Number Of Homebuyers Putting Less Than 10% Down Soars To 7-Year High

A really long, long time ago, well before most of today’s wall street analysts made it through puberty, the entire international financial system almost collapsed courtesy of a mortgage lending bubble that allowed anyone with a pulse to finance over 100% of a home’s purchase price…with pretty much no questions asked.

And while the millennial titans of high finance today may consider a decade-old case study on mortgage finance to be about as useful as a Mark Twain novel when it comes to underwriting mortgage risk, they may want to considered at least taking a look at the ancient finance scrolls from 2009 before gleefully repeating the sins of their forefathers.

Alas, it may be too late.  As Black Knight Financial Services points out, down payments, the very thing that is supposed to deter rampant housing speculation by forcing buyers to have ‘skin in the game’, are once again disappearing from the mortgage market.  In fact, just in the last 12 months, 1.5 million borrowers have purchased a home with less than 10% down, a 7-year high.

Over the past 12 months, 1.5M borrowers have purchased a home by putting down less than 10 percent, which is close to a seven-year high in low down payment purchase volumes

– The increase is primarily a function of the overall growth in purchase lending, but, after nearly four consecutive years of declines, low down payment loans have ticked upwards in market share over the past 18 months

– Looking back historically, we see that half of all low down payment lending (less than 10 percent down) in 2005-2006 involved piggyback second liens rather
than a single high LTV first lien mortgage

– The low down payment market share actually rose through 2010 as the GSEs and portfolio lenders pulled back, the PLS market dried up, and FHA lending buoyed
the purchase market as a whole

– The FHA/VA share of purchase lending rose from less than 10 percent during 2005-2006 to nearly 50 percent in 2010

– As the market normalized and other lenders returned, the share of low-down payment lending declined consistent with a drop in the FHA/VA share of the purchase market

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On the bright side, at least Yellen’s interest rate bubble means that today’s housing speculators don’t even have to rely on introductory teaser rates to finance their McMansions...Yellen just artificially set the 30-year fixed rate at the 2007 ARM teaser rate…it’s just much easier this way.

“The increase is primarily a function of the overall growth in purchase lending, but, after nearly four consecutive years of declines, low down payment loans have ticked upward in market share over the past 18 months as well,” said Ben Graboske, executive vice president at Black Knight Data & Analytics, in a recent note. “In fact, they now account for nearly 40 percent of all purchase lending.”

At that time half of all low down payment loans being made involved second loans, commonly known as “piggyback loans,” but today’s mortgages are largely single, first liens, Graboske noted.

The loans of the past were also far riskier – mostly adjustable-rate mortgages, which, according to the Black Knight report, are virtually nonexistent among low down payment mortgages today. Instead, most are fixed rate. Credit scores of borrowers taking out these loans today are also about 50 points higher than those between 2004 and 2007.

Finally, on another bright note, tax payers are just taking all the risk upfront this time around…no sense letting the banks take the risk while pretending that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for their poor decisions…again, it’s just easier this way.

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Source: ZeroHedge

Bitcoin Blows Through $4000 As Asian Demand Soars

While many of the largest cryptocurrencies are fading modestly this morning, Bitcoin is holding on to dramatic agains which saw the largest virtual currency spike to as high as $4190 as Yen, Yuan, and Won trading activity dominated volumes.

Bitcoin Cash remains in 4th place overall by market cap but Bitcoin is the only currency higher among the top 5 this morning.

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Soaring past $4000…

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As CoinTelegraph reports, the trading of Bitcoin in Japanese yen has accounted for almost 46 percent of total trade volume worldwide. The trading of Bitcoin in US dollar accounted for around 25 percent, while the trading of Bitcoin in South Korean won and Chinese yuan accounted for approximately 12 percent each.

Additionally, anticipated demand is being priced in after VanEck filed for an ‘active strategy’ Bitcoin ETF:

The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing, under normal circumstances, in U.S. exchange-traded bitcoin-linked derivative instruments (“Bitcoin Instruments”) and pooled investment vehicles and exchange-traded products that provide exposure to bitcoin (together with Bitcoin Instruments, “Bitcoin Investments”).

The Fund is an actively managed exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) and should not be confused with one that is designed to track the performance of a specified index.

The Fund’s strategy seeks to provide total return by actively managing the Fund’s investments in Bitcoin Investments.

Bitcoin’s solid performance in early August reflected that of gold’s amidst the selloff in stocks and bonds around the world due to the growing apprehensions over North Korea’s nuclear threat.

