Monday, August 31, 2009

Hope Now Mortgage Loss Mitigation Statistics

by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 10:48:00 PM

Hope Now released the July Mortgage Loss Mitigation Statistics.

Most of the data concerns modifications - and those are not encouraging - but here are couple of graphs on delinquencies and foreclosures.

Hope Now Delinquent Click on graph for larger image in new window.

There are now more than 3 million mortgage loans 60+ delinquent based on the Hope Now statistics.

The Hope Now program covers approximately 73% of the total industry, so the total delinquent is probably over 4 million now.

Hope Now Foreclosures The second graph shows delinquent loans, and foreclosure starts and completions.

Foreclosure starts were above 283 thousand in July, and completions only 89 thousand. There is a lag between start and completion, and a number of loans cure or are modified.

But foreclosures are dwarfed by 60+ day delinquencies. Although there will probably be a surge in foreclosure sales later this year (based on the increase in foreclosure starts), the real question is how many of those delinquent loans will become foreclosures?

Clunkers and August Auto Sales

by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 08:23:00 PM

There is no question auto sales will decline sharply in September, but there is a pretty amazing range of estimates for August ... a couple of excerpts:

From the WSJ: Next for Auto Sector, Post-Clunker Hangover

Auto sales for August, due out by Tuesday afternoon, are expected to come in between 13 million SAAR, or the seasonally adjusted annual rate of car sales, and 16 million.
And from Bloomberg: U.S. Auto-Sales Rate May Be Highest Since April 2008
U.S. auto sales in August probably will run at the highest rate since April 2008 after the federal government’s “cash for clunkers” rebates fueled demand.

The so-called seasonally adjusted annual rate for this month will be 14.3 million, the average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
...
August sales results, released tomorrow, will reflect more than three weeks of transactions under the clunkers program, which ran from July 27 through Aug. 24.
There probably were 550 thousand clunker related sales in August, but the question is the number of non-clunker sales. If there was little cannibalization of regular sales, non-clunker sales would probably be close to 800 thousand. August is usually a strong sales month, and adjusting for seasonal factors, this would suggest a sales rate close to 16 million SAAR.

From Dow Jones: Edmunds.com Sees Aug US Auto Sales Up 18%; Wary On Sept
Edmunds.com is projecting August U.S. new-vehicle sales of about 1.17 million and a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of slightly more than 13 million.
A sales rate of 13 million SAAR - although the highest rate since last August - would have to be considered very disappointing.

CNBC: What Banks are doing with Foreclosures

by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 05:01:00 PM

Diana Olick at CNBC has some BofA info: What Banks Are Really Doing With Foreclosures

Bank of America:

  • Foreclosure sales have been abnormally low since we learned of the pending implementation of the administration’s Making Home Affordable program. From that point, we delayed the initiation of foreclosure proceedings and sales for customers that may eligible for a loan modification under MHA. As a result of this policy, our foreclosure sales in recent months have been as little as half the normal pace we experienced before.
    ...
  • Now that Making Home Affordable programs are operational, we do project an increase in foreclosures as we exhaust every available option to qualify customers for modifications and other solutions.
    ...
  • We do not hold foreclosed properties off the market.
  • According to BofA, they are not sitting on REOs (Real Estate Owned) for longer than normal, but they are holding off foreclosing - pending modification attempts. That is basically what the data says too.

    The Q2 FDIC Quarterly Banking Profile showed the banks held $11.5 billion in 1-4 family residential REO at the end of Q2. That is the same level as the last several quarters.

    But what has really changed is the surge in delinquencies - combined with the banks holding off foreclosing. As BofA notes, this will lead to a wave of foreclosures later this year and into 2010, however the size of the wave depends on the success of the modification programs (not looking great so far).

    August Economic Summary in Graphs

    by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 04:00:00 PM

    Here is a collection of real estate and economic graphs for data released in August ...

    Note: Click on graphs for larger image in new window. For more info, click on link below graph to original post.

    ********************

    New Home Sales Monthly Not Seasonally Adjusted New Home Sales in July (NSA)

    The first graph shows monthly new home sales (NSA - Not Seasonally Adjusted).

    Note the Red columns for 2009. This is the 3rd lowest sales for July since the Census Bureau started tracking sales in 1963.

    In July 2009, 39 thousand new homes were sold (NSA); the record low was 31 thousand in July 1982; the record high for July was 117 thousand in 2005.

    From: New Home Sales Increase in July

    ********************

    New Home Sales and Recessions New Home Sales in July

    This graph shows shows New Home Sales vs. recessions for the last 45 years.

    "Sales of new one-family houses in July 2009 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 ...

    This is 9.6 percent (±13.4%) above the revised June rate of 395,000, but is 13.4 percent (±12.9%) below the July 2008 estimate of 500,000."


    From: New Home Sales Increase in July

    ********************

    New Home Months of Supply and Recessions New Home Months of Supply in July

    There were 7.5 months of supply in July - significantly below the all time record of 12.4 months of supply set in January.

    "The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 271,000. This represents a supply of 7.5 months at the current sales rate."

    From: New Home Sales Increase in July

    ********************

    Existing Home Sales Existing Home Sales in July

    This graph shows existing home sales, on a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) basis since 1993.

    Sales in July 2009 (5.24 million SAAR) were 7.2% higher than last month, and were 5.0% lower than July 2008 (4.99 million SAAR).

    From: Existing Home Sales increase in July

    ********************

    Existing Home Inventory Existing Home Inventory July

    This graph shows nationwide inventory for existing homes. According to the NAR, inventory increased to 4.09 million in July. The all time record was 4.57 million homes for sale in July 2008. This is not seasonally adjusted.

    Also, many REOs (bank owned properties) are included in the inventory because they are listed - but not all. Recently there have been stories about a substantial number of unlisted REOs and other shadow inventory - so this inventory number is probably low.

    From: Existing Home Sales increase in July

    ********************

    YoY Change Existing Home Inventory Existing Home Inventory July, Year-over-Year Change

    This graph shows the year-over-year change in existing home inventory.

    If the trend of declining year-over-year inventory levels continues in 2009 that will be a positive for the housing market. Prices will probably continue to fall until the months of supply reaches more normal levels (closer to 6 months compared to the current 9.4 months), and that will take some time. Plus remember the shadow inventory!

    From: More on Existing Home Inventory

    ********************

    Case-Shiller House Prices Indices Case Shiller House Prices for June

    This graph shows the nominal Composite 10 and Composite 20 indices (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

    The Composite 10 index is off 32.6% from the peak, and up about 9% (annualized) in June.

