mortgage debt

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pages: 346 words: 90,371

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd, Laurie Macfarlane

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, deindustrialization, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, garden city movement, George Akerlof, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, land tenure, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, mortgage debt, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, place-making, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, working poor, working-age population

In the UK, banks create 97% of the money supply via their lending activity with the remaining amount created as cash by the Bank of England and Treasury. As shown in Figure 5.2, mortgage debt outstanding has increased from around 30% of real disposable income in 1987 to almost 100%, helping to drive up average house prices from four times disposable income per household to ten times. This of course disguises large regional variations – in more desirable areas such as London and the South East the ratio is up to twenty times (ONS, 2015c). Recent research shows that when housing costs (including mortgage debt and rents) are included in an assessment of changing living standards since 2002, over half of UK households across the working age population have seen falling or flat living standards (Clarke et al., 2016). Figure 5.2 House prices and mortgage debt compared to income in the UK (source: ONS, Nationwide and Bank of England; data de‹ated using 2010 prices) The impact of rising housing costs is not distributed equally across populations of course.

The reasons for the emergence of this housing–credit cycle are related to deregulation and liberalisation of the mortgage credit market, which we discuss below in sections 5.4 and 5.5 in more depth. But before moving on to the history, it is first worth asking why policy makers and most economists did not, at least until the crisis of 2007–8, pay more attention to the divergence between mortgage debt, land and property prices and incomes. 5.3 Mortgage finance, the ‘lifecycle’ model and the role of collateral Since the 1960s up until the crisis of 2007–8, the dominant conception of the role of house purchase and mortgage debt in economic theory was the ‘lifecycle model’.5 Also described as the ‘permanent income’ hypothesis (Friedman, 1957), the theory suggests that individuals spread or smooth their consumption and savings behaviour over the entire course of their lives. For example, households save more than they spend when they are earning most, building up assets and ‘dis-save’ when they are retired by running down their accumulated assets to support themselves.

These include that households have unlimited ability to borrow and banks have unlimited ability to lend; that, relatedly, there is no risk of default associated with the holding of mortgage debt; that the cost of borrowing does not vary with the amount borrowed; that household earnings do not fluctuate significantly and that households themselves know such earnings will not fluctuate (in other words they have perfect foresight). Aside from a common-sense scepticism about the above assumptions, empirical evidence casts doubt on upon them. For example, if the lifecycle hypothesis was accurate, we would expect economies with ageing populations – that is most advanced economies – to see lower levels of household debt over time as a higher proportion of these populations would have accumulated assets compared to the past. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. Household debt, and mortgage debt in particular, has massively increased in nearly all advanced economies as a percentage of GDP (Jordà et al., 2016).


pages: 249 words: 66,383

House of Debt: How They (And You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It From Happening Again by Atif Mian, Amir Sufi

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, break the buck, business cycle, Carmen Reinhart, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, debt deflation, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, financial innovation, full employment, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, paradox of thrift, quantitative easing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, school choice, shareholder value, the payments system, the scientific method, tulip mania, young professional, zero-sum game

Using a longer historical pattern (based on the household-debt-to-GDP [gross domestic product] ratio), economist David Beim showed that the increase prior to the Great Recession is matched by only one other episode in the last century of U.S. history: the initial years of the Great Depression.7 From 1920 to 1929, there was an explosion in both mortgage debt and installment debt for purchasing automobiles and furniture. The data are less precise, but calculations done in 1930 by the economist Charles Persons suggest that outstanding mortgages for urban nonfarm properties tripled from 1920 to 1929.8 Such a massive increase in mortgage debt even swamps the housing-boom years of 2000–2007. The rise in installment financing in the 1920s revolutionized the manner in which households purchased durable goods, items like washing machines, cars, and furniture. Martha Olney, a leading expert on the history of consumer credit, explains that “the 1920s mark the crucial turning point in the history of consumer credit.”9 For the first time in U.S. history, merchants selling durable goods began to assume that a potential buyer walking through their door would use debt to purchase.

But in Spain a law from 1909 stipulated that most Spanish home owners remain responsible for mortgage payments—even after handing over the keys to the bank. If a Spaniard was evicted from his home because he missed his mortgage payments, he could not discharge his mortgage debt in bankruptcy. He was still liable for the entire principal.1 Further, accrued penalties and the liabilities followed him the rest of his life. And bankruptcy registers made it difficult for him to lease an apartment or even get a cell phone contract.2 As a result of these laws, mortgage-debt burdens continued to squeeze Spanish households even after they were forced out of their homes. Suzanne Daley of the New York Times reported on the story of Manolo Marban, who in 2010 was delinquent on his mortgage and awaiting eviction. He expected no relief from his $140,000 mortgage even after getting kicked out: “‘I will be working for the bank the rest of my life,’ Mr.

Macroeconomic Failures Perhaps no other government official did more harm to mortgage-debt write-down efforts than Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Despite evidence from his own researchers that principal reduction would have large benefits to both the GSEs and taxpayers, DeMarco obstinately refused to budge on the issue.16 His strong stance against principal reduction earned the ire of Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, who wrote a public letter to DeMarco in July 2012 condemning his stalling on principal-reduction efforts.17 In 2013 a prominent group of state attorney generals took the unusual step of publicly calling on President Obama to fire DeMarco because of his refusal to help reduce mortgage-debt burdens for underwater home owners.18 This was not a partisan issue.


pages: 93 words: 24,584

Walk Away by Douglas E. French

business cycle, Elliott wave, forensic accounting, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, loss aversion, McMansion, mental accounting, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, New Journalism, Own Your Own Home, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, the market place, transaction costs, unbiased observer, wealth creators

The data showed that a borrower ... willing to invest with a risk level associated with the S & P 500 would benefit from a 30-year mortgage.” “Effect on Net Worth of 15- and 30-Year Mortgage Term.” Journal, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, 2004. “The popular press, following conventional wisdom, frequently advises that eliminating mortgage debt is a desirable goal. We show that this advice is often wrong ... mortgage debt is valuable to many individuals.” “Mortgage Debt: The Good News.” Journal of Financial Planning, September 2004. “... U.S. households that are accelerating their mortgage payments instead of saving in tax-deferred accounts are making the wrong choice ... in the aggregate, these misallocated savings are costing U.S. households as much as $1.5 billion dollars per year.” “The Tradeoff between Mortgage Prepayments and Tax-Deferred Retirement Savings.”

With the government promoting home ownership and the emergence of building and loan associations (the predecessors to today’s S&Ls, which operated much like Credit Unions pooling savings and making loans to members), the percentage of Americans owning their homes increased to 39.7% in 1920. But these building and loan associations paid high rates to savers and so in turn the mortgage loans were at high rates. Herbert Hoover pushed for mass homeownership on a large-scale with the aid of government coordination and regulation of development. During the roaring ‘20s residential mortgage debt tripled, but “much of this financing consisted of a crazy quilt of land contracts, second and third mortgages, high interest rates and loan fees, short terms, balloon payments, and other high risk practices,” explains Weiss. The presidential election of 1928 had Secretary of the Commerce Hoover vs. New York governor Alfred E. Smith. Governor Smith was an ardent progressive, believing in the obligation of government to intervene in economic and social affairs, and a belief in the ability of experts and in the efficiency of government intervention.

The more ownership there is in America, the more vitality there is in America, and the more people have a vital stake in the future of this country.” In October of that year as the housing bubble expanded, Bush told the nation, “We’re creating ... an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property.” However, the ownership society came with a huge debt burden. Mortgage debt in the U.S. more than doubled form $6.3 trillion at the start of the decade to $14.4 trillion by the end of 2009 two years after the market crashed. Nationwide, the price of housing rose 86 percent. “The economy became governed by a new exercise in make-believe, the notion that housing prices could never fall,” wrote Peter Goodman. “Still the responsibility for the housing bubble cannot be hung on any single person or institution.


pages: 726 words: 172,988

The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong With Banking and What to Do About It by Anat Admati, Martin Hellwig

Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, break the buck, business cycle, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centralized clearinghouse, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, George Akerlof, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Rogoff, Larry Wall, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, open economy, peer-to-peer lending, regulatory arbitrage, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, The Market for Lemons, the payments system, too big to fail, Upton Sinclair, Yogi Berra

With no investment in the house, none of her money is exposed to the risk that the subsequent value of the house might not be enough to pay the mortgage debt; she can never lose, but she will gain if the house appreciates by more than is needed to pay the mortgage debt. The house will become a kind of money machine for Kate; allowing her to enjoy the full upside while facing no downside. The downside will be fully borne by Aunt Claire. Banks Have Uncle Sam The relation between Kate and Aunt Claire in the example is similar to the relation between banks that are too important to fail and taxpayers. Just as Aunt Claire steps in when Kate cannot pay her mortgage debt, governments often support banks when they cannot pay their debts. And banks, like Kate, want to economize on equity and use debt as much as possible.

If the value of the house has stayed the same, Kate can sell it for $300,000. After settling the mortgage debt of $270,000, she has $30,000 left, which is just the amount of her down payment. She had to pay interest on the mortgage and also has foregone the money she could have earned if she had invested her own $30,000 elsewhere, but if she liked living in the house, she may still be happy with the investment. The interest she paid can be thought of as replacing the rent she would have had to pay if she had not owned the house. FIGURE 2.1 Balance sheet diagram for buying a house. Kate will be happier, of course, if the house has gone up in value during the year. Suppose the house has increased in value by 5 percent, to $315,000. After paying the mortgage debt of $270,000, Kate will be left with $45,000, which is $15,000 more than her down payment of $30,000.

In borrowing $270,000 at 3 percent instead of at 4 percent, Kate pays only $8,100 in interest instead of the $10,800 she must pay without the guarantee. She saves 1 percent in interest on the loan of $270,000, which amounts to $2,700 for the year. This leaves Kate with more money after paying the mortgage debt. For example, if the house subsequently increases in value by 5 percent to $315,000, we saw in Chapter 8 that Kate will be left with $34,200, a 14 percent return on her equity investment, if she borrows at 4 percent. If she borrows at 3 percent and owes only $278,100, she will instead have $36,900 left, a 23 percent return on her equity investment, after selling the house for $315,000 and paying her mortgage debt. The saving of $2,700 in interest will also soften the blow should Kate lose some of her investment, assuming that she is still “above water” and able to pay her mortgage. For example, if the house sells for $300,000, Kate will be left with $19,200 if she borrows at 4 percent, a loss of 36 percent of her investment, but she will have $21,900 if she borrows at 3 percent, losing only 27 percent of her investment.


pages: 251 words: 76,128

Borrow: The American Way of Debt by Louis Hyman

asset-backed security, barriers to entry, big-box store, business cycle, cashless society, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, market bubble, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, technology bubble, transaction costs, women in the workforce

But of those programs, Section 235 was the most important in that it was the largest and had the longest-run consequences. The federal government’s role in housing in 1971, when federal programs subsidized 30 percent of housing starts, was shockingly higher than the 4.4 percent subsidized in 1961, and, according to Nixon administration officials, “much of the increase in housing units … occur[ed] in section 235.”8 Government-sponsored mortgage debt accounted for 20 percent of the overall increase in mortgage debt in 1971.9 While in operation, Section 235 marshaled mortgage-backed securities to transform hundreds of thousands of Americans from renters to owners. Section 235 created such an upswing in housing that by 1972, the president of MBA could declare it the “principal system” for low-income housing.10 Poor Americans across the country left rented quarters for what they believed would be a true piece of the American dream.

After four years of withdrawals that withered even the sturdiest of mortgage funds, in 1933 the U.S. housing industry was effectively dead, having shrunk to just one-tenth what it had been only a few years before. A third of all American families who qualified for “relief” at the height of the Great Depression landed there by losing a construction job. Dick didn’t work in construction, but his business, building automobiles, was hit just as hard. The 1920s were similar to today in terms not only of young love and mortgage debt but of all forms of debt. In fact, it was the spread of automobile debt that had given Dick his job in the first place. Automobile finance emerged after World War I as one of the hottest industries, spreading its methods in just a few years to nearly all other household durables. Vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and oil burners could all be had on the installment plan. The U.S. savings rate dropped precipitously, and nearly all of what would have been saved went into paying off installment credit.

Miller & Company—collapsed after $50 million in defaults.22 Mortgage bankers around the country wrung their hands in anxiety but consoled themselves that the system itself was sound. The Mortgage Bankers Association rolled out the ill-named “6–6–6 program” to reassure investors that with six guiding principles formulated over six months, the real estate bond market could be disciplined within a half year.23 Even amid these crises, Americans invested approximately $1 billion in mortgage bonds in 1926. At their peak, real estate bonds funded one-quarter of all urban mortgage debt, equal in volume to the bonds of industrial corporations. Particular examples of failure could not dampen most small investors’ faith in the reason of real estate. Yet by 1927, even conservative probusiness groups such as the Rotary Club found naysayers castigating mortgage bonds in the pages of their official publications. A 1927 issue of the The Rotarian warned its membership that “under the old and established system of lending money on real-estate security it rarely happened that too much money was loaned … for the borrower and the lender were closer together than they are now.”


pages: 279 words: 87,875

Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare by Ryan Dezember

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, business cycle, call centre, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, coronavirus, corporate raider, COVID-19, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Donald Trump, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, interest rate swap, margin call, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, rent control, rolodex, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, transaction costs

I would have sold the house long ago, and in fact I tried. But when the U.S. housing market collapsed in 2007, the property’s value fell far below the amount I had borrowed to buy it. Walking away was never an option. I’d signed papers promising to pay the money back and I intended to do so one way or another. In case my moral compass ever needed a shake, laws in Alabama, as in many states, allow lenders to pursue the difference between the mortgage debt on a property and what it fetches in a foreclosure sale. For much of the next decade, that number kept growing. At one point, it would have been nearly $70,000. That was more than half of what we’d borrowed to buy the place. When I bought the house, I was a newlywed three years out of college who believed I had achieved a signature goal of most young Americans. Instead, I set myself up to pursue an inverted version of the American dream.

Meanwhile, years of mortgage payments had worn down the balance of my debt. With my tenants on their way out, I had a chance to try to sell the house. A real estate agent in Alabama with whom I had been consulting said that if I fixed the house up and put it on the market in spring, when buyers were out and the yard was in bloom, I might be able to get $115,000 for it. That was $22,500 less than I’d paid, but it would be enough to wipe out the mortgage debt and cover most of the sale expenses. At the end of March I took a week off work, packed a rental car with tools and a sleeping bag, and headed south. 2 THE CONDO GAME Alabama’s beaches are among the most alluring in America. They are made of tiny bits of Appalachian quartz, glistening mountain dander that washed down to the Gulf of Mexico on glacial melt after the last Ice Age. The sand is sugar white and so fine that it squeaks underfoot.

Down payment requirements plunged from what had historically been half or more of a home’s appraised value. Interest rates declined. A decades-long boom in homeownership and home prices ensued. By the time I was born, in 1980, to the proud new owners of a small postwar Cape Cod in a woodsy beach town in suburban Cleveland, nearly two-thirds of Americans were homeowners. They had taken on more than $1 trillion of mortgage debt to get there. But that was nothing compared with what was coming. In 1978, a bond trader named Lewis Ranieri was assigned to the nascent mortgage desk at the venerable Wall Street investment firm Salomon Brothers. The housing market was never the same. Ranieri was one of the “fat guy” mortgage traders who engaged in the trading floor feeding frenzies with sacks of cheeseburgers and tubs of guacamole portrayed by Michael Lewis in his chucklesome Wall Street tell-all Liar’s Poker.


pages: 435 words: 127,403

Panderer to Power by Frederick Sheehan

"Robert Solow", Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, call centre, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversification, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, inventory management, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, Menlo Park, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Norman Mailer, Northern Rock, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, reserve currency, rising living standards, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South Sea Bubble, stocks for the long run, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, VA Linux, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Household net worth had risen $2.8 billion from stock gains in 1995, $2.5 billion in 1996, $3.8 billion in 1997, $3.3 billion in 1998, and $4.75 billion in 1999.1 This does not count stock-option cash outs or the contribution of house sales and home equity. In the 1990s, total mortgage debt (commercial, residential, and farm) rose an average of $268 billion a year.2 In 1995, total mortgage debt increased $233 billion, and home mortgage debt increased $153 billion.3 1 Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, September 2000. 2 Doug Noland, “Credit Bubble Bulletin,” Prudent Bear Web site, March 9, 2007, p. 12. 3 Federal Reserve Flow-of-Funds Accounts, Z-1. 265 That was when Larry Lindsey told the FOMC, “[T]here has been a lot of easing of credit terms. At some point that is going to stop.” As it turned out, easy credit was not enough. The stock market bubble was needed as a supplement. In 2000, home mortgage debt rose $380 billion.4 Stock market collateral could, in part, explain how households were able to buy more and higher-priced houses.

In 2000, home mortgage debt rose $380 billion.4 Stock market collateral could, in part, explain how households were able to buy more and higher-priced houses. By 2001, though, the mirage of Internet wealth was collapsing. Median household incomes were falling (after having risen between 1994 and 2000),5 and layoffs were rising. Yet, Americans acquired $506 billion of new mortgage debt. By most standards, 2002 was an even worse year for Americans (stock prices and incomes continued to fall), but they added an additional $708 billion of mortgage debt. Greenspan’s Attempt to Block Fannie and Freddie The backbones of the government effort to stoke credit were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These government-sponsored entities (GSEs) played the central role in the mortgage balloon. If Fannie and Freddie had not grown to such mammoth proportions, it is doubtful that the rest of the machinery could have achieved such destructive capacity.

During the first nine months of 2006, 22 percent were subprime mortgages.17 By February 2007, 6 percent of mortgages packaged into a security during 2006 were already delinquent.18 Bernanke had used practically the same data in a November 2006 speech: “In 1994, fewer than 5 percent of mortgage originations were in the subprime market, but by 2005 about 20 percent of new mortgage loans were subprime.” In the same speech, Bernanke went on to discuss other data that should have caused a stir: “[T]he expansion of subprime lending has contributed importantly to the substantial increase in the overall use of mortgage credit. From 1995 to 2004, the share of households with mortgage debt increased 17 percent, and in the lowest income quintile, the share of households with mortgage debt rose 53 percent.” Reading the transcript, it appears Bernanke considered this to be good news. He did advise “greater financial literacy” for “borrowers with lower incomes and education levels.”19 The former South Carolina seventh-grade spelling bee champion often urged self-improvement. 15 Paul Muolo and Matthew Padilla, Chain of Blame, How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2008), pp. 170–171.


pages: 342 words: 99,390

The greatest trade ever: the behind-the-scenes story of how John Paulson defied Wall Street and made financial history by Gregory Zuckerman

1960s counterculture, banking crisis, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, financial innovation, fixed income, index fund, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Ponzi scheme, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, short selling, Silicon Valley, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Wozniak, technology bubble, zero-sum game

So they made appointments with bankers at Bear Stearns, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and other firms to ask if they would create CDOs that Paulson & Co. could essentially bet against. Paulson’'s team would pick a hundred or so mortgage bonds for the CDOs, the bankers would keep some of the selections and replace others, and then the bankers would take the CDOs to ratings companies to be rated. Paulson would buy CDS insurance on the mortgage debt and the investment banks would find clients with bullish views on mortgages to take the other side of the trades. This way, Paulson could buy protection on $1 billion or so of mortgage debt in one fell swoop. Paulson and his team were open with the banks they met with to propose the idea. “"We want to ramp it up,”" Pellegrini told a group of Bear Stearns bankers, explaining his idea. Paulson and Pellegrini believed the debt backing the CDOs would blow up. But Pellegrini argued to his boss that they should offer to buy the riskiest slices of these CDOs, the so-called equity pieces that would get hit first if problems resulted.

