This week your Outside the Box offers two views, one from the US and one from Europe, both dealing with banks and financing. First, back in July, my friend Chris Whalen at Institutional Risk Analytics wrote an important comment about how the situation in the housing market is blocking efforts by the Fed to stabilize the US economy. IRA is a rating agency that follows every US bank and consults for a number of large commercial and governmental institutions on bank performance and risk.
(You can see the IRA reports of all the failed banks since 2008 on their website. The folks at IRA have a retail website (www.irabankratings.com) that allows you to follow your bank’s performance for just $50 per year or subscribe to see all US banks for $1,000 per year. Many large corporations, investment advisors, insurers, and banks use the retail IRA bank ratings for counterparty risk management and other bank credit tasks. It is a great value for people who want to sleep soundly at night with reliable knowledge about their banks.)
One of the things that Chris has been writing about for the past several years is how the policies followed by the top four banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America – plus Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are preventing millions of American homeowners from refinancing their homes. While banks and corporate issuers of debt have benefited greatly from the Fed’s low-rate policies, consumers have been locked out. At long last, we now see President Obama and other politicians talking about the need to refinance American homeowners. Chris and his colleagues in the mortgage market, like Alan Boyce, are largely responsible for educating policy makers on this issue. Hopefully they are not too late to make a difference.
The second and shorter part of today’s OTB is two articles from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph, on the current crisis in Europe. You need a scorecard to keep up with the latest developments, and he certainly provides one. Things could get very volatile, if he is even close to correct.
Have a great week, and my sympathies to all my friends who have “issues,” as in no power, etc., in the Northeast. Makes 100+ degrees seem like nothing.
Your waiting for cooler weather in Texas analyst,
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
The Institutional Risk Analyst
Are the Housing GSEs and TBTF Banks Blocking the Economic Recovery?
Yesterday our colleague Chuck Gabriel at Capital Alpha Partners in Washington put out a research note indicating that the Obama Administration has decided to support a two-year extension in the conforming loan limit for Fannie and Freddie.
As we have noted in past comments, the limit on loans that can be guaranteed by the GSEs is set to fall…