    The Composite 20 index is off 31.4% from the peak, and up in June.

    From: Case-Shiller House Price Index Increases in June

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    Residential NAHB Housing Market Index NAHB Builder Confidence Index in August

    This graph shows the builder confidence index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

    The housing market index (HMI) increased to 18 in August from 17 in July. The record low was 8 set in January.

    This is still very low - and this is what I've expected - a long period of builder depression.

    From: NAHB: Builder Confidence Slightly Higher in August

    ********************

    AIA Architecture Billing Index Architecture Billings Index for July

    "The Architecture Billings Index rebounded more than 5 points last month to a reading of 43.1, reversing a similar decline in June, according to the American Institute of Architects.

    The index has remained below 50, indicating contraction in demand for design services, since January 2008 ..."

    From: AIA: Architecture Billings Index shows Contraction in July

    ********************

    Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Housing Starts in July

    Total housing starts were at 581 thousand (SAAR) in July, off slightly from June, but up sharply over the last three months from the all time record low in April of 479 thousand (the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959).

    Single-family starts were at 490 thousand (SAAR) in July, up slightly from June; 37 percent above the record low in January and February (357 thousand).

    From: Housing Starts Flat in July

    ********************

    Construction Spending Construction Spending in June

    The first graph shows private residential and nonresidential construction spending since 1993. Note: nominal dollars, not inflation adjusted.

    Residential construction spending increased slightly in June, and nonresidential spending declined a little. From other data (new housing starts), it appears that residential spending has stabilized and might increase in Q3 - however private nonresidential construction will be falling off a cliff.

    From: Construction Spending Increases Slightly in June

    ********************

    Employment Measures and Recessions July Employment Report

    This graph shows the unemployment rate and the year over year change in employment vs. recessions.

    Nonfarm payrolls decreased by 247,000 in July. The economy has lost almost 5.7 million jobs over the last year, and 6.66 million jobs during the 19 consecutive months of job losses.

    The unemployment rate declined slightly to 9.4 percent.

    Year over year employment is strongly negative.

    From: Employment Report: 247K Jobs Lost, 9.4% Unemployment Rate

    ********************

    Percent Job Losses During Recessions July Employment Comparing Recessions

    This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms (as opposed to the number of jobs lost).

    For the current recession, employment peaked in December 2007, and this recession was a slow starter (in terms of job losses and declines in GDP).

    However job losses have really picked up over the last year, and the current recession is now the 2nd worst recession since WWII in percentage terms (and the 1948 recession recovered very quickly) - and also in terms of the unemployment rate (only early '80s recession was worse).

    From: Employment Report: 247K Jobs Lost, 9.4% Unemployment Rate

    ********************

    Year-over-year change in Retail Sales July Retail Sales

    This graph shows the year-over-year change in nominal and real retail sales since 1993.

    The Census Bureau reported retail sales decreased 0.1% from June to July (seasonally adjusted), and sales are off 8.3% from July 2008 (retail ex food services decreased 9.3%).


    From: Retail Sales Decline Slightly in July

    ********************

    LA Area Port Traffic LA Port Traffic in July

    This graph shows the loaded inbound and outbound traffic at the port of Los Angeles in TEUs (TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container). Although containers tell us nothing about value, container traffic does give us an idea of the volume of goods being exported and imported.

    Inbound traffic was 22.0% below July 2008.

    Outbound traffic was 22.7% below July 2008.

    There had been some recovery in U.S. exports earlier this year (the year-over-year comparison was off 30% from December through February). And this showed up in the in the Q1 and Q2 GDP reports as net exports of goods and services added 2.64% and 1.38% to GDP in Q1 and Q2, respectively.

    From: LA Area Ports: Export Traffic Declines in July

    ********************

    U.S. Trade Exports Imports U.S. Imports and Exports Through June

    This graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through June 2009.

    Imports were up in June, mostly because of a spike in oil prices. Exports also increased in June. On a year-over-year basis, exports are off 22% and imports are off 31%.

    From: Trade Deficit Increases in June

    ********************

    Capacity Utilization Capacity Utilization in July

    This graph shows Capacity Utilization. This series is slightly above the record low (the series starts in 1967).

    "Industrial production increased 0.5 percent in July. Aside from a hurricane-related rebound in October 2008, the gain in July marked the first monthly increase since December 2007. ... At 96.0 percent of its 2002 average, total industrial production was 13.1 percent below its level of a year earlier. In July, the capacity utilization rate for total industry edged up to 68.5 percent, a level 12.4 percentage points below its 1972-2008 average."

    From: Industrial Production, Capacity Utilization Increase in July

    ********************

    Restaurant Performance Index Restaurant Performance Index for July

    "The Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 98.1 in July, up 0.3 percent from its June level. However, the RPI still remained below 100 for the 21st consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.
    ...
    In addition to sales declines, restaurant operators reported negative customer traffic levels for the 23rd consecutive month in July."

    From: Restaurants in July: 23rd Consecutive Month of Declining Traffic

    ********************

    Philly Fed State Conincident Map Philly Fed State Conincident Indicators for July

    Here is a map of the three month change in the Philly Fed state coincident indicators. Forty seven states are showing declining three month activity.

    This is what a widespread recession looks like based on the Philly Fed states indexes.

    On a one month basis, activity decreased in 35 states in June, and was unchanged in 8 states.

    From: Philly Fed State Coincident Indicators: Still a Widespread Recession in July

    ********************

    Vehicle Sales Light vehicle sales in July

    This graph shows the historical light vehicle sales (seasonally adjusted annual rate) from the BEA (blue) and an estimate for July (red, light vehicle sales of 11.24 million SAAR from AutoData Corp).

    This is the highest vehicle sales since September 2008 (12.5 million SAAR).

    From: Light Vehicle Sales Over 11 Million (SAAR) in July

    ********************

    Lodging Investment as Percent of GDP Q2: Office, Mall and Lodging Investment

    This graph shows investment in offices, lodging and malls as a percent of GDP.

    The recent boom in lodging investment has been stunning. Lodging investment peaked at 0.32% of GDP in Q2 2008 and has started to decline (0.27% in Q2 2009). There was a small increase in Q2 2009 that is probably related to projects being completed. I expect lodging investment to continue to decline through at least 2010, to perhaps one-third of the peak.

    Investment in multimerchandise shopping structures (malls) peaked in 2007 and has fallen sharply.