For years, Americans had been pulled by two opposing impulses—--an instinctive distaste of debt and a love affair with the notion of owning a home. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “"The second vice is lying; the first is running in debt.”"1 The dangers of borrowing were brought home in the Great Depression when a rash of businesses went bankrupt under the burden of heavy debt, scarring a generation. In the 1950s, more than half of all U.S. households had no mortgage debt and almost half had no debt at all. Home owners sometimes celebrated paying off their loans with mortgage-burning parties, setting loan documents aflame before friends and family. The practice continued into the 1970s; Archie Bunker famously held such a get-together in an episode of All in the Family. Until the second half of the twentieth century, borrowing for anything other than big-ticket items, such as a home or a car, was unusual.

“"I probably wouldn’'t have bet the house.”" Instead, most traders prefer “"positive”" carry trades, or those where profits are immediate and clear. Banks, for example, borrow money at low interest rates and lend it out at higher rates. A borrower may go belly-up, of course, but on paper the move looks like a winner. There didn’'t seem to be a more surefire positive-carry trade than selling insurance on even risky mortgage debt. Insurance companies like American International Group, huge global banks, and countless investors locked in instant gains from the premiums that Paulson and other bears paid for their CDS insurance. These profits sometimes meant the difference between hitting a profit goal and missing out on a huge bonus. “"Positive carry is the mother’'s milk for capitalism; it’'s ingrained and embedded in the minds of investors,”" says Gross.


pages: 311 words: 99,699

Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett

accounting loophole / creative accounting, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, Blythe Masters, break the buck, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, buy and hold, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, fixed income, housing crisis, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kickstarter, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satyajit Das, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, value at risk, yield curve

“We just could not get comfortable,” Masters later said. In subsequent months, Duhon heard on the grapevine that other banks were starting to do CDS deals with mortgage debt, and she wondered how the other banks had coped with the data uncertainties that so worried her and Varikooty. Had they found a better way to track the correlation issue? Did they have more experience with dealing with mortgages? She had no way of finding out. Because the CDS market was unregulated, the details of deals weren’t available, and she had no good intel sources at the other banks. Like most of those working on Demchak’s team, she had spent her entire career at J.P. Morgan. The team did only one more BISTRO deal with mortgage debt, a few months later, worth $10 billion. Then it dropped the line of development altogether. Years later, Duhon was stunned when she learned of the staggering volume of mortgage-based CDS deals the rest of the banking world had gone on to do.

Dimon declared to his staff, and there was one sector in particular in which the bank really needed to catch up: mortgage finance. J.P. Morgan should have been able to raise its profile in the repackaging of mortgage debt quickly. Inside the vast, sprawling empire of JPMorgan Chase sat Chase Home Finance, one of America’s largest home loan mortgage originators. But though the volume of mortgages Chase had offered had surged as the housing boom took off, they were being sold to Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and others for their mortgage CDO and CDS assembly lines. That was partly because the J.P. Morgan side had less experience with mortgage debt than with corporate loans, and was so leery about the risks involved with BISTRO-like products made from mortgages. Relations between the managers of Chase Home Finance and the J.P.

Varikooty was renowned on the team for taking a sober approach towards risk. He was a stickler for detail who loved to get things right, and that stubborn scrupulousness sometimes infuriated his colleagues, who were urgent to make deals. But Demchak always defended Varikooty. “Once, people shouted at Krishna and made him upset, and Demchak just went ballistic,” one of his teammates later recalled. Varikooty’s judgment on the mortgage debt was clear: he could not see a way to track the potential correlation of defaults with any level of confidence. Without that, he declared, no precise estimate of the risks of default in a bundle overall could be made. If defaults on mortgages were uncorrelated, then the BISTRO structure should be safe for mortgage risk, but if they were highly correlated, it might be catastrophically dangerous.


pages: 147 words: 45,890

Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich

Berlin Wall, business cycle, declining real wages, delayed gratification, Doha Development Round, endowment effect, full employment, George Akerlof, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, job automation, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, mortgage debt, new economy, offshore financial centre, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, sovereign wealth fund, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, World Values Survey

But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped. The borrowing had taken the form of mortgage debt on homes and commercial buildings, consumer installment debt, and foreign debt. Eccles understood that this debt bubble was bound to burst. And when it did, consumer spending would shrink. And so it did. When there were no more poker chips to be loaned on credit, debtors were forced to curtail their consumption. This naturally reduced the demand for goods of all kinds and brought on higher unemployment.

The drop in savings had its mirror image in household debt (including mortgages), which rose from 55 percent of household income in the 1960s to an unsustainable 138 percent by 2007. Ominously, much of this debt was backed by the rising market value of people’s homes. The years leading up to the Great Depression saw a similar pattern. Between 1913 and 1928, the ratio of private credit to the total national economy nearly doubled. Total mortgage debt was almost three times higher in 1929 than in 1920. Eventually, in 1929, as in 2008, there were “no more poker chips to be loaned on credit,” in Eccles’s words. And “when … credit ran out, the game stopped.” A third parallel: In both periods, richer Americans used their soaring incomes and access to credit to speculate in a limited range of assets. With so many dollars pursuing the same assets, values exploded.

But the borrowing didn’t even stop there, especially after the Federal Reserve Board lowered interest rates and made borrowing easier. By 2007, as I said earlier, the typical American household owed 138 percent of its after-tax income. Americans borrowed from everywhere. Credit card solicitations flooded mailboxes; many American wallets bulged with dozens of cards, all amassing larger and larger debt loads. Auto loans were easy to come by. Students and their families went deep into debt to pay the costs of college. Mortgage debt exploded. And as housing values continued to rise, homes doubled as ATMs. Consumers refinanced their homes with even larger mortgages and used their homes as collateral for additional loans. As long as housing prices continued to rise, it seemed a painless way to get money (in 1980 the average home sold for $64,600; by 2006 it went for $246,500). Between 2002 and 2007, American households extracted $2.3 trillion from their houses, putting themselves ever more deeply into the hole.


Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (Politics and Society in Modern America) by Louis Hyman

asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, business cycle, card file, central bank independence, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, declining real wages, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, Gini coefficient, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, invisible hand, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, market fundamentalism, means of production, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, p-value, pattern recognition, profit maximization, profit motive, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, technology bubble, the built environment, transaction costs, union organizing, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

The modern debt regime relied on this convertibility, not only to transform installment contracts into personal loans or credit card debts into home equity plans, but to turn the wages of labor into debt repayment as well. The transformation of labor into capital, and debt into other debt, is the crux of how the credit economy operates. To cordon off these transformations one from another, as we do when we, for instance, sanctimoniously discuss “non-mortgage debt” separately from “mortgage debt,” obscures the indispensable commutability of capital. For lenders, transforming capital into debt was the essence of their business. Capital ultimately comes from somewhere. When we need money, most of us wonder only if we can get it, and aside from the person who gives us the money, do not really care where the money comes from. Yet, once you start to think about it, how can credit card companies finance the trillions that Americans owe them?

The program provided billions of dollars in financing for millions of homes during its operation. The federal government’s role in housing in 1971, when federal programs subsidized 30 percent of housing starts, was shockingly higher than in 1961, when only 4.4 percent did, with “much of the increase in housing units . . . occur[ing] in section 235,” according to Nixon administration officials.16 Government-sponsored mortgage debt accounted for 20 percent of the overall increase in mortgage debt in 1971.17 While in operation, the Section 235 marshaled new financial instruments to transform hundreds of thousands of Americans from renters to owners. Section 235 created such an upswing in housing that by 1972 the president of the Mortgage Bankers’ Association could pronounce it the “principal system” for low-income housing.18 One prominent mortgage banker declared that Section 235 “answered the cry, ‘Burn, baby, burn’ with ‘Build, baby, build!”

A college student would receive a solicitation, and if that graduate had secured a “career-oriented job paying $12,000 or more a year,” possessed a “permanent Wisconsin home address,” and attended a Wisconsin school, then the bank would give that student a credit card, even though the student did not “qualify for credit under [the] usual criteria.”134 The alma mater frequently got a cut of revenue from such cards for providing access and mailing lists.135 While class identity flagged, perhaps, as a way to organize labor, it rejuvenated the organization of capital among the professional classes. 1986: Tax Reform and Securitization In 1986, two events made debt more expensive for consumers to borrow and cheaper for banks to lend. While these two events, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and the first credit card asset-backed security, had nothing to do with one another, they both pushed all forms of consumer debt, in unexpected ways, toward complete interchangeability. Though the Tax Reform Act sought to differentiate credit card debt from mortgage debt, market forces and financial innovation like asset-backed securities pushed them back together. By the middle of the 1980s, credit cards and other non-mortgage debts were starting to be seen as something not to be encouraged. Owning a house, arguably, served a valuable social function by rooting home owners in a community, but auto loans, much less credit cards, did not. Yet taxpayers could deduct the interest that they paid on any and all consumer debt. The mortgage deduction on the income tax, commonly believed to have been intentionally invented to encourage home ownership, existed more as a residual of an older nineteenth-century idea of borrowing than an intentional policy.


pages: 263 words: 80,594

Stolen: How to Save the World From Financialisation by Grace Blakeley

"Robert Solow", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, fixed income, full employment, G4S, gender pay gap, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, land value tax, light touch regulation, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transfer pricing, universal basic income, Winter of Discontent, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

After the Act was passed, building societies could do pretty much all of the things that banks could do — including create money by issuing credit. Members were bought out, becoming rich in the process, while new borrowers faced higher interest rates. Eventually many of these building societies — including Northern Rock — ended up undertaking the kind of sub-prime lending activities that caused the crisis. Throughout the 1980s, banks and former building societies issued millions of pounds worth of mortgage debt to allow people to purchase their own homes — many used this debt to purchase their council homes. This lending surge led to an increase in the UK’s broad money supply, which increased from around 40% of GDP in 1985 to 85% in 1990, mirrored by an increase in the amount of credit provided by financial institutions.40 There was now a wall of money chasing after the same amount of housing stock — and the inevitable consequence of such a scenario is house price inflation.

The rest of society — the majority — didn’t feature, other than as inputs to the production process. Thatcher may have talked about freedom, but she created a society based on unfreedom: the non-choice between work at a wage below what one deserves and destitution. Similarly, Thatcher’s government never actually tackled inflation or the money supply, despite its monetarist rhetoric. The broad money supply increased dramatically over the course of the 1980s because of rising mortgage debt. Instead, they focused on curbing wage-inflation by cutting the size of the state and restricting collective bargaining. Asset prices — mainly houses and other financial assets — rose substantially under Thatcher, even as consumer price inflation was brought under control. The ideological battle between individual freedom and collective justice provided a smokescreen that allowed the neoliberals to stratify British society — co-opting middle earners by turning them into mini-capitalists and creating a margin-alised class of poorly-paid, precarious, and heavily indebted workers beneath them.

International investors needed assets to invest in — housing alone wasn’t enough. New, giant international banks, based mainly in Wall Street and the City of London, were only too happy to oblige. These banks placed British and American mortgages at the heart of the global financial system by turning them into financial securities that could be traded on financial markets — a process called securitisation.8 The securitisation of Anglo-American mortgage debt was central to both the long pre-crash boom and the swift collapse of the banking system in 2008. The American aspect of this equation was many times larger than the Anglo part, and far more important to the global financial system, but relative to the size of their respective economies, both experienced a surge in securitisation. The process of securitisation involves turning claims into financial securities.


pages: 460 words: 122,556

The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein

Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, break the buck, Brownian motion, Carmen Reinhart, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, fixed income, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, race to the bottom, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, the payments system, too big to fail, tulip mania, Y2K

Less than a generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when prevailing orthodoxy held that the free market could govern itself, and when financial regulation seemed destined for near irrelevancy, the United States was compelled to socialize lending and mortgage risk, and even the ownership of banks, on a scale that would have made Lenin smile. The massive fiscal remedies evidenced both the failure of an ideology and the eclipse of Wall Street’s golden age. For years, American financiers had gaudily assumed more power, more faith in their ability to calculate—and inoculate themselves against—risk. As a consequence of this faith, banks and investors had plied the average American with mortgage debt on such speculative and unthinking terms that not just America’s economy but the world’s economy ultimately capsized. The risk grew from early in the decade, when little-known lenders such as Angelo Mozilo began to make waves writing subprime mortgages. Before long, Mozilo was to proclaim that even Americans who could not put money down should be “lent” the money for a home, and not long after that, Mozilo made it happen: homes for free.

In 2002, subprime issuance totaled $200 billion. By 2004, it was over $400 billion. As a percentage of annual volume, subprimes now topped 16 percent—up from a mere 8 percent a couple of years earlier and hardly anything in the ’90s.4 The subprime onslaught was part of a broader and no less remarkable mortgage wave. Over those same two years, following the dot-com crash in 2001, total outstanding mortgage debt grew from $6 trillion to nearly $8 trillion—an extraordinary rise in a stable population.5 The most plausible explanation for this sudden surge lies in the country’s remarkably forgiving credit markets. Starting the week after New Year’s, 2001, the Fed lowered short-term interest rates thirteen times until, finally, in June 2003, rates touched 1 percent—their lowest level since the John F. Kennedy era.

By 2006, half of all CDOs were said to be syn thetic. 18 Synthetic CDOs did not add to the country’s economic output any more than did a bet at the track or, for that matter, a wager on the direction of the stock market. They were a mere—though a massive—side bet. To paraphrase the financial journalist Michael Lewis, synthetic CDOs had as much to do with real estate as fantasy football had to do with the NFL.19 They built no houses and painted no walls; they simply multiplied the Street’s gamble. Thanks to these derivative ventures, far more money was wagered on mortgage debt than the total of such debt in existence. In some cases, a single mortgage bond was referenced in dozens of synthetics.20 It was as if Wall Street, in all its mad, Strangelovian genius, had a found a way to clone armies of securities from a single strand of mortgage DNA. The subsurface multiplication of CDO exposure fooled many a forecaster. Even the Federal Reserve, with its scores of economists, underestimated the subprime threat.


pages: 422 words: 113,830

Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips

algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency peg, diversification, Doha Development Round, energy security, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, mobile money, money market fund, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old-boy network, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route

In 1977, Time saluted another symptom, credit card growth, with a lengthy analysis of how “the Affluent Society has become the Credit Society, and an insistence on buying only what can be paid for in cash seems as outmoded as a crew cut.”4 Since 1950, the U.S. consumer installment debt outstanding had soared twelvefold to roughly $179 billion, omitting mortgage debt, which had risen comparably. Lacy Hunt, an economist at Philadelphia’s Fidelity Bank, enthused that “the ability of the consumer to take on more debt will be the underpinning of the economy in 1977. This year is the year of consumer credit.”5 The mortgage debt that so impressed Greenspan, along with the credit card volume saluted by Hunt, slowed down as interest rates soared from 1979 to 1981, and it’s probably fair to say that the deep 1980-82 recession squeezed the debt hangover out of the U.S. economy while it hammered down the inflation rate.

Foreclosing on the American Dream: Mortgage Finance and Housing The fifth vehicle of the financial sector’s mega-expansion, hardly a great disclosure, can be treated quickly, in light of the great 2000-2006 media focus on housing, mortgage finance, and related securitization. The buildup was huge, just like the eventual 2007-2008 implosion. As Figure 2.6 on page 51 shows, between the first quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2007, total mortgage debt in the United States doubled from $4.92 trillion to $9.96 trillion. As for mortgage origination, that had tripled from 1997 levels to reach a total of $2.5 trillion in the year 2006 alone (see pp. 112-119). United States banks, in the meantime, were moving into mortgage finance in a big way. Figure 2.2 on page 32 shows the mushrooming of the percentage of total bank earning assets that fell into the mortgage-related category.

By some hypotheses, an informal, broadly defined “housing sector” of the U.S. economy—mortgage finance, construction, furnishings, lumber, and related industries—might represent a 25 percent share of the notional gross domestic product, enough to include several million vulnerable jobs on top of the frightening blow to the national psyche’s sense of well-being and stability. And on top of that, between 2001 and 2006, an unprecedented number of Americans used their homes as ATMs, turning huge chunks of residential equity into borrowed, but spendable, cash. Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, a former Republican chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, calculated in 2007 that over “the past five years, the value of U.S. home mortgage debt has increased by nearly $3 trillion. In 2004 alone, it increased by almost $1 trillion.” He went on: “Net mortgage borrowing that year not used [my italics] for the purchase of new homes amounted to nearly $600 billion, or almost 7 percent of disposable personal income.”12 In short, borrowing against homes enabled stressed consumers to keep consuming. FIGURE 1.2 Monthly Amount of Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Resets, January 2007-December 2008 Source: Millennium Wave Advisors.


pages: 318 words: 93,502

The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren, Amelia Warren Tyagi

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, business climate, Columbine, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, labor-force participation, late fees, McMansion, mortgage debt, new economy, New Journalism, payday loans, school choice, school vouchers, telemarketer, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Each year, a growing number of stay-at-home mothers made the move into the workforce, hoping to put their families into solidly middle-class neighborhoods. But the rules quietly changed. Today’s mothers are no longer working to get ahead; now they must work just to keep up. Somewhere along the way, they fell into a terrible trap. Out of the Housing Trap? Can families extract themselves from the two-income housing trap? We could make all the obvious suggestions here. Families should “downshift,” taking on no more mortgage debt than they can afford. If that means renting for another ten years or living in a neighborhood with lousy schools, well, that’s just too bad. This advice would certainly be sensible from a financial point of view. The problem is that families don’t find it particularly compelling. The experts have been dispensing these words of wisdom for at least a decade with no discernible effect, and we’re pretty sure that adding our own voices to the chorus would be useless.

Just at the time when parents got caught in a vicious bidding war for middle-class housing, just as the cost of college tuition and health insurance shot into the stratosphere, just as layoffs increased and the divorce rate jumped, a new player appeared on the scene. A newly deregulated lending industry emerged, eager to lend a few bucks whenever the family came up short. Pick up almost any newspaper, and there will be a story about America’s most widespread addiction: the insatiable hunger for debt. Every year for the past decade, mortgage debt has set a new record.7 Home equity loans grew even faster, increasing by over 150 percent in just four years.8 And no one would dare leave home without a fistful of those little plastic cards. The news media rarely give any explanation for why all that debt piled up, leaving the reader to infer that the debt explosion is some sort of inevitable by-product of today’s moral and economic climate.

