Author Archives: Bone Fish

Millennials Are More Than A Trillion Dollars In Debt, And Most Of Them Don’t Even Own A Home

When compared to a similar point in time, Millennials are deeper in debt than any other generation that has come before them.  And the biggest reason why they are in so much debt may surprise you.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Student-Loan-Debt-Public-Domain-1.png?itok=31QRYyzc

We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about the giant mountain of debt that Millennials have accumulated.  According to the New York Fed, the total amount of debt that Millennials are carrying has risen by a whopping 22 percent in just the last five years

New findings from the New York Federal Reserve reveal that millennials have now racked up over US$1 trillion of debt.

This troubling amount of debt, an increase of over 22% in just five years, is more than any other generation in history. This situation may leave you wondering how millennials ended up in such a sorry state.

Many young adults are absolutely drowning in debt, but the composition of that debt is quite different when compared to previous generations at a similar point in time.

Mortgage debt and credit card debt levels are far lower for Millennials, but the level of student loan debt is far, far higher

While the debt levels accumulated by millennials eclipse those of the previous generation, Generation X, at a similar point in time, the complexion of the debt is very different.

According to a 2018 report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, mortgage debt is about 15% lower for millennials and credit card debt among millennials was about two-thirds that of Gen X.

However, student loan debt was over 300% greater.

Over the last 10 years, the total amount of student loan debt in the United States has more than doubled.

It is an absolutely enormous financial problem, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution.  Some politicians on the left are pledging to make college education “free” in the United States, but they never seem to explain who is going to pay for that.

But what everyone can agree on is that student loan debt levels are wildly out of control.  The following statistics come from Forbes

The latest student loan debt statistics for 2019 show how serious the student loan debt crisis has become for borrowers across all demographics and age groups. There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans. Borrowers in the Class of 2017, on average, owe $28,650, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

What makes all of this even more depressing is the fact that the quality of “higher education” in the U.S. has gone down the toilet in recent years.  For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists”.

Our colleges and universities are not adequately preparing our young people for their future careers, but they are burdening them with gigantic financial obligations that will haunt many of them for decades to come.

We have a deeply broken system, and we desperately need a complete and total overhaul of our system of higher education.

Due to the fact that so many of them are swamped by student loan debt, the homeownership rate for Millennials is much, much lower than the homeownership rate for the generations that immediately preceded them.  The following comes from CNBC

The homeownership rate for those under 35 was just 36.5 percent in the last quarter of 2018, compared with 61 percent for those aged 35 to 44, and 70 percent for those aged 45 to 54, according to the U.S. Census. The millennial homeownership rate actually dropped in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, but was unchanged year over year.

This is one of the big reasons why “Housing Bubble 2” is beginning to burst.  There are not enough Millennials buying homes, and it looks like things could be even worse for Generation Z.

If you are a young adult, I would encourage you to limit your exposure to student loan debt as much as possible, because the debt that you accumulate while in school can have very serious long-term implications that you may not even be considering right now.

Source: ZeroHedge

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US Residential Construction Spending Slumps For 6th Straight Month As US Banks Report $251 Billion of “Unrealized Losses” On Securities Investments in 2018

Today is a double whammy for bad news for the US economy.

First, The Census Bureau monthly construction spending report reveals that highway and street spending rose 11.7% in January. The biggest decline was communication spending.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/constspending.png?w=624&h=449

BUT, US residential construction spending slumped for the 6th straight month. It is beginning to resemble “The Matterhorn” plunge of the 2000s.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/usconsrtuspen.png?w=624&h=449

The second whammy is the FDIC report  revealing that US banks reported $251 billion of “unrealized losses” on securities investments in 2018, the most since 2008.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/us-fdic-banks-unrealized-losses-2018-q4.png?w=623&h=464

For a less grim chart from The Federal Reserve (and a different metric), here is US Commercial Bank Liabilities Net Unrealized Gains (Losses) Available for Sale.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/unrelvvl.png?w=624&h=449

Source: Confounded Interest

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Residential Spending Slumps For 6th Straight Month As Infrastructure Spending Soars Most Since 2003

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/2019-03-13_7-19-16.png?itok=o5Y2plu8

…government spending rescued the headline as public construction rose 4.9% in Jan… thanks to a massive surge in infrastructure spending on Highway and Street improvements…

AOC: Wells Fargo ‘Involved’ In Caging Children; Thinks Banks Should Assume Borrowers’ Liabilities

More than two years after Wells Fargo & Co. erupted into scandals, Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan returned to Capitol Hill to lay out his efforts to clean up the mess. The bank has apparently made little progress in winning over lawmakers.

However, all eyes were on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after she suggested Wells Fargo was “involved” in the caging of migrant children because the bank used to finance private prison companies CoreCivic and Geo Group during congressinal hearing.

It was a brilliant distraction…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/oac%201b.jpg?itok=FvAbbpRw

“Mr. Sloan, why was the bank involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children to begin with?” the freshman House Democrat and economics major asked Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan. 