    Office investment as a percent of GDP peaked at 0.46% in Q3 2008 and has started to decline sharply. With the office vacancy rate rising sharply, office investment will also probably decline through at least 2010.

    From: Q2: Office, Mall and Lodging Investment

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    Apartment Tightness Index NMHC Quarterly Apartment Survey

    This graph shows the quarterly Apartment Tightness Index.

    A reading below 50 suggests vacancies are rising. Based on limited historical data, I think this index will lead reported apartment rents by 6 months to 1 year. Or stated another way, rents will probably fall for 6 months to 1 year after this index reaches 50. Right now I expect rents to continue to decline through most of 2010.

    From: Q2 NMHC Quarterly Apartment Survey: Occupancy Continues to Decline, but Pace Slows

    ********************

    non-business bankruptcy filings U.S. Consumer Bankruptcy Filings in July

    This graph shows the non-business bankruptcy filings by quarter.

    Note: Quarterly data from Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, 2009 based on monthly data from the American Bankruptcy Institute.

    From the American Bankruptcy Institute: Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Reach Highest Monthly Total Since 2005 Bankruptcy Law Overhaul
    U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings reached 126,434 in July, the highest monthly total since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was implemented in October 2005, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC).
    From: ABI: Personal Bankruptcy Filings up 34.3 Percent compared to July 2008
    ********************

    Commercial Bank Delinquency Rates Delinquency Rates in Q2 2009

    This graph shows the delinquency rates at the commercial banks for residential real estate, commercial real estate and consumer credit cards.

    Commercial real estate delinquencies (7.91%) are rising rapidly, and are at the highest rate since the early '90s (as delinquency rates declined following the S&L crisis).

    Residential real estate (8.84%) and consumer credit card (6.7%) delinquencies are at the highest levels since the Fed started tracking the data (since Q1 '91).

    Although there is credit deterioration everywhere, the rise in these three categories is especially significant. There was also a significant increase in C&I delinquencies (commerical & industrial) and Agricultural loans.

    From: Fed: Delinquency Rates Surged in Q2 2009
    ********************

    Fitch: Credit Card Default Chargeoffs decline Slightly in July

    by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 01:35:00 PM

    From Fitch: Consumer 'Signs of Life' Improve U.S. Credit Card Chargeoffs

    U.S. consumer credit quality showed signs of life as credit card ABS chargeoffs declined last month, snapping a string of five consecutive record highs, according to the latest Credit Card Index results from Fitch Ratings.
    ...
    'We still need to see some measurable improvement in the delinquency and personal bankruptcy figures and the employment situation overall before chargeoffs revert to more historical norms,' said Managing Director Michael Dean. 'For now, we expect chargeoffs to moderate at these elevated levels in the coming months.'

    Chargeoffs had risen 45% from February through July and they still remain 63% above year earlier levels. Late stage delinquencies, or receivables more than 60 days past due, have held relatively stable albeit near record highs during the same period following a rapid increase over the prior six months that forewarned the chargeoff run-up.

    Fitch's Prime Credit Card Chargeoff Index declined 24 basis points (bps) to 10.55% for the July collection period. ...
    As a reminder, the bank stress tests assumed a cumulative two year credit card loss rate of 18% to 20% for the more adverse scenario (only 12% to 17% for the baseline scenario). Right now losses are worse than the more adverse scenario.

    Also credit card loss rates tend to the track unemployment - so, as the unemployment rate rises into 2010, the credit card chargeoffs might increase some more.

    Restaurants in July: 23rd Consecutive Month of Declining Traffic

    by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 10:03:00 AM

    Note: Any reading below 100 shows contraction for this index.

    From the National Restaurant Association (NRA): Restaurant Industry Outlook Remained Uncertain In June as Restaurant Performance Index Declined for Second Consecutive Month

    The outlook for the restaurant industry improved somewhat in July, as the National Restaurant Association’s comprehensive index of restaurant activity registered its first gain in three months. The Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 98.1 in July, up 0.3 percent from its June level. However, the RPI still remained below 100 for the 21st consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.

    “Although restaurant operators continue to report soft same-store sales and customer traffic levels, they are more optimistic about improving conditions in the months ahead,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Information Services for the Association. “Restaurant operators reported a positive six-month economic outlook, and the proportion expecting higher sales rose to its highest level in three months.”
    ...
    In addition to sales declines, restaurant operators reported negative customer traffic levels for the 23rd consecutive month in July.
    emphasis added
    Restaurant Performance Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    Unfortunately the data for this index only goes back to 2002.

    The restaurant business is still contracting, although not contracting as fast as late last year.

    The cook must have put the green shoots in the soup.

    Chicago: A Renters' Market

    by Bill McBride on 8/31/2009 09:05:00 AM

    From the Chicago Tribune: Chicago's a renters' market, but vacancies, delinquencies on rise

    More apartments are available in Chicago, and at prices that have slipped since the beginning of the year, creating a renter's market and allowing some consumers to trade up to better housing. ... according to a study scheduled to be released Monday by DePaul University's Institute for Housing Studies.
    ...
    "If anything, I think [DePaul] is reporting less than what I see," said Jack Markowski, president of Community Investment Corp., a non-profit mortgage lender to multifamily buildings that started seeing increases in multifamily mortgage delinquencies 18 months ago. Multifamily buildings, he said, "are vulnerable right now."
    ...
    Landlords, seeking to cover their costs, are lowering rents to attract tenants, and the study found that rents declined in all sizes of buildings and in all city neighborhoods except for the North Side.
    ...
    The level of multifamily mortgages foreclosed on in Chicago during the year's second quarter, at 0.8 percent of the total supply, was twice as high as it was in the comparable year-ago period, said James Shilling, a DePaul professor and director of the institute.

    "It only gets worse," Shilling said of the predicament the rental market finds itself in. "There's downward pressure on rents and upward pressure on vacancy rates. I think for the rest of 2009 and 2010 we'll see more defaults."

    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    Shanghai Cliff Diving

    by Bill McBride on 8/30/2009 11:14:00 PM

    Shanghai Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    This graph is the Shanghai SSE composite index. I used to post this graph with the subtitle "Cliff Diving"!

    Now the Shanghai composite is off more than 20% from the recent peak, and off close to 5% tonight. I guess this is 'mini-me' Cliff Diving ...

    The U.S. futures are also off tonight, but not significantly:

    CBOT mini-sized Dow

    Futures from barchart.com

    CME Globex Flash Quotes

    And the other Asian markets are mostly red too.

    Best to all.

