.  This is in the face of the 10 year Treasury bond below 3% and the billions in free dollars they have received to stimulate the economy from our dear Uncle Sam.

At these rates, the amounts due will double over less than 3 years. These rates are userious, abusive and immoral.  But, Mz. Nancy and Mr. B Frank ignore the issue.  This is an issue that can not be ignored.

If outragious mortgages are reset, foreclosures abayed, and homeprices attempted to be stabilized to protect the American citizens’ balance sheets and financial solvency, the system will collapse around the explodign levels of consumer debt.

The average American with outstanding balances will get eaten in userious rates and ensuing fees.  Bankruptcy and further financial chaos of the American financial system, banks, Wall Street and Main Street can not be too much further behind.

God help America from the Death Wish of America’s Financial System and Greed (and the Blindness and Ignorance of the regulators tasked with protecting us)!!!!

The biggest banks that have received the biggest free giveaway of American taxpayers’ wealth, are now stealing the life blood of every household and the economy and our government is either blessing the theft or ignoring it.  The Red Plague of losses, illiquidity and falling values and prices continues.

Traditionally, interest rates on credit cards were competitive and set based on one’s credit ability, payment history, and market rates.  Today, credit card companies are bumping their rates up to 30+% because they want to.  This is in the face of the 10 year Treasury bond below 3% and the billions in free dollars they have received to stimulate the economy from our dear Uncle Sam.

At these rates, the amounts due will double over less than 3 years. These rates are userious, abusive and immoral.  But, Mz. Nancy and Mr. B Frank ignore the issue.  This is an issue that can not be ignored.

If outragious mortgages are reset, foreclosures abayed, and homeprices attempted to be stabilized to protect the American citizens’ balance sheets and financial solvency, the system will collapse around the explodign levels of consumer debt.

The average American with outstanding balances will get eaten in userious rates and ensuing fees.  Bankruptcy and further financial chaos of the American financial system, banks, Wall Street and Main Street can not be too much further behind.

God help America from the Death Wish of America’s Financial System and Greed (and the Blindness and Ignorance of the regulators tasked with protecting us)!!!!

“Negative Redlining” – marketing disproportionately to minorities – is the accusation being made against two of three leading Wall Street “ratings agencies”.  Ratings agencies, like Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch, are hired by bond issuers to rate a bond, i.e. to quantify the likelihood of the bond not being repaid, and thus give it a letter grade.  Because ratings agencies are paid by the issuers to do the rating, they are absolutely not independent of the process.  They obtain the information they use from the issuer and the higher the rating, the greater the profit to all Wall Street parties involved in the issuance.

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition in their legal complaint alleges that Moody’s and Fitch knew that the mortgages were designed to fail, though the rating issued did not reflect this.  The complaint indicates that Moody’s and Fitch knew that the payment terms were unfair and that the borrowers’ income levels were too low to support the expected future payments.

In my humble opinion, there are many parties to blame.  The ratings agencies have the deepest pockets, so the attorneys have started there.  If my memory serves, mortgage brokers and their agencies are regulated at the respective state level.  Mortgage products, thus, are also regulated at the state level, either directly or indirectly.  Thus, where were the government agencies with the responsibility?   Those issuing the mortgages should have been at risk too, with their own capital on the line.  The underwriters, in agreeing to represent the sale of the securitizations, should have a legal responsibility also.  The list is a lot longer than this one paragraph……

Who is ultimately responsible in the world of Sir Paulson, Sagely Bernacke, and Mz Nancy Pelosi?  The American Citizens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You and me and my mother and our cousins, our elementary school teacher and our doctors, etc.  are responsible.  It is now our problem.  I forget if this is the definition of democracy???? It is definitely not the definition of capitalism………………………

Share your thoughts…. What happens tomorrow is always dependent on what happens today…

Share the word, share your knowledge.  Help save America for its citizens.

Today, while Paulson and Bernacke were defending themselves and their actions, while Congress dickered about with leaders of the Detroit Three, Wall Street continues its persuit of gravity as the primary driver!!!!!!

Even with the billions being pumped into America’s banks, the 2 trillion dollars of injected liquidity, the stock and bond markets are telling us that these efforts will fail!  Citi Group and Bank of America led the decline.  Why?  Because investors believe that they can and will go lower.  That their problems are beginning, rather than ending.  That things will only get worse!!!!!!!!!! Wow, worse?

Defaults on consumer credit are just beginning.  Credit balancing (moving $ from one source to another) is now exhausted. No new credit is being issued. Existing credit is being reduced.  Interest rates charged are jumping to the hi 20’s to 30’s, with limited notice to the borrowers!!! Thus, unless they pay off the balances, the interest charges will continue to grow exponentially!!!!   If new cash flow, profits, etc. can not pay down the balances, and the balances grow exponentially (which we are already seeing), the only outcome will be massive defaults.

With structural changes being implemented by the banking system.  With credit in full crises, mass defaults and bankruptcies is the only out come.

I hope I am wrong.   Please tell me what I am missing….. Leave a comment.

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