“Uh, I don’t know how to answer that question because we weren’t,” Sloan replied. 

“Uh, so in finance — you, you were financing and involved in financing of debt of CoreCivic and Geo Group, correct?” she shot back. 

To which Sloan replied: “For a period of time, we were involved in financing one of the firms — we’re not anymore and the other. I’m not familiar with the specific assertion that you’re making, but we weren’t directly involved in that.”

“OK, so these companies run private detention facilities run by ICE, which is involved in caging children, but I’ll move on,” AOC retorted.

Of note, Wells Fargo was prominently featured in a November 2016 report along with nine other banks for lending CoreCivic and GEO Group $444 million and $450 million respectively during the Obama administration – the same period of time during which a a photo of caged children misattributed to the Trump administration was taken. 

Wells Fargo and other banks have decided to reevaluate their lending activities to private prisons amid controversy over the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

Ultimate liability

AOC then shifted gears, asking Sloan if Wells Fargo should be involved in paying for environmental cleanup if a bank-financed oil project such as the Dakota Pipeline were to leak

“So hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access Pipeline, why shouldn’t Wells Fargo pay for the cleanup of it, since it paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?” asked AOC – suggesting that the pipeline is “widely seen to be environmentally unstable.” 

Sloan looked a bit puzzled, replying: “Again the reason we were one of the 17 or 19 banks that financed that is because our team reviewed the environmental impact and we concluded that it was a risk that we were willing to take.” 

The responses to AOC’s line of questioning have been entertaining to say the least.  

Source: ZeroHedge

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Review/Summary of The Brains Behind AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Homeowners With Negative Equity Increased First Time Since 2015

  • The quarterly increase in negative equity was the first increase in 12 quarters
  • The number of owners with negative equity has decreased during the last four quarters by 350,000, or 14 percent
  • The average homeowner gained $9,700 in home equity over the last four quarters

CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX), a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, today released the Home Equity Report for the fourth quarter of 2018. The report shows that U.S. homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 63 percent of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 8.1 percent year over year, representing a gain of nearly $678.4 billion since the fourth quarter of 2017.

https://www.corelogic.com/images/corelogic_her-report_q418_figure2_650-(2).jpg

Additionally, the average homeowner gained $9,700 in home equity between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018. While home equity grew in almost every state in the nation, western states experienced the most significant annual increases. Nevada homeowners gained an average of approximately $29,400 in home equity, while Hawaii homeowners gained an average of approximately $26,900 and Idaho homeowners gained an average of $24,700. California homeowners experienced the fourth-highest growth with an average increase of approximately $19,600 in home equity (Figure 1).

https://www.corelogic.com/images/corelogic_her-report_q418_figure2_650-(1).jpg

From the third quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2018, the total number of mortgaged homes in negative equity increased 1.6 percent to 2.2 million homes or 4.2 percent of all mortgaged properties. This was the first quarterly increase since the fourth quarter of 2015. Despite that quarter-over-quarter increase, on a year-over-year basis, the number of mortgaged properties in negative equity fell 14 percent, or by 351,000, from 2.6 million homes – or 4.9 percent of all mortgaged properties – in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“Our forecast for the CoreLogic Home Price Index predicts there will be a 4.5 percent increase in our national index from December 2018 to the end of 2019,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “If all homes experience this gain, this would lift about 350,000 homeowners from being underwater and restore positive equity.”

Negative equity, often referred to as being underwater or upside down, applies to borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in a home’s value, an increase in mortgage debt or both. Negative equity peaked at 26 percent of mortgaged residential properties in the fourth quarter of 2009, based on the CoreLogic equity data analysis, which began in the third quarter of 2009.

https://www.corelogic.com/images/corelogic_her-report_q418_cbsa-table3_650.jpg

The national aggregate value of negative equity was approximately $300.3 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018. This is up approximately $17.4 billion from $282.9 billion in the third quarter of 2018 and up year over year by approximately $14.4 billion from $285.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“As home prices rise, significantly more people are choosing to remodel, repair or upgrade their existing homes. The increase in home equity over the past several years provides homeowners with the means to finance home remodels and repairs,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “With rates still ultra-low by historical standards, home-equity loans provide a low-cost method to finance home-improvement spending. These expenditures are expected to rise 5 percent in 2019.”

Source: CoreLogic

Economists Cut Global Growth Forecast In Half, Admit Slowdown “Has Taken Us By Surprise”

This is probably the last chart that Mario Draghi wants to see.

Bloomberg economics’ global GDP tracker has been downgraded to its slowest pace since the financial crisis, with world economic growth slumping to 2.1% on a quarterly basis. That’s down from 4% in the middle of last year.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Screen%20Shot%202019-03-11%20at%2011.13.57%20AM.png?itok=RBdADjv_(enlarge)

And while there’s a chance that a US-China trade deal, the Fed’s “pause”, and a fading of the pressures plaguing Europe might stave off a global recession, Bloomberg economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik said the risks appear to be tilted toward the downside. “The risk is that the downward momentum will be self-sustaining.”