    FDIC risks $80 Billion in Loss Share Agreements

    by Bill McBride on 8/30/2009 06:46:00 PM

    Every Friday, in just about every bank failure press release, the FDIC mentions a loss share agreement with the acquiring bank. As an example, in the press release regarding Mutual Bank of Harvey, Illinois on July 31st:

    As of July 16, 2009, Mutual Bank had total assets of $1.6 billion and total deposits of approximately $1.6 billion. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, United Central Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

    The FDIC and United Central Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on approximately $1.3 billion of Mutual Bank's assets.
    emphasis added
    For those interested in every detail, here are the Single Family Loss Share Agreement (page 54) and Commercial Loss Share Agreement {page 89) between the FDIC and United Central Bank (the acquirer).

    From the WSJ: FDIC Shoulders Big Losses on Loans
    [T]he Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has agreed to assume most of the risk on $80 billion in loans and other assets. The agency expects it will eventually have to cover $14 billion in future losses on deals cut so far. ...

    So far, the FDIC has paid out $300 million to a handful of banks under the loss-share agreements. ... The agency estimates the loss-share deals cut will cost it $11 billion less than if the agency seized the assets and sold them at fair-market value.
    ...
    In most cases, the FDIC agrees to cover 80% of future losses on a big portion of the assets, and 95% on the rest. The FDIC says it doesn't anticipate facing the 95% loss-coverage scenario on any deal. ... Many of the loss-share deals will be in place for up to 10 years.
    These agreements definitely make the deals more attractive to potential buyers because the limit the downside.

    The article notes that the FDIC "had just $10.4 billion in its deposit-insurance fund at the end of June", but that includes reserves for future losses. And since the FDIC expects losses of $14 billion from these loss share agreements, they should have already reserved for those losses.

    Still many of these agreements will be in place for 10 years, and there is the potential for much higher losses.

    Econbrowser Shifts to Neutral

    by Bill McBride on 8/30/2009 03:16:00 PM

    Professor Hamilton has changed the emoticon on his site to neutral. Hamilton has been generally negative since early 2007 ...

    DateStatus
    Sep 13, 2006happy
    Feb 21, 2007sad
    Apr 25, 2007neutral
    Jun 27, 2007sad
    Oct 5, 2007neutral
    Jan 4, 2008sad
    Aug 30, 2009neutral
    If you've only been following Econbrowser since 2008, you may have thought that the crabby countenance in the upper-right corner of our main page was a permanent fixture, conveying our general grumpiness about the state of the economy or perhaps life in general. Despite having been stuck in the pessimistic mode for quite some time now, the emoticon was in fact always intended to be a dynamic feature, adjusted from time to time to provide readers with our overall impression of incoming data. The table on the left provides links to each occasion that our Little Econ Watcher's countenance has changed in the past.

    Last week's data persuaded me to move the Econbrowser Emoticon back into neutral, signifying that I now judge overall output to be growing slowly rather than declining. Here are details on the evidence that prompted this change in assessment, and what it signifies.
    See Hamilton's post for the reasons for the change. I think we are a long way from a smiley face.

    Bankruptcy Filings and Mortgage Delinquencies by State

    by Bill McBride on 8/30/2009 10:47:00 AM

    Here is a graph of bankruptcy filings vs. mortgage delinquencies (including homes in foreclosure process) by state for Q2 2009.

    Bankruptcy vs. Mortgage Delinquencies by State Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    The bankruptcy filings data is from the American Bankruptcy Institute.

    The mortgage delinquency data is from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    No surprise - there is a clear correlation, although each state has different bankruptcy laws that can impact the relationship (see Florida).

    Here is a sortable table to find the data for each state (use scroll bar to see all data).

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Houses: Cash Buyer Percentages in Orlando, Tampa and Knoxville

    by Bill McBride on 8/29/2009 09:38:00 PM

    Here is some data from the Atlanta Fed on cash buyers in the southeast. This is part of the economic and financial highlights the Atlanta Fed puts out weekly.

    Cash Buyers Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    From the Economic Highlight:

    Orlando and Tampa Realtor data [earlier] showed an increase in the share of cash buyers, but in recent months that share has weakened somewhat.

    In the Knoxville market, where home sales and prices did not accelerate as much as in Orlando and Tampa, the share of cash buyers had peaked earlier in the year but has tapered off since March.
    The percentages for Orlanda and Tampa are similar to the percentages in the lower priced areas of the California Bay Area: see the table in Carolyn Said's recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle 'Cash is king' in market for foreclosed homes

    I suspect many of these cash buyers are investors buying for cash flow (not the speculators we saw during the boom). Frequently these investors are buying in the same areas as first-time home buyers (some motivated by the $8K tax credit) - and the competition is pushing up prices and reducing supply. Now if we just had better first-time home buyer data ...

    Article: "The HAMP Mirage"

    by Bill McBride on 8/29/2009 05:40:00 PM

    Andy Kroll at Mother Jones discusses problems with the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP): The Foreclosure Rescue Mirage

    Industry experts are now questioning how many of the program’s estimated 235,000 modifications will actually benefit homeowners in the long term, and say that homeowners clamoring to participate in HAMP have created an industrywide logjam for mortgage servicers, resulting in substantial delays and backed-up customer service support. The Treasury’s first servicer performance report (PDF), covering March to July 2009, found that servicers had offered modifications to just 15 percent of eligible delinquent homeowners, and initiated them for just 9 percent of that group.
    I've heard from servicers who've said they are just overwhelmed and are staffing up to meet the demand. And it appears the administration is trying to make improvements:
    Despite its flaws, HAMP is a good-faith effort by the government to address the foreclosure crisis, and there are signs of improvement. In June, HAMP officials began conducting much more rigorous reviews of servicers, and have started a "second look" program, in which servicers’ decisions to approve or deny HAMP modifications are scrutinized. Compliance officials are also analyzing samples of HAMP-modified loans to track error rates with servicers. And government officials have on several occasions tried to light a fire under HAMP servicers to speed up the modification process.
    Some believe HAMP will fall far short of the goals:
    The Treasury has set a target of modifying 4 million mortgages by 2012, but Moody's estimates HAMP will in fact modify only 1.5 to 2 million.
    The Treasury disagrees:
    More than 400,000 modification offers have been extended and more than 230,000 trial modifications have begun. This pace of modifications puts the program on track to offer assistance to up to 3 to 4 million homeowners over the next three years, our target on February 18.
    Actually the original press release stated the program "will help up to 3 to 4 million at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure" and the new press release says "offer assistance to up to 3 to 4 million homeowners". A few word changes makes a significant difference.

