Government Update: 1 Out Of 8 Mortgage Holders Are Now Delinquent Or Are In Foreclosure

12 percent are behind on mortgage or in foreclosure

AP

NEW YORK – A record 12 percent of homeowners with a mortgage are behind on their payments or in foreclosure as the housing crisis spreads to borrowers with good credit. And the wave of foreclosures isn’t expected to crest until the end of next year, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday.

The foreclosure rate on prime fixed-rate loans doubled in the last year, and now represents the largest share of new foreclosures. Nearly 6 percent of fixed-rate mortgages to borrowers with good credit were in the foreclosure process.

At the same time, almost half of all adjustable-rate loans made to borrowers with shaky credit were past due or in foreclosure. There were no signs of improvement.

The pain, however, is spreading throughout the country as job losses take their toll. The number of newly laid off people requesting jobless benefits fell last week, the government said Thursday, but the number of people receiving unemployment benefits was the highest on record. These borrowers are harder for lenders to help with loan modifications.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090528/ap_on_bi_ge/us_foreclosures

Geitner’s Flawed Assumptions: TARP & TALF Funds Enrich Investors At Taxpayer Expense – Report By Harvard Business School & Princeton University Center For Finance

The Pricing of Investment Grade Credit Risk 

Joshua D. Coval, Jakub W. Jurek, and Erik Stafford

March 30, 2009

Our analysis suggests that the dramatic recent widening of credit spreads is highly consistent with the decline in the equity market, the increase in its long-term volatility, and an improved investor appreciation of the risks embedded in structured products.

In contrast to the main argument in favor of using government funds to help purchase structured credit securities, we find little evidence that suggests these markets are experiencing fire sales.

[McAuley’s World: This finding directly challenges the veracity of Treasury Secretary Geitner’s claims and the necessity for additional Government intervention – later the report confirms that investors are being unjustly enriched at taxpayor expense]

On March 23, 2009, the Treasury announced that the TALF plan will commit up to $1 trillion to purchase legacy structured credit products. The government’s view is that a disappearance of liquidity has caused credit market prices to no longer reflect fundamentals: Many analysts appear to be looking at large recent price changes and concluding that we must be witnessing distressed pricing and widespread market failure. This conclusion is based on intuition. Our analysis suggests that the dramatic recent widening of credit spreads is highly consistent with the decline in the equity market, the increase in its volatility, and an improved investor appreciation of the risks embedded in these securities.

Our results suggest changes in fundamentals, as reflected in the equity market, account for a large portion of the repricing of credit that has occurred. In particular, the dramatic increase in the price of low cash flow states can account for most, if not all, of the rise in credit spreads for cash bonds. The spreads on credit default swaps, which currently trade at a large and negative basis relative to the underlying bonds, appear too low relative to risk-matched alternatives in the equity market.

We also find that the repricing of the investment grade structured credit securities suggests a correction of an ex ante failure of investors to appropriately charge for systematic risk.“An initial fundamental shock associated with the bursting of the housing bubble and deteriorating economic conditions generated losses for leveraged investors including banks … The resulting need to reduce risk triggered a wide-scale deleveraging in these markets and led to fire sales … [The Public-Private Investment Program] should facilitate price discovery and should help, over time, to reduce the excessive liquidity discounts embedded in current legacy asset prices.”

Policymakers are rapidly moving towards using TARP money to purchase toxic assets primarily tranches of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) from banks, with the aim of supporting secondary markets and increasing bank lending. The key premise of current policies is that the prices for these assets have become artificially depressed by banks and other investors trying to unload their holdings in an illiquid market, such that they no longer reflect their true hold-to-maturity value. By purchasing or insuring a large quantity of bank assets, the government can restore liquidity to credit markets and solvency to the banking sector.

The analysis of this paper suggests that recent credit market prices are actually highly consistent with fundamentals. A structural framework confrms that bonds and credit derivatives should have experienced a significant repricing in 2008 as the economic outlook darkened and volatility increased.

The analysis also confirms that severe mispricing existed in the structured credit tranches prior to the crisis and that a large part of the dramatic rise in spreads has been the elimination of this mispricing.

If prices currently coming out of credit markets are actually correct, and not reflecting fire sales,this has several important implications. First, correct prices in the secondary market for these assets essentially imply that many major US banks are now legitimately insolvent. This insolvency can no longer be viewed as an artifact of bank assets being marked to artificially depressed prices coming out of an illiquid market. It means that bank assets are being fairly priced at valuations that sum to less than bank liabilities. In turn, any positive valuation assigned by shareholders to their equity claim arises solely from their anticipation of value transfer from firm debtholders or resource transfers from US taxpayers.

Similarly, using government resources to support these markets by insuring assets against furtherl osses amounts to providing insurance at premia that are significantly below what is fair for the risks that the US taxpayer will now bear.

Third, while the pricing of these securities is dramatically different from the way it was a year or two ago, this is because it was wrong then, not now. Efforts to restart this market are focused on resuming the flawed pricing of the past, when there was no charge for risk and investors relied on the accuracy of ratings. Investors have learned from their mistakes and now seem to be pricing these securities in accordance with their true risks.

