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Sunday, June 7, 2009

"The mother of all head fakes"

The stock market seems to think that less bad equals good. Not everyone agrees.

Comments (4)

Some people are always optimistic, others are grumpy pessimists. To me, things feel better than they did 6 months ago.

One sign that the big banks would like us to believe housing has bottomed is the sudden jog up in mortgage rates. Wells Fargo (WFC), eg, was sitting at 4.75% for a 30yr on May 21st; but, by the 28th, it was up to 5.375%. It's up another 1/4 to 5.625% a week later; the trend last week was up a tad each day after a 1/4pt dip on Monday.

This rise may put a crimp in the refi business, though the rate is still attractive to new buyers. Then again, it may stimulate the mortgage market as people who need mortgages hasten to avoid anticipated higher rates in the future.

Are the surviving, subsidized banks trying a feint also to coax us into believing the worst is over and that the window of opportunity is closing? To encourage economic activity, that is, with the threat that houses are just going to get more expensive to buy? Rumors abound regarding WFC's toxic portfolio, but that's another discussion. As is the nagging reality of very high unemployment.

Maybe our best chance is to pretend things are okay, because if we really start focusing on how bad they really are, the whole thing will collapse - as it may anyway.

I don't pretend to understand the numbers but my sense is that the 700 billion dollar bailout really amounts to the government covering 12 trillion dollars of assets. Meanwhile the banks are now using their power to keep things as they always were, so we're paying for their previous mistakes and the system isn't even getting fixed.

And as usual the unconstitutional Federal Reserve keeps charging us as a nation to have our own currency. Ridiculous.

We may sneak through by being a Money Trap - too big to fail as a country but there has to be a limit to how much the world will put up with as far as lending. As it is they seem to be in a sprint to make the dollar irrelevant.

In addition, our judicial system that essentially no longer applies to politicians is working against us. We could be getting better results if more of the last administration was in prison. Seeing colleagues in cells could work to clear the heads of our decision makers in Congress.

The amazing part for me is hearing this endless string of what would be cataclysmic bad news any other time, and having the American Public not even flinch.

Could our famous lack of an attention span be helping out here?

From the low point of the Great Depression - July 1932 - it took 22 years, until 1954, for the Dow 30 Industrials to just recover their previous high seen in late 1929. Not even a world war could bring it back to where it had been; it took the devastation of the industrial capacity of the rest of the world to boost the US output to this recovery point. The reasons behind the depression were different than our current situation, but the timeline certainly cannot be ignored.

The Nikkei 225 Index in Japan reached a high in 1989 that it hasn't even been close to matching over the past 20 years. Perhaps many reasons are involved here, but there's more of a parallel to our present situation - inflated real estate values and banks holding crap loans in their portfolios and refusing to admit their true condition.

So perhaps things seem a little better than 6 months ago. But to return to the levels seen in 2007? I don't see that prospect any time in the next few years.

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