    The Treasury's current target is 500,000 cumulative trial modifications started by November 1st, up from the 235,000 cumulative at the end of July. At that pace (about 90 thousand trials started per month), the cumulative trial modifications started will be close to 3.0 million by early 2012 - however many of those borrowers will probably redefault. Anyone who redefaults will have been "offered assistance", but probably will not "avoid foreclosure".

    The article has a few interesting anecdotes of the struggles of borrowers in dealing with their servicers. My best wishes to Kristina Page. Thanks for mentioning CR!

    Quarterly Housing Starts and New Home Sales

    by Bill McBride on 8/29/2009 01:02:00 PM

    The Census Bureau has released the "Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design" report for Q2 2009 a few days ago.

    Monthly housing starts (even single family starts) cannot be compared directly to new home sales, because the monthly housing starts report from the Census Bureau includes apartments, owner built units and condos that are not included in the new home sales report.

    However it is possible to compare "Single Family Starts, Built for Sale" to New Home sales on a quarterly basis. The quarterly report shows that there were 82,000 single family starts, built for sale, in Q2 2009 and that is less than the 102,000 new homes sold for the same period. This data is Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA). This suggests homebuilders are selling more homes than they are starting.

    Note: new home sales are reported when contracts are signed, so it is appropriate to compare sales to starts (as opposed to completions). This is not perfect because homebuilders were stuck with “unintentional spec homes” during the housing bust because of the high cancellation rates, but cancellation rates are now much closer to normal.

    Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    This graph provides a quarterly comparison of housing starts and new home sales. In 2005, and most of 2006, starts were higher than sales, and inventories of new homes rose sharply. For the last seven quarters, starts have been below sales – and new home inventories have been falling.

    Housing Starts The second graph shows the NSA quarterly starts intent for four categories since 1975: single family built for sale, owner built (includes contractor built for owner), starts built for rent, and condos built for sale.

    Condo starts in Q2 tied the all time record low for Condos built for sale set in Q1 (5,000); the previous record was 8,000 set in Q1 1991 (data started in 1975).

    Owner built units are above the record low set last quarter (38,000 units compared to 24,000 units in Q1 2009), however the pickup in starts was probably mostly seasonal (this is NSA data).

    And single family units built for sale were also above the record low set last quarter (82,000 compared to 53,000 in Q1 2009).

    Failed Banks and the Deposit Insurance Fund

    by Bill McBride on 8/29/2009 10:11:00 AM

    As a companion to the August 28 Problem Bank List (unofficial), below is a list of failed banks since Jan 2007.

    The FDIC released the Q2 Quarterly Banking Profile this week. The report showed that the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) balance had fallen to $10.4 billion or 0.22% of insured deposits.

    Deposit Insurance Fund Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    The graph shows the cumulative estimated losses to the FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) and the quarterly assets of the DIF (as reported by the FDIC). Note that the FDIC takes reserves against future losses in the DIF, and collects fees and special assessments - so you can't just subtract estimated losses from assets to determine the assets remaining in the DIF.

    The cumulative estimated losses for the DIF are now over $40 billion.

    In this Dick Bove interview with CNNMoney, the interviewer Poppy Harlow said:

    "When we look at that list though - we don't get the names from the FDIC obviously - only about 13% of the bank on that list actually end up failing".
    The 13% number is historically accurate, but that is over the entire cycle - and this down cycle will probably be worse than most. So during this down period, the percentage will probably be much higher. As far as the names of the banks on the "list", most of them are on the Unofficial Problem Bank list.

    The FDIC closed three more banks on Friday, and that brings the total FDIC bank failures to 84 in 2009.

    Failed Bank List

    Deposits, assets and estimated losses are all in thousands of dollars.

    Losses for failed banks in 2009 are the initial FDIC estimates. The percent losses are as a percent of assets.

    See description below table for Class and Cert (and a link to FDIC ID system).

    The table is wide - use scroll bars to see all information!

    Click here for a full screen version.

    NOTE: Columns are sortable - click on column header (Assets, State, Bank Name, Date, etc.)




    Class: from FDIC
    The FDIC assigns classification codes indicating an institution's charter type (commercial bank, savings bank, or savings association), its chartering agent (state or federal government), its Federal Reserve membership status (member or nonmember), and its primary federal regulator (state-chartered institutions are subject to both federal and state supervision). These codes are:
  • N National chartered commercial bank supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • SM State charter Fed member commercial bank supervised by the Federal Reserve
  • NM State charter Fed nonmember commercial bank supervised by the FDIC
  • SA State or federal charter savings association supervised by the Office of Thrift Supervision
  • SB State charter savings bank supervised by the FDIC
  • Cert: This is the certificate number assigned by the FDIC used to identify institutions and for the issuance of insurance certificates. You can click on the number and see "the last demographic and financial data filed by the selected institution".

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    Judge Stays FOIA Fed Ruling Pending Appeal

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 11:55:00 PM

    From Rolfe Winkler at Reuters: Judge puts Fed's bailout revelations on hold

    Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan stayed her August 24 order in favor of Bloomberg News, which had sought [the names of the banks that have participated in the Federal Reserve's emergency lending programs] under the federal Freedom of Information Act, so that the central bank could appeal.
    This case might go on and on. Perhaps Barney Frank and Ron Paul will pass new legislation requiring auditing the Fed before this FOIA case makes it through the courts.

    UPDATE: Mish says Ron Paul RonPaul.com makes clear in an email to Mish that Frank is not talking HR1207, but an overall regulation.
    "[W]e will subject [the Federal Reserve] to a complete audit. I have been working with Ron Paul, who is the main sponsor of that bill. He agrees that we don't want to have the audit appear as if it is influencing monetary policy, because that would be inflationary. And Ron and I agree on that.

    One of the things the audit will show you is what the Federal Reserve buys and sells. And that will be made public, but not instantly, because if that was made instantly you would have a lot people trading off of that and you would have too much impact the market - and again Ron agrees with that. So we will publicly have that data released after a time period of several months, enough time so it wouldn't be market sensitive. That will be part of the overall Federal regulation that we are redacting.

    The House will pass [the bill] probably in October."

    Bank Failure #84: Affinity Bank, Ventura, California

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 09:19:00 PM

    The West setting sun
    Affinity burned brightly
    Extinguished today

    by Soylent Green is People

    From the FDIC: Pacific Western Bank, San Diego, California, Assumes All of the Deposits of Affinity Bank, Ventura, California
    Affinity Bank, Ventura, California, was closed today by the California Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. ...

