US Households Are Not "Deleveraging" – They Are Simply Defaulting In Bulk


Lately there has been an amusing and very spurious, not to mention wrong, argument among both the “serious media” and the various tabloids, that US households have delevered to the tune of $1 trillion, primarily as a result of mortgage debt reductions (not to be confused with total consumer debt which month after month hits new record highs, primarily due to soaring student and GM auto loans). The implication here is that unlike in year past, US households are finally doing the responsible thing and are actively deleveraging of their own free will. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and to put baseless rumors of this nature to rest once and for all, below we have compiled a simple chart using the NY Fed’s own data, showing the total change in mortgage debt, and what portion of it is due to discharges (aka defaults) of 1st and 2nd lien debt. In a nutshell: based on NYFed calculations, there has been $800 billion in mortgage debt deleveraging since the end of 2007. This has been due to $1.2 trillion in discharges (the amount is greater than the total first lien mortgages, due to the increasing use of HELOCs and 2nd lien mortgages before the housing bubble popped).

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Market Thoughts From David Rosenberg


“The consensus view was that QE3 was going to send the stock market to the moon. Yet the peak level on the S&P 500 was 1,465 on September 14th, the day after the FOMC meeting. The consensus view was that the lagging hedge funds were going to be forced to play some major catch-up and take the stock market to the moon too. Surveys show that the hedge funds have already made this adjustment…Q3 EPS estimates are still coming down and now stand at -3% YoY from -2% at the start of October….this is the first time the Fed embarked on a nonconventional easing initiative with the market overbought and with profits and earning expectations on a discernible downtrend. Not only that, but the fact the pace of U.S. economic activity is still running below a 2% annual rate, which is less than half of what is normal at this stage of the business cycle with the massive amount of government stimulus, is truly remarkable. Keep an eye on the debt ceiling being re-tested — the cap is $16.394 trillion and we are now at $16.119 trillion. This is likely to make the headlines again before year-end — the rating agencies may not be taking off much time for a Christmas break.”

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US CEOs Opine On America's Debt And The Fiscal Cliff


While earlier we were presented with an extra serving of hypocrisy courtesy of the Fed’s James Bullard who lamented the lack of income for America’s “savers”, next we get a less than random selection of US CEOs, those of UPS Scott “Logistics spending would be great if only world trade hadn’t completely collapsed” Davis, Honeywell’s David “Look over there, Isn’t Iran bombing something” Cote, NASDAQ’s Bob “I destroyed IPOs” Greifeld, and, of course, Larry “About to switch jobs with Tim Geithner” Fink, who via Bloomberg TV get to opine on such issues as the fiscal cliff and America’s $16.2 trillion, and very rapidly rising debt. Some of their views: “It’s Washington’s fault we’re not hiring and not spending.” Honeywell’s Cote says, “If we were playing with fire in the debt ceiling, we’ll be playing with nitroglycerine now when it comes to the fiscal cliff.” Larry Fink says, “We need to speak out as  CEOs…Politicians generally address things when their back’s against the wall…We have the threat of going into a recession in the first quarter…This is a very uncertain moment.” And thanks to the Fed, which has come at just the wrong moments, and always bailed out Congress every time a difficult decision had to be taken, the likelihood of a benign outcome on the fiscal cliff is far worse, than even Goldman’s latest worst case scenario which sees just a 33% probability of resolution before the year end.

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NYSE Short Interest Drops To 5 Month Low


One place where the S&P level still does have a modest influence is the number of shorts in the market, which are strategically used by repo desks and custodians (State Street and BoNY), to force wholesale short squeezes at given inflection points, usually just when the bottom is about to drop out. The problem is that even short squeezes are increasingly becoming fewer and far between, for the simple reason that the Fed has managed to nearly anihilate shorters as a trading class with its policy of Dow 36,000 uber alles. This was demonstrated with the latest NYSE Group short interest data, which tumbled to 13.6 billion shares short as of the end of September, or the lowest since early May, just as the market was swooning to its lowest level of 2012 to date.

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