What the Housing Market Actually Looks Like

By: Friday December 21, 2012 5:49 am

This week brought more good statistical news for the housing market. Existing home sales rose at a decent clip in November, nearing post-bubble highs not seen since the artificial spike from the homebuyer’s tax credit (I’ve noted that the end of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act could be giving the same spike). Inventory fell again, which presages higher prices. And while housing starts fell in November, the more stable indicator of homebuilding permits rose above expectations. There’s a huge hole to dig out from – even with its 25% rise, housing starts in 2012 would be the 4th-lowest in history – but the digging is occurring.

 

Banks Rake In Profits – Largely From Government Supports

By: Wednesday December 5, 2012 6:20 pm

It goes without saying that you should not weep for the banking industry. In the years following a Great Recession they caused, they still manage to churn out record profits. This is the 13th straight quarterly rise in profits for financial institutions.

White House Makes Aggressive Opening Bid in Fiscal Slope Negotiations

By: Thursday November 29, 2012 4:48 pm

In the context of doing a deficit reduction deal at all, this is an extremely strong bid that Tim Geithner delivered to John Boehner today. Now we know why Boehner whined and cried all afternoon.

Let’s walk through it.

More Noises About Administration Firing Ed DeMarco After the Election

By: Saturday November 3, 2012 2:24 pm

Zach Carter find yet another indicator that, after the election, Barack Obama plans to fire Federal Housing Finance Agency Administrator Ed DeMarco. But this claim has even less meat on its bones than the previous pledge.

It comes from Bank of America analyst Ralph Axel, who argues that the Administration plans to use housing policy as its “secret weapon.”

Romney Campaign Advisor Pinned Down on Housing Policies

By: Monday October 22, 2012 2:00 pm

Mike Konczal decided to do some sorely missed actual reporting at last week’s debate, seeking out Glenn Hubbard, one of Mitt Romney’s key economic advisers, for a discussion on housing policy.

Puncturing the Housing Optimism Bubble

By: Tuesday October 16, 2012 12:45 pm

The housing bulls have really started to run wild now. One of them planted this rose-colored story in Bloomberg arguing that consumer deleveraging points to happy times ahead for the economy. The only problem is that the deleveraging comes from defaultsrather than any paying down of debts. And these defaults are destructive for an economy, not a sign of hope.

Housing Has “Turned the Corner” – For Banks

By: Friday October 12, 2012 8:10 am

JPMorgan Chase, feeling little ill effects from the federal attempts at investigation of their business practices, announced a major earnings jump of 34%. Part of this comes from the fact that the previous earnings report included most of the losses from the Fail Whale trades (which have increased to $6.25 billion, as per this earnings report), so this comes off a low bottom. But in the earnings call, CEO Jamie Dimon attributed the strength to increased consumer lending, and he added that the housing market has “turned the corner.”

A Look at the Housing Plank of the GOP Platform

By: Wednesday August 29, 2012 9:40 am

The housing plank comes in the “Restoring the American Dream – Economy and Jobs” section of the document. It’s five paragraphs long, and much of it is explanatory and flowery. Most of the first paragraph goes on and on about the importance of homeownership. It concludes, “Homeownership is best fostered by a growing economy with low interest rates, as well as prudent regulation, financial education, and targeted assistance to responsible borrowers.” Beyond that, there’s not much here; they blame government for the housing market collapse, citicize Obama for not fixing it even though it happened in 2006-07, and have no discussion of the current foreclosure and servicing crisis except to say that the government shouldn’t help homeowners with principal writedowns.

Geithner Gives Thumbs-Up to Merkley’s HOLC-Like Mortgage Plan

By: Thursday July 26, 2012 2:48 pm

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner gave a fairly strong endorsement to Jeff Merkley’s plan to set up an HOLC-type authority to purchase and refinance current underwater mortgages, and plans to work with him to set up pilot programs by the end of the year.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee today, Geither was asked by Merkley about the plan, which I profiled here. Geithner’s response was surprisingly positive.

Jeff Merkley’s HOLC-Type Plan for Underwater Borrowers

By: Thursday July 26, 2012 7:21 am

Despite the heavily lobbied narrative that housing is in the midst of a recovery, the reality is far more stark. New-home and existing-home sales fell last month, and what stability we’re seeing on prices comes in large part from a massive shadow REO that isn’t sustainable. Mortgage delinquencies actually rose in June. And you have 11 million underwater homeowners who are sitting ducks to fall into delinquency, with one financial shock potentially putting them into that category. What’s more, many of them are unable to take advantage of low mortgage rates for refinancing.

The Administration’s efforts on this front have been sadly lacking. But Senator Jeff Merkley is out with a plan that should have been adopted years ago.

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