    As of July 10, 2009, Affinity Bank had total assets of $1 billion and total deposits of approximately $922 million. ...

    The FDIC and Pacific Western Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on approximately $934 million of Affinity Bank's assets. ...

    The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $254 million. ... Affinity Bank is the 84th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the ninth in California. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Vineyard Bank, National Association, Rancho Cucamonga, on July 17, 2009.
    A quarter of billion here, a quarter of a billion there ...

    Bank Failure #83: Mainstreet Bank, Forest Lake, Minnesota

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 07:10:00 PM

    Wise men once have said
    Chance favors the prepaired mind
    not so for Mainstreet.

    by Soylent Green is People

    From the FDIC: Central Bank, Stillwater, Minnesota, Assumes All of the Deposits of Mainstreet Bank, Forest Lake, Minnesota
    Mainstreet Bank, Forest Lake, Minnesota, was closed today by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. ...

    As of June 30, 2009, Mainstreet Bank had total assets of $459 million and total deposits of approximately $434 million. ...

    The FDIC and Central Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on approximately $268 million of Mainstreet Bank's assets. ...

    The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $95 million. ... Mainstreet Bank is the 83rd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the second in Minnesota. The last FDIC-insured institution to be closed in the state was Horizon Bank, Pine City, on June 26, 2009.
    Two down today.

    Bank Failure #82: Bradford Bank, Baltimore, Maryland

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 06:10:00 PM

    Summer heat scorches
    Three...four hundred...one thousand???
    Bradford bank now toast.

    by Soylent Green is People

    From the FDIC: Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, Buffalo, New York, Assumes All of the Deposits of Bradford Bank, Baltimore, Maryland
    Bradford Bank, Baltimore, Maryland, was closed today by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. ...

    As of June 30, 2009, Bradford Bank had total assets of $452 million and total deposits of approximately $383 million. ...

    The FDIC and M&T entered into a loss-share transaction on approximately $338 million of Bradford Bank's assets. ...

    The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $97 million. ... Bradford Bank is the 82nd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the second in Maryland. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Suburban Federal Savings Bank, Crofton, on January 30, 2009.
    It is Friday.

    Misc: Cerberus, Flippers and Market

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 04:00:00 PM

    While we wait for the first bank failure of the day, here is the Problem Bank List (Unofficial) Aug 28, 2009 .

    And a few interesting notes ...

    From the WSJ: Cerberus Holders Elect to Leave Core Funds

    Cerberus Capital Management's investors overwhelmingly want out of the firm's core hedge funds, asking for the return of more than $5.5 billion, or almost 71% of the fund assets, according to people familiar with the matter.

    "We have been surprised by this response," Cerberus chief Stephen Feinberg and co-founder William Richter wrote in a letter delivered to clients late Thursday.
    And see Tanta's first post on CR in 2006: Tanta: Let Slip the Dogs of Hell (T wrote under her own byline soon after).
    I still haven’t gotten over the fact that there’s a “capital management” group out there having named itself “Cerberus”. Those of you who were not asleep in Miss Buttkicker’s Intro to Western Civ will recognize Cerberus; the rest of you may have picked up the mythological fix from its reprise as “Fluffy” in the first Harry Potter novel. Wherever you get your culture, Cerberus is the three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hell. It takes three heads to do that, of course, because it’s never clear, in theology or finance, whether the idea is to keep the righteous from falling into the pit or the demons from escaping out of it (the third head is busy meeting with the regulators). Cerberus is relevant not just because it supplies me with today’s metaphor, but because it was the Biggest Dog of three (including Citigroup and Aozora, a Japanese bank) who in April bought a 51% stake in GMAC’s mega-mortgage operation, GM having, of course, once been renowned as one of the Big Three Automakers until it became one of the Big Three Financing Outfits With A Sideline In Cars. I tried to find a link for you to Aozora Bank’s announcement of the purchase, but the only press release I could find for that day involved the loss of customer data. They must have been so busy letting GMAC into the underworld that the dog head keeping the deposit tickets from getting out got distracted.
    ...
    I bring all this up not just to stick it to Citicorp, but because we’ve all been asking the question lately of who will be the bagholder when the exotic/subprime mortgage problem finds a home. We have noted in our discussions that credit risk can move in two directions: the wholesaler takes it off the originator and the bond investor takes it off the wholesaler/issuer with the helpful assistance of protection sellers in the hedge fund credit-swap market, but when the “DETOUR” signs pop up, the bond investor can work really hard on forcing it back to the wholesaler/issuer, who can try to put it back to the originator, who gets to try to recover something in a foreclosure sale. If the originator has any financial strength left to buy loans back with, that is; see the sad stories of Ownit, Option One, Fremont, New Century, etc.
    [CR: remember T wrote this in 2006]
    ...
    If you thought the only thing that would stop the circle jerk of risk was putting some credit and pricing discipline into the game, I guess you’re just a weenie like me. Anyone who can make sense of this is free to set me straight. And if the answer has “sorting socks” in it, don’t bother. I’ve tried that.
    Read the entire post ... Tanta wouldn't have been "surprised" by the "response" of Cerberus' investors. BTW, Tanta and I first started talking about bagholders in early 2005 - and we both agreed it would largely be the U.S. taxpayer.

    Stock Market CrashesClick on graph for larger image in new window.

    And a market graph from Doug Short.

    This matches up the market bottoms for four crashes (with an interim bottom for the Great Depression).

    Note that the Great Depression crash is based on the DOW; the three others are for the S&P 500.

    And a flipper in 2006 (ht Yal). I believe this is her house today on Zillow, around $650K:

    Problem Bank List (Unofficial) Aug 28, 2009

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 01:50:00 PM

    This is an unofficial list of Problem Banks.

    The list is compiled from regulator press releases or from public news sources (see Enforcement Action Type link for source). The FDIC data is released monthly with a delay (the FDIC July Enforcement Actions were released today). The Fed and OTC data is more timely, and the OCC a little lagged. Credit: surferdude808.

    Changes and comments from surferdude808:

    The “unofficial Problem Bank list” underwent substantial changes since last week because of failures; new additions, especially from the OCC and FDIC as they released a number of actions for July; and an identification of unassisted mergers during Q2.

    This week there are 412 institutions on the “unofficial Problem Bank list” with assets of $252.2 billion compared with 391 institutions with assets of $256.5 billion last week. The failure of Guaranty Bank with assets of $14.4 billion was responsible for the great majority of the asset decline. Another 10 institutions with assets of $2.5 billion were removed because of failure or unassisted merger and there was one action that was terminated.

