Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Depression 2.0 dilemma - Inflation, deflation, capitalise, solvency

If at all you have just one blog to read - please read naked capitalism. Yves Smith is absolute best! Here is another song of praise - naked capitalism: It Isn't Over Until the Fat Lady Sings

The post looks a wide ranging issues including gems people will do well to remember.

oversold does not necessarily mean undervalued

the stock market increasingly seems to serve as a quick proxy for how the economy is doing, when it has a strong propensity to give false positives

Marc Faber comments -

"The governments in this world have no other option but to print money. That will lead down the road to inflation,'' Faber said. "You don't need to be an economist graduated from Harvard to know we're already in a recession. They will just put white paint on a crumbling building...."

"To rebuild economic health in the United States, you need a serious recession that will last several years,'' he said. "The patient that got drunk on credit growth needs to go into rehabilitation. To give him more alcohol, the way the Fed and the Treasury propose to do, is the wrong medicine."

Chirstopher Whalen comment - In anticipation of such heavy losses, banks are now diverting capital into loan loss reserves rather than seeking to make new loans.

And a fantastic snippet from Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Times:
“Our purpose is to increase confidence in our banks and increase the confidence of our banks, so that they will deploy, not hoard, their capital,” Mr. Paulson said in a statement Monday. “And we expect them to do so, as increased confidence will lead to increased lending. This increased lending will benefit the U.S. economy and the American people.”...But Mr. Paulson is making a big assumption about confidence, because until the real economy recovers — which could take more than a year — lending to Main Street is unlikely to return rapidly to normal levels.“It doesn’t matter how much Hank Paulson gives us,” said an influential senior official at a big bank that received money from the government, “no one is going to lend a nickel until the economy turns.” The official added: “Who are we going to lend money to?” before repeating an old saw about banking: “Only people who don’t need it.”

Housing has another 10-15% to fall (see here for a reminder), and that assumes no overshoot or second leg down due to a sharp increase in unemployment. And this won't happen quickly, either. Alt-A and option ARM resets continue at high levels through 2011 (in fact, 2009 is a bit of a lull, so we might have a false sense that the crisis here has passed midway through the year).

Here we need to pause and remember two main things. First is unless we know what is everyone hiding and what is it exactly worth we wont get anywhere. Second is markets have failed till now so there has to be someone willing to roll up his/her sleeves and get his/her hands dirty and really look at every single mortgage / asset. Asset backed instruments will work better if we have better information on underlying assets.

So now will someone please stand-up and help me look at this crumbling house in US that sits in balance sheet of bank in timbucktoo!