“The cyclical upswing that took hold of the global economy in mid-2017 was never going to last. Even so, the extent of the slowdown since late last year has surprised many economists, including us.”

To be sure, the economists aren’t the only ones lowering their outlook on global growth. Last week, the OECD joined the IMF in slashing its 2019 growth forecast, cutting its projection for aggregate global growth to just 1%, just over half of its previous outlook of 1.8%.

While Draghi’s gloomy outlook and decision to push back the timeline for ECB rate cuts last week sent a shock through markets, some ECB officials are apparently still desperately trying to reassure the world that everything is going to be just fine (despite a dearth of economic data implying the opposite).

Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published Monday that “we are still seeing robust economic growth, though it’s less strong than before.”

“It will take longer for inflation (moar money printing) to reach our objective, but it will get there. We are reacting to the developments we have seen so far.”

And although Jerome Powell said during an interview with 60 minutes last night that the US economy is “in a good place”, a raft of economic data, including Friday’s shockingly disappointing jobs report, would suggest otherwise.

The extent of the slowdown in recent months has taken many economists by surprise. But as more central banks opt to retreat into the safety of stimulus, or at least back off their hawkish rhetoric, we’ll see if disaster can be averted once again.

Source: ZeroHedge

NYC’s Chrysler Building Sold For Massive Discount

Signa Holding, Austria’s largest privately owned real estate company, has reached an agreement to purchase the iconic Chrysler Building in New York City in partnership with property firm RFR Holding for about $150 million, according to Reuters.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/chysler%20building.jpg?itok=LA9qSufC

The price is at a steep discount compared to the $800 million the Abu Dhabi Investment Council paid for a 90% stake in the building right before the 2008 financial crisis. Shortly after the investment arm of the Government of Abu Dhabi bought the property, commercial real estate prices crashed.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/chrysler-nyc%20view.jpg?itok=3T3jXqFz

Sources told Reuters that the deal includes both the office building and the pyramid-topped Trylons on the land between the tower and 666 Third Avenue.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/TrylonTowers.jpg?itok=_JQAgsAF

The Art Deco–style skyscraper, was completed in 1930 on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It is a recognizable symbol of Manhattan’s skyline, was for a short time in the early 1930s the tallest building in the world, only to be surpassed by the Empire State Building.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/1930s%20chysler%20building.jpg?itok=AjjVpOFt

The most significant factor weighing on the price is out of control expenses tied to the building’s ground lease. The land under the tower is owned by the Cooper Union school, which raised the rent to $32.5 million last year from $7.75 million in 2017.

“The ground lease is a glaringly obvious negative,” Adelaide Polsinelli, a broker at New York City-based Compass, told Bloomberg. “The other negatives are that the space is not new and it is landmarked, therefore it’s twice as hard to get anything done.”

Tishman Speyer Properties and the Travelers Insurance Group bought the Chrysler Building in 1998 for about $230 million. In 2001, a 75% stake in the building was sold, for $300 million to TMW, the German arm of an Atlanta-based investment fund. Abu Dhabi bought the German fund’s share as well as part of Tishman’s in June 2008. Reuters said Signa and RFR were extremely close to a deal to purchase the tower.

Signa has an extensive portfolio of landmark buildings in prime locations. Its holdings include KaDeWe and the Upper West Tower in Berlin, Goldenes Quarter with the Park Hyatt Hotel in Vienna, Alte Akademie in Munich, and Alsterhaus and Alsterarkaden in Hamburg.

RFR has also made a name for itself in commercial real estate by owning and managing some of Manhattan’s most prestigious commercial properties, including the Seagram Building and Lever House, which are located on Park Avenue.

Signa and RFR had completed several deals together in the past,  including in 2017, when Signa bought five landmark properties from RFR in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich for about 1.5 billion euros.

Source: ZeroHedge

Alarm! Europe’s And US Bond Volatility Grinding To A Halt (Precursor To Recession)

European bond volatility (according to the Merrill Lynch 3-month EUR option volatility estimate) has plunged to the lowest level on record.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/dyingvol.png?w=623&h=353

A similar chart for the US bond market is the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate for 3-months shows exactly the same thing. The US bond market is grinding to a halt.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/move3.png?w=624&h=449

Note that the US MOVE 3-month estimate hit a low in May 2007, just ahead of The Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Alarm!

Source: Confounded Interest

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Stocks End Week With Five Days Of Declines

  • U.S. stocks almost clawed their way to break-even, shaking off concerns over slowing global growth, a weak hiring report in the U.S., and disappointing China trade data.
  • S&P fell 0.2% as did the  Nasdaq, and the Dow nudged down 0.1%.
  • For the week, the Nasdaq declined 2.5%, while the S&P 500 and the Dow each slipped 2.2%.
  • Among industry sectors, utilities (+0.4%) and materials (+0.2%) gained the most on Friday, while energy (-2.0%) and consumer discretionary (-0.7%) were the biggest underperformers.
  • 10-year Treasury yield fell is down about 1 basis point to 2.63%.