Category Archives: Real Estate

China’s banks are over-leveraged | A new ‘Meltdown’

Huffington Post broke us this one, Thanks James, Adrinana! Huff!

Add someone in Hongkong who writes a default swap for them ( insurance, in case of default, maybe the local Nankiang units can diversify :) ) and you have another perfect crisis, for the Chinese to fund this time. And they’ve defaulted on quite a few contracts themselves! ( commodities, October 2009)

Citi taught us to use Off Balance sheet financing

Banks are moving loans off their balance sheets in order to dress up their accounts for worried regulators.Only this time it isnt Citigroup C or State Street SST thats involved, but Chinas big banks.In November Chinas banks packaged and then sold $18.6 billion in loans to Chinese trust companies, removing those loans from the banks balance sheets, Shanghai Benefit Investment Consulting has told the Wall Street Journal. Thats a huge 54% of all the new loans banks made in the month according to government figures. For the year the total of loans packaged and sold by banks comes to almost $90 billion.The repackaging and sales come as Beijings bank regulators have started to worry that the countrys banks dont have enough capital to back all the loans theyve made in 2009. So far in 2009 Chinas banks have made more than $1 trillion in new loans, according to government figures. Regulators have begun to press banks to raise more capital to buttress their balance sheets.By selling the loans to trust companies, banks take them off their balance sheets. That has the effect of reducing the amount of loans that the banks look like they have made. That in turn reduces the amount of capital it looks like they need to raise to support these loans via James Jubak: Chinas Banks Copy Citigroup in Hiding Bad Loans Off Their Balance Sheets.

Where the Infrastructure Dollar went?

2009 was the year of the stimulus for the US. Though the Capitol talked mostly only about stimulus in terms of funds for highways and on setting up of recovery.gov, We started taking notice by June that indeed it was hard to track and hard to estimate..a lot of state and some police projects were awarded at the level of county and job savings ascribed to each to get to recovery.gov. Not entirely accurate but definitely a notch or two better than any other spending program i know. The rest of the jobs program will be best utilised probably by the same jobs..new roads, highways that needed even just guard rails, railway infrastructure.

In February, Obama made whistle-stop tours and exhorted the people to see how much they needed these highways and bridges, and how these were unfinished business:

Mr. Obama is proposing what he says is the largest increase in infrastructure spending since President Dwight Eisenhower created the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s.

“We will invest more than $100 billion and create nearly 400,000 jobs rebuilding our roads, our railways, our dangerously deficient dams, bridges and levees,” he said.

The president said funding infrastructure projects will also help create jobs in other areas of the economy. He specifically mentioned the Caterpillar company, which makes much of the heavy equipment used in road projects. Caterpillar recently announced more than 20,000 layoffs.

“And today, the Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar said that if the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan passes, his company would be able to rehire some of those employees,” he said.

via VOA

By July, we were comparing dollars at each city:

Track These At Recovery.Gov In Time | NY Times

The NY Times story here was obviously received well because of the graphics and the comparative data, much of which may need to be reworked now. A look at recovery.gov shows 40-45% of the funds being drawn by county programs such as the 11921 awards in California, mostly grants and around 10% ($1.3 billion ) in contracts, going to police stations buying LCD Flat screen TVs and Crowd Control System upgrades, waste water collection systems, increase health center services and presumably the roads, bridges and the highways.

Out of the $158.7 billion awarded ( 58%) 13% has been received and more can probably be done now in receiving those funds and working out what is wrong with the process.

Nonetheless, many in the developing world and even Europe could also use the recovery.gov example to start cleaning the Augean stables of public works. Well begun is half done. But with only 12000 jobs related in Arizona and jobs being reported in fictional districts, well..someone needs to figure out what is wrong and fix it. Similarly Texas has only reported 20000 jobs created and the country as a whole is already reporting 600000 jobs created by the stimulus..obviously not going to match with the rising unemployment numbers..and i haven’t heard from any of these folk on twitter..strange?