The mortgage industry shook off its interest rate regulations just a few years after the credit card industry.30 In the new world of unfettered mortgage lending, no longer would the middle-class family be restricted to a conventional 80 percent mortgage. The floodgates were opened, and families could get all the mortgage money they ever dreamed of to bid on that precious home in the suburbs—even if the price tag was more than they could realistically afford. Competition for houses in good neighborhoods has always been stiff, and overloading on mortgage debt to purchase a better home has long posed a temptation for young families. A generation ago, however, it simply wasn’t possible to give in to that temptation; mortgage lenders didn’t allow it. But today the game is different. It has become routine for lenders to issue unmanageable mortgages. The best evidence comes from the mortgage industry itself. Fannie Mae, the quasi-governmental agency that underwrites a huge fraction of home mortgage lending in the United States, advises families that “monthly housing expenses should not represent more than 25 to 28 percent of gross monthly income.”31 Accordingly, anyone whose housing costs exceed 40 percent of their earnings would be considered “house poor,” spending so much on housing that they jeopardize their overall financial security.32 But the label is misleading.


pages: 280 words: 79,029

Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Thales of Miletus, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

One reason is its sheer scale. It absorbs more wealth than any other financial asset, certainly in the rich world. Buying a house is easily the largest transaction of most people’s lives. The aggregate value of property held by American households in the peak house-price year of 2006 was $22.7 trillion, their biggest single asset by a wide margin (pension-fund reserves were next, at $12.8 trillion). The amount of mortgage debt in the United States almost doubled between 2001 and 2007, to $10.5 trillion. In Britain the sum total of every residential property in 2012 was a shade under £6 trillion, which (roughly) works out at an average of £96,500 for every person in the country. Globally, the Economist’s most recent best guess was that residential property in the rich world as a whole was worth about 126 percent of the rich countries’ combined GDP in 2010.

The obvious example is the policy of successive American administrations of promoting home ownership. Now politicians are looking at the way students are being funded through college and finding that it looks less and less sustainable. At a time when American households are paying down debt, student loans are the only form of consumer borrowing that has gone up since 2008. The total amount of student debt outstanding in the United States is now above $1 trillion. Only mortgage debt is bigger. Both the number of student borrowers and the average loan balance increased by 70 percent between 2004 and 2012. The Congressional Budget Office reckons that the government will loan students another $1.4 trillion over the next decade. This growth has been driven by a number of factors. The cost of a college education per student has risen by almost five times the rate of inflation since 1983.

By identifying the fraction of mortgage applicants that had been denied mortgages in a particular ZIP code in 1996, and then looking at the experience of the same ZIP code in 2001–2005, they found that credit flowed disproportionately to areas where previously applications had been denied—despite the fact that these areas suffered lower income and employment growth than others. Mortgage growth was driven by the less creditworthy borrower.4 Once in their homes, households could unlock yet more credit by borrowing against the equity. A 2013 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that on average for every 1 percent rise in house prices, home owners increased their mortgage debt by 1 percent. As fast as the value of their equity rose, home owners turned it into debt.5 All that has changed. Mortgages and equity withdrawal are no longer the freely available options they once were. Other forms of credit (except for student loans) are also constrained. Between September 2008 and September 2012, American household debt dropped by 11 percent, to $11.3 trillion, partly because of write-offs, partly because of greater saving, and partly because of tighter credit standards.


pages: 459 words: 138,689

Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration―and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives by Danny Dorling, Kirsten McClure

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, clean water, creative destruction, credit crunch, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Henri Poincaré, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage debt, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, rent control, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, very high income, wealth creators, wikimedia commons, working poor

The Federal Reserve of New York publishes quarterly figures on home loans. Its most recent series began in 2003 when the total mortgage debt of U.S. households stood at just below $5 trillion. As house and apartment prices both rose, as more were built to be purchased with debt, and as the population of the United States continued to rise, mortgage debt continued to grow and grow, at first at an accelerating pace. The acceleration dampened a little in early 2004, but by the autumn of that year outstanding U.S. household mortgage debts had passed the $6 trillion mark. More households were taking out larger loans, much larger than the ones that other people were paying off, to the tune of around $200 billion net a quarter being added to the national mortgage bill. During 2005 the increases in U.S. mortgage debt grew, the acceleration increased, and the $7 trillion mark was passed in the autumn of that year.

The rich in the United States avoid this peril by buying in cash with the money they have made, often interest received directly or indirectly from lending to those who are not rich. When there is great economic inequality, trying to be or stay rich often appears the best aim to have. But only a small minority can ever be rich. It is not that difficult to build a house or an apartment; human beings have been doing it for a very long time. It is, however, hard to control speculation and inflation. Just after the Second World War, in 1949, all outstanding U.S. mortgage debt, including the borrowings of landlords as well as those of households, stood at only $54 billion.12 By 1953 it had more than doubled, to $112 billion. It doubled again to $227 billion by 1960, and again to $450 billion by 1969. It hit $1 trillion in 1977, $2 trillion in 1984, $4 trillion in 1992, and $8 trillion in 2002. It rose every quarter from 1949, without exception, until the second quarter of 2008, and then it fell for twenty successive quarters in a row, right through to the third quarter of 2013.

During 2005 the increases in U.S. mortgage debt grew, the acceleration increased, and the $7 trillion mark was passed in the autumn of that year. By spring 2006 over $300 billion was being added each quarter, and the $8 billion threshold was breached in autumn 2006. Growth in new loans slowed slightly then, but accelerated for one final burst upward in spring 2007. The $9 trillion mark was reached in autumn 2007, but by then a fundamental change was afoot. 8. U.S. mortgage debt, 2003–18 (billions of dollars). (Data adapted from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York [US], “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit [HHD_C_Report_2018Q3],” retrieved from the Center for Microeconomic Data, accessed 28 December 2018, https://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/databank.html.) The overall rate of growth in lending had already clearly begun to fall in late 2007; and for subgroups of the population it had fallen earlier.


pages: 2,045 words: 566,714

J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax by J K Lasser Institute

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, asset allocation, business cycle, collective bargaining, distributed generation, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, Home mortgage interest deduction, intangible asset, medical malpractice, medical residency, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, passive income, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, rent control, Right to Buy, telemarketer, transaction costs, urban renewal, zero-coupon bond

See Treasury Regulation Section 1.1038-2 for further details. 31.13 Foreclosure on Mortgages Other Than Purchase Money If you, as a mortgagee (lender), bid in on a foreclosure sale to pay off a mortgage that is not a purchase money mortgage, your actual financial loss is the difference between the unpaid mortgage debt and the value of the property. For tax purposes, however, you may realize a capital gain or loss and a bad debt loss that are reportable in the year of the foreclosure sale. Your bid is treated as consisting of two distinct transactions: - - - - - - - - - - Planning Reminder Voluntary Conveyance Instead of forcing you to foreclose, the mortgagor may voluntarily convey the property to you in consideration for your cancelling the mortgage debt. Your loss is the amount by which the mortgage debt plus accrued interest exceeds the fair market value of the property. If, however, the fair market value exceeds the mortgage debt plus accrued interest, the difference is taxable gain. The gain or loss is reportable in the year you receive the property.

Suppose your bid was $36,000 and you had $2,000 in expenses. Your bad debt deduction is $6,000—the difference between the mortgage debt of $40,000 and the net bid price of $34,000. You also had a capital loss of $4,000 (the difference between the net bid price of $34,000 and the fair market value of $30,000). Where the bid price equals the mortgage debt plus unreported but accrued interest, you report the interest as income. But where the accrued interest has been reported, the unpaid amount is added to the collection expenses. 31.14 Foreclosure Sale to Third Party When a third party buys the property in a foreclosure, you, as the mortgagee, receive the purchase price to apply against the mortgage debt. If it is less than the debt, you may proceed against the mortgagor for the difference. Foreclosure expenses are treated as offsets against the foreclosure proceeds and increase the loss.

However, you may realize a taxable gain. The IRS and Tax Court treat the transferred mortgage debt as cash received in a part-gift, part-sale subject to the rules for bargain sales of appreciated property (14.8). You will realize a taxable gain if the transferred mortgage exceeds the portion of basis allocated to the sale part of the transaction. This is true even if the charity does not assume the mortgage. EXAMPLE Bob Hill donates to a college land held over a year that is worth $250,000 and subject to a $100,000 mortgage. His basis is $150,000. Hill’s charitable contribution deduction is $150,000 ($250,000 − $100,000). He also is considered to have made a bargain sale for $100,000 (transferred mortgage debt) on which he realized $40,000 long-term capital gain. 40% of the transaction is treated as a bargain sale: Basis allocated to sale: 40% of $150,000, or $60,000 Amount realized $100,000 Allocated basis 60,000 Gain $ 40,000 Donating capital gain property to private non-operating foundations.


pages: 1,845 words: 567,850

J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2014 by J. K. Lasser

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, asset allocation, business cycle, collective bargaining, distributed generation, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, Home mortgage interest deduction, intangible asset, medical malpractice, medical residency, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, obamacare, passive income, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, rent control, Right to Buy, telemarketer, transaction costs, urban renewal, zero-coupon bond

See Treasury Regulation Section 1.1038-2 for further details. 31.13 Foreclosure on Mortgages Other Than Purchase Money If you, as a mortgagee (lender), bid in on a foreclosure sale to pay off a mortgage that is not a purchase money mortgage, your actual financial loss is the difference between the unpaid mortgage debt and the value of the property. For tax purposes, however, you may realize a capital gain or loss and a bad debt loss that are reportable in the year of the foreclosure sale. Your bid is treated as consisting of two distinct transactions: - - - - - - - - - - Planning Reminder Voluntary Conveyance Instead of forcing you to foreclose, the mortgagor may voluntarily convey the property to you in consideration for your cancelling the mortgage debt. Your loss is the amount by which the mortgage debt plus accrued interest exceeds the fair market value of the property. If, however, the fair market value exceeds the mortgage debt plus accrued interest, the difference is taxable gain. The gain or loss is reportable in the year you receive the property.

Suppose your bid was $36,000 and you had $2,000 in expenses. Your bad debt deduction is $6,000—the difference between the mortgage debt of $40,000 and the net bid price of $34,000. You also had a capital loss of $4,000 (the difference between the net bid price of $34,000 and the fair market value of $30,000). Where the bid price equals the mortgage debt plus unreported but accrued interest, you report the interest as income. But where the accrued interest has been reported, the unpaid amount is added to the collection expenses. 31.14 Foreclosure Sale to Third Party When a third party buys the property in a foreclosure, you, as the mortgagee, receive the purchase price to apply against the mortgage debt. If it is less than the debt, and the mortgagor was personally liable, you may proceed against the mortgagor for the difference.

However, you may realize a taxable gain. The IRS and Tax Court treat the transferred mortgage debt as cash received in a part-gift, part-sale subject to the rules for bargain sales of appreciated property (14.8). You will realize a taxable gain if the transferred mortgage exceeds the portion of basis allocated to the sale part of the transaction. This is true even if the charity does not assume the mortgage. EXAMPLE Bob Hill donates to a college land held over a year that is worth $250,000 and subject to a $100,000 mortgage. His basis is $150,000. Hill’s charitable contribution deduction is $150,000 ($250,000 – $100,000). He also is considered to have made a bargain sale for $100,000 (transferred mortgage debt) on which he realized $40,000 long-term capital gain. 40% of the transaction is treated as a bargain sale: Basis allocated to sale: 40% of $150,000, or $60,000 Amount realized $100,000 Allocated basis 60,000 Gain $ 40,000 Donating capital gain property to private non-operating foundations You generally may not deduct the full fair market value of gifts of capital gain property to private non-operating foundations that are subject to the 20% deduction ceiling for non–50% limit organizations (14.17).


J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2016: For Preparing Your 2015 Tax Return by J. K. Lasser Institute

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, asset allocation, business cycle, collective bargaining, distributed generation, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, Home mortgage interest deduction, intangible asset, medical malpractice, medical residency, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, passive income, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, rent control, Right to Buy, transaction costs, urban renewal, zero-coupon bond

The seller must report as income previously received payments that were not taxed (they were excluded under the home sale exclusion). 31.13 Foreclosure on Mortgages Other Than Purchase Money If you, as a mortgagee (lender), bid in on a foreclosure sale to pay off a mortgage that is not a purchase money mortgage, your actual financial loss is the difference between the unpaid mortgage debt and the value of the property. For tax purposes, however, you may realize a capital gain or loss and a bad debt loss that are reportable in the year of the foreclosure sale. Your bid is treated as consisting of two distinct transactions: Planning Reminder Voluntary Conveyance Instead of forcing you to foreclose, the mortgagor may voluntarily convey the property to you in consideration for your cancelling the mortgage debt. Your loss is the amount by which the mortgage debt plus accrued interest exceeds the fair market value of the property. If, however, the fair market value exceeds the mortgage debt plus accrued interest, the difference is taxable gain. The gain or loss is reportable in the year you receive the property.

Apart from the gain or loss on the deemed sale, if you are personally liable on the loan (recourse debt) and the amount of the debt cancelled by the lender exceeds the fair market value of the property, you have cancellation of debt income that must be reported as ordinary income unless one of the exclusions discussed below applies. The lender will report fair market value of the property in Box 7 Form 1099-C. State law may treat home mortgage debt as nonrecourse. Some states have “anti-deficiency” statutes that treat a loan used to purchase a principal residence as a “nonrecourse” loan. In these states, a lender has no recourse against a homeowner for a deficiency judgment following a foreclosure or lender-approved short sale. Where a mortgage debt subject to one of these state laws is forgiven, the taxpayer does not realize cancellation of debt income, as the income rule applies only to the cancellation of recourse debts for which there is personal liability. Such state anti-deficiency laws would assume even greater significance if Congress does not extend to 2015 and beyond the exclusion for discharges of up to $2 million of qualified principal residence indebtedness.

However, you may realize a taxable gain. The IRS and Tax Court treat the transferred mortgage debt as cash received in a part-gift, part-sale subject to the rules for bargain sales of appreciated property (14.8). You will realize a taxable gain if the transferred mortgage exceeds the portion of basis allocated to the sale part of the transaction. This is true even if the charity does not assume the mortgage. EXAMPLE John Hill donates to a college land held over a year that is worth $250,000 and subject to a $100,000 mortgage. His basis is $150,000. Hill’s charitable contribution deduction is $150,000 ($250,000 – $100,000). He also is considered to have made a bargain sale for $100,000 (transferred mortgage debt) on which he realized $40,000 long-term capital gain. Basis allocated to sale: 40% of $150,000, or $60,000 Amount realized $100,000 Allocated basis 60,000 Gain $40,000 Donating capital gain property to private non-operating foundations.


pages: 475 words: 155,554

The Default Line: The Inside Story of People, Banks and Entire Nations on the Edge by Faisal Islam

Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, British Empire, capital controls, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, dark matter, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, energy security, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forensic accounting, forward guidance, full employment, G4S, ghettoisation, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, inflation targeting, Irish property bubble, Just-in-time delivery, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mini-job, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, paradox of thrift, Pearl River Delta, pension reform, price mechanism, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, reshoring, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two tier labour market, unorthodox policies, uranium enrichment, urban planning, value at risk, WikiLeaks, working-age population, zero-sum game

In January of that year, he regaled me with the finer details of Dutch economist Willem Buiter’s blog, and with his own appreciation of the difference between quantitative easing and qualitative easing. The former referred to the sheer amount of buying the central bank could do, the latter concerned an attempt to lower interest rates in specific markets, such as mortgage debt and corporate credit. So this was a policy initiated and decided upon by the Bank, but with considerable input from the government. At the top of the Treasury the assumption was that the structure created would be used, as was the case in the USA, to buy a wide range of commercial, government and mortgage debt, but that operational decisions regarding such purchases would be left to the Bank. And so, on 5 March 2009, quantitative easing was launched in Britain, accompanied by a cut in the base rate from 1 per cent to an unprecedented 0.5 per cent.

Greater increases in demand than in supply, and the prices went up, as in Britain. Large increases in supply over demand, as in the USA, Spain and Ireland after the crisis, and prices go down. Simple enough. Except, of course, this simple model is entirely misleading. The housing market is not really a market for houses. The housing market is driven principally by the availability of finance, mainly mortgage debt, but sometimes bonuses, inheritances, or hot money from abroad – London in particular has become the preferred residence of the world’s wealthiest people, from Russian oligarchs to Arab oil sheikhs. Let’s start with Britain. There are 27 million dwellings in the UK. The short-term supply is basically fixed. The number of new homes built each year has not topped 150,000 since the crisis – that’s less than 0.5 per cent of the total stock.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to write traditional mortgage business.’ The credit feeding frenzy in suburban Britain during this time was feeding off itself. But one innovation casts a particularly long shadow. Increasing multiples, decreasing deposits, allowing self-certification and stretching the term of a mortgage are all rather tame compared to never actually expecting the repayment of mortgage debt. That was the strategy behind ‘interest-only’ mortgages. In finance, a loan where the entire principal of the loan is due at the end of the term is known as a ‘bullet loan’, but that name might have conjured the wrong image. Interest-only loans are controversial. Forget trying to get one in Canada. In India, you’ll need to hand over a piece of gold. A version of the interest-only mortgage, the endowment mortgage, was popular in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, but was sold with an investment to repay the loan at the end of the term.


Firefighting by Ben S. Bernanke, Timothy F. Geithner, Henry M. Paulson, Jr.

Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, Basel III, break the buck, Build a better mousetrap, business cycle, Carmen Reinhart, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Doomsday Book, financial deregulation, financial innovation, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, pets.com, price stability, quantitative easing, regulatory arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Great Moderation, too big to fail

A tidal wave of foreign money was pouring into the United States, as global investors frustrated by low interest rates and scarce investment opportunities at home looked abroad for better and safer yields. Ben called this seemingly insatiable demand for assets that generated decent returns a “global savings glut,” and it created a lot of dry tinder. The greatest part of the credit boom took place in the U.S. mortgage market. Mortgage debt per U.S. household soared 63 percent from 2001 to 2007, much faster than household incomes. Some of this new debt was beneficial, helping people buy homes or take cash out of their homes for worthy purposes. But some of the new lending veered into dangerous, unexplored territory, where the underwriting standards, especially for higher-risk subprime mortgages to lower-income borrowers, eroded dramatically.

Panic is a communicable disease. IndyMac’s failure was a sign that the fire was burning hotter again, but it didn’t seem to threaten the core of the system. Our main concerns that week were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giants that together were more than fifty times the size of IndyMac—and more than four times the size of Bear. They held or guaranteed more than $5 trillion worth of mortgage debt, and were also the last major source of mortgage financing in the United States, backing three of every four new home loans. That meant their collapse would halt production of new mortgages and crush the already battered housing market, which would mean more foreclosures on Main Street and more panic about mortgage securities on Wall Street. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were undeniably systemic, and they were hemorrhaging.