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And the latest moves this weekend in the crypto world suggest gold will open well north of $1300 tonight.

Live Gold Price

 

 

Global Financial Stress Index Spikes Most Since 2011 US Downgrade

Did central banks just lose control of the world… again?

For the first time in four months, BofAML’s Global Financial Market Stress index has turned positive – signalling more market stress than normal.

As the spat between North Korea and the U.S. worsened, a measure of cross-asset risk, hedging demand and investor flows awakened from its torpor (after spending 78 straight days below zero – with stress below normal).

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The problem the world faces is… did the world’s central bank money-printing safety net just lose its plunge protection power?

For context, this is the biggest spike in the Global Financial Stress Index since the US ratings downgrade in August 2011 – and a bigger shock than the August 2015 China devaluation…

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… Michael Pento sits down with best selling author and National security expert Jim Rickards to talk about North Korea, debt the stock markets and when this all unravels.

Source: ZeroHedge

It’s Over For Tech Start-ups

It’s over for tech start-ups — just look at today’s earnings reports

  • Blue Apron and Snap had disappointing earnings reports on Thursday.
  • Both companies have been targeted by one of the Big Five — Blue Apron by Amazon, Snap by Facebook.
  • Start-ups and investors should look to the margins, or prepare to face the tech giants.

Two newly public tech companies reported earnings on Thursday, and both were ugly for their investors.

Meal-kit preparer Blue Apron missed earnings expectations by a wide margin in its first earnings report since going public in late June. It reported a 47 cent per share loss instead of the expected 30 cent loss, blaming high customer acquisition costs and staffing a new distribution plant in New Jersey.

The stock dropped 17 percent and is now trading at about half its IPO price.

In its second earnings report as a public company, Snap disappointed Wall Street with its user growth numbers for the second consecutive time and fell short on earnings.

The stock dropped about 17 percent after hours. It’s now off about 33 percent from its IPO price.

Blue Apron and Snap have a lot in common. They’re consumer focused. They have devoted followers. They’re losing money hand over fist.

And both were targeted directly and aggressively by two of tech’s biggest companies.

Between the time Blue Apron filed for its intial public offering, on June 1, and when it went public, on June 28, Amazon announced that it was buying Whole Foods. The speculation that Amazon would use the purchase to improve its home delivery service sent demand for Blue Apron’s IPO down, and the company slashed its IPO range from $15-$17 down to $10-$11.

Then, reports emerged that Amazon had already launched a meal kit, which was on sale in Seattle.

In the case of Snap, it was Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and company had been fighting to blunt Snap’s growth ever since its co-founder, Evan Spiegel, rejected his buyout offer in 2013. It began to see progress with the launch of Instagram Stories in August 2016, which duplicated Snapchat’s own Stories feature. Over the next year, it gradually copied nearly every major Snapchat feature in its own products.

Less than a year after launch, Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users and is growing at a rate of around 50 million every three months. Snap has 173 million and grew only 7 million during the quarter.

The experiences of these companies are discouraging for start-up investors and founders who dream of someday creating an Amazon or Facebook of their own.

The five big tech companies — Alphabet (Google), Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — have attained unprecedented wealth and power, with trillions of dollars in combined market value and tens of billions of dollars in free cash flow.

They also need to satisfy Wall Street’s appetite for growth, which means they have to get new customers or earn more money from existing customers, quarter after quarter, year after year. One way to do that is to expand into new markets.

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They’ll gladly outspend their smaller competitors on product development and hiring while undercutting them on price.

That doesn’t mean curtains for Blue Apron or Snap. Both companies could come up with a leapfrog innovation that catapults them (for a while). Young nimble companies overtake older and slower companies all the time — that’s how the Big Five started. Microsoft disrupted IBM. Google and Apple disrupted Microsoft. And so on.

But companies and tech investors need to be wise about the risks of betting on upstarts that are going up against these giants.

If you hope to make money through online advertising, you’ll be challenging Google and Facebook. If you’re doing anything in e-commerce, logistics or delivery, you’ll run into Amazon. In cloud computing, get ready to see Amazon, Microsoft and Google. If you’re building hardware, Apple likely stands in the way.

It might be better to focus on the niches that the Big Five don’t yet dominate. Their health-care efforts are still in early stages, and none is playing heavily in financial tech, drones or robotics. Microsoft’s power in enterprise software is blunted to some degree by other old giants like IBM, Oracle and SAP, plus newer players like Salesforce.