In California, almost 45% has been allocated by the Department of Education ( 8 out of 18 billion )  and more than 15% to the Department of Transportation – Have people really seen these half a million jobs making a difference? Have these funds to school districts saved the schools or the teachers? There however the reports are still missing, probably dwarfed by the enormity of the task involved

An example of the agency wise allocation is in the included screen grab for Alabama on the right. It is a great time for people at these agencies to get back with the results. America needs it before going on another joyride with public funds. If you go by these statistics the journos at Reuters have done a pretty ‘funny’ piece with the stats

The second stimulus program may just be going the wrong way without a detailed success/failure report on the first one.

The new Jobs program

The “Jobs for Main street” , Whitehouse’s own repartee to the Wall street cats, is equally unrepentant getting another $40 billion for Department or Transportation, to teach us the ‘new deal’ all over again. The ARRA year has gone by and we are still thinking about another set of roads that will be up in ‘120 days’. I thought the overwhelming majority passed it because it was creating jobs? Especially now with the shadow inventory showing, it is time to tread a little cautiously and on sure footing not ‘sidings and tarpools’ The ARRA bill already has 7886 transportation projects underway.

An example of others who could have got the money is below from The Huffington Post

Demand for high-speed rail funding has well exceeded the expectations that existed when the recovery bill was signed last year. Currently, there are close to $60 billion in project applications from more than 30 states competing for the first $8 billion in federal high-speed rail funding, which will go out in a few months. Domestic and foreign investors and private industry have taken notice of the government’s initiative and the sector has exploded over the last few months, providing hope for new employment that can offset the massive losses in the automotive industry. All eyes are on Congress to see if they will follow through on the initial down payment in their next major transportation spending bill.

Jobs are being lost every month even two years after the recession began. While the number has stopped growing very fast, the number of jobs lost is growing every month without fail. These businesses cannot just wait for banks to start lending, and pretty soon we are going to be out of money to print.  We were losing more than 600,000 jobs every month just a few weeks back. This recovery will take much longer than in the Asia and Latam markets. The unemployment rate is still above 10% even after November showed up a huge improvement to just 11000 lost jobs ( just Kentucky lost 5000 out of this!) 15.4 million are still looking for work hopelessly stuck with a lasting unemployment with even the limited foreign worker visas going unrequited in this situation. The long term unemployed, looking for work for more than 6 months are a good 38.3% of the unemployed, another record for America.

More foreclosures

Thousands Of New York Area Home Owners Attend Mortgage Modification Event

Even as dismal numbers from the loan modification program caused an extension of the program till October 2010 ( see Geithner extends TARP) the latest shadow inventory nos ( detailing foreclosures shocked the nation with 1.7 million available for sale from foreclosures. St Louis got an award for 800 modifications to save homes from foreclosure! There seems to be no comparison between the two figures, and more is required than depending on just road construction to make new jobs

Probably some of the economists at Obama and Biden’s offices are already at work untangling the confusion of the stimulus and getting ready to tell us what has worked. I think it’s time.

Citi fizzles out in end 2009 bid

Repayment week came a cropper as Citibank found a lukewarm market waiting for its sale to raise the $20 billion to repay. It seems Vikram Pandit’s team failed to do the required homework before declaring its ambitious calendar and lacked the skills to judge the market conditions right for its sale. All the meetings Vikram Pandit had been having with the Treasury came a cropper on a day that mysteriously coincided with Obama’s call to the bankers.

The market does nt ignore such folly. All insider trading and information based decisioning apart, the market first and foremost reads market information and that information now puts Citi and AIG in the same league. Both will now be assessed with a lack of direction and difficulty in reading its stakeholders because of a simple public fracas. I mince no words when I say that they could now be treated worse than an Accenture cuddling Tiger woods a week after the man destroyed his marriage.

