This week we look at a number of charts of various parts of the credit markets to see what kind of progress is being made on getting back to "normal" or to a "new normal." And my friend Prieur du Plessis shows us there is reason to believe that we have seen the worst.
"This too shall pass" are words we should all take to heart. Things will neither stay on permanently high or low plateaus. Those doom and gloomers who expect the world to keep devolving back to some pastoral age of scarcity where we will all need those guns and freeze dried food will be disappointed. We are simply hitting the re-set button on many of our institutions and businesses, and while the adjustment is painful, we will eventually get through it. Today's Outside the Box is a kind of map that tells us where we are in the process.
Dr Prieur du Plessis is chairman of Plexus Asset Management and writes the Investment Postcards from Cape Town blog (www.investmentpostcards.com). Click here to subscribe to e-mail updates to the blog.
Who should we blame for the problems in the credit markets? This week in Outside the Box my good friend Barry Ritholtz takes on the task of pointing his prodigious finger at the guilty parties. As he notes, there is plenty of guilt to go around. This is a problem that is going to stay with us more than a few weeks. As I wrote last week, it is not a problem of liquidity. It is a problem of credibility. Until investors of all types feel safe getting back into the structured finance market water, US mortgages and all sorts of consumer finance are going to be severely hobbled. There is plenty of money on the sidelines, but it is going to take some work to make investors feel comfortable.
Part of that process is to figure out what went wrong and how do we avoid getting into this mess yet again? How do we restore credibility? I offer a few quick thoughts on this at the end of Barry's work. And if you have the time, you should click on some of the links Barry has to various research, especially the first link which shows that housing prices could easily drop 15% (or more in some of the bubble areas!).
Finally, I should note that I am going to be speaking yet again at the New Orleans Investment Conference (October 21-25, 2007). This is always one of the great investment conferences of the year. You can click here to learn more.
This Week in Outside the Box we Join Bill Gross of Pimco in his July 2007 Investment Outlook as he strives to address the implications of the Bear Stearns hedge fund debacle, the toxic waste that is Wall Streets' innovative derivative products and their respective valuation, rather, lack thereof.
If Dear reader you have not been party to the excess of the Wall Street you may have not heard of the two Bear Stearns hedge Funds focusing on the subprime market that were subsequently liquidated on account of their inability to meet margin calls, thus wiping out investors. Mr. Gross believes that while significant, we ought not to look to Wall Street to see the repercussions of our excess but to the heart lands of America and the real estate there financed via subprime loans to witness the true folly of our capitalist ways.