They were basically the corporate embodiment of moral hazard, enjoying the upside of their risk taking while taking comfort that taxpayers would cover any downside. They did not cause the crisis, as some critics have suggested; until late in the boom, the underwriting for mortgages they bought and backed was relatively conservative for the industry. But they did relax their standards before the bust, and by guaranteeing so much mortgage debt in the first place, they did help facilitate the tsunami of foreign money into U.S. real estate that set the stage for the crisis. All three of us, like our predecessors, had been deeply concerned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for years; we had all supported sweeping reforms of their business model and stricter regulation of their risk taking. The CEOs of both companies had agreed to raise more equity when Hank had called them during the heat of Bear weekend, but only Fannie Mae had raised any, and not nearly enough.


pages: 248 words: 57,419

The New Depression: The Breakdown of the Paper Money Economy by Richard Duncan

asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, business cycle, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, deindustrialization, diversification, diversified portfolio, fiat currency, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, income inequality, inflation targeting, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, special drawing rights, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization

To put that into perspective, consider that over the preceding 70 years, the U.S. government had fought World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and two Gulf Wars, had carried out numerous social welfare programs, and had sent a man to the moon, but had accumulated only a total of $5 trillion in debt in the process. What did Fannie and Freddie and the ABS issuers do with all the money they borrowed? They lent it to the household sector in the form of mortgages and consumer credit. Between 1982 and 2007, the mortgage debt of the household sector rose ten times to $10.5 trillion. Consumer credit increased six times over the same period to $2.5 trillion. (See Exhibit 3.4.) EXHIBIT 3.4 Home Mortgages and Consumer Credit Source: Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States, second quarter 2011 Relative to the overall size of the economy, the financial sector’s debt rose from 21 percent of GDP in 1980 to 116 percent in 2007.

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan wrote about household sector debt in his autobiography, which went to print in June 2007. He began by quoting from an article published in Fortune magazine in 1956: “Consumer short-term debt . . . is approaching a historical turning point . . . It must soon adjust itself to the nation’s capacity for going in hock, which is not limitless,” declared Fortune in March 1956. A month later, the magazine added, “The same general observations apply to mortgage debt—but with double force.” Greenspan then added, “Today, nearly fifty years later, the ratio of household debt to income is still rising, and critics are still wringing their hands. In fact, I do not recall a decade free of surges in angst about the mounting debt of households and businesses. Such fears ignore a fundamental fact of modern life: in a market economy, rising debt goes hand in hand with progress.”2 Exhibit 6.3 puts Greenspan’s comments into perspective.

Such fears ignore a fundamental fact of modern life: in a market economy, rising debt goes hand in hand with progress.”2 Exhibit 6.3 puts Greenspan’s comments into perspective. It shows household debt as a ratio of household disposable income from 1946 to 2010. EXHIBIT 6.3 Ratio of Household Debt to Disposable Personal Income Source: Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States, second quarter 2011, Table B.100 Notice that this ratio had hit 53 percent and was rising rapidly at the time Fortune expressed concern about mortgage debt in 1956. Then, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s it flattened out around 70 percent. Alan Greenspan became Fed chairman in August 1987. Soon thereafter, household debt relative to disposable income began to rise sharply. That ratio peaked at nearly 140 percent in 2007, just as Greenspan was expounding on the role of rising debt and the facts of life. Unfortunately, American households were incapable of repaying so much debt.


pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider

Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, John Meriwether, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

Housing construction is up more than 17 percent from its level at the end of the recession. Purchases of existing homes hit a record of 6.1 million in 2003, more than 500,000 above the previous record set in 2002. Each home purchase is accompanied by thousands of dollars of closing costs, plus thousands more spent on furniture and remodeling. The indirect impact of the housing bubble is at least as important. Mortgage debt rose by an incredible $2.3 trillion between 2000 and 2003. This borrowing has sustained consumption growth in an environment in which firms have been shedding jobs and cutting back hours, and real wage growth has fallen to zero, although the gains from this elixir are starting to fade with a recent rise in mortgage rates and many families are running out of equity to tap. The red-hot housing market has forced up home prices na-tionwide by 35 percent after adjusting for inflation.

That effect could be anything from a mild drag on an already limp economy to a real financial crisis. What it is depends on whether other sectors pick up some of the slack—say, if businesses were to start hiring and investing rather than hoarding their plentiful cash or distributing it to their stockholders. If they don’t, things could get quite unpleasant. So many households have taken on so much mortgage debt that if prices merely stop rising, they’re going to find themselves under water. And the broad economy has become so dependent on home-equity credit that its withdrawal could come as a terrible shock. Maybe the economy will finally have to face the consequences of the collapse of the 1990s stock-driven boom that it managed to avoid by speculating on housing instead. In fact, the main thing arguing against that possibility is the economy’s stunning ability to evade its dates with destiny time after time.

People used their homes as ATMs, borrowing to take trips, buy cars or just to meet expenses. This pattern of growth could not be sustained. Record house prices were supported by a tidal wave of speculation, as millions of people suddenly became interested in investment properties. As prices soared, financing arrangements became ever more questionable. Down payments went out of style. Adjustable-rate mortgages and interest-only loans, even negative amortization loans (in which mortgage debt grows month by month), became common. The worst of the speculative financing was in the subprime market, where moderate-income home buyers were persuaded to take out adjustable-rate mortgages, which generally feature very low “teaser rates,” typically reset after three years, often to levels that are five or six percentage points higher. Millions of families who could afford the teaser rates cannot possibly afford the higher rates.


pages: 160 words: 6,876

Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants by Bethany McLean

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, collateralized debt obligation, crony capitalism, housing crisis, mortgage debt, negative equity, obamacare, race to the bottom

The United States was historically a pioneer, and an outlier in a global context, in putting into practice such democratic ideas as universal voting, universal public education, and nearly universal land or homeownership. In all these cases, American society’s big reach also generates big controversies, and in the business of homeownership the controversies are both domestic policy battles—why do we need the government in our mortgage markets at all?—and potential international policy issues, because many billions of dollars of U.S. mortgage debt are owned by other governments that very much want to see it as a stable investment. Most people who weren’t paying close attention probably date the beginning of the global financial crisis at September 15, 2008, the day Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. But a few days earlier, on September 6, the U.S. Treasury put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into a status called conservatorship, a kind of government life-support system hooked up because the rapidly swooning mortgage markets had arguably put Fannie and Freddie in mortal peril, and their failure would have caused global economic chaos.

In large part because of their perceived safety as an investment, American mortgages became catnip to global investors. By the 1990s, it wasn’t just Boston bankers investing in Arizona mortgages, but Chinese workers and their savings accounts enabling Americans in Kansas to buy homes. By the 2000s, foreign central banks and other foreign investors were financing over a trillion dollars of American mortgage debt via their ownership of GSE securities. It was Hank Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs executive who served as Treasury Secretary from 2006 until January 20, 2009, who orchestrated the government takeover of Fannie and Freddie during the financial crisis. Something that he says “took his breath away” happened during the summer of 2008, when he was at the Beijing Olympics. As Paulson wrote in his memoir, On the Brink, he heard at that time that the Russians made a “top-level approach” to the Chinese “suggesting that they might together sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies.”

The analysis was very similar to that in a paper called “Fannie Mae Insolvency and Its Consequences” that was circulating among senior officials at the National Economic Council and the Treasury. Even the language was similar. “A government seizure is inevitable,” it began. It noted the same accounting concerns, and even ended with a version of the same conclusion: “A fully government owned guarantor of mortgage debt might be exactly what is called for given the current housing crisis . . . without the need to satisfy a fiduciary duty to shareholders, Fannie might finally be able to perform its affordable housing mission in a helpful and proactive manner.” The Monday after the Barron’s story ran, Fannie’s stock fell 13 percent. Then, in mid-July, stories appeared in both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.


pages: 206 words: 9,776

Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution by David Harvey

Bretton Woods, business cycle, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, David Graeber, deindustrialization, financial innovation, Guggenheim Bilbao, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, Ponzi scheme, precariat, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, special economic zone, the built environment, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, urban planning, We are the 99%, William Langewiesche, Works Progress Administration

The buildings we see around us in New York City, they poignantly note, represent "more than an arch itectural movement; they were largely the manifestation of a widespread financial phenomenon:' Noting that real estate securities in the 1 920s were every bit as "tox ic as they are now:· they went on to conclude: The New York skyline is a stark reminder of securitization's ability to connect capital from a sp eculative public to building ventures. An increased understanding of the early real estate securities market has the 60% Annual rate of change in mortgage debt in the Un ited States, 1 9 5 5 - 76 40 20 1959 1967 1 963 1971 $500 S h are prices of real estate investment trusts in the US, 1 975 1 9 66-75 400 300 200 100 0 +-----.-----,--, 1 973 1 967 1 969 1971 4 00 Property share price index in the UK, 1 96 1 -75 300 � "0 .s 200 100 1 962 1 964 1 966 1 968 1 970 Year Source: US De.�partmcr�t of Commerce Figure l The Property Market Crash of 1 973 1 972 1 9 74 34 R E B E L C I T I ES pote nt ial to provide a valu able input when modeling for wo rst- c a s e sce­ n ario s in the future.

Furthermore, the greater the share of property m arkets in GD P, the more significant the connection between financing and investment in the built environment becomes as a potential source of macro crises. In the case of developing countries such as Th ailand-where housing mort­ gages, if the World B ank Report is right, are equivalent to only l 0 percent of GDP- a property crash could certainly contribute to, but not likely totally power, a m acroeconomic collapse (of the sort that occurred in 1 9 97-98), whereas in the United States, where housing mortgage debt is equivalent to 40 percent of GDP, it m ost certainly could and did gen erate a crisis in 2007- 09. 50 .. 4 0 "" c 'ij '5 .., 30 j 20 '0 E ::s z 10 0 ������ 1 9 70 1 890 1910 1930 1 950 1 990 2010 Year Source: after William Godzmamt and Fran/c. Newman. "Securitization i u the 1 920s.,• NBER W"'rking Papn 1 5650 Figu re 2 Tall Buildings Constructed in New Yo rk City, 1 890-2 0 1 0 T H E U R BAN ROOTS OF CAP I TALI ST C R I S E S 35 TH E M A RX I ST P E RS P ECTIVE Since bourgeois theory, if not totally blind, at best lacks insights in relating urban developments to macroeconomic disruptions, one would have thought that M arxist critics, with their vaunted historical­ materialist methods, would h ave had a field day with fierce denun­ ciations of soaring rents and the savage dispossessions characteristic of what M arx and Engels referred to as the secondary forms o f exploita­ tion visited upon the working classes in their living places by merchant capitalists and landlords.

We cannot, for example, treat the credit system simply as an entity in itself, a kind of efflorescence located on Wall Street or in the City of London that floats freely above the grounded activities on Main Street. A lot o f credit-based activity may indeed be spe culative froth, and a disgusting excrescence of human lust for gold and pure money power. But much o f it is fundamental and abso ­ lutely necessary to the functioning of capital. Th e b oundaries b e tween what is necessary and what is (a) necessarily fictitious (as in the case of state and mortgage debt) and (b) pure excess, are not easy to define. Clearly, to try to analyze the dynamics of the recent crisis and its after­ math without reference to the credit system (with mor tgages standing at 40 percent o f G D P in the United States) , consumerism (70 percent of the driving force in the US economy compared to 3 5 percent in China), and the state of competition (monopoly power in financial, real estate, retail­ ing, and many other markets) would b e a ridiculous enterprise.


pages: 376 words: 109,092

Paper Promises by Philip Coggan

accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, delayed gratification, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, trade route, tulip mania, value at risk, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Incredibly, products like option adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) effectively allowed US homebuyers to borrow more than the value of the house; borrowers were allowed to pick their own interest rate, with any shortfall being added to the size of the loan. Potential homebuyers were allowed to borrow greater multiples of their income and, in some cases, not required to provide any proof of their income at all (so-called ‘liar loans’). There was a rapid rise in mortgage debt after the 1980s; in both the UK and the US, mortgage debt rose from a little over 30 per cent of GDP in 1983 to around 80 per cent by 2006. Surprisingly, mortgage debt-to-GDP ratios were even higher, at nearly 100 per cent of GDP, in Denmark and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the world of unsecured credit changed irrevocably with the advent of the credit card. As we have already seen, consumer credit developed steadily through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was not until the late 1950s that credit cards emerged, giving consumers the ability to pay for a wide range of goods and services.

My father refused to have a credit card, cutting up an unsolicited version that arrived in the mail and returning it with a stern lecture on inflation. My favourite (possibly apocryphal) story of the 1930s was of the lady who bought a washing machine on hire purchase and refused to use it until all the instalments had been paid. Economists generally agree that consumer credit is very useful for the economy. Some countries have too little consumer debt. In Russia, for example, mortgage debt is just 3 per cent of GDP. The ability to borrow allows people to smooth consumption over their lifetime; families can borrow money when the children are young, and pay off the debt when they leave home. This should mean that consumption is less prone to sudden swings, and thus recessions less severe. The big change in the modern era has been for consumer credit to be supplied through the banking system.

So when the newly elected Obama administration reacted to the crisis in classic Keynesian fashion, unveiling a near $800 billion stimulus plan, it faced a wave of public opposition. The ‘tea party’ campaign took its name from the revolutionary movement that protested against British taxes by dumping tea in Boston harbour. It seems to have started with a rant by Rick Santelli, a correspondent for the CNBC financial channel, about a US government plan to help those with mortgage debts. The movement channelled a number of areas of public discontent. Apart from the unpopularity of the bank bailout, there was a general feeling that it was ‘un-American’ to use public money to bail out businesses, even the auto companies with their hundreds of thousands of employees, on the grounds that people should stand on their own two feet. In addition, the tea party members saw the bailout as a further sign of government intrusion into the economy – a trend that was exemplified by the Obama healthcare plan.


pages: 393 words: 115,263

Planet Ponzi by Mitch Feierstein

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disintermediation, diversification, Donald Trump, energy security, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, high net worth, High speed trading, illegal immigration, income inequality, interest rate swap, invention of agriculture, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low earth orbit, mega-rich, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pensions crisis, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, value at risk, yield curve

I’m not going to reprint Cayne’s outburst here, but unshockable readers can expand their vocabulary by checking out Heidi Moore, ‘Bear Stearns’ Jimmy Cayne’s profane tirade against Treasury’s Geithner,’ Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2009. For Cayne’s compensation, see Forbes, ‘CEO compensation for James E. Cayne,’ May 3, 2007. 8 Data available from the Federal Reserve. Go to the website (www.federalreserve.gov) and search for ‘Mortgage debt outstanding.’ 9 John Gittelsohn, ‘Shiller says U.S. home-price declines of 10% to 25% “wouldn’t surprise me”,’ Bloomberg, June 9, 2011. 10 ‘Rooms with a view,’ The Economist, July 7, 2011. 11 Mortgage data from European Mortgage Federation. Go to the website (www.hypo.org), click on ‘Facts and figures,’ then look for ‘Value of mortgage debt.’ The data in the table are for 2009, the most recent figures available. I’ve used an exchange rate of €1 = $1.371 to convert to US dollars. 12 Tracy Alloway, ‘Under-reported – and non-performing – assets at US banks,’ Financial Times, ‘Alphaville’ blog, June 17, 2011.

On the contrary, any sane person in 1990 would have wondered why the heck government debt in America stood at 57% of GDP. We’d just won the Cold War, the economy was on a roll: debt should have been trending down to zero. Likewise, at the end of the 1980s, a decade when leveraged buyouts were all the rage on Wall Street, people were anxious that corporations had taken on so much debt that investment and growth would be inevitably impaired. People were worried about the incessant increases in credit card and mortgage debt, and the changes in culture that went along with that increase. These worries were neither flippant nor ill-founded. They were the right ones to have. Trouble is, our policymakers and regulators didn’t respond when it would have been easy and relatively costless to do so. They were too toothless, too inert, too dumb, too cowardly. The result: a train which could have been braked gently to a halt can now only be halted by blowing up the track, with all the ugly consequences that will involve.

The financial sector in Britain wasn’t as utterly out of control as its counterpart in the US‌—‌no subprime horrors, no CDOs of CDOs‌—‌but being ‘better managed than Wall Street’ is hardly a badge of managerial excellence. On pretty much every metric you care to look at, Britain has too much debt. Too much government debt. Too much household debt. Too many large and leveraged banks. Way too much mortgage debt. Even its corporations are too ready to borrow. Having said all that, however, Britain is still in better shape than the troubled economies of southern Europe. It doesn’t have the hideous government debt of Greece or Italy. It doesn’t have the structural rigidities of Spain. It’s still Europe’s chief magnet for inward investment. It remains a good place to do business, ranking tenth in the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness survey (neck and neck with the US, Germany, and Japan).3 What’s more, the country isn’t in the eurozone.


pages: 369 words: 94,588

The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey

accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gunnar Myrdal, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce

.: Limits to Growth 72 meat-based diets 73, 74 Medicare 28–9, 224 Mellon, Andrew 11, 98 mercantilism 206 merchant capitalists 40 mergers 49, 50 forced 261 Merrill Lynch 12 Merton, Robert 100 methane gas 73 Mexico debt crisis (1982) 10, 19 northern Miexico’s proximity to the US market 36 peso rescue 261 privatisation of telecommunications 29 and remittances 38 standard of living 10 Mexico City 243 microcredit schemes 145–6 microeconomics 237 microenterprises 145–6 microfinance schemes 145–6 Middle East, and oil issue 77, 170, 210 militarisation 170 ‘military-industrial complex’ 91 minorities: colonisation of urban neighbourhoods 247, 248 Mitterrand, François 198 modelling of markets 262 modernism 171 monarchy 249 monetarism 237 monetisation 244 money centralised money power 49–50, 52 a form of social power 43, 44 limitlessness of 43, 47 loss of confidence in the symbols/quality of money 114 universality of 106 monoculture 186 Monopolies Commission 52 monopolisation 43, 68, 95, 113, 116, 221 Monsanto 186 Montreal Protocol (1989) 76, 187 Morgan Stanley 19 Morishima, Michio 70 Morris, William 160 mortgages annual rate of change in US mortgage debt 7 mortgage finance for housing 170 mortgage-backed bonds futures 262 mortgage-backed securities 4, 262 secondary mortgage market 173, 174 securitisation of local 42 securitisation of mortgage debt 85 subprime 49, 174 Moses, Robert 169, 171, 177 MST (Brazil) 257 multiculturalism 131, 176, 231, 238, 258 Mumbai, India anti-Muslim riots (early 1990s) 247 redevelopment 178–9 municipal budgets 5 Museum of Modern Art, New York 21 Myrdal, Gunnar 196 N Nandigram, West Bengal 180 Napoleon III, Emperor 167, 168 national debt 48 National Economic Council (US) 11, 236 national-origin quotas 14 nationalisation 2, 4, 8, 224 nationalism 55–6, 143, 194, 204 NATO 203 natural gas 188 ‘natural limits’ 47 natural resources 30, 71 natural scarcity 72, 73, 78, 80, 83, 84, 121 nature and capital 88 ‘first nature’ 184 relation to 121, 122 ‘the revenge of nature’ 185 ‘second nature’ 184, 185, 187 as a social product 188 neocolonialism 208, 212 neoliberal counter-revolution 113 neoliberalism 10, 11, 19, 66, 131, 132, 141, 172, 175, 197, 208, 218, 224, 225, 233, 237, 243, 255 Nepal: communist rule in 226 Nevada, foreclosure wave in 1 New Deal 71 ‘new economy’ (1990s) 97 New Labour 45, 255 ‘new urbanism’ movement 175 New York City 11 September 2001 attacks 41 fiscal crisis (1975) 10, 172, 261 investment banks 19, 28 New York metropolitan region 169, 196 Nicaragua 189 Niger delta 251 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) 35, 253–4 non-interventionism 10 North Africa, French import of labour from 14 North America, settlement in 145 North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) 200 Northern Ireland emergency 247 Northern Rock 2 Norway: Nordic cris (1992) 8 nuclear power 188 O Obama, Barack 11, 27, 34, 210 Obama administration 78, 121 O’Connor, Jim 77, 78 offshoring 131 Ogoni people 251 oil cheap 76–7 differential rent on oil wells 83 futures 83, 84 a non-renewable resource 82 ‘peak oil’ 38, 73, 78, 79, 80 prices 77–8, 80, 82–3, 261 and raw materials prices 6 rents 83 United States and 76–7, 79, 121, 170, 210, 261 OPEC (Organisation of Oil-Producing Countries) 83, 84 options markets currency 262 equity values 262 unregulated 99, 100 Orange County, California bankruptcy 100, 261 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 51 organisational change 98, 101 organisational forms 47, 101, 121, 127, 134, 238 Ottoman Empire 194 ‘over the counter’ trading 24, 25 overaccumulation crises 45 ozone hole 74 ozone layer 187 P Pakistan: US involvement 210 Palley, Thomas 236 Paris ‘the city of light’ 168 epicentre of 1968 confrontations 177, 243 Haussmann’s rebuilding of 49, 167–8, 169, 171, 176 municipal budget crashes (1868) 54 Paris Commune (1871) 168, 171, 176, 225, 243, 244 Partnoy, Frank: Ubfectious Greed 25 patents 221 patent laws 95 patriarchy 104 pensions pension funds 4, 5, 245 reneging on obligations 49 Péreire brothers 49, 54, 98, 174 pesticides 185, 186, 187 petty bourgeois 56 pharmaceutical sector 129, 245 philanthropy 44 Philippines: excessive urban development 8 Phillips, Kevin 206 Pinochet, General Augusto 15, 64 plant 58 Poland, lending to 19 political parties, radical 255–6 politics capitalist 76 class 62 co-revolutionary 241 commodified 219 depoliticised 219 energy 77 identity 131 labour organizing 255 left 255 transformative 207 pollution air 77 oceanic 74 rights 21 ‘Ponts et Chaussées’ organisation 92 Ponzi schemes 21, 114, 245, 246 pop music 245–6 Pope, Alexander 156 population growth 59, 72, 74, 121, 167 and capital accumulation 144–7 populism 55–6 portfolio insurance 262 poverty and capitalism 72 criminalisation and incarceration of the poor 15 feminisation of 15, 258 ‘Great Society’ anti-poverty programmes 32 Prague 243 prices commodity 37, 73 energy 78 food grain 79–80 land 8, 9, 182–3 oil 8, 28, 37–8, 77–8, 80, 82–3, 261 property 4, 182–3 raw material 37 reserve price 81–2 rising 73 share 7 primitive accumulation 58, 63–4, 108, 249 private consortia 50 private equity groups 50 private property and radical egalitarianism 233, 234 see also property markets; property rights; property values privatisation 10, 28, 29, 49, 251, 256, 257 pro-natal policies 59 production expansion of 112, 113 inadequate means of 47 investment in 114 liberating the concept 87 low-profit 29 offshore 16 production of urbanisation 87 reorganisation and relocation of 33 revolutionising of 89 surplus 45 technologies 101 productivity agreements 14, 60, 96 agricultural 119 cotton industry 67 gains 88, 89 Japan and West Germany 33 rising 96, 186 products development 95 innovation 95 new lines 94, 95 niches 94 profit squeeze 65, 66, 116 profitability constrains 30 falling 94, 131 of the financial sector 51 and wages 60 profits easy 15 excess 81, 90 falling 29, 72, 94, 116, 117 privatising 10 rates 70, 94, 101 realisation of 108 proletarianisation 60, 62 property markets crash in US and UK (1973–75) 8, 171–2, 261 overextension in 85 property market-led Nordic and Japanese bank crises 261 property-led crises (2007–10) 10, 261 real estate bubble 261 recession in UK (after 1987) 261 property rights 69, 81–2, 90, 122, 179, 198, 233, 244, 245 Property Share Price Index (UK) 7 property values 171, 181, 197, 248 prostitution 15 protectionism 31, 33, 43, 211 punctuated equilibrium theory of natural evolution 130 Putin, Vladimir 29, 80 Q Q’ing dynasty 194 quotas 16 R R&D (research and development) 92, 95–6 race issues 104 racism 61, 258 radical egalitarianism 230–34 railroads 42, 49, 191 Railwan, rise of (1970s) 35 rare earth metals 188 raw materials 6, 16, 37, 58, 77, 101, 113, 140, 144, 234 RBS 20 Reagan, Ronald 15, 64, 131, 141 Reagan-Thatcher counter revolution (early 1980s) 71 Reagan administration 1, 19 Reagan recession (1980–82) 60, 261 Real Estate Investment Trusts (US) 7 recession 1970s 171–2 language of 27 Reagan (1980–82) 60, 261 Red Brigade 254 reforestation 184 refrigeration 74 reinvestment 43, 45, 66–7, 110–12, 116 religious fundamentalism 203 religious issues 104 remittances 38, 140, 147 rentiers 40 rents differential rent 81, 82, 83 on intellectual property rights 221 land 182 monetisation of 48, 109 monopoly 51, 81–2, 83 oil 83 on patents 221 rising 181 reproduction schemas 70 Republican Party (US) 11, 141 reserve price 81 resource values 234 Ricardo, David 72, 94 risks, socialising 10 robbery 44 Robinson, Joan 238 robotisation 14, 136 Rockefeller, John D. 98 Rockefeller brothers 131 Rockefeller foundation 44, 186 Roman Empire 194 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 71 Rothschild family 98, 163 Royal Society 91, 156 royalties 40 Rubin, Robert 98 ‘rule of experts’ 99, 100–101 Russia bankruptcy (1998) 246, 261 capital flight crisis 261 defaults on its debt (1998) 6 oil and natural gas flow to Ukraine 68 oil production 6 oligarchs 29 see also Soviet Union S Saddam Hussein 210 Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de 49 Saint-Simonians 87, 168 Salomon Brothers 24 Samuelson, Robert 235, 239 Sandino, Augusto 189 Sanford, Charles 98 satellites 156 savings 140 Scholes, Myron 100 Schumer, Charles 11 Schumpeter, Joseph 46 Seattle battle of (1999) 38, 227 general strike (1918) 243 software development in 195 Second World War 32, 168–70, 214 sectarianism 252 securitisation 17, 36, 42 Sejong, South Korea 124–6 service industries 41 sexism 61 sexual preferences issues 104, 131, 176 Shanghai Commune (1967) 243 shark hunting 73, 76 Shell Oil 79, 251 Shenzhen, China 36 shop floor organisers (shop stewards) 103 Silicon Valley 162, 195, 216 Singapore follows Japanese model 92 industrialisation 68 rise of (1970s) 35 slavery 144 domestic 15 slums 16, 151–2, 176, 178–9 small operators, dispossession of 50 Smith, Adam 90, 164 The Wealth of Nations 35 social democracy 255 ‘social democratic’ consensus (1960s) 64 social inequality 224 social relations 101, 102, 104, 105, 119, 121, 122, 123, 126, 127, 135–9, 152, 240 loss of 246 social security 224 social services 256 social struggles 193 social welfarism 255 socialism 136, 223, 228, 242, 249 compared with communism 224 solidarity economy 151, 254 Soros, George 44, 98, 221 Soros foundation 44 South Korea Asian Currency Crisis 261 excessive urban development 8 falling exports 6 follows Japanese model 92 rise of (1970s) 35 south-east Asia: crash of 1997–8 6, 8, 49, 246 Soviet Union in alliance with US against fascism 169 break-up of 208, 217, 227 collapse of communism 16 collectivisation of agriculture 250 ‘space race’ (1960s and 1970s) 156 see also Russia space domination of 156–8, 207 fixed spaces 190 ‘space race’ (1960s and 1970s) 156 Spain property-led crisis (2007–10) 5–6, 261 unemployment 6 spatial monopoly 164–5 special drawing rights 32, 34 special economic zones 36 special investment vehicles 36, 262 special purpose entities 262 speculation 52–3 speculative binges 52 speed-up 41, 42 stagflation 113 stagnation 116 Stalin, Joseph 136, 250 Standard Oil 98 state formation 196, 197, 202 state-corporate nexus 204 ‘space race’ (1960s and 1970s) 156 state-finance nexus 204, 205, 237, 256 blind belief in its corrective powers 55 ‘central nervous system’ for capital accumulation 54 characteristics of a feudal institution 55 and the current crisis 118 defined 48 failure of 56–7 forms of 55 fusion of state and financial powers 115 innovation in 85 international version of 51 overwhelmed by centralised credit power 52 pressure on 54 radical reconstruction of 131 role of 51 and state-corporate research nexus 97 suburbanisation 171 tilts to favour particular interests 56 statistical arbitrage strategies 262 steam engine, invention of 78, 89 Stiglitz, Joseph 45 stimulus packages 261 stock markets crash (1929) 211, 217 crashes (2001–02) 261 massive liquidity injections (1987) 236, 261 Stockton, California 2 ’structural adjustment’ programmes vii, 19, 261 subcontracting 131 subprime loans 1 subprime mortgage crisis 2 substance abuse 151 suburbanisation 73, 74, 76–7, 106–7, 169, 170, 171, 181 Summers, Larry 11, 44–5, 236 supermarket chains 50 supply-side theory 237 surveillance 92, 204 swaps credit 21 Credit Default 24, 262 currency 262 equity index 262 interest rate 24, 262 Sweden banking system crash (1992) 8, 45 Nordic crisis 8 Yugoslav immigrants 14 Sweezey, Paul 52, 113 ‘switching crises’ 93 systematic ‘moral hazard’ 10 systemic risks vii T Taipei: computer chips and household technologies in 195 Taiwan falling exports 6 follows Japanese model 92 takeovers 49 Taliban 226 tariffs 16 taxation 244 favouring the rich 45 inheritance 44 progressive 44 and the state 48, 145 strong tax base 149 tax rebates 107 tax revenues 40 weak tax base 150 ‘Teamsters for Turtles’ logo 55 technological dynamism 134 technologies change/innovation/new 33, 34, 63, 67, 70, 96–7, 98, 101, 103, 121, 127, 134, 188, 193, 221, 249 electronic 131–2 ‘green’ 188, 221 inappropriate 47 labour fights new technologies 60 labour-saving 14–15, 60, 116 ‘rule of experts’ 99, 100–101 technological comparative edge 95 transport 62 tectonic movements 75 territorial associations 193–4, 195, 196 territorial logic 204–5 Thailand Asian Currency Crisis 261 excessive urban development 8 Thatcher, Margaret, Baroness 15, 38, 64, 131, 197, 255 Thatcherites 224 ‘Third Italy’, Bologna 162, 195 time-space compression 158 time-space configurations 190 Toys ‘R’ Us 17 trade barriers to 16 collapses in foreign trade (2007–10) 261 fall in global international trade 6 increase in volume of trading 262 trade wars 211 trade unions 63 productivity agreements 60 and US auto industry 56 trafficking human 44 illegal 43 training 59 transport costs 164 innovations 42, 93 systems 16, 67 technology 62 Treasury Bill futures 262 Treasury bond futures 262 Treasury instruments 262 TRIPS agreement 245 Tronti, Mario 102 Trotskyists 253, 255 Tucuman uprising (1969) 243 Turin: communal ‘houses of the people’ 243 Turin Workers Councils 243 U UBS 20 Ukraine, Russian oil and natural gas flow to 68 ultraviolet radiation 187 UN Declaration of Human Rights 234 UN development report (1996) 110 Un-American Activities Committee hearings 169 underconsumptionist traditions 116 unemployment 131, 150 benefits 60 creation of 15 in the European Union 140 job losses 93 lay-offs 60 mass 6, 66, 261 rising 15, 37, 113 and technological change 14, 60, 93 in US 5, 6, 60, 168, 215, 261 unionisation 103, 107 United Fruit Company 189 United Kingdom economy in serious difficulty 5 forced to nationalise Northern Rock 2 property market crash 261 real average earnings 13 train network 28 United Nations 31, 208 United States agricultural subsidies 79 in alliance with Soviet Union against fascism 169 anti-trust legislation 52 auto industry 56 blockbusting neighbourhoods 248 booming but debt-filled consumer markets 141 and capital surplus absorption 31–2 competition in labour markets 61 constraints to excessive concentration of money power 44–5 consumerism 109 conumer debt service ratio 18 cross-border leasing with Germany 142–3 debt 158, 206 debt bubble 18 fiscal crises of federal, state and local governments 261 health care 28–9 heavy losses in derivatives 261 home ownership 3 housing foreclosure crises 1–2, 4, 38, 166 industries dependent on trade seriously hit 141 interventionism in Iraq and Afghanistan 210 investment bankers rescued 261 investment failures in real estate 261 lack of belief in theory of evolution 129 land speculation scheme 187–8 oil issue 76–7, 79, 80, 121, 170, 210, 261 population growth 146 proletarianisation 60 property-led crisis (2007–10) 261 pursuit of science and technology 129 radical anti-authoritarianism 199 Reagan Recession 261 rescue of financial institutions 261 research universities 95 the reversing origins of US corporate profits (1950–2004) 22 the right to the city movement 257 ‘right to work’ states 65 savings and loan crisis (1984–92) 8 secondary mortgage market 173 ‘space race’ (1960s and 1970s) 156 suburbs 106–7, 149–50, 170 train network 28 unemployment 5, 6, 60, 168, 215, 261 unrestricted capitalist development 113 value of US stocks and homes, as a percentage of GDP 22 and Vietnam War 171 wages 13, 62 welfare provision 141 ‘urban crisis’ (1960s) 170 urban ‘heat islands’ 77 urban imagineering 193 urban social movements 180 urbanisation 74, 85, 87, 119, 131, 137, 166, 167, 172–3, 174, 240, 243 US Congress 5, 169, 187–8 US Declaration of Independence 199 US National Intelligence Council 34–5 US Senate 79 US Supreme Court 179 US Treasury and Goldman Sachs 11 rescue of Continental Illinois Bank 261 V Vanderbilt family 98 Vatican 44 Veblen, Thorstein 181–2 Venezuela 256 oil production 6 Vietnam War 32, 171 Volcker, Paul 2, 236 Volcker interest rate shock 261 W wage goods 70, 107, 112, 162 wages and living standards 89 a living wage 63 national minimum wage 63 rates 13, 14, 59–64, 66, 109 real 107 repression 12, 16, 21, 107, 110, 118, 131, 172 stagnation 15 wage bargaining 63 Wal-Mart 17, 29, 64, 89 Wall Street, New York 35, 162, 200, 219, 220 banking institutions 11 bonuses 2 ‘Party of Wall Street’ 11, 20, 200 ‘War on Terror’ 34, 92 warfare 202, 204 Wasserstein, Bruce 98 waste disposal 143 Watt, James 89 wealth accumulation by capitalist class interests 12 centralisation of 10 declining 131 flow of 35 wealth transfer 109–10 weather systems 153–4 Weather Underground 254 Weill, Sandy 98 Welch, Jack 98 Westphalia, Treaty of (1648) 91 Whitehead, Alfred North 75 Wilson, Harold 56 wind turbines 188 women domestic slavery 15 mobilisation of 59, 60 prostitution 15 rights 176, 251, 258 wages 62 workers’ collectives 234 working hours 59 World Bank 36, 51, 69, 192, 200, 251 ‘Fifty Years is Enough’ campaign 55 predicts negative growth in the global economy 6 World Bank Development Report (2009) 26 World Trade Organisation (WTO) 200, 227 agreements 69 street protests against (Seattle, 1999) 55 TRIPS agreement 245 and US agricultural subsidies 79 WorldCom 8, 100, 261 worldwide web 42 Wriston, Walter 19 X X-rays 99 Y Yugoslavia dissolution of 208 ethnic cleansings 247 Z Zapatista revolutionary movement 207, 226, 252 Zola, Émile 53 The Belly of Paris 168 The Ladies’ Paradise 168

The rest of the world, hitherto relatively immune (with the exception of the United Kingdom, where analogous problems in the housing market had earlier surfaced such that the government had been forced to nationalise a major lender, Northern Rock, early on), was dragged precipitously into the mire generated primarily by the US financial collapse. At the epicentre of the problem was the mountain of ‘toxic’ mortgage-backed securities held by banks or marketed to unsuspecting investors all around the world. Everyone had acted as if property prices could rise for ever. By autumn 2008, near-fatal tremors had already spread outwards from banking to the major holders of mortgage debt. United States government-chartered mortgage institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be nationalised. Their shareholders were destroyed but the bondholders, including the Chinese Central Bank, remained protected. Unsuspecting investors across the world, from pension funds, small regional European banks and municipal governments from Norway to Florida, who had been lured into investing in pools of ‘highly rated’ securitised mortgages, found themselves holding worthless pieces of paper and unable to meet their obligations or pay their employees.

And capital invested in such projects has to be prepared to wait for returns over the long haul. This means either state involvement or a financial system robust enough to assemble the capital and deploy it with the desired long-term effects and wait patiently for the returns. This has usually meant radical innovations in the state–finance nexus. Since the 1970s, financial innovations such as the securitisation of mortgage debt and the spreading of investment risks through the creation of derivative markets, all tacitly (and now, as we see, actually) backed by state power, have permitted a huge flow of excess liquidity into all facets of urbanisation and built environment construction worldwide. In each instance innovation in the state–finance nexus has been a necessary condition for channelling surpluses into urbanisation and infrastructural projects (e.g. dams and highways).


pages: 327 words: 90,542

The Age of Stagnation: Why Perpetual Growth Is Unattainable and the Global Economy Is in Peril by Satyajit Das

"Robert Solow", 9 dash line, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collaborative economy, colonial exploitation, computer age, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Downton Abbey, Emanuel Derman, energy security, energy transition, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, happiness index / gross national happiness, Honoré de Balzac, hydraulic fracturing, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, margin call, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old age dependency ratio, open economy, passive income, peak oil, peer-to-peer lending, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Rana Plaza, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, risk/return, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, savings glut, secular stagnation, seigniorage, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the market place, the payments system, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade route, transaction costs, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

US private debt had increased to 290 percent of GDP in 2008, up from 123 percent in 1981. The ratio of household debt to disposable personal income rose to 127 percent at the end of 2007, up from 77 percent in 1990. Consumers had become over-leveraged as they saved less and borrowed more to finance consumption. Between 2001 and 2007, households borrowed around US$5 trillion against their homes as they rose in value. Mortgage debt in 2008 was 73 percent of GDP, up from an average of 46 percent during the 1990s. The debt was made even riskier because of looser credit conditions, weak creditworthiness of borrowers, and predatory lending practices. The same phenomenon was observable in the UK, Canada, Australia, and some European countries. While debt-fueled consumption had contributed significantly to economic growth worldwide, high levels of risky debt made the global economy vulnerable to a downturn.