This is a setback for the entire recovery mechanism and a symptom of the misreading that afflicts the Geithers, Benmoshes and the Pandits

Even a Hongkong market could raise over $50 billion but you came out with an offer no one wanted for Citi. Sounds like, Citi is no better than one of the 133 banks that have failed in the US this year. This cannot be compared to the Mortgage meltdown or made a part of it. It needs a new chapter by itself. We all suffer for such fools though the gimmer of hope is that now no one cares when an AIG or Citi breaks the buck and the markets go on with better picks. It’s a shop like any other..In fact in pstate Des Moines in Iowa, the schools and the lake planes are all fine. The Ski resorts are doing big business too. And Dubai is back. Azerbaijan has a sovereign wealth fund. What about the new oil and mineral deposits south of Brazil and in the dense African safari..

California woes in plain view | L A Times

zyakaira notes: This crisis ain’t over yet by a mile, Going back on 66, Chicago may be next as California and Vegas have already given in..sad to see Hollywood , valley and more just sink without a trace

Reporting from Sacramento – Less than four months after California leaders stitched together a patchwork budget, a projected deficit of nearly $21 billion already looms over Sacramento, according to a report to be released today by the chief budget analyst.

The new figure — the nonpartisan analyst’s first projection for the coming budget — threatens to send Sacramento back into budgetary gridlock and force more across-the-board cuts in state programs.

The grim forecast, described by people who were briefed on the report by Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, comes courtesy of California’s recession-wracked economy, unrealistic budgeting assumptions, spending cuts tied up in the courts and disappearing federal stimulus funds.

“Economic recovery will not take away the very severe budget problems for this year, next year and the year after,” said Steve Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

In fact, after two years of precipitous revenue declines, the new report projects relatively stable tax collections for the state, said those who were briefed. But that won’t stop the deficit from climbing to nearly $21 billion.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will present his next proposed budget to Californians in January as he begins his last year in office, started sounding the alarm last week.

“I think that there will be across-the-board cuts again,” he said at a San Jose news conference.

The task in 2010 could be even harder than it was this year, when record deficits and cash shortfalls drove California to issue IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression. Lawmakers have already cut billions from education, healthcare and social services while temporarily hiking income, sales and vehicle taxes.

“I can’t think of any good solutions,” said Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), who chairs the lower house budget committee.

The current budget year accounts for $6.3 billion of the deficit, the nonpartisan analyst projects. Prisons spending will outstrip what has been budgeted by more than $1 billion, and K-12 schools were underpaid by $1 billion under the complex formula that governs education funding, the report says.

Another $14.4 billion of the deficit is for the fiscal year that begins next summer, say those briefed on the report. The governor’s next budget will have to account for both years.

via California faces a projected deficit of $21 billion — latimes.com.

Should You Invest In Mortgage-Backed Securities? – WSJ.com

ZYAKAIRA(AMIT MITTAL) NOTES:

YES YOU SHOULD. The Distressed prices can recover quickly once there is liquidity in the market, as it has already done for those that were TARPed with the real cash. Also the debt market is in the best place for a rebound right now and it’s easy money for you, no Madoff

NO, NEVER: US could fail in the next 12 months if you think so..because without this debt coming back, you couldn’t print enough money..That said, however, the underlying documentation is incomplete, sold multiple times and if there is default, no one is paying..

YES, YOU SHOULD: Mortgage prices will recover once the real estate market recovers from the bottom. Cherry pick if you can..don’t touch UBS or any other bank that has already failed. Ask for the end user mortgage in each case and be convinced about it.