    Additions during the week are 32 institutions with assets of $15.7 billion. Most notable of these additions are the ShoreBank, Chicago, IL with assets of $2.7 billion and three subsidiaries of First National of Nebraska, Inc. (ticker symbol FINN) with assets of $4.5 billion.

    Since the FDIC released the latest quarterly data, we were able to update assets for all institutions as of Q2. For the 381 institutions that were on the “unofficial Problem Bank list” at Q1 and Q2, assets declined by $3.3 billion.

    With the FDIC Q2 release, we can see how well the “unofficial Problem Bank list” compares with the FDIC’s official Problem Bank list. The FDIC list includes 416 institutions with assets of $299.8 billion at Q2 while for a comparable period the “unofficial Problem Bank list” had 392 institutions with assets of $280 billion; thus, the unofficial list is a reasonable approximation with an acceptable tracking error.
    See description below table for Class and Cert (and a link to FDIC ID system).

    For a full screen version of the table click here.

    The table is wide - use scroll bars to see all information!

    NOTE: Columns are sortable - click on column header (Assets, State, Bank Name, Date, etc.)





    Class: from FDIC
    The FDIC assigns classification codes indicating an institution's charter type (commercial bank, savings bank, or savings association), its chartering agent (state or federal government), its Federal Reserve membership status (member or nonmember), and its primary federal regulator (state-chartered institutions are subject to both federal and state supervision). These codes are:
  • N National chartered commercial bank supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • SM State charter Fed member commercial bank supervised by the Federal Reserve
  • NM State charter Fed nonmember commercial bank supervised by the FDIC
  • SA State or federal charter savings association supervised by the Office of Thrift Supervision
  • SB State charter savings bank supervised by the FDIC
  • Cert: This is the certificate number assigned by the FDIC used to identify institutions and for the issuance of insurance certificates. Click on the number and the Institution Directory (ID) system "will provide the last demographic and financial data filed by the selected institution".

    Unemployment and Net Jobs

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 10:23:00 AM

    Next Friday the BLS employment report for August will be released.

    Last month, when the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 9.4% from 9.5% in June, there were several articles like this one from the LA Times: Unemployment rate decline may indicate the recession has hit bottom.

    Earlier I pointed out that the dip in unemployment was just monthly noise: Jobs and the Unemployment Rate

    FAQ: How can the unemployment rate fall if the economy is losing net jobs, especially since the population is growing?

    This data comes from two separate surveys. The unemployment Rate comes from the Current Population Survey (CPS: commonly called the household survey), a monthly survey of about 60,000 households.

    The jobs number comes from Current Employment Statistics (CES: payroll survey), a sample of approximately 400,000 business establishments nationwide.

    These are very different surveys: the CPS gives the total number of employed (and unemployed including the alternative measures), and the CES gives the total number of positions (excluding some categories like the self-employed, and a person working two jobs counts as two positions).
    ...
    [T]he jobs and unemployment rate come from two different surveys and are different measurements (one for positions, the other for people). Some months the numbers may not seem to make sense (lost jobs and falling unemployment rate), but over time the numbers will work out.
    Here are a couple of scatter graphs to illustrate this point ...

    The first graph shows the monthly change in net jobs (on the x-axis) as a percentage of the civilian workforce, and the change in the unemployment rate on the y-axis.

    The data is for the last 40 years: 1969 through July 2009.

    Unemployment Net Jobs Monthly Click on graph for large image.

    Obviously there is a correlation - the more jobs added (further right on the x-axis), the more the unemployment rate declines (y-axis). And generally the more jobs lost, the more the unemployment rate increases.

    But the graph sure is noisy on a monthly basis.

    If the economy added 0.2% net jobs in one month (as a percent of the civilian workforce, or about 300 thousand net jobs currently), the unemployment rate could increase 0.2% or decrease 0.4% - and still be within the normal scatter.

    The second graph covers the same period but on a quarterly basis:

    Unemployment Net Jobs Quarterly Now we see a much sharper correlation.

    The Red squares are the for 2008, and the first two quarters of 2009. This recession fits the normal pattern.

    If the economy loses about 200 thousand jobs per month in August and September, this relationship suggests the unemployment rate will probably be close to 10% by the end of September.

    This also suggests the economy needs to be adding about 0.33 percent of the civilian workforce per quarter to keep the unemployment rate from rising. That is about 170 thousand net jobs per month.

    Note that the trend line is a 2nd order polynomial (equation on graph). When the economy starts to add jobs, more people start looking for work - and the relationship between net jobs and unemployment rate is not linear.

    Employment Population Ratio This graph show the employment-population ratio; this is the ratio of employed Americans to the adult population.

    Note: the graph doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

    The general upward trend from the early '60s was mostly due to women entering the workforce.

    This measure fell slightly in July to 59.4%, the lowest level since the early '80s. However once the economy starts adding jobs, more people will be looking for work, and the employment-population ratio will start to increase. This means the stronger the economy, the more net jobs required each quarter to lower the unemployment rate by the same amount (as shown on the 2nd graph above).

    The bottom line is the unemployment rate will still increase, and we will probably see 10% later this year.

    July PCE and Saving Rate

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 08:30:00 AM

    From the BEA: Personal Income and Outlays, July 2009

    Personal income increased $3.8 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $4.6 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, in July, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $25.0 billion, or 0.2 percent.
    ...
    Real PCE -- PCE adjusted to remove price changes -- increased 0.2 percent in July, compared with an increase of 0.1 percent in June.
    ...
    Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays – was $458.5 billion in July, compared with $486.8 billion in June. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 4.2 percent in July, compared with 4.5 percent in June.
    Personal Saving RateClick on graph for large image.

    This graph shows the saving rate starting in 1959 (using a three month centered average for smoothing) through the July Personal Income report. The saving rate was 4.2% in July.

    Households are saving substantially more than during the last few years (when the saving rate was around 1.0%). The saving rate will probably continue to rise.

    The following graph shows real Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) through July (2005 dollars). Note that the y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

    PCE The quarterly change in PCE is based on the change from the average in one quarter, compared to the average of the preceding quarter.

    The colored rectangles show the quarters, and the blue bars are the real monthly PCE.

    The July numbers suggest PCE will grow at a 1.3% (annualized rate) in Q3.

    Note that PCE declined sharply in Q3 and Q4 2008 - the cliff diving - and was been relatively flat in Q1 and Q2 2009. Auto sales should gave a boost to PCE in Q3, but in general PCE will probably remain weak over the 2nd half of 2009 and into 2010 as households continue to repair their balance sheets.

