Monday, July 28, 2008

Where I've Been and Some Quick Thoughts

Some people are wondering where I've been. I've been traveling. No internet. No laptop. No cell phone. So I have had little information regarding all things housing bubble.

Looking at recent past news, it seems prices in Marin went up ever so slightly (5.8%) back in May -- I bet the local housing bulls and the Marin real estate industry wet their collective pants over that. Too bad prices lost -12% the following month in June. No doubt the worthless Marin IJ made excuses.

I was not at all surprised to see the latest panic bail-out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. No surprise there that these two GSEs went or, at the very least, were on the brink of insolvency. This bail-out represents the pinnacle of my disgust with the US government. Yes, letting the bubble self-correct would be painful. But it would not be disastrous; it would, in the medium to long term, be healthy. All the government has done is to prolong the inevitable and thereby, in the end, make it worse than it would otherwise be. But that will be a problem for another administration.

Oh, and runs on banks, here in the US. And more to come. We haven't seen those in a long while.

But really, this has been playing out as expected. And thanks to the ineptitude of the US government and its inability to identify and address the causes of the housing bubble (not to mention its refusal to take responsibility for its own role in this mess along with its systematic dismantling of what little of a free-market we have in housing) it's just going to take longer than it otherwise would.

I leave you with Ron Paul's comments on the recent bail-out and the changes now entered into law:

Does it really matter? And does anybody remember how many times we had to suffer through the imbecilic "it's different this time" mantra spewed by the real estate industry?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the housing bill, at all, and I'm only a former derivatives trader, and not an economist, but I have to take issue with Paul's claim that inflation is the problem, or, related, that the Fed has been "printing money" with the new lending facilities.

There seems to be confusion about this, and I've found these two posts helpful in understanding what the Fed is doing. The money quote:

With its new tools, the Fed has provided liquidity without printing much money. In a way, the Fed has become a pawnbroker.

As for inflation, again, I'm not trained in economics, but I agree with those who say that deflation is the major problem here. If we're going to see one trillion dollars in bad loans written off, that's a lot of money out of the system. I've found this post helpful in framing the issue. He starts with the paradox of thrift and relates it to the current credit crisis.

--former Marinite, current New Yorker, unhappy (to be subsidizing housing) renter

Jul 29, 2008, 6:25:00 AM  

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