Remember Fink(Blackrock) is the king! Read the rest of this entry

Tweets from the Market – July 24, 2009

Do remember to validate picks at http://socialpicks.com/zyaadakairaada/portfolio $AMZN is down 8% as we speak

Facebook at 77 million visitors, Amazon 64 m, Craigslist at 47 m, WordPress at 26m and Twitter at 20m compared to Goog at 157m in June09
about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck

So $AMZN makes $1.75 bn per month from 64 million visitors
5 minutes ago from TweetDeck

That is more than $27 from every single visitor! $AMZN
3 minutes ago from TweetDeck

If Twitter made 10% of that they would have sales of $54million to start with ( based on June comscore)
2 minutes ago from TweetDeck

China’s new loans may surge to a record 11 trillion renminbi ($1.6 trillion) this year as the government refrains from tightening lending rules to protect economic growth
just now from Tweetdeck

Goldman /Blankfein paid a 23% return on the govt’s TARP investment, paying $1.1 billion for the warrantshalf a minute ago from TweetDeck

Also Buffet sold a third of his stake in Moody’sjust now from Tweetdeck

China’s state construction giant raised a $7.3 billion in IPO4 minutes ago from TweetDeck

(Green Shoots?) Both American Express (AXP) and Capitol One (COF) reported earnings that were quite weak (seekingalpha dot com)2 minutes ago from TweetDeck

$CIT looks in line to become smaller, selling its comml business and most likely losing its aviation lending and rail finance biz profitablyhalf a minute ago from TweetDeck

BTW, we continue to be short on both $AXP and $COF and bullish on the market ( same as before act. results came out @zyakairahalf a minute ago from TweetDeck

<-> twitter @blrmoneytalkz

Real Estate turnaround – Los Angeles Times

High speed rail from the Stimulus and long tracts of downtown real estate that can be reconstructed, the opportunity is immense

more about “Real Estate turnaround – Los Angeles …“, posted with vodpod

LAT2

The median price surge of 7% to $265,000 reflects a recent trend of higher-priced properties taking a greater market share.

Track these at Recovery.gov in time | NY Times

The New York Times > US > Image > Transportation Projects Across the Nation.

Manhattans still cost a million dollars | NY Times

Manhattan apartment prices fell sharply during the second quarter of 2009, as the limited number of deals struck during the darkest months of the economic downturn began to close, according to a series of market reports released Wednesday. The number of closings fell more than 50 percent, and prices in some categories were reported down as much as 25 percent, compared with the same quarter in 2008. Sale prices were also down from those reported in the first quarter of 2009. One report, by Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property, put the average price of a Manhattan apartment in the second quarter at $1.26 million, a decline of 24 percent from the same period in 2008, and 16 percent below the previous quarter. It put the median sale price at $795,000, 19 percent below the figure in the first quarter of 2008. Another report, by Prudential Douglas Elliman, found that the median sale price on the resale of existing apartments was down by 25.6 percent from a year earlier. The report, prepared by Jonathan J. Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., an appraisal firm, said that the number of sales was down 50.3 percent compared with the same period in 2008. The new figures on closed sales confirm the downward trajectory in the Manhattan market that brokers have been reporting for many months. But the report was issued at a time when

via Sharp Price Drops in Manhattan Apartments – NYTimes.com.

Historically, the hyper effective mode for a revival is to see extraordinary value, these prices are still not there but commercial property is already near the bottom..

The Hedge Fund deals club – Dealbook – NYtimes.com

Highbridge Capital Management’s deal to sell the rest of itself to JPMorgan Chase may be one of many similar transactions to come, The Deal reports.

As smaller hedge funds have found themselves rocked by the financial crisis, industry watchers have predicted that consolidation may be on the way, particularly for hedge funds looking for the safety in the arms stronger private fund managers or larger institutions, The Deal said.

And such dealmaking has already begun heating up. Aside from the Highbridge deal, The Deal noted that Cheyne Capital Management’s acquisition of Altedge Capital and GLG Partners‘ deal to buy Société Générale Asset Management UK.

Furthermore, the publication said, bigger hedge fund firms such as Man Group and RAB Capital are looking for deals on the horizon.

via Is JPMorgan’s Highbridge Deal Part of a Larger Trend? – DealBook Blog – NYTimes.com.