Monday, December 08, 2008

Another Bottom? Not In Housing & Not Without Housing.

Oh my. Just Friday night the financial media started schooling Wall St on its trading day lunacy. A few items the markets seemed to ignore or discard without reason:

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department is likely to say first-time claims for unemployment benefits held above the 500,000 level for a fourth straight week. Then on Friday, the Commerce Department is expected to report that retail sales fell in November for the fifth month in a row, the longest streak of monthly declines since the government started tracking the data in 1992.

So who really thinks that Wall St knows something that the general public doesn't? No, we can be assured by now that it's truly the other way around. Now how's this to build certainty and confidence, from the same article:

"I keep hearing conference call after conference call -- we can't provide any more forecasts," Kuby said. "You're going to hear more of them say it's worse than we thought or we can't stick by our guidance anymore."
Fun. But that doesn't stop the die-hard bulls from declaring yet another "bottom" in sight. Why? Because the news is so so very bad. By their logic, when the news gets unbelievably bad, then there must be a turnaround near. After all, things always turn around after things go as low as they're going to go, right? It's like a good friend recently told me, "Funny how you always find your keys in the last place you look."

File this under "YHGTBSM":

Few expect the results to be heartening, although after Wall Street shrugged off Friday's dismal employment report, some are starting to sense that the market is beginning to etch out a bottom.

"The market has this horrible news this morning, it didn't collapse," Kuby said.

No. Just no. There will be no bottom if there is no bottom in housing, and there is no bottom in housing. The following article was posted about an hour before the market closed in a froth on Friday:

Late mortgage payments and foreclosures hit record

    Late mortgage payments and the rate of home loans in foreclosure rose to record highs in the third quarter, threatening to escalate as the recession erases jobs and further strains homeowners, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Friday.

    Moreover, the number of foreclosures would have been higher if several states and others had not implemented moratoriums on foreclosures... which will expire in coming months. Does this sound like a bottom? Not likely.
    The number of loans entering the foreclosure process would have been even higher without various programs halting them in favor of loan modifications.
    And of course at the heart of all this? As we've discussed before: J-O-B-S. So please keep shoveling and tell me if you can find the pony, er... bottom, in here:
    A spiking unemployment rate in the midst of what many economists fear to be a deep recession, however, points to rising mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates next year, the trade group said.

    "We haven't gone into past recessions with a housing market in as bad of a shape," Jay Brinkmann, chief economist and senior vice president for research and economics, told Reuters in an interview.

    Okay. But there has to be a pony in there somewhere...
    "The bigger issue is going to be the underlying economy," Brinkmann said. "As much as any of the overbuilding issues, poor lending or speculative issues, as these job losses spread to some of the rest of the economy ... That certainly doesn't speak to a foreclosure rate coming down."
    Um. Okay, maybe not. I think we're back to living in a world where up is up again, and unfortunately, down is down.

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