It’s always been hard to build a successful start-up. With the increasing dominance of the Big Five, it’s harder than ever.

By Matt Rosoff | CNBC

 

Bitcoin Spikes To New Record High Over $3800 – Best Week Since Brexit

Bitcoin is now up almost 35% since the August 1st fork, and up over 90% from the mid-July fork-fears panic low. Buying was heavy in the overnight Asian session but surged once again this morning, seemingly after US CPI data disappointed, lifting the price to a new record high of $3547.

As we noted earlier, The real demand for bitcoin will not be known until a global financial crisis guts confidence in central banks and politicized capital controls.”

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This is Bitcoin’s best week since pre-Brexit anxiety sent the virtual currency surging in June 2016…

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Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong noted: “Digital currencies are having their ‘Netscape’ moment…The pace of innovation has been accelerating and we are now seeing exciting projects and companies being built on top of digital currencies.”

As CoinTelegraph also notes, recent tension between the US and North Korea has played its part on the global market, rattling some of the major asset classes. However, not being pegged, or controlled by any centralized force, Bitcoin was totally unaffected by the news.

Cryptocurrencies are famous for their volatility, but the non-correlation between the global market slipping and cryptocurrencies mostly staying up shows that these decentralized forms of currency won’t be affected like traditional assets.

Source: ZeroHedge

Seniors Only Keeping < = 75% Of Social Security After Medical Expenses

Concerns over the future of Social Security play a starring role in American seniors’ overall retirement uncertainty — and that’s before considering how much of the benefit might eventually need to go toward unexpected medical expenses.

After factoring in supplemental insurance premiums and other uninsured health costs, the average retiree only takes home 75% of his or her Social Security benefits, according to a new study from researchers at Tufts University and Boston College.

“A substantial share of other households have even less of their benefits left over,” researchers Melissa McInerney of Tufts and Matthew S. Rutledge and Sara Ellen King of BC wrote.

In fact, for three percent of retirees, out-of-pocket health expenses actually exceed their Social Security Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) benefits, the team concludes.

These findings are part of an overall trend: Despite positive steps such as the introduction of Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs in 2006, seniors have increasingly paid more for health expenses directly from their pockets.

“Until a slowdown during this decade, out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries rose dramatically — costs increased by 44% between 2000 and 2010 — and they are expected to continue to rise faster than overall inflation,” the researchers wrote.

To perform their study, which was introduced at the annual Joint Meeting of the Retirement Research Consortium in Washington, D.C. last week, the team analyzed individual data points for Social Security recipients aged 65 and older between 2002 and 2014. They found a wide range in medical spending among that cohort: For instance, while the median retiree spent $2,400 in 2014, the total group averaged $3,100 per person, with retirees in the 75th percentile logging $4,400.

The researchers also warn that they only analyzed medical expenses, citing a 2017 paper that concluded that housing costs, taxes, and “non-housing debt” eat up about 30% of a retiree’s income.

“Although out-of-pocket medical spending has declined somewhat since the instruction of Part D … these findings suggest that Social Security beneficiaries’ lifestyles remain vulnerable to a likely revival in medical spending growth,” the team concludes.

Read McInerney, Rutledge, and King’s full findings here.

By Alex Spanko | Reverse Mortgage Daily

Goldman $3915 Bitcoin Target

Having ‘nailed’ the price action recently in Bitcoin (calling the recent pull back, extension beyond $3,000, with a target of $3,915), Goldman notes that it’s getting harder for institutional investors to ignore the rise of cryptocurrencies.

Last month Goldman’s chief technician, Sheba Jafari, issued their forecast of where bitcoin is headed next. Recall, that as we first reported three weeks ago, Jafari said that “due to popular demand, it’s worth taking a quick look at Bitcoin here” and warned that “the market has come close (enough?) to reaching its extended (2.618) target for a 3rd of V-waves from the inception low at 3,134.” She concluded that she was “wary of a near-term top ahead of 3,134” and urged clients to “consider re-establishing bullish exposure between 2,330 and no lower than 1,915.”

She was right: on the very day the note came out, both bitcoin and ethereum hit their all time highs and shortly after suffered their biggest drop in over two years.

So what does Jafari thinks will happen next? According to the Goldman technician, Bitcoin is now “in wave IV of a sequence that started at the late-’10/early-’11 lows. Wave III came close enough to reaching its 2.618 extended target at 3,135. Wave IV has already retraced between 23.6% and 38.2% of the move since Jan. ‘15 to 2,330/ 1,915.”

