Thursday, January 27, 2011

Americans ridding themselves of debt

After a splurge of consumption and debt that accompanied the housing bubble over the past decade, Americans are finally weening themselves off household debt.

This graph shows household debt service payments as a percentage of disposable income:

This graph shows household financial obligations as a percentage of disposable income:

And here is a likely cause of the decline of household debt. The personal savings rate has doubled since the financial crisis began, although it's still half of what it was in 1980.

Luckily, the decline in household debt isn't simply being offset by a rise in the national debt. Oh. Wait. Here's the U.S. budget deficit as a percentage of GDP:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh, the spam I receive

Apparently, since I run a housing bubble blog, I want to receive email spam press releases about crappy real estate flipping TV shows:
[Our Crappy Real Estate Flipping TV Show] follows the lives of three of Los Angeles' hottest, young and aggressive real estate magnates in the making as they make a fortune selling multi-million dollar properties in the most exclusive neighborhoods – Hollywood, Malibu and Beverly Hills. With the economy still in a slump, [Hot, Young, Aggressive Real Estate Magnate in the Making 1], [Hot, Young, Aggressive Real Estate Magnate in the Making 2] and [Hot, Young, Aggressive Real Estate Magnate in the Making 3] must fight for their share of the market and the competition is intense. Season [X] follows the agents as they deal with some of the most demanding clients they have ever encountered. They are pushed to the limit and struggle to manage their personal lives while also trying to move some of the most magnificent and most expensive homes in the City of Angels.
The spamming hard working TV network VP even left her contact information in case my readers I want to sign her up for a mailing list contact her about her crappy real estate flipping TV show:
Cynthia Arntzen
VP, FerenComm
380 Lexington Avenue, Suite 517
New York, NY 10168
I really got a kick out of this bit:
If you are the intended recipient of this message, you agree to keep all privileged and/or confidential information private without written consent of the sender, and will use any such information only within the necessary scope of your professional work.
I have agreed to nothing! I haven't even agreed to receive Cynthia Arntzen's spam press releases, but I receive them anyway. I love how corporate folks think an "agreement" is something imposed by one party onto another. It reminds me of how Republicans think "freedom" and "government power" are the same thing. Example: Wikileaks is a threat to freedom.

Actually, the only email address in the spam email's press release's "To:" field was Cynthia Arntzen's (yes, she sent the email to herself), so I'm probably not "the intended recipient" anyway and thus am not commanded have not agreed to keep all privileged and/or confidential information private.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg: Billionaire and Renter

So, you built Facebook into one of the most popular sites on the web. You're a billionaire. What do you do with your piles of money? Rent, of course.
Mr. Zuckerberg isn’t ready to build a massive estate similar to many other tech titans’ homes. He doesn’t even want to be a first-time homebuyer – or leave the neighborhood. According to Gawker, Zuckerberg’s new home is another rental in the College Terrace area just seven blocks away from his old house. ... Now, Zuckerberg resides only a few steps away from Facebook Headquarters.
In this housing market, all the smart people are renters!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 will be peak year for foreclosures

RealtyTrac predicts 2011 will have the most foreclosures since the housing crisis began in 2006:
The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun.

Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.

"2011 is going to be the peak," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. The firm predicts 1.2 million homes will be repossessed this year.

The blistering pace of home foreclosures this year will top 2010, when a record 1 million homes were lost, RealtyTrac said Thursday.
Even if the number of foreclosures starts declining in 2012, it will remain above the historic norm for several years to come.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CNBC: Housing is in a depression

The fall in housing prices over the past five years is greater than during the Great Depression:
In the past few years, we’ve all been careful to choose our words carefully, not calling it a recession until it fit the technical definition and avoiding any inappropriate use of the “D” word — Depression.

Things were bad but the broader economy never reached Depression territory. The housing market, on the other hand, just crossed that threshold.

Home values have fallen 26 percent since their peak in June 2006, worse than the 25.9-percent decline seen during the Depression years between 1928 and 1933, Zillow reported. ...

What’s worse, it’s not over yet: Home values are expected to continue to slide as inventories pile up, and likely won't recover until the job market improves.
Boo hoo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"C'mon, trust us. We're a bank!"

Apparently, in Massachusetts banks now have to prove they hold the mortgages before they can foreclose:
The Massachusetts high court ruled on Friday that two foreclosures are invalid because the banks could not prove they had the proper paperwork to foreclose.

The banks "failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure," Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

This could be a harbinger of things to come because it is the first ruling by a state high court on the issue of whether banks can foreclose on homeowners if [they] can't prove they hold the mortgages.
There goes my get rich quick scheme—Start a bank and then just start foreclosing on any house I darn well please. Luckily, this only applies to Massachusetts. If I start a bank in DC, I bet the Clinton's home could fetch a pretty penny!