In the period since 2007, developing economies have accounted for roughly half of the increase in debt. China's debt levels have risen rapidly, quadrupling between 2007 and 2014 from US$7 trillion to US$28 trillion. Business, household, and government debt have all grown. Only the financial sector in developed markets has reduced leverage. Businesses have borrowed not to invest, but to repurchase their own shares or buy other companies. Household borrowing, around 74 percent of which is mortgage debt, has increased in 80 percent of countries. Based on risk measures, such as debt-to-income ratios, debt service ratios, and house price changes, households in Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand are potentially vulnerable. Since 2007, government debt has grown globally by US$25 trillion, to US$58 trillion. It exceeds 100 percent of GDP in ten countries, including Japan and a number of European nations.

South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, and a number of Eastern European nations, like Hungary and Poland, also showed significant increases in debt, which was at levels considered high for developing nations. Belying the country's reputation for thrift, Chinese household debt has also risen sharply, nearly quadrupling since 2007, from US$1 trillion to US$3.8 trillion. Mortgage debt has grown by 21 percent per year, in parallel to a 60 percent rise in urban property prices since 2008. During the same period, consumer credit grew strongly in Brazil and many Asian countries. Under Brazil's parcelas (installments) culture, cars, consumer goods, holidays, plastic surgery, and funerals were available on credit. In Malaysia and Thailand, it increased to around 80 percent of GDP, up sharply from the levels in 2007.


pages: 288 words: 16,556

Finance and the Good Society by Robert J. Shiller

Alvin Roth, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market design, means of production, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nelson Mandela, Occupy movement, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, profit maximization, quantitative easing, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, self-driving car, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Vanguard fund, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Another puzzle also presented itself in those days: why did the RMBS market become so important, when people had seen no need for it before the 1970s? We know that securitizers were creating new investment vehicles based on mortgages. But what is the di erence, really, whether one invests in RMBSs or in shares in banks that own mortgages, as was the practice before Freddie and Fannie started issuing these? Securitization was indeed never really popular in most parts of the world. The movement toward securitization of home mortgage debt became particularly strong in the United States thanks to powerful impetus from government support. But, lacking the subsidy e ectively given by the U.S. government via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage securitization has not been common anywhere else.6 Before the crisis of 2007 nance theorists saw clear innovation in mortgage securitization. Securitized mortgages are, in the abstract, a way of solving an information asymmetry problem—more particularly the problem of “lemons.”

Claire Hill, in her article “Securitization: A Low-Cost Sweetener for Lemons,” written before the crisis, argued persuasively that an important reason the securitization and CDO market can function well is that it helps solve the lemons problem.9 Bundling mortgages into securities that are evaluated by independent rating agencies, and dividing up a company’s securities into tranches that allow specialized evaluators to do their job, e ciently lowers the risk to investors of getting stuck with lemons. They should be able to trust the higher-tranche CDOs more than any pool of mortgages or any share in a complex and difficult-to-understand mortgage-lending institution. So there was a valid theory as to why the splitting of securitized mortgage debt into tranches was a good idea. Of course it turns out not to have worked superbly well in practice, but this is largely because of the erroneous assumption noted earlier—that everyone, including the rating agencies, thought home prices just couldn’t fall. That mistake, and not any flaw in the logic of Claire Hill’s theory, was the real problem. And that is the problem that so often plagues nance.

The extent to which they can advertise and the kind of lending schemes that regulators allow di er signi cantly from one country to another. Hence there are massive di erences across countries in average levels of indebtedness, and in propensity to save and build wealth. Leverage in the U.S. Financial Crisis of 2007 During the boom in the United States just prior to the severe nancial crisis, between 2001 and 2007, household debt, including mortgage debt and credit card debt, doubled from $7 trillion to $14 trillion. Household debt as a fraction of income rose to a level not seen since the onset of the Great Depression. After the decline in home prices began, strapped households began to curtail their consumption, setting a course toward a severe recession. The United States has in recent decades had a low savings rate, and in the years just before the crisis the personal savings rate was just about zero.


pages: 222 words: 70,559

The Oil Factor: Protect Yourself-and Profit-from the Coming Energy Crisis by Stephen Leeb, Donna Leeb

Buckminster Fuller, buy and hold, diversified portfolio, fixed income, hydrogen economy, income per capita, index fund, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, profit motive, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Vanguard fund, Yom Kippur War, zero-coupon bond

This will be a tremendous push toward further inflation. In essence, inflation will beget further inflation as policymakers find their hands tied by the existence of so much consumer debt. Home Sweet Home A major portion of total consumer debt—about 70 percent—is in the form of home mortgages, whose growth is displayed in figure 5c, “Mortgage Debt Outstanding.” According to the Federal Reserve, nonmortgage debt (credit cards, bank loans, etc.) payment as a percentage of disposable income has declined since 1980. During the same period, mortgage debt payments, as figure 5c shows, have risen by over 40 percent. There’s a good reason why homes account for so much of overall consumer debt—banks are more willing to lend money for a home than for almost anything else. That’s because a home is a tangible and enduring piece of property, one, in fact, whose value is likely to increase over time.

List of Figures Oil in the 1990s (figure 1a) Oil Prices and the S&P 500 (figure 2a) Following Oil vs. Holding the S&P 500 (figure 2b) Oil’s Buy and Sell Signals (figure 2c) Our Ongoing Oil Habit (figure 2d) Declining Domestic Oil Production (figure 3a) Declining Saudi GDP (figure 3b) Real Oil Prices, 1949-2002 (figure 4a) Debt as Percentage of GDP (figure 5a) Soaring Bankruptcy Petitions (figure 5b) Mortgage Debt Outstanding (figure 5c) Natural Gas Prices (figure 6a) Government Spending and the CPI, 1901-2002 (figure 8a) Energy and Inflation (figure 9a) Inverse Relationship (figure 9b) Inflation and Markets (figure 10a) Sailing Through the 1970s (figure 10b) Silver (figure 13a) Palladium (figure 13b) Defense Expenditures (figure 14a) Weather-Related Woes (figure 15a) Bonds in the Depression (figure 17a) Defying the Market Portfolio Performance (figure 18a) Model Portfolios (figure 18b) Preface Investing is a tough business, whether you do it simply for your own account or professionally.


pages: 232 words: 70,361

The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay by Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial deregulation, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, labor-force participation, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, patent troll, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, uber lyft, very high income, We are the 99%

For most Americans, wealth primarily consists of housing and retirement savings on the asset side, and mortgage debt, consumer credit, and student loans on the liability side.16 Public policies directly affect each of these forms of assets and liabilities. In the post–World War II decades, regulations encouraged firms to provide funded pensions to their employees. The federal government sponsored the creation of thirty-year mortgages, providing an effective tool to save over a lifetime—because paying down your mortgage debt and building home equity, now that’s saving. After the 1980s, by contrast, student loans boomed as public funding for higher education retreated. Financial deregulation made it easier for people to get into debt, for example by facilitating the perpetual rollover of mortgage debt through refinancing, or by boosting the supply of consumer credit.


pages: 440 words: 108,137

The Meritocracy Myth by Stephen J. McNamee

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American ideology, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, collective bargaining, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, estate planning, failed state, fixed income, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, job automation, joint-stock company, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low-wage service sector, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, occupational segregation, old-boy network, pink-collar, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, prediction markets, profit motive, race to the bottom, random walk, school choice, Scientific racism, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, white flight, young professional

In other words, mortgaged “home owners” don’t really “own” their homes until they pay off their mortgages, and almost one-third (30.9 percent) of mortgage holders now owe more on their homes than they are worth in today’s depressed housing market (Humphries 2012). In 1890, 72 percent of American home owners owned their own homes outright. By 1990, the corresponding figure had dropped to only 35 percent (Devaney 1994), then shrank again to only 29.3 percent by 2012 (Hopkins 2013). In short, more Americans live in “owner-occupied housing,” but a higher portion of them have gone into debt to do so. Mortgage debt reached crisis proportions in 2008, precipitating a general financial meltdown, record numbers of foreclosures and bankruptcies, as well as a series of bank failures leading to a massive $700 billion federal bailout. The uptick in home-ownership rates, as it turned out, was largely an illusion fueled by the housing bubble that produced unrealistic and unsustainable debt levels. Better Opportunities for the Next Generation Another aspect of the American Dream is the idea that each new generation will have a higher standard of living and better opportunities than the previous one.

The Great Recession With rapidly mounting public and private debt, the paper tiger eventually became a house of cards. By late 2007, the financial sector was on the edge of economic collapse, reminiscent of the banking collapse that triggered the Great Depression in 1929. The full explanation of the causes of the subsequent Great Recession is still being debated (Davies 2010; Fligstein and Goldstein 2011), but there is widespread consensus that it was immediately triggered by a massive mortgage debt crisis. Following the structural shifts in the economy associated with globalization and deindustrialization, the U.S. economy was kept partially afloat by the dot-com bubble of the 1980s and 1990s, which crashed in 2000, driving stock market prices down sharply. To help stimulate the economy in the aftermath of this downturn, the Federal Reserve reduced interest rates (the costs of money to lenders) to practically zero.

., 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 Countrywide financial corporation, 1 , 2 Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites (Stevens), 1 credentials credential underemployment, 1 cultural credentials, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 importance of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 inflation of, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 nonvalidated, 1 opportunities to earn, 1 cultural capital acquisition of, 1.1-1.2 defined, 1 , 2 , 3 discrimination and, 1 , 2 educational inequalities, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 elite circles, acceptance into, 1 employers impressed with, 1.1-1.2 government programs leveling field, 1 information access, 1 inheritance and, 1 , 2 media portrayals, 1 nouveau riche, 1 right attitude, 1 social climbing, 1.1-1.2 , 2 transmission settings, 1.1-1.2 U.S. presidents, exemplifying, 1.1-1.2 culture-of-poverty theory, 1.1-1.2 , 2 D debt as a coping strategy, 1.1-1.2 Great Recession, during, 1 , 2 , 3 housing/mortgage debt, 1 , 2 as a liability, 1 student loans, 1 , 2.1-2.2 democracy, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8.1-8.2 Democracy in America (de Tocqueville), 1.1-1.2 disabled Americans, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 discrimination affirmative action as a remedy, 1.1-1.2 ageism, 1.1-1.2 , 2 American Dream, affecting, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8.1-8.2 , 9.1-9.2 , 10.1-10.2 , 11 continuing effects of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 the disabled, experiences of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 in education, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6 expansion of opportunity and, 1 heterosexist prejudices, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 in-group solidarity, 1.1-1.2 institutional favoritism, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 legal and political injustice, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 occupational unfairness, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 the physically attractive as favored, 1.1-1.2 racial bigotry, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6 , 7 , 8 reform movements combating, 1.1-1.2 , 2 religious intolerance, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 residential inequity, 1.1-1.2 , 2 women, experiences of, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6.1-6.2 , 7.1-7.2 , 8.1-8.2 , 9.1-9.2 Domhoff, William, 1 , 2 Duncan, Otis Dudley, 1 E education affirmative action and, 1 , 2 African Americans, educational issues of, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 American Dream, as part of, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 cognitive elite and educational attainment, 1 credentials, importance of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 discrimination affecting, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6 educational endogamy, 1 government spending on, 1.1-1.2 , 2 human capital theory, 1 , 2 income affected by, 1 individualism, aiding in, 1 inequalities and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 occupational opportunities, linked to, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6.1-6.2 , 7.1-7.2 , 8.1-8.2 , 9.1-9.2 , 10 , 11.1-11.2 , 12 , 13.1-13.2 parental circumstances affecting, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 school completion, 1 school quality and school funding, 1.1-1.2 social/cultural capital and, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 success, as a factor in, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 teacher salary discrepancies, 1 , 2 women and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 See also college T The Education-Jobs Gap (Livingstone), 1 E employment See occupations endogamy, 1.1-1.2 entrepreneurs and entrepreneurialism American respect for, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 education vs., 1 , 2.1-2.2 entrepreneurial capitalists, 1 , 2 , 3 entrepreneurial traits, 1 , 2 franchisees not considered as entrepreneurs, 1 irregular economy, participation in, 1.1-1.2 luck as part of success, 1 , 2 random-walk hypothesis, 1 social capital, use of, 1 , 2 , 3 upward mobility, aiming for, 1 , 2 See also self-employment Etcoff, Nancy, 1.1-1.2 ethics See moral character F Forbes magazine income listings, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 franchises, 1.1-1.2 , 2 free-market economy, 1.1-1.2 , 2 T The Frontier in American History (Turner), 1.1-1.2 F frontier influence in America, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 functional theory of inequality, 1 G gambling, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 Gates, Bill, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 Gendall, Murray, 1 Gilded Age, 1 , 2 , 3 Gini coefficient, 1.1-1.2 Gladwell, Malcolm, 1 , 2 glass ceiling, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 government programs education funding, 1 , 2 , 3 health care, 1 , 2 highway subsidies and suburb development, 1 , 2 home ownership, encouraging, 1 , 2 land giveaways, 1 the poor as targets of, 1 , 2 , 3 proposed asset-building policies, 1.1-1.2 “thousand points of light” as alternative, 1 transfer payment, 1 Granovetter, Mark, 1.1-1.2 Great Depression, 1 , 2 , 3 Great Recession African Americans affected by, 1 , 2 age discrimination during, 1 class issues resulting from, 1 debt and bankruptcies, rise of, 1.1-1.2 factors leading to, 1.1-1.2 home ownership during, 1.1-1.2 , 2 mortgage debt as contributor, 1 retirement delays caused by, 1 self-employment increase, 1 white-collar crime leading to, 1 H Hamermesh, Daniel S., 1.1-1.2 , 2 hard work beauty achieved through, 1 capitalism, associated with, 1 , 2 consumption as reward, 1 as determinant of inequality, 1 increased work hours as a coping strategy, 1.1-1.2 modest effects of, 1 self-made men and, 1 as a success factor, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 health health care plans, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6 older workers, 1 wealth affecting, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 Herrnstein, Richard, 1.1-1.2 , 2 hierarchy-of-needs theory, 1 , 2 higher education See college hiring practices, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 Hispanics, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 Hochschild, Jennifer, 1 hockey player success, 1.1-1.2 Home Advantage (Lareau), 1.1-1.2 home ownership, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 homosexuality and discriminatory practices, 1.1-1.2 , 2 human capital, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 I IBM, 1.1-1.2 immigrants, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 individualism as culturally dominant, 1 democracy, expressed through, 1 , 2.1-2.2 as greatly valued, 1 , 2 immigrants and, 1.1-1.2 as part of the entrepreneurial personality, 1 pioneer spirit reinforcing, 1 through self-employment, 1 self-help books promoting, 1 inequalities charitable giving as a means of reducing, 1.1-1.2 conflict and functional theories of, 1.1-1.2 economic inequalities, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 educational system and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 gender inequality, 1.1-1.2 government spending as a factor, 1 , 2 ideologies of, 1.1-1.2 labor unions working to reduce, 1 matrix of domination, 1 residential inequalities, 1 , 2 taxes and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 in wages and income, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6.1-6.2 in wealth, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 inheritance advantages of wealth inheritance, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 attitudes towards, 1 , 2 baby boomers and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 conflict theories, within, 1 cultural capital and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 domestic partnerships and, 1 estate and inheritance taxes, 1.1-1.2 , 2 of estates, 1 , 2 Forbes magazine, heirs listed in, 1.1-1.2 inequalities, perpetuating, 1 , 2 , 3 luck and, 1 as a natural right, 1 nepotism and, 1.1-1.2 as a nonmerit factor, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 old money and, 1.1-1.2 parental motivation, 1.1-1.2 , 2 primogeniture, 1 relay race, compared to, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 wealth distribution through, 1 women and inheritance of wealth, 1 In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History (Bellow), 1.1-1.2 A An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Smith), 1 I integrity, 1 , 2.1-2.2 inter vivo transfers, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 investments, economic, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11.1-11.2 , 12 , 13 IQ and IQ tests, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 irregular economy, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 J Jencks, Christopher, 1 , 2 jobs See occupations Jones, Janelle, 1.1-1.2 K Kildall, Gary, 1.1-1.2 Kozol, Jonathan, 1 L labor unions, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 Lareau, Annette, 1.1-1.2 Lears, Jackson, 1 Lewis, Oscar, 1.1-1.2 Livingstone, David W., 1 , 2 lookism, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 lottery, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 lower class See working class luck denial of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 with gambling, 1 getting ahead, as a factor in, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 lottery and, 1 , 2 as a nonmerit factor, 1 as part of capitalism, 1 in striking it rich, 1 , 2 wealth attainment and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 M marriage career interruptions due to, 1 marrying into money, 1 , 2 the poor and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 sexual discrimination and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 trailing partners and hiring practices, 1 upper class and, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 Marx, Karl, 1 Maslow, Abraham, 1 , 2 Massey, Douglas S., 1 , 2 Matthew effect, 1 , 2 matrix of domination, 1.1-1.2 Medicare, 1 , 2.1-2.2 mentors, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 meritocracy affirmative action and, 1 American promotion of merit, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 coping strategies, 1 , 2 credentials, lack of as a barrier, 1.1-1.2 as a desired outcome, 1 discrimination as the antithesis of merit, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 , 9.1-9.2 , 10 , 11 education as a merit filter, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 employment opportunities, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 entrepreneurial success, 1 fairness of the system, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 folklore of, 1 government spending and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 in the hiring process, 1.1-1.2 , 2 human capital factors, 1 , 2 , 3 income based on merit, 1 inheritance as a nonmerit factor, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13.1-13.2 intergenerational wealth transfers, 1.1-1.2 legacy preferences as nonmerit based, 1.1-1.2 , 2 luck as a nonmerit factor, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 market trends, 1.1-1.2 meritocratic aristocracy, 1.1-1.2 nepotism as nonmeritorious, 1.1-1.2 the new elite as extra-meritorious, 1 noblesse oblige increasing potential for, 1 nonmerit factors suppressing merit, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 Barack Obama as example of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 the past, reverence for, 1 physical attractiveness as a nonmerit factor, 1 , 2 pure merit system, 1.1-1.2 reform movements and, 1 , 2 self-employment as an expression of, 1 social and cultural capital as nonmerit factors, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5.1-5.2 , 6 , 7 , 8.1-8.2 , 9 , 10 , 11 structural mobility and, 1.1-1.2 talents and abilities of the merit formula, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 taxes and nonmerit advantages, 1.1-1.2 Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 Microsoft, 1.1-1.2 middle class America as not middle class, 1 asset building, 1 cultural capital, 1.1-1.2 deferment of gratification, 1 education and, 1 , 2 , 3 Great Recession affecting, 1 home ownership, 1 inner cities, flight from, 1 , 2 Barack Obama, background of, 1.1-1.2 old class vs. new, 1.1-1.2 precarious status of, 1.1-1.2 sports choices of, 1 upper-middle class, 1 , 2 T The Millionaire Mind (Stanley), 1 M millionaires, 1 , 2 , 3 minority groups affirmative action, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 asset accumulation, 1.1-1.2 core employment, underrepresentation in, 1 disadvantages of, 1 discrimination experiences, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6.1-6.2 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 education issues, 1.1-1.2 as inner city dwellers, 1 opportunities expanding, 1 , 2 , 3 self-employment and, 1 social capital, lack of, 1 , 2 , 3 moral character, 1.1-1.2 , 2 Mormons, 1 Murray, Charles, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 Muslims, 1.1-1.2 N National College Athletic Association (NCAA), 1 nepotism, 1.1-1.2 , 2 net worth affirmative action and, 1 defined, 1 by income group, 1 of minority groups, 1 of Barack Obama family, 1 of one percenters, 1 , 2 , 3 of Walton heirs, 1.1-1.2 wealth scale, 1.1-1.2 new elite, 1 , 2.1-2.2 noblesse oblige, 1.1-1.2 O Obama, Barack, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 Obama, Michelle, 1.1-1.2 occupations attitude as a factor, 1 , 2 blue-collar jobs, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 CEO salaries, 1.1-1.2 , 2 changes in opportunities, 1.1-1.2 , 2 cultural capital and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 the disabled and employment difficulties, 1 discrimination, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 downsizing, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 education linked to, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6.1-6.2 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 , 9.1-9.2 , 10.1-10.2 , 11 , 12.1-12.2 , 13 , 14.1-14.2 fastest growing jobs, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 health hazards, 1 nepotism and, 1 , 2 occupational mobility, 1.1-1.2 , 2 occupational segregation, 1 , 2.1-2.2 outsourcing, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 physical attraction and occupational success, 1 self-employment and, 1 self-made men, 1.1-1.2 social capital and occupational opportunities, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 wages, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6.1-6.2 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 white-collar jobs, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 Occupy Wall Street (OWS), 1 old boy networks, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 old money, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 Outliers: The Story of Success (Gladwell), 1 , 2 outsourcing, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ownership class, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 P Paterson, Tim, 1 Peale, Norman Vincent, 1.1-1.2 pensions, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 pink-collar ghetto, 1.1-1.2 poverty children affected by, 1 , 2 culture-of-poverty theory, 1.1-1.2 , 2 full-time work below poverty level, 1 as a matter of attitude, 1 meritocracy and, 1 , 2 minority rates of, 1 , 2 poverty threshold, 1 regional variations in poverty rates, 1.1-1.2 , 2 senior citizens and poverty rates, 1 U.S. poverty rates, 1 T The Power of Positive Thinking (Peale), 1.1-1.2 P Protestants and the Protestant ethic, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 Puritan values, 1.1-1.2 R racism and racial issues affirmative action, 1.1-1.2 athletes and, 1 crime and the legal system, 1.1-1.2 disabilities, disproportionate experience of, 1 discrimination and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6 , 7 , 8 in education, 1.1-1.2 employment, affecting, 1 Great Recession worsening racial equality, 1 home ownership, 1 ideologies of inequality, as part of, 1 income gaps, 1 language skills and, 1 Obama, election of, 1 , 2 scientific racism, 1.1-1.2 segregation, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 social capital and, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 white flight, 1 , 2 random-walk hypothesis, 1 recession See Great Recession references, 1 , 2 , 3 retirement as part of the American Dream, 1 , 2 delayment as a coping strategy, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 home ownership and funding of, 1 as jeopardized, 1 , 2.1-2.2 proposed supplementation, 1 self-employment and, 1 , 2 , 3 right attitude, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 T The Rise of Meritocracy, 1870–2033:An Essay on Education and Equality (Young), 1 , 2 R Rivera, Lauren, 1 Rosenau, Pauline Vaillancourt, 1.1-1.2 S Schmitt, John, 1.1-1.2 schools See education segregation educational, 1 , 2 , 3 occupational, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 racial, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 residential, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 of the wealthy, 1.1-1.2 white flight, 1 See also discrimination self-employment American Dream, as exemplifying, 1 franchises, 1 freelancing, 1 , 2 income, 1.1-1.2 irregular economy and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 petty bourgeoisie and, 1 psychological characteristics, 1 rates of, diminished, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 risk, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 subcontractors, 1 taxes, 1.1-1.2 , 2 women and minorities, 1.1-1.2 self-help books, 1 , 2 self-made individuals, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 , 6 sexual harassment, 1.1-1.2 Shapiro, Thomas, 1 , 2.1-2.2 slaves and slavery, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 small businesses, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6 , 7.1-7.2 , 8 , 9 Smith, Adam, 1 social capital benefits of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 defined, 1 , 2 , 3 discrimination and, 1 , 2 economic opportunities, having access to, 1 , 2 , 3 education and, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 mentorship as a form of, 1 nepotism and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 racism and lack of, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 restricted access, effects of, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 social climbing, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 of U.S. presidents, 1.1-1.2 weak ties, 1.1-1.2 social climbing, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 social clubs, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 social mobility athletic and artistic abilities, associated with, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 cultural capital as a factor in, 1 education link, 1 , 2 , 3 hard work as a factor, 1 individual merit, 1 integrity hindering, 1.1-1.2 marrying for money, 1 reduction of opportunities, 1 , 2 during Republican administrations, 1 role of government, 1 , 2 social climbing, 1.1-1.2 , 2 status attainment, 1 through self-employment, 1 social reform movements, 1.1-1.2 Social Register, 1 social reproduction theory, 1.1-1.2 , 2 Social Security, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 Something for Nothing: Luck in America (Lears), 1.1-1.2 T the South, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 S Stanley, Thomas, 1 status-attainment theory, 1.1-1.2 Stevens, Mitchell, 1 stock market, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 student loans, 1 , 2.1-2.2 success athletic success, 1 , 2.1-2.2 attitudes associated with, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 birth timing and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 cultural capital, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 discrimination, achieving success through, 1 education, as a factor in, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 entrepreneurial success, 1 , 2 , 3 God’s grace, success as sign of, 1 , 2 hard work and, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 human capital factors, 1 individualism as key to, 1 intelligence as a determinant, 1 luck as important, 1 meritocracy myth and, 1 mind-power ethic as success formula, 1.1-1.2 moral character and, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 parental involvement, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 the right stuff, being made of as key, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 small businesses and, 1 social capital increasing likelihood of, 1 , 2 , 3 suburban living as marker of, 1 10,000 hour rule, 1 women and, 1 , 2 supply side, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6.1-6.2 Survival of the Prettiest (Etcoff), 1.1-1.2 Swift, Adam, 1.1-1.2 T talent and abilities American aristocracy, 1 American Dream, leading to, 1 of athletes and celebrities, 1 education enhancing, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 functional theory of inequality, 1 jobs matched to talent, 1 success achieved through, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 talent-use gap, 1 upward mobility and, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 taxes capital gains, 1.1-1.2 estate taxes, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 government policies linked with, 1 , 2 incentives and credits, 1.1-1.2 income taxes, lowered by Republicans, 1 irregular economy, avoiding, 1.1-1.2 progressive taxation, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 property taxes and school funding, 1.1-1.2 self-employment and, 1.1-1.2 , 2 Social Security affected by, 1 , 2 the South and lower taxes, 1 tax breaks for the wealthy, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 of urban areas, 1 , 2 Thurow, Lester, 1 , 2.1-2.2 Tocqueville, Alexis de, 1.1-1.2 , 2 tracking, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 , 4 Turner, Frederick Jackson, 1.1-1.2 U Unequal Childhoods (Lareau), 1 upper class charitable giving and, 1 cultural capital, holders of, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4.1-4.2 , 5 deferred gratification, capability of, 1 distinctive lifestyle, 1.1-1.2 , 2 education, 1 , 2 endogamy, tendency towards, 1.1-1.2 as exclusive, 1.1-1.2 , 2 as isolated, 1.1-1.2 one percenters as members, 1 Plymouth Puritans as wellspring, 1 political power, 1.1-1.2 social clubs, frequenting, 1.1-1.2 virtues found in, 1 WASP background of, 1 women of, 1 , 2 , 3 upward mobility attitudes as affecting, 1 barriers to, 1 through college education, 1 credentialism and, 1 downward mobility, vs., 1 through entrepreneurialism, 1 glass ceiling as limiting, 1 integrity as suppressing, 1.1-1.2 irregular economy, as avenue, 1 marriage as a means of, 1.1-1.2 Michelle Obama as example, 1 slowing rates of, 1 See also social climbing See also social mobility V Vedder, Richard, 1 , 2 virtue, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 W Walmart, 1 Walton, Sam, 1 , 2 , 3 wealth accumulation gaps, 1 , 2 , 3 advantages of wealth inheritance, 1 , 2.1-2.2 capital investments, 1 charitable giving and the wealthy, 1 , 2.1-2.2 culture of, 1 , 2 discrimination and, 1 , 2 distribution as skewed, 1.1-1.2 Forbes magazine listings, 1.1-1.2 gambling, attainment through, 1 government intervention, 1.1-1.2 , 2 Great Recession affecting, 1 guilt feelings, 1.1-1.2 hard work as negligible, 1 inequalities of, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 lottery, wealth attainment through, 1 luck as a factor, 1 , 2.1-2.2 , 3 marriage rates, affecting, 1 nepotism aiding in transference of, 1 old money, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 one percenters, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ostentatious displays of, 1 political power, 1.1-1.2 property ownership producing, 1 , 2 pursuit of as a moral issue, 1.1-1.2 , 2 race affecting, 1 social and cultural capital, converted to, 1 , 2 the superwealthy, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.1-4.2 tax breaks for the wealthy, 1 taxes on, 1.1-1.2 transfers of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 women and, 1 See also inheritance See also self-employment Weber, Max, 1.1-1.2 welfare, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), 1.1-1.2 , 2 white-collar crime, 1.1-1.2 , 2 Wilson, William Julius, 1 , 2 Winfrey, Oprah, 1.1-1.2 Wisconsin school, 1.1-1.2 women attractiveness as a success factor, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 discrimination against, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5.1-5.2 , 6.1-6.2 , 7.1-7.2 , 8.1-8.2 , 9.1-9.2 , 10 economic disparities, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 educational attainment, 1.1-1.2 , 2 family concerns, 1.1-1.2 , 2.1-2.2 , 3.1-3.2 glass ceiling, experiencing, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4 inferiority, feelings of, 1.1-1.2 labor force participation, increasing, 1.1-1.2 , 2 mentorships, access to, 1 , 2.1-2.2 occupational disparities, 1 , 2 , 3.1-3.2 , 4.1-4.2 , 5.1-5.2 political underrepresentation, 1.1-1.2 self-employment and, 1.1-1.2 as trailing partners, 1 of the upper class, 1 , 2 , 3 working class American Dream and, 1 cultural capital, lack of, 1.1-1.2 , 2 economic instability, 1.1-1.2 education issues, 1 , 2 , 3 hard work and, 1 health risks, 1 home ownership, 1 lower class value stretch, 1 nepotism, effect of, 1 the new lower class, 1 women and incomes, 1 work See hard work See occupations Y Young, Michael, 1 , 2 About the Authors Stephen J.