What does this mean for the uninitiated? In short, while bitcoin remains in Wave IV, it could go up… or down. She explains:

It’s worth keeping in mind that fourth waves tend to be messy/complex. This means that it could remain sideways/overlapping for a little while longer. At this point, it’s important to look for either an ABC pattern or a more triangular ABCDE. The former would target somewhere close to 1,856; providing a much cleaner setup from which to consider getting back into the uptrend. The latter would hold within a 2,076/3,000 range for an extended period of time.

However, at that point the next major breakout higher would take place, one which would take bitcoin as high as $3,915.

Either way, eventually expecting one more leg higher; a 5th wave. From current levels, [Bitcoin] has a minimum target that goes out to 3,212 (if equal to the length of wave I). There’s potential to extend as far as 3,915 (if 1.618 times the length of wave I). It just might take time to get there.

Goldman’s analyst concludes with the following summary: “[Bitcoin] could consolidate sideways for a while longer. Shouldn’t go much further than 1,857. Eventually targeting at least 3,212.

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And now, Goldman offers an FAQ for the institutional investor…

The debate has shifted from the legitimacy of the ‘fiat of the internet’ to how fast new entrants are raising funds. The hype cycle is in full effect with Bitcoin, the first, largest and most widely recognized cryptocurrency up almost 200% YTD (v 11% for the S&P 500) and a host of other emerging ‘alt coins’ growing in scope and presence (witness the growth of Ethereum).

Whether or not you believe in the merit of investing in cryptocurrencies (you know who you are) real dollars are at work here and warrant watching especially in light of the growing world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and fundraising that now exceeds Internet Angel and Seed investing.

FAQs:

1. Two Sides To The Coin: Is Cryptocurrency a “Currency” or “Commodity”?

Answer: It depends who you ask. The complexity exists because coins have attributes of a currency (e.g. presented and trusted by some medium of exchange) and commodity (e.g. limited resource). The classification of cryptocurrencies varies by country, government and even application. In the U.S., the IRS has ruled that virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction. For tax purposes, the IRS treats virtual currency as property. 

2. How Big Is The Cryptocurrency Market?

Answer: Nearly $120 billion. Bitcoin remains the largest and accounts for nearly 50% of the total market cap (Exhibit 5).

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There are currently over 800 cryptocurrencies out there, though just 9 have a market cap in excess of $1 billion.

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While its growth has been impressive, the aggregate market cap of cryptocurrencies equates to less than 2% of the value of all the mined gold in the world.

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3. What Is Ethereum? 

Answer: A Platform 1st, a Cryptocurrency 2nd. Ethereum differs primarily from Bitcoin in the latter is set up to be an alternative to ‘real money’ while the former is more of a platform set up to run any decentralized application and automatically execute “smart contracts” when certain conditions are met. Ethereum offers a digital currency like Bitcoin – called Ether – but this is just one component of its smart contract execution and primarily used to facilitate and reward using the network. However, the rise of Ethereum has not come without setbacks, including the ~$60 million hack of “The DAO”, a venture capital like organization with the mission of “investing” in Ethereum-related start-ups and projects (and is no longer operational today).

4. How Does One Trade Cryptocurrencies in the United States?

Answer: Digital Exchanges, Block Trades and (soon to be) Options. Individual investors can trade virtual coins on various online exchanges. Institutional traders have largely stayed out of the cryptocurrency market due to its relatively small size, structure of mandates and volatility, but block trading exists to facilitate the execution of larger orders. In addition, Bitcoin options exist and are traded on offshore exchanges. Futures and options may also be coming to the US soon. On August 2, 2017, the CBOE entered an agreement with Gemini Trust Co to allow cash-settled Bitcoin futures on CBOE Futures Exchange in 4Q-17 or early 2018.

5. What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)?

Answer: Fundraiser through token sales. The amount of money funding ICOs has grown exponentially and the speed at which money is raised via a white paper and internet browser has sounded the alarm bells from parties including the SEC and the People’s Bank of China. According to Coin Schedule, ICOs have raised $1.25 billion this year, outpacing global Angel & Seed stage Internet VC funding in recent months.

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The Tezos blockchain raised a record breaking $232 million worth of Bitcoin and Ether through an ICO completed last month. The next closest? Bancor’s ICO which raised $150 million in mid-June. And the speed of ICOs is an added benefit: Gnosis raised more than $12 million in under 15 minutes.

Source: ZeroHedge