Conclusion

Second, if current market prices are fair, any taxpayer dollars allocated to supporting these markets will simply transfer wealth to the current owners of these securities. To the extent that these assets reside in banks that are now insolvent, the owners are essentially the bondholders of these banks. The reason their bonds are currently trading far below par is that the assets backing up their claim are just not worth enough (nor expected to become worth enough when their bonds mature) to repay them. And so while they will be cheered by any government overpayment for the toxic assets backing up their claims, their happiness will be at the taxpayer’s expense since – to the extent that current prices are fair – they will be receiving more than fair value for their investments.

The main objective of this paper is to determine whether fire sales are required to explain prices currently observed in credit markets.

Other potential sources of repricing include a correction of  ex ante mispricing due to incorrect forecasts of expected losses (i.e. incorrect ratings – earnings expectation), a correction of ex ante mispricing arising from a failure of investors to charge for systematic risk, and rational change in prices reflective of a change in fundamentals.

A key distinction between the fire sale view and the other possibilities is that only the fire sale view requires that current prices are incorrect. (If the current prices are correct – massive Government spending will only serve to manipulate the market to reward investors at taxpayer expense – the market manipulation will create temporary gain – then the market will seek equilibrium again)

And given that fundamentals have changed dramatically during the past 2 years, and that ex ante mispricing was likely present in many of the structured credit markets, the conclusion that the large spread changes are evidence of fire sales is, at best, a premature one.

From this perspective, policies that attempt to prevent a widespread mark-down in the value of credit-sensitive assets are likely to only delay – and perhaps even worsen  – the day of reckoning.

Read the full paper (with formulas & footnotes) here: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/Documents/areas/fac/finance/CJS_2009_v1.pdf

Coval: Harvard Business School; jcoval@hbs.edu. Jurek: Bendheim Center for Finance, Princeton University ;jjurek@princeton.edu. Sta¤ord: Harvard Business School; esta¤ord@hbs.edu. We thank Stephen Blythe, Ken Froot,

WHAT FORMULA IS GEITNER USING FOR HIS “STRESS TESTS”? WHY IS IT A SECRET FORMULA? WHY DOES THE FORMULA CHANGE FROM BANK TO BANK?

Ask your Congressperson if they know the answer. Ask them if they have read this report: http://www.usa.gov/Contact.shtml  

“You Can’t Spend Your Way Out Of Recession Or Borrow Your Way Out Of Debt” British MP Daniel Hannan, A Voice In The Wilderness

British Member Of Parliment Daniel Hannan is reaching Pop-Star type status in Britian with his calls for a return to Capitalism.

Hannan compares the present spending and “bailout” craze with the Central Planning undertaken by the old Soviet Union.

The Mortgage/Financial Crisis – A Visual Reminder Of How We Got Here

Are these the people who will lead us out of this mess? 

Now the Congress will reward the irresponsible, the specualtors and those that lied to obtain mortgages they could not afford – all at Taxpayers expense.

“TARP” Bailout – Where Are Funds Going – Auditors fault oversight of bank bailout funds

The government must toughen its monitoring of the $700 billion financial bailout to ensure that banking institutions limit their top executives’ pay and comply with other restrictions, federal auditors said Tuesday in the first comprehensive review of the rescue package.

The Treasury Department has no mechanism in place to track how institutions are using $150 billion in taxpayer money that the government injected into the banking system as of last month, the Government Accountability Office concluded in its report to Congress.

The auditors acknowledged that the program, created Oct. 3 to help stabilize a rapidly faltering banking system, was less than 60 days old and has been adjusting to an evolving mission.

But the 72-page report was bound to feed congressional concern that banks and other institutions are not being monitored properly and are not using the money to increase lending.

Auditors specifically cited weaknesses in determining whether institutions that received bailout money are complying with limitations on executive compensation and dividend payments. For instance, some top executives at institutions that receive rescue funds must repay any incentives or bonus pay that was based on inaccurate financial statements.

“Treasury has not yet determined how it will monitor compliance with this or other requirements such as limitations on dividend payments and stock repurchases,” the report states.

Auditors recommended that Treasury work with government bank regulators to determine whether the activities of financial institutions that receive the money are meeting their purpose.

In a response to the GAO, Neel Kashkari, who heads the department’s Office of Financial Stability, said the agency was developing its own compliance program and indicated that it disagreed with the need to work with regulators.

“The GAO’s discouraging report makes clear that the Treasury Department’s implementation of the [rescue plan] is insufficiently transparent and is not accountable to American taxpayers,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

So far, the government has pledged to pour $250 billion into banks in return for partial ownership. It also has agreed to provide $40 billion to troubled insurer American International Group. In addition, $20 billion of the money was invested in Citigroup, and another $20 billion went to the Federal Reserve to help ease credit stresses. [AIG HAS NOW BEEN GIVEN $152 Billion in Funds]

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. initially said the money would be used to buy distressed mortgage-related securities from banks. His switch in strategy drew criticism from lawmakers as a confusing mix of messages to the public and investors.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/03/auditors-fault-oversight-of-bank-bailout-funds/

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