Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Links 05/27/2009

Damn! California Public Employees Get Paid A Lot – Clusterstock

Debt Exchange Falls Short; G.M. Moves to Sell Units – The New York Times

Five Things for Tuesday, May 26 – Minyanville, Kevin Depew

2) Five Deflationary Forces to Watch Now
Meanwhile, there are at least five deflationary forces in the present one should focus on, leaving the inflation concerns for a future date, because a person could go broke preparing for inflation when we are barely a third of the way through a deflationary debt unwind:
1. Unemployment. Including the underemployed, we have a "real" unemployment rate of nearly 16%. All but six states lost jobs in April.

. Meanwhile, inventories and capacity remain extraordinarily high.
3. U.S. rail volumes are down 17.7% year-to-date, according to the Association of American Railroads, while worldwide air cargo volumes are running more than 20% below last year’s levels.

Credit is tightening even as credit demand is plummeting.

Finally, these changes in consumption are secular, not cyclical; driven by a combination of forced and voluntary thrift.

Push for permanent state fund for affordable housing – The Contra Costa Times

Developers of low-income residential projects that have already secured state funding are enjoying lower construction costs because of the weak building market.

But as California's budget problems worsen, some worry the state's contributions to such projects will suffer just as funds dry up from two voter-approved bond measures.

The Worst Is Over For The Economy – Clusterstock

Existing-home Sales Fall 3.5% – The Big Picture

I always enjoy fighting my way through the nonsensical press releases from the National Association of Realtors. At one time, it was a bit of a challenge, but its become much easier once I figured out that they are a PR trade group, and not a legitimate source of honest economic commentary. Its as if a really dumb Will Shortz put out crossword puzzles, or made some for those suffering from blunt force head trauma.

This month’s release was especially easy — the data alternates paragraphs with the NAR spin. Strip out the PR bullshit, and what you are actually left with is straight up data.

Recession Imperils Loan Forgiveness Programs – The New York Times

Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

With tuitions, fees, and room and board at dozens of colleges now reaching $50,000 a year, the ability to sustain private higher education for all but the very well-heeled is questionable. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care. Patrick M. Callan, the center's president, has warned that low-income students will find college unaffordable.

Delinquencies up 43% from 2008 – Housingwire

Awesome Photos Of Wasted UK Youths – Clusterstock

Our theory is that the UK's economic woes can be best understood not by looking at their troubled banking sector, but by their declining youth culture.


Manhattan Awash in Office Space; Residential Gridlock in California – Mish

There is a massive oversupply of housing and the Federal government and states are attempting to stimulate home building!

The most amazing thing to me in all this is the number of people who blame regulation for the current crisis. The creation of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, idiotic programs like these, and the existence of the Fed itself are what regulation brings.

Yet complete fools and many people I otherwise consider brilliant are screaming for more regulation.

U.S. ‘Problem’ Banks Rise to 305, Highest Since 1994, FDIC Says  - Bloomberg

Revisiting WaMu – Felix Salmon

It increasingly seems as though a panicked FDIC thrust WaMu into the arms of Jamie Dimon, who could — and did — ask for pretty much anything he liked, including the right not to have to pay back any of WaMu’s creditors. The result was that the bank wholesale-funding market went straight into crisis: one sui generis default (Lehman) might have been navigable, but when you have two in as many weeks, it’s pretty clear which way the wind is blowing.

5-25 CA Home Sales - More Buyers (and sellers) Needed Now - Organic Sales Dead for Past 18-Months – The Field Check Group

Eight-month high for the Baltic Dry – FT Alphaville

IRS tax revenue falls along with taxpayers' income – USA Today

Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion, or 34%, in April vs. a year ago — the biggest April drop since 1981, a study released Tuesday by the American Institute for Economic Research says.

Americans' credit scores fall as they struggle to pay bills – USA Today

From the third quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 — the latest data available — the average TransUnion credit score dropped 6 points to 651, the credit bureau says. Scores fell more dramatically in states hardest hit by the housing bust: California saw a 10-point drop, for example, and Arizona, 11.

Making a Mockery of Being Green – The Wall Street Journal

Director Mike Judge’s new animated television series “The Goode Family” is a send-up of a clan of environmentalists who live by the words “What would Al Gore do?” Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet’s dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply. And, of course, the family drives a hybrid.

U.S. Recession May Soon End, Business Economists Say – Bloomberg

The U.S. recession will probably end in the third quarter, a survey of business economists showed, even as rising joblessness indicates the recovery will be weaker than previously estimated.

The world’s largest economy will begin to expand next quarter, according to 74 percent of economists in a National Association for Business Economics survey. Compared with NABE’s February poll, growth will be slower and unemployment will be higher in the second half of this year and through 2010.

Could you find a worse group of economic forecasters than a group of economists?