pages: 782 words: 187,875

Big Debt Crises by Ray Dalio

Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, break the buck, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, declining real wages, European colonialism, fiat currency, financial innovation, German hyperinflation, housing crisis, implied volatility, intangible asset, Kickstarter, large denomination, manufacturing employment, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, Ponzi scheme, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, refrigerator car, reserve currency, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, transaction costs, universal basic income, value at risk, yield curve

In the early stages of deleveragings, it’s very common for investors and policy makers to underestimate how much the real economy will weaken, leading to small rallies that quickly reverse, and initial policy responses that aren’t enough. Over the second half of 1930, the economy clearly began to weaken. From May through December, department store sales fell 8 percent and industrial production fell 17.6 percent. Over the course of the year, the rate of unemployment rose by over 10 percent (to 14 percent) and capacity utilization fell by 12 percent (to 67 percent). Housing and mortgage debt collapsed. Still, at that point, the decline in the economy was more akin to a shallow recession. For example, levels of consumer spending remained above the lows of previous recessions and many industries were not yet suffering from severe declines. The charts below show how both department store sales and industrial production had slipped but had not yet collapsed to the lows of the prior recession (the gray bars highlight 1930).

Credit spreads, a measure of the perception of the risk of lending to private companies, were relatively low compared to historical norms. In other words, the market was tranquil and priced to stay that way. Problems emanating out of subprime mortgage lenders—those that focused on mortgages for less credit-worthy borrowers—continued to grow, with some facing considerable losses, but they did not affect the broader economy and markets. Still, bigger banks were starting to report a rise in bad mortgage debts. We summarized the situation (in our March 13 Daily Observations) as follows: (BDO) March 13: Subprime Mortgage Fallout Subprime mortgages have been grabbing the headlines, with several of the larger subprime mortgage lenders teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The story of how the subprime mortgage sector is blowing up even with a relatively strong economy relates closely to the liquidity that is bubbling up in markets around the world.

I especially admired how the Chinese creditors approached this situation analytically and with a high level of consideration. Ironically the larger the GSEs grew, the more “systemically important” they became, which in turn all but guaranteed a government rescue if needed, making them safer and further fueling their growth. Although Fannie and Freddie were supposed to generate revenue primarily through insuring mortgage debt, by 2007 about two-thirds of their profits came from holding risky mortgage-backed securities. The problems associated with having these exposures were made worse by lax regulation. Congress only required Freddie and Fannie to keep 0.45 percent of their off-balance-sheet obligations and 2.5 percent of their portfolio assets in reserves, meaning that they were significantly undercapitalized, even when compared with commercial banks of equivalent size, which were also severely undercapitalized (meaning that it only took a modest loss to make them go broke).


pages: 586 words: 159,901

Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood

accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, publication bias, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, selection bias, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Official statisticians argue that they are trying to separate the consumption and investment aspects of housing; though people do speculate in primary residences, hoping to make a killing on a well-timed purchase or sale, most of these gains are rolled into the acquisition of a new house. FoF accountants, free of the prejudice that only businesses invest, continue to treat housing purchases as investment, but shift most activity to the household sector. One practical advantage of this is to expose the sharp increase in mortgage debt relative to the underlying value of the housing. In 1945, home mortgages outstanding were 14% of the value of all owner-occupied housing; this rose steadily to 34% in 1965, fell gently into the high 20s in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then rose with hardly a pause to a record 43% in 1997. Almost certainly, this long rise helped bring about the steady inflation in housing prices — though rising house prices are, in mainstream discourse, taken as a sign of a healthy market; in the words of the late FNN credit market analyst Ed Hart, "housing inflation is the American national religion."

WALL STREET But unless people are willing to sell their houses, or turn them over to the bank, that equity is even more purely fictitious than a stock option, especially if house prices are stagnant or declining. If the owner-occupier loses his or her job, the inadequacy of the home as capital asset comes quickly clear: it demands cash without producing any in return. You can't pay the mortgage banker with imputed rent. Or as the Fed puts it, the increase in mortgage debt has been "unrelated to new capital formation" (Federal Reserve Board 1980, p. 31), a formulation that if carried to the extreme suggests inflation, insolvency, or some unpleasant combination of both as its ultimate resolution. Carried short of that apocalyptic resolution, it suggests strains on personal housing budgets for all but the most affluent. Another officially defined asset of the household sector that looks less impressive on closer scrutiny is private pension funds.

But because of the decline in real hourly wages, and the stagnation in household incomes, the middle and lower classes have borrowed more to stay in place; they've borrowed from the very rich who PLAYERS have gotten richer. The rich need a place to earn interest on their surplus funds, and the rest of the population makes a juicy lending target. Just how this works out can be seen in data from the 1983 survey, unfortunately, the Fed didn't publish the 1995 survey data in sufficient detail. In 1983, leaving aside the primary residence and mortgage debt on it, over half of all families were net debtors, and fewer than 10% accounted for 85% of the household sector's net lending (Avery et al. 1984). As William Greider (1987, p. 39) put it, the few lend to the many. At the end of 1997, U.S. households spent $1 trillion, or 17% of their after-tax incomes, on debt service — just a smidgen below 1989's record of 17.4% (unpublished Federal Reserve staff estimates).


J.K. Lasser's New Tax Law Simplified: Tax Relief From the HIRE Act, Health Care Reform, and More by Barbara Weltman

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, Home mortgage interest deduction, mortgage debt, Ponzi scheme

Alert This break does not apply after 2009 unless Congress extends it; check the Supplement for details. 7 P1: OTA/XYZ P2: ABC c01 JWBT413/Weltman 8 October 14, 2010 14:0 Printer Name: Yet to Come NEW RULES FOR YOUR HOME AND FAMILY Emergency Responders Volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders can exclude from their income state or local property tax benefits up to $30 per month (a maximum of $360 per year). The benefit can be in the form of a tax reduction or tax rebate. In most places, the tax break is tied to home ownership in the form of a property tax reduction or rebate. Alert This break runs only for 2008, 2009, and 2010, unless it is extended; check the Supplement for details. Cancellation of Mortgage Debt You may be “underwater” with your mortgage (what you owe is more than your home is now worth). If some or all of the remaining balance on the loan is forgiven because of a foreclosure, a mortgage workout, or a short sale (which avoids the need for foreclosure), the amount forgiven usually is treated as taxable income. However, under a special rule for a principal residence, such debt forgiveness is not taxable.

See High-deductible health plan (HDHP) Head of household, tax rate schedule, 114 Health care, expiring tax laws, 166–167 Health coverage: children under 27, 23–24 displaced workers, credit, 35 enhanced credit, 166 health insurance premium assistance credit, 23 mandatory, 21–22 planning strategies, 22–23 on W-2 form, 24 Health coverage credit, displaced workers, 35–36 Health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), 29–30 Health savings accounts (HSAs): eligibility for, 28 HDHP limits for 2010/2011, 28 online planning tools, 171 planning strategies, 28–29 triple tax benefit, 27 High-deductible health plan (HDHP), 27, 28 High-income taxpayers: additional Medicare tax, 100, 148–149 itemized deductions and, 168 personal and dependency exemptions, 10 High-low substantiation rates, 137 Hiring incentives, 139–143 Home: energy credits, 6–7 energy improvements, 165–166 expiring tax laws, 165–166 loss on sale of residence, 9 mortgage debt cancellation, 8–9 online planning tools, 171 Homebuyers’ tax credit: amount/expiration date of, 165 claiming of, 4–5 conditions to meet, 2 deadline/occupancy dates, 1–2 MAGI and, 2–3 planning strategies, 6 recapture, 5 types of, 2 Home office deduction, 139 Hope credit, 36, 37 Household employees, 18–19 HSAs. See Health savings accounts (HSAs) Hybrid cars. See Plug-in electric vehicles Incentives for hiring new employees: D.C. enterprise zone credit, 142 empowerment zone credit, 142 Indian employment credit, 142–143 payroll tax holiday, 140 renewal community employment credit, 142 retained worker business credit, 140–141 tax credit for, 139–140 wage differential payments credit, 143 work opportunity credit, 141–142 Incentive stock options (ISOs), 118–119 Incidental travel.