    Japan: Record Unemployment Rate

    by Bill McBride on 8/28/2009 12:16:00 AM

    From MarketWatch: Japan reports record unemployment rate for July

    Japan [reported] a record unemployment rate and the biggest decline in consumer prices in roughly 38 years.

    Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said the country's unemployment rate rose to 5.7% in July from 5.4% in the previous month.

    The unemployment rate was higher than the 5.5% expected by economists, according to Dow Jones Newswires, and is the highest on record since World War II.
    ...
    Meanwhile Japan's average monthly income per household fell 2.4% in nominal terms in July, while consumption expenditures fell 4.5% nominally ...
    Japan's recession may be over, but I bet it doesn't feel like it to many workers.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Recession hitting Farms

    by Bill McBride on 8/27/2009 10:26:00 PM

    From the WSJ: Recession Finally Hits Down on the Farm (ht Bob_in_MA)

    The Agriculture Department forecast Thursday that U.S. farm profits will fall 38% this year, indicating that the slump is taking hold in rural America. ... The Agriculture Department said it expects net farm income -- a widely followed measure of profitability -- to drop to $54 billion in 2009, down $33.2 billion from last year's estimated net farm income of $87.2 billion, which was nearly a record high.
    And from the Chicago Fed August AgLetter:
    Farmland values for the second quarter of 2009 were 3 percent lower than a year ago in the Seventh Federal Reserve District. ... Almost 30 percent of the responding bankers expected farmland values to fall in the third quarter of 2009, whereas 71 percent expected stable farmland values.
    This will probably mean lower food prices, from the WSJ:
    For most Americans, the chill in the farm belt is related to one of the few positives they see in this economy: slowing inflation. Prices farmers are receiving for everything from corn and wheat to hogs are down sharply from last year.

    Kasriel: "The Rhyming of History – Bloomberg and the RFC?"

    by Bill McBride on 8/27/2009 06:01:00 PM

    A little history from Paul Kasriel, Chief Economist at Northern Trust: The Rhyming of History – Bloomberg and the RFC?

    On November 7, 2008, Bloomberg LP sued the Federal Reserve Board under terms of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the names of borrowers of funds from the Federal Reserve as well as lists of the collateral posted by the borrowers. On August 25, 2009, a U.S. District judge ruled in favor of Bloomberg, ordering the Federal Reserve Board to turn over to Bloomberg the requested information within five days. At this writing, the Fed has yet to comply and has yet made a decision to appeal the ruling.
    CR Notes, from Bloomberg: The Fed has asked the Judge to stay the order until the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York can hear the case.
    The Fed has been reluctant to reveal the names of its borrowers allegedly out of a concern that such a revelation could have an adverse competitive impact on the borrowers.

    The reason I bring this up is that it is similar to a situation that arose in 1932 with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). The RFC was established by an act of Congress on January 22, 1932, for the purpose of making loans to financial institutions, railroads and to extend credit for crop loans. The Treasury provided some capital to the RFC and the RFC was permitted to borrow from the Treasury. Initially, the RFC granted credit primarily to banks. These loans coincided with a reduction in bank failures and currency held outside the banks declined.

    On July 21, 1932, the RFC was authorized to make loans for self-liquidating public works projects, and to states to provide relief and work relief to needy and unemployed people. This legislation also required that the RFC report to Congress, on a monthly basis, the identity of all new borrowers of RFC funds. On orders from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, commencing in August 1932, the names of banks borrowing from the RFC became public information. This publication of the names of banks borrowing from the RFC discouraged current borrowers from continuing their borrowing and prospective borrowers from commencing borrowings out of a fear that depositors would judge this borrowing as a sign of financial weakness. By November 1932, the outstanding amount of RFC loans to banks had decreased.

    In mid February of 1933, a Detroit bank began having difficulties. The RFC was willing to lend to this bank, but because of a dispute between one of the Michigan senators and Henry Ford, a large depositor in the bank, the RFC loan was not allowed to be made. A bank panic started in Michigan as a result. This Michigan bank panic served as a catalyst for a nationwide bank panic.

    The failure of the Detroit bank was not because the bank was reluctant to borrow from the RFC. But one can only speculate as to whether other banks in Michigan and nationwide were reluctant to borrow from the RFC because their names would have been published. And one can only speculate that if these other banks had willing to borrow from the RFC if a nationwide bank could have been averted.

    Today, we have federal deposit insurance. Therefore, the probabilities and magnitude of depositor runs on banks are much reduced compared with 1933. Yet, we can see “runs” by stockholders and other creditors of banks if there is a suspicion of financial problems. If the Fed is required to publish the names of financial institutions to which it has extended credit and this publication induces financial institutions to refrain from borrowing from the Fed, one can only speculate if this would be the tinder for another liquidity conflagration in the coming months.
    Would we see another liquidity crisis because of concerns about the level of borrowing by certain banks from the Fed? I don't think so - but this is the concern. Doesn't everyone already suspect that Citi and BofA will be near the top of the list?

    I suppose some second tier bank might have a problem if the data is disclosed.

    Hotel RevPAR off 16.7 Percent

    by Bill McBride on 8/27/2009 02:13:00 PM

    From HotelNewsNow.com: STR reports US performance for week ending 22 August 2009

    In year-over-year measurements, the industry’s occupancy fell 7.2 percent to end the week at 60.4 percent. Average daily rate dropped 10.2 percent to finish the week at US$95.70. Revenue per available room for the week decreased 16.7 percent to finish at US$57.84.
    Hotel Occupancy Rate Click on graph for larger image in new window.

    This graph shows the YoY change in the occupancy rate (3 week trailing average).

    The three week average is off 7.3% from the same period in 2008.

    The average daily rate is down 10.2%, and RevPAR is off 16.7% from the same week last year.

    Comments: This is a multi-year slump. Although the occupancy rate was off 7.3 percent compared to last year, the occupancy rate is off over 11 percent compared to the same week in 2007.

    The end of July through the beginning of August is usually the peak leisure travel period. So the peak occupancy rate for 2009 was probably a month ago at 67%. And that is far below normal.

    Earlier this year business travel was off much more than leisure travel. So it was expected that the summer months would not be as weak as earlier in the year. September - after Labor Day (Sept 7th) - will be the real test for business travel, and for the hotel industry.

    Data Source: Smith Travel Research, Courtesy of HotelNewsNow.com