debt

Mortgage Deal Under Discussion - Obama Administration and Big Banks

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Even if the settlement being offered by the Obama administration is accepted, it doesn’t give the banks relief on the securities fraud claims or evasion of back fees for recording mortgages.

Reports have begun to appear in the American business press of a possible settlement among banks and their regulators over the mortgage mess in the U.S. The various players in this settlement are leaking stories to business reporters in order to place on the public square their negotiating positions, which can often serve to define the terms of the discussions taking place in private. For those of our readers who are not Americans, we need to apologize in advance for the convoluted, and you might even say ugly, manner in which policy is made in Washington when so many different players are involved. We’ll try to keep the description of what is going on basic and understandable, but don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve wandered into an abattoir where sausage is being made. First, let’s go down the list player by player, and see what they want out of a possible settlement.

Saturday Economic Reads Around The Internets for February 12, 2011

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Welcome to the weekly roundup of great articles, facts and figures. These are the weekly finds that made our eyes pop.

Overnight Food Inflation in the United States

We have a massive crop failure in Mexico, from last week's deep freeze. 80-100% crop loss. Zerohedge has a good overview on the latest. From The Packer:

“On Feb. 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $22.95-24.95 for two-layer cartons of 4x4, 5x5 and 5x6 vine-ripe field-grown tomatoes from Mexico, up from $6.95-9.95 the week before and $5.95-7.95 the year before.”

Amazing this story isn't front page news. From a local news station in Oregon:

Get ready to pay double or even triple the price for fresh produce in the coming weeks after the worst freeze in 60 years damaged and wiped out entire crops in northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S.

The problem started less than a week ago, when our nation was focusing on the Superbowl and sheets of ice falling from Texas Stadium.

Farmers throughout northern Mexico and the Southwest experienced unprecedented crop losses. Now devastation that seemed so far away, is hitting us in the pocketbooks.

Show me the title! Strategic Defaults and the Homeowners Revenge

By Numerian Posted by Michael Collins

If strategic defaults spread in part because of this new uncertainty over foreclosure and who has the title to the home, the banks and the mortgage backed securities market would be put in a dreadful position. The day in and day out cash flow expected from millions of mortgage principal and interest payments would be impacted far more than it is already, with the banks unable to access their collateral to stanch the bleeding. Insolvencies among the banks and the investors holding mortgage securities would certainly rise. Numerian

Fed begins monetizing the deficit

By Numerian

The Federal Reserve, in announcing the results of this week's meeting of the Open Market Committee, surprised the market by revealing it will begin purchasing US Treasury notes and bonds with the principal income it receives from its vast holdings of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage securities. This practice - wherein the Fed buys up US government securities and injects cash into the public market as payment for these securities - is a form of monetizing the debt.

The last time the Fed did this on a big scale was back in the 1960s when it attempted to mop up the excess Treasury securities that were flooding the market as a result of Lyndon Johnson's efforts to finance the Vietnam War. That Fed program was viewed at the time as a failure, since the cash the Fed put back into the economy in exchange for the securities was a big reason - perhaps the major reason - why price inflation accelerated from the late 1960s until a decade later, when Paul Volcker managed to squelch inflation once and for all with forbiddingly high interest rates.

Fraught with risk

Hung Over on Debt

American business appears to be hung over on a massive debt fest from before the financial crisis. Debt Overhang to be more specific. It's so bad, it's causing real investment which in turn generates real jobs for the real economy which generates real growth... to be muted. One problem, the declining values of assets, specifically commercial real estate.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland researcher Filippo Occhino delves deep, complete with crayons, on how debt overhang is negatively impacting business investment.

The below video explains debt overhang in simple terms, real simple, must watch simple.

 

 

Turning to adult versions of crayons, here is Occhino's graph of assets to business debt. Notice the asset to debt ratio historic high. (To read las matemáticas version of the research, pdf here).

 

The Global Agenda: Privatizing the Planet

Debt, Debt Trading and Why It Is Important

You don’t have to repay the advance we gave you last week, provided you spend half of it next week.

A bit of history on debt from Prof. Buckley of the University of New South Wales (Australia),

The beginning was in the early 1980s. And in the beginning were bad loans, and from the loins of these bad loans sprang debt-equity exchanges, which quickly begat debt-for-nature exchanges, and then debt-for-education exchanges, and most recently, debt-for-health exchanges. And today, when all the begatting has been done, the progeny are known mostly as debt-for-development exchanges, or sometimes as debt-for-investment projects (by those who wish to suggest for the technique a more commercial focus).

Where is the exchange when a rich country offers to cancel some of its loans to a poor country, if the poor country spends money on a development project? That’s like our saying to our daughter, ‘You don’t have to repay the advance we gave you last week, provided you spend half of it next week’. [1]

Thus we observe early forms of debt trading, of sorts.

In the debt-for-health segment of the professor's report, we also note:

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is another UN initiative. It is a public-private partnership which seeks to finance public health initiatives in developing countries.[1]

The honorable professor mentioned the early 1980s, so let us examine a presidential-level cabinet meeting which was taking place in the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, USA, at that time.

The 3 Ds: Deflation, Debt & the Dollar

Warren Buffet warns on U.S. debt.

If we leave aside the war-impacted years of 1942 to 1946, the largest annual deficit the United States has incurred since 1920 was 6 percent of gross domestic product. This fiscal year, though, the deficit will rise to about 13 percent of G.D.P., more than twice the non-wartime record. In dollars, that equates to a staggering $1.8 trillion. Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory.

Is America Bankrupt?

Following Enron's [and Worldcom's] demise Congress enacted Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) to ensure the transparency of management practices for public companies. Enron's financial engineers had created off-book derivatives that worked just like an off-shore toilet: they would dump all their "phantom" debt there, but unfortunate for Enron's executives, the flusher didn't work. The debt was actually real. Enron was able to hide its debt so long as its energy revenues were growing. Once that stopped the house fell down.

Health Care Debt

Years ago when Tenant, Columbia and others were building out their networks, they purchased thousands of local community hospitals. They were viewed as undervalued assets. These large health conglomerates issued bonds to finance their acquisitions, and the first thing they'd do upon purchasing a small community hospital would be to sell the land it was on to one of their REITs. The community hospital then would begin paying rent to the REIT, and that in turn ultimately financed the acquisition. Community hospitals were effectively refinanced and mortgaged, instead of being free and clear of debt burden. No longer did the community hospital operate as an entity standing on fully paid for land. Historically, before the massive reconsolidation by Wall Street, Community Hospitals paid no rent. Why is this important?

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