"Less drastic spending cuts by businesses, a resumption of spending by federal and local governments and an improved trade picture were key forces behind the better performance. Consumers, though, pulled back a bit. Rising unemployment, shrunken nest eggs and lower home values have weighed down their spending." [more]
Some will argue that earnings have been great, while I would argue that beating weak estimates is not a huge positive. However, I think everyone can agree that revenues have been dismal. GDP is more a measure of revenues than earnings, so if revenues have declined 20%, this portion of GDP should be down about 20%, regardless of whether earnings increased or not. [more]
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A senior House Democrat is threatening banks that if they don't volunteer to save more homeowners from foreclosure, Congress will make them. [more]
WSJ - How's the economy, you ask? I have the proverbial good news and bad news, but in this case, they're exactly the same: The U.S. economy appears to be hitting bottom. [more]
SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- The California Senate on Friday approved a plan to close the state's $26 billion budget deficit, giving a glimmer of hope after weeks of fiscal gloom. [more]
Some will argue that earnings have been fantastic with most companies beating estimates. However, earnings have been terrible. Beating weak estimates on cost cutting and asset sales doesn't show economic strength. Based on earnings, it looks like financials are in for a dismal Q3 and Q4...GS may be able to manipulate their way to a profit, but most financials are still hurting, and too many companies are reporting massive revenue declines. [more]
kaskoosek posted this article early this morning, but it's off the front page of the CAPS blogs now, and I don't know how many saw it...I'd just like to see more discussion, as I think this is important news. [more]
You shouldn't! I just ran across this: [more]
I hope you got out yesterday with your 80% gain...they're already warning of bankruptcy again today.
I seem to recall Obama campaigning on a promise to take a scalpel to the federal budget as a first priority, removing every bit of pork from the budget, and cutting the budget deficit in half in his first term. He's quadrupled deficit spending in his first year (impressive, considering this is following a record year for deficit spending), with plans for a similar budget for his second year...which could turn out to be far worse as tax receipts shrink. What do you think he has planned to cut deficit spending by nearly 90% between year 2 and year 4? Maybe cap and trade, and healthcare reform will save us $3 trillion! Maybe we'll change some more accounting rules and start calling new debts revenues...the sad thing is, this wouldn't even cover 90% of our current deficit spending. Will allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire cover it? Not even close. Is the President preparing to cut a huge percentage of all federal spending, or is he preparing to raise taxes on the wealthy (and not so wealthy) by a huge percentage? I'll bet that he does neither, still gets re-elected by the idiot majority, and by year 8 he's increased deficit spending by at least 1000% (one thousand percent)...partly due to decreased tax revenues that won't return, partly due to ridiculous spending, and partly due to our inability to borrow and continually increasing debt service costs. [more]
I keep hearing news about improvements in new home sales, existing homes sales, building permits, etc..., and comments that a bottom may be in on home prices. In my area, I've seen an increase in new construction, and sales of REO properties, but in the last year, I have seen VERY few existing homes sell that aren't bank owned. In addition, inventory has still increased while sales have picked up a bit in the last couple of months. I was speaking with an appraiser that was in my area last week, and was told that EVERY APPRAISAL IN THE STATE has been reduced by 20% in the last 6 WEEKS due to new foreclosure filing data...that's on top of huge price declines over the last 2 years. According to the appraiser, not even 25% of existing bank owned properties in the area have been put on the market yet, and we're expecting double the number of foreclosures in the next 24 months, as we've seen in the last 24 months. So, MAYBE a third of expected foreclosures are already bankowned. Bank owned homes are everywhere, but with not even 25% of existing REO properties on the market, we should expect to see more than 10 times as many foreclosure listings over the next 2-3 years. I don't know if we're just late to the housing meltdown, or if most areas of the country are in a similar situation...I imagine that prices in CA, NV, and FL are closer to a bottom by now. In any case, I think this is bad news for housing, and bad news for banks in the near future. I don't know what banks plan to do with the "shadow inventory" they're holding on to. Are they just holding on to avoid immediate losses and praying for a bailout? Are they waiting for a full recovery in housing to unload these properties at a profit?...can they wait 10+ years? Are most of these lenders technically insolvent? [more]
Everyone seems to be acting like the economy is back on track. Banks are making big money, things must be good...but, they're not making big money! What happens when the financials disappoint in the second half? I'd bet that the markets close the year out lower than current levels. I'm not predicting a crash...just that I haven't seen any reason for optimism in the near term, and that sentiment will fall again in the second half. [more]
AIG shares are effectively down 40% since the reverse split a few days ago. What are the chances that AIG ever returns to profitability and re-pays the government? It looks like the government just threw $180 billion into a black hole. Would it really have been so bad to have let AIG fail last year, as opposed to them failing this year or next year?
I just read that Kennedy and Dodd are proposing that employers that don't provide employee health insurance would be required to pay a $750 annual fee. I haven't seen any drafts of their proposal, but wouldn't any company jump at the chance to pay a $750/year fee instead of the thousands they pay for employee healthcare coverage? My employer pays around $10K a year for my family's plan, and could literally cut billions in costs by opting to pay the $750 fees. I don't know all the details, but it seems like this is a clear path to universal healthcare, and not just a government option. I'm sure this will be rammed down our throats soon enough, so what are your thoughts? I know I'm not buying any healthcare stocks. [more]