Financial Crisis Solved for $40 million? …Not quite…

I read an article on line last week which basically argued the following:

America has 40 million ppl over 50, give each $1mil to retire and require they buy 1 new US car and buy a house or pay off their home…40 mil job openings, 40 mil mortgages paid, 40 mil new cars sold, 40 mil retirements saved…financial crisis solved for $40 million, a tiny fraction of the estimated 11 trillion dollars already committed to this ‘recovery.’

why not?

…First of all, as ‘Cookville’ points out in his comment below, 40 million people times $1 million dollars is NOT $40 million, but rather $40  trillion, additionally, Obama and the Treasury people are saying that the money is being given to the banks instead of directly to citizens because doing so allows for 8$ in loans for every $1 dollar put in, allowing it to effectivley create 8 times as much “stimulus” via bank loans as it would in the hands of the average consumer.  I’m still not clear on how or why this would be true, but it is what they are saying.  Would love any further explanation or ideas about what is better than putting money in the hands of the citizens and exactly why?

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U.S. Home foresclosures up 81% in 2008, A record; up 225% from 2006!!!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — U.S. foreclosure filings spiked by more than 81% in 2008, a record, according to a report released Thursday, and they’re up 225% compared with 2006.

A total of 861,664 families lost their homes to foreclosure last year, according to RealtyTrac, which released its year-end report Thursday. There were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings issued during 2008, which means that one of every 54 households received a notice last year.

“Clearly the foreclosure prevention programs implemented to date have not had any real success in slowing down this foreclosure tsunami,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac in a statement.

And despite those efforts on the part of both the government and the banking industry to quell the housing crisis, defaults continued to climb as 2008 came to an end. Foreclosure filings were up 17% in December over November, and rose 41% compared with December of 2007.

“The big jump in December foreclosure activity was somewhat surprising given the moratoria enacted by both Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) and Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500), along with programs from some of the major lenders and loan servicers aimed at delaying foreclosure actions against distressed homeowners,” said Saccacio.

Both of the government-sponsored mortgage giants suspended foreclosures starting November 26, 2008 through January 31, 2009.

The devastating numbers are unlikely to improve soon.

“I don’t see how we can avoid three million foreclosures again in 2009,” said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac spokesman. His company now has nearly a million sales listings for bank-owned homes.

Huge foreclosure inventory

And what’s worse, Sharga thinks that as many as 70% of the bank-owned homes listed on RealtyTrac’s site have not yet been posted on multiple listings services (MLS), the industry databases of homes for sale. Those homes are less likely to be sold because most real estate agents won’t know they’re available.

“Either banks are overwhelmed and can’t get the houses on the MLS quickly, or they’re deliberately slowing down so they don’t have to take markdowns to actual home values on their books,” Sharga said. Either way, it has the effect of underestimating the foreclosure inventory problem.

Banks also seem to be slowing the foreclosure process, according to Sharga. They are not sending out foreclosure filings as quickly when homeowners fall behind on payments.

Part of that is because some new state regulations require banks to notify delinquent borrowers of their intent to file notices of default, and to offer help to borrowers who want to get their finances back on track. Banks simply lack the manpower to track down so many delinquent homeowners with the required notifications. This creates a delay between the time that borrowers first miss payments and when they go into foreclosure.

After one such rule took effect in California this past summer, notices of default fell by half, to 21,665 from 44,278. But they jumped back to more than 44,000 again in December, probably because banks caught up on many of the postponed notices.

“The recent California law, much like its predecessors in Massachusetts and Maryland, appears to have done little more than delay the inevitable foreclosure proceedings for thousands of homeowners,” said Saccacio.

Falling home prices

Foreclosures are closely tied to home prices – they tend to rise as prices fall. And nationally, home prices have fallen more than 21% from their peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index. In many areas, the decline has been much worse.

In Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami prices are down 30% or more. They’ve fallen more than 40% in Phoenix and nearly that much in Las Vegas.

Declining prices put many homeowners “underwater” on their mortgages, owing more than their homes are worth, which makes them more likely to default.

And adding a flood of bank-owned homes to already slow markets further outstrips demand and dampens prices, creating a spiral of lower prices and higher foreclosures.

As a result, more homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments end up losing their homes, according to Jay Brinkman, the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association

In California and Florida 80% of the homeowners who miss a payment end up in foreclosure, according to the MBA. That’s a much, higher percentage than in the past.

“The number of mortgages 30 days past due are still below what they were during the 2001 recession,” said Brinkman. But the proportion of those loans that went into foreclosure was much lower, he added – about 10%.

“Delinquency itself has become a much clearer predictor of foreclosure,” said Sharga.

If home prices keep plunging, the foreclosure scourge will likely continue.

And S&P’s chief economist, David Wyss, expects home prices to continue to decline, bottoming in early 2010 roughly 33% below their 2006 peak.