See also Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) adjusted gross income and, 24 cosmetic surgery, 25 deductible, examples of, 25 long-term care insurance/riders, 26–27 medical driving, 25–26 nondeductible, examples of, 25 pretax basis (see Flexible spending accounts (FSAs)) Medicare Part B coverage: itemized deductions and, 32 planning strategies, 31–33 premiums for, 31 Medicare tax. See also FICA additional, in 2013, 18, 91, 100, 148–149 paying additional tax, 100–101 planning strategies, 101 self-employment tax and, 150 Mid-quarter convention, 130–131 Mileage. See Standard mileage rate Military personnel, combat pay exclusion, 12 Modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), 2–3 Mortgage debt: debt, cancellation of, 8–9 insurance premiums, 165 Moving expenses, 9–10 Multiyear items, deduction for, 125 “Nanny tax,” 18–19 Net operating loss, 86 Net operating loss (NOL), 128, 129, 131 NOL. See Net operating loss (NOL) Nondeductible IRAs, 49 Office supplies, 124–125 Online planning tools: business, 173 estate tax, 174 health care/education, 172 home/family, 171 investment opportunities, 172 job, 173 miscellaneous, 173 retirement planning, 172 PAL.


pages: 287 words: 81,970

The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Coming Currency Crisis With Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments by Charles Goyette

bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, buy and hold, California gold rush, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, fiat currency, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, housing crisis, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, index fund, Lao Tzu, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, oil shock, peak oil, pushing on a string, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, short selling, Silicon Valley, transaction costs

Despite the long-term damage to the economy inflicted by the government’s interference in the housing market, the government’s policy of diverting capital to other uses creates a short-term boom in housing. Like all artificially-created bubbles, the boom in housing prices cannot last forever. When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out. Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss. These losses will be greater than they would have otherwise been had government policy not actively encouraged over-investment in housing. Perhaps the Federal Reserve can stave off the day of reckoning by purchasing GSE debt and pumping liquidity into the housing market, but this cannot hold off the inevitable drop in the housing market forever. In fact, postponing the necessary, but painful market corrections will only deepen the inevitable fall.

The debt grows from year to year with no expectation that it will ever be paid off. There is only the expectation that payment for today’s consumption can be rolled forward interminably. No one who buys a government bond today expects that it will be paid at maturity except by the issuance of another bond tomorrow. In fact, this facile dismissal—“we owe it to ourselves”—could have been made about America’s escalating mortgage debt before the house of cards collapsed. In any event, it can’t be said we owe the national debt to ourselves any longer. We are increasingly dependent on foreigners whose holdings are now more than 25 percent of our national debt, double what it was twenty years ago. On average, a family of four is paying more than $130 per month just in interest to foreign holders of American debt. Meanwhile “We owe it to ourselves” is being supplanted by a new talking point.

With perfect knowledge these technocrats could allocate resources and labor in the most efficient means possible, much like managing the power output of a hydroelectric dam or maximizing the speed of a steam locomotive. One need only remember the fabled Goldilocks economy of previous Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, the Maestro: “It was not too hot and not too cold, but just right!” Of course, Greenspan also admits he didn’t “get it” about the housing bubble until very late, in 2005 and 2006, despite home mortgage debt growing from $1.8 trillion to $8 trillion during his tenure. Nor did he foresee the stock market bubble before it popped in 2000. And he somehow missed the recession of the early 1990s. Greenspan’s successor, Ben Bernanke, didn’t get it either. As chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in October 2005, he told Congress that he wasn’t concerned about a housing bubble. A year and a half later, in March 2006, deep into the mortgage meltdown, he testified as Fed chairman that problems in the subprime market were “contained.”


pages: 471 words: 124,585

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

Admiral Zheng, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, Atahualpa, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, commoditize, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deglobalization, diversification, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, German hyperinflation, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, iterative process, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour mobility, Landlord’s Game, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Parag Khanna, pension reform, price anchoring, price stability, principal–agent problem, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, stocks for the long run, structural adjustment programs, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, undersea cable, value at risk, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War

Even if they run away, the house can’t. As the Germans say, land and buildings are ‘immobile’ property. So it is no coincidence that the single most important source of funds for a new business in the United States is a mortgage on the entrepreneur’s house. Correspondingly, financial institutions have become ever less inhibited about lending money to people who want to buy property. Since 1959, the total mortgage debt outstanding in the US has risen seventy-five fold. Altogether, American owner-occupiers owed a sum equivalent to 99 per cent of US gross domestic product by the end of 2006, compared with just 38 per cent fifty years before. This upsurge in borrowing helped to finance a boom in residential investment, which reached a fifty-year peak in 2005. For a time, the supply of new housing seemed unable to keep pace with accelerating demand.

Because these changes tended to reduce the average monthly payment on a mortgage, the FHA made home ownership viable for many more Americans than ever before. Indeed, it is not too much to say that the modern United States, with its seductively samey suburbs, was born here. From the 1930s onwards, then, the US government was effectively underwriting the mortgage market, encouraging lenders and borrowers to get together. That was what caused property ownership - and mortgage debt - to soar after the Second World War, driving up the home ownership rate from 40 per cent to 60 per cent by 1960. There was only one catch. Not everyone in American society was entitled to join the property-owning party. In 1941 a real estate developer built a six-foot high wall right across Detroit’s 8 Mile district. He had to build it to qualify for subsidized loans from the Federal Housing Administration.

For the majority of mortgages continued to enjoy an implicit guarantee from the government-sponsored trio of Fannie, Freddie or Ginnie, meaning that bonds which used those mortgages as collateral could be represented as virtually government bonds, and hence ‘investment grade’. Between 1980 and 2007 the volume of such GSE-backed mortgage-backed securities grew from $200 million to $4 trillion. With the advent of private bond insurers, firms like Salomon could also offer to securitize so-called non-conforming loans not eligible for GSE guarantees. By 2007 private pools of capital sufficed to securitize $2 trillion in residential mortgage debt.52 In 1980 only 10 per cent of the home mortgage market had been securitized; by 2007 it had risen to 56 per cent.ar It was not only human vanities that ended up on the bonfire that was 1980s Wall Street. It was also the last vestiges of the business model depicted in It’s a Wonderful Life. Once there had been meaningful social ties between mortgage lenders and borrowers. Jimmy Stewart knew both the depositors and the debtors.


pages: 142 words: 45,733

Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis by Benjamin Kunkel

anti-communist, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, creative destruction, David Graeber, declining real wages, full employment, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, peak oil, price stability, profit motive, savings glut, Slavoj Žižek, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

In the case of real estate, it might happen—as it has—that more building and selling of houses has been financed than can actually be paid for with income deriving, in the last instance, from production. So the credit system that had seemed to insure against one kind of overaccumulation (of commodity capital) by advancing money against future production now seems to have fostered another kind of overaccumulation (of fictitious capital) by promising more production than has occurred. More housing has been created than builders can sell at a profit; more mortgage debt has been issued than can be repaid, through wage income, to ensure the lenders’ profit; homeowners who took out loans against the rising value of their property find that prices are instead plummeting; and with the collapse of the housing sector more money capital now lies in the hands of its owners than they can see a way to invest profitably. “The onset of a crisis is usually triggered by a spectacular failure which shakes confidence in fictitious forms of capital,” Harvey writes, and everyone knows what happens next.

After listing several of the more spectacular property-market collapses of the long downturn (worldwide in 1973–75; Japanese in 1990; Thai and Indonesian in 1997), Harvey added that the most important prop to the US and British economies after the onset of general recession in all other sectors from mid-2001 onwards was the continued speculative vigor in the property and housing markets and construction. In a curious backwash effect, we find that some 20 percent of GDP growth in the United States in 2002 was attributable to consumers refinancing their mortgage debt on the inflated values of their housing and using the extra money they gained for immediate consumption (in effect, mopping up overaccumulating capital in the primary circuit). British consumers borrowed $19 billion in the third quarter of 2002 alone against the value of their mortgages to finance consumption. What happens if and when this property bubble bursts is a matter for serious concern.


pages: 353 words: 88,376

The Investopedia Guide to Wall Speak: The Terms You Need to Know to Talk Like Cramer, Think Like Soros, and Buy Like Buffett by Jack (edited By) Guinan

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, asset-backed security, Brownian motion, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, computerized markets, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, discounted cash flows, diversification, diversified portfolio, dividend-yielding stocks, dogs of the Dow, equity premium, fixed income, implied volatility, index fund, intangible asset, interest rate swap, inventory management, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, passive investing, performance metric, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, statistical model, time value of money, transaction costs, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Mortgages also are known as liens against property and claims on property. Investopedia explains Mortgage In a residential mortgage, a home buyer pledges his or her house to the bank. The bank has a claim on the house if the home buyer defaults on paying the mortgage. In the case of a foreclosure, the bank may evict the home’s tenants and sell the house, using the income from the sale to pay off the mortgage debt. Related Terms: • Debt • Fannie Mae—Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) • Interest • Liability • Mortgage-Backed Security The Investopedia Guide to Wall Speak 187 Mortgage Forbearance Agreement What Does Mortgage Forbearance Agreement Mean? An agreement made between a mortgage lender and a delinquent borrower by which the lender agrees not to exercise its legal right to foreclose on a mortgage and the borrower agrees to a mortgage plan that will, over a specified period, bring the borrower current on his or her payments.

Investopedia explains Net Worth For a company, this is known as shareholders’ (or owners’) equity and is determined by subtracting liabilities on the balance sheet from assets. For example, if a company has $45 million worth of liabilities and $65 million in assets, the company’s net worth (shareholders’ equity) is $20 million ($65 million – $45 million). Alternatively, say an individual has three assets—$100,000 of common stock, $30,000 worth of bonds, and title to a $190,000 house—and only one liability—$150,000 in mortgage debt. This individual’s net worth would be $170,000 ([$100,000 + $30,000 + $190,000] – $150,000). Related Terms: • Asset • Debt • Mortgage • Balance Sheet • Liabilities • Shareholders’ Equity The Investopedia Guide to Wall Speak 201 New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) What Does New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Mean? Located in New York City, it is considered the largest equities-based exchange in the world, based on the total market capitalization of its listed securities.

See Nominal GDP Current liabilities, 4, 6-7, 8, 61, 321 Current ratio, 61, 62, 242-243 Current yield, 62-63, 323. See also Dividend yield CUSIP number, 63 CV. See Coefficient of variation (CV); Convertible bond DCA. See Dollar cost averaging (DCA) DCF. See Discounted cash flow (DCF) DD. See Due diligence (DD) DDM. See Dividend discount model (DDM) Dead cat bounce, 65 Dealer. See Broker-dealer Debenture, 65-66 Debt, 66, 167-168 Debt financing, 66-67. See also Leverage; Liability; Mortgage Debt ratio, 67, 117-118 Debt/equity ratio, 67-68, 118, 168 Debt-to-capital ratio, 68-69 Default, 4, 58, 289 Default risk. See Counterparty risk Defined-benefit plan, 69-70, 153-154, 241 Defined-contribution plan, 70, 153-154, 241 Deflation, 70 Deleverage, 71 Delta, 71-72, 117 Delta hedging, 72 Demand, 73, 156 Depreciation, 73-74 Depression, 29, 120, 131-132 Derivative, 74, 319, 366. See also Option Diluted earnings per share (diluted EPS), 74-75 Dilution, 31, 75, 112, 262 Discount broker, 76 Discount rate, 76-77, 143, 227 Discounted cash flow (DCF), 77 Discounted value.


Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi

addicted to oil, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, carried interest, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computerized trading, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, financial innovation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, interest rate swap, laissez-faire capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, medical malpractice, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, obamacare, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Sergey Aleynikov, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

Greenspan’s frantic deregulation of the financial markets in the late nineties had led directly to the housing bubble; in particular, the deregulation of the derivatives market had allowed Wall Street to create a vast infrastructure for chopping up mortgage debt, disguising bad loans as AAA-rated investments, and selling the whole mess off on a secondary market as securities. Once Wall Street perfected this mechanism, it was suddenly able to create hundreds of billions of dollars in crap mortgages and sell them off to unsuspecting pension funds, insurance companies, unions, and other suckers as grade-A investments, as I’ll detail in the next chapter. The amount of new lending was mind-boggling: between 2003 and 2005, outstanding mortgage debt in America grew by $3.7 trillion, which was roughly equal to the entire value of all American real estate in the year 1990 ($3.8 trillion). In other words, Americans in just two years had borrowed the equivalent of two hundred years’ worth of savings.

“The difference between that 5 percent and the 1 percent just gets tacked on later on in the form of a negative amortization,” Andy explains. Here’s how that scenario looks: You buy a $500,000 house, with no money down, which means you take out a mortgage for the full $500,000. Then instead of paying the 5 percent monthly interest payment, which would be $2,500 a month, you pay just $500 a month, and that $2,000 a month you’re not paying just gets added to your mortgage debt. Within a couple of years, you don’t owe $500,000 anymore; now you owe $548,000 plus deferred interest. “If you’re making the minimum payment, you could let your mortgage go up to 110 percent, 125 percent of the loan value,” says Andy. “Sometimes it went as high as 135 percent or 140 percent. It was crazy.” In other words, in the early years of this kind of mortgage, you the homeowner are not actually paying off anything—you’re really borrowing more.


pages: 265 words: 93,231

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

Asperger Syndrome, asset-backed security, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversified portfolio, facts on the ground, financial innovation, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, John Meriwether, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, medical residency, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Robert Bork, short selling, Silicon Valley, the new new thing, too big to fail, value at risk, Vanguard fund, zero-sum game

"The thinking in subprime," says Jacobs, "was there was this social stigma to being a second mortgage borrower and there really shouldn't be. If your credit rating was a little worse, you paid a lot more--and a lot more than you really should. If we can mass market the bonds, we can drive down the cost to borrowers. They can replace high interest rate credit card debt with lower interest rate mortgage debt. And it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy." The growing interface between high finance and lower-middle-class America was assumed to be good for lower-middle-class America. This new efficiency in the capital markets would allow lower-middle-class Americans to pay lower and lower interest rates on their debts. In the early 1990s, the first subprime mortgage lenders--The Money Store, Greentree, Aames--sold shares to the public, so that they might grow faster.

Of course, Eisman was paid to see the sense in subprime lending: Oppenheimer quickly became one of the leading bankers to the new industry, in no small part because Eisman was one of its leading proponents. "I took a lot of subprime companies public," says Eisman. "And the story they liked to tell was that 'we're helping the consumer. Because we're taking him out of his high interest rate credit card debt and putting him into lower interest rate mortgage debt.' And I believed that story." Then something changed. Vincent Daniel had grown up in Queens, without any of the perks Steve Eisman took for granted. And yet if you met them you might guess that it was Vinny who had grown up in high style on Park Avenue and Eisman who had been raised in the small duplex on Eighty-second Avenue. Eisman was brazen and grandiose and focused on the big kill. Vinny was careful and wary and interested in details.

Back in July 2003, he'd written them a long essay on the causes and consequences of what he took to be a likely housing crash: "Alan Greenspan assures us that home prices are not prone to bubbles--or major deflations--on any national scale," he'd said. "This is ridiculous, of course.... In 1933, during the fourth year of the Great Depression, the United States found itself in the midst of a housing crisis that put housing starts at 10% of the level of 1925. Roughly half of all mortgage debt was in default. During the 1930s, housing prices collapsed nationwide by roughly 80%." He harped on the same theme again in January 2004, then again in January 2005: "Want to borrow $1,000,000 for just $25 a month? Quicken Loans has now introduced an interest only adjustable rate mortgage that gives borrowers six months with both zero payments and a 0.03% interest rate, no doubt in support of that wholesome slice of Americana--the home buyer with the short term cash flow problem."


pages: 339 words: 95,270

Trade Wars Are Class Wars: How Rising Inequality Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International Peace by Matthew C. Klein

Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, centre right, collective bargaining, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global value chain, illegal immigration, income inequality, intangible asset, invention of the telegraph, joint-stock company, land reform, Long Term Capital Management, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, passive income, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, sovereign wealth fund, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, trade liberalization, Wolfgang Streeck

Originators and bankers responded to the collapse in demand for their product by tightening lending standards. The shrinking credit supply reinforced the decline in home values, and the spending cuts, and the job losses, and the defaults, which reinforced the tightening standards. The process that had built paper wealth and boosted consumption on the way up now threatened economic collapse on the way down.34 Despite the explosion of mortgage debt, America did not experience an economic boom. It was not Greece or Ireland or Spain. As in Germany, sharply higher inequality, anemic corporate capital spending, and relatively tight fiscal policy all dampened U.S. domestic demand. Private fixed investment spending net of depreciation and inflation remained below the 2000 peak until 2014. There was no consumption boom, either. Real household consumption spending per person grew slightly slower in 2000–2006 than it did in 1947–2000.

Even though crime rates plunged nationally in the past two decades, crime rates in the places most exposed to low-cost import competition slightly increased.38 Fig. 6.5 International value of the U.S. dollar (real trade-weighted index, January 1988 = 100). Sources: Federal Reserve Board; Matthew Klein’s calculations The problem was the rest of the world’s voracious demand for dollar-denominated assets. In addition to inflating the mortgage debt bubble, overabundant foreign financing also savaged America’s terms of trade as trillions of dollars of uneconomic asset purchases distorted the U.S. exchange rate. Between the start of 1997—the eve of the Asian Financial Crisis—and the beginning of 2002, the dollar appreciated by more than 20 percent against the currencies of its trading partners. While the dollar declined from then until 2008, it consistently remained far above its 1988–96 average.

FRED Economic Data, “Federal Debt Held by the Public,” https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYGFDPUN; FRED Economic Data, “Federal Debt Held by Foreign and International Investors,” https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FDHBFIN; Treasury Department Fiscal Service, Monthly Bulletin; FRB, “Financial Accounts of the United States,” https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/current/default.htm; FRB, “Mortgage Debt Outstanding,” https://www.federalreserve.gov/data/mortoutstand/current.htm; SIFMA statistics, “US Mortgage-Related Issuance and Outstanding,” https://www.sifma.org/resources/research/us-mortgage-related-issuance-and-outstanding/; SIFMA statistics, “US ABS Issuance and Outstanding,” https://www.sifma.org/resources/research/us-abs-issuance-and-outstanding/. 34. Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014); John Geanakoplos, “What’s Missing from Macroeconomics: Endogenous Leverage and Default,” Cowles Foundation Paper No. 1332, 2011; Alan Greenspan and James Kennedy, “Estimates of Home Mortgage Originations, Repayments, and Debt on One-to-Four-Family Residences,” FEDS Working Paper No. 2005-41; Alan Greenspan and James Kennedy, “Sources and Uses of Equity Extracted from Homes,” FEDS Working Paper No. 2007-20; updated estimates of mortgage equity withdrawal provided by James Kennedy via Bill McBride, “Equity Extraction Data,” March 24, 2009, https://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/03/equity-extraction-data.html; “Mortgage Equity Withdrawal Positive,” December 13, 2016, CalculatedRISK (blog), https://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2016/12/mortgage-equity-withdrawal-positive-in.html; FRB, “Financial Accounts of the United States, table B.101,” https://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/fof/DisplayTable.aspx?


pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Shell, Ford and Chrysler have received over $1 billion each, Amazon, Microsoft, Prudential and Boeing over $200 million each.11 Then there is the widespread practice of allowing firms to deduct debt repayments from taxable earnings. Dating from 1853, when the UK first made interest paid by firms on loans or debts tax-deductible, today it is a feature of tax systems everywhere. In 2007, before the crash, the annual value of lost revenue due to tax breaks on debt payments was 2.4 per cent of GDP in the Eurozone (1.9 per cent for company debt; 0.5 for mortgage debt) and 3.5 per cent in the UK (all attributable to company debt, as mortgage interest payments are not tax-deductible). To put it into context, this was more than those countries spent on defence. In the USA, the lost revenue was a staggering 4.9 per cent of GDP, with company debt accounting for most of it. Tax relief on debt servicing by financial firms accounted for three-