Worst hit areas

The three states hit hardest by foreclosure in 2008 were Nevada, Florida and Arizona. In Nevada, 7% of homes received a foreclosure filing – such as a notice of default, auction sale notice or foreclosure sale – during the year, up 126% from 2007.

Florida filings soared 133%, hitting more than 4.5% of all households, while Arizona filings jumped 203%, also to about 4.5%. California had the highest total number of filings for any state, 523,624, more than double 2007 levels.

Stockton, Calif. had the highest rate of foreclosures of any metropolitan area, at 9.5%. Las Vegas was second with 8.9% and Riverside/San Bernardino Calif. was third with 8%.

Of the top 20 cities for foreclosures, most are in the Sun Belt, with the exception of Detroit at number 10, Memphis, which ranked 18th and Denver which was 19th.

Jobless rate jumps to 7.2%, average work week sinks to lowest ever on record.

From Washingtonpost.com today:

“The fine print of yesterday’s report from the Labor Department showed that a broader measure of joblessness — which includes people who are working part-time but would prefer a full-time job and people who want work but have given up looking — rose by nearly a full percentage point, to 13.5 percent.

The overall unemployment rate jumped from 6.8 percent in November, the Labor Department said. Employers cut 524,000 jobs last month, 2.6 million over the course of 2008. Companies not only slashed workers, but also cut back on hours for their remaining employees, to the shortest average workweek on record….”

U.S. economic depression of 2008 update: manufacturing orders dropped to lowest levels since 1948.

U.S. depression update, Jan. 2, 2008, found here, at Bloomberg.com:

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) — The decline in U.S. manufacturing deepened in December as demand for such products as cars, appliances and furniture reached the lowest level since at least 1948, signaling further cutbacks in factory jobs and production this year.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 32.4, below economists’ forecasts and the lowest level since 1980, from 36.2 the prior month. Readings less than 50 signal contraction. The group’s new-orders measure reached the lowest level on record and prices slid the most since 1949.

“Every component suggests that the weakness is going to carry over into 2009,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “There’s just not a whole lot of new business coming in,” and companies will have a “painful adjustment” as consumers shun spending.

Today’s figures underscore that, with private demand collapsing, manufacturers’ best hope for new business this year may be President-elect Barack Obama’s plans for an unprecedented stimulus package. Obama has pledged an investment program in roads, schools and the U.S. energy network akin to the 1950s- era interstate highway construction boom….”

Bank of America to cut 30-35,000 jobs, Citigroup to cut 52,000 jobs.

Bloomberg reported this on Thursday, here is an excerpt:

“Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., the third- largest U.S. bank, said it plans to cut 30,000 to 35,000 positions over the next three years because of its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. and the weak economic environment.

The final number of job cuts won’t be decided until early next year, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said in a statement today. The companies together employ 307,000 people, including about 60,000 at New York-based Merrill Lynch. Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri said the “vast majority” of job cuts will come next year.

All lines of businesses and staff units will be affected, and “as many reductions as possible” will be made through attrition, Bank of America said. The companies have already begun dismissing equity analysts, according to a person briefed on the changes.

“They are saying that even though we’ve got the best efficiency of any large bank holding company, we still have extra costs,” said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a market-research firm. “They still have to throw more stuff out of the boat because they have to stay afloat.”

Bank of America is the latest firm to announce a workforce reduction amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Citigroup Inc. is planning to eliminate 52,000 jobs in the next year….”

Citigroup CEO announces bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year.

Nov. 17 (Originally published by Bloomberg) (Read whole article, click here)Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said the bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year, twice the target announced last month, as loan losses surge and the economy shrinks.

The reductions, disclosed at a meeting with employees in New York, include 9,100 positions the bank began eliminating in October and about 16,900 announced today. Citigroup will shed a further 26,000 positions through asset sales, 7,900 more than in the previous plan. The total represents 15 percent of Citigroup’s workforce of about 352,000.

Pandit, 51, is accelerating cost cuts after the bank’s stock price plunged 19 percent last week amid concern a global recession will curb new lending just as more home and credit- card loans are becoming delinquent. With bad-loan costs running $4 billion above last year’s levels, profits remain elusive following four straight quarterly losses.

“G 20” World Leaders meet in Washington D.C. to discuss global response to worst worldwide financial crisis in over 70 years.

The following is an excerpt from an article found here at Reuters today:

By David Lawder and Emmanuel Jarry

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World leaders pledged rapid action on Saturday to rescue a weakening global economy from the worst financial crisis in over 70 years and agreed to give emerging nations more say in running financial affairs.

The Group of 20 leaders from major industrialized and developing countries set out plans to toughen oversight for major global banks, study limits on banker pay and try for a breakthrough by year end in global trade talks — all part of a roadmap to rebuild a financial system crippled by the credit crisis.

“We must lay the foundation for reform to help ensure that a global crisis such as this one does not happen again,” they said in a statement after their first-ever summit.

They vowed to make progress before a second summit by the end of April.”

The New York Times reported on the global financial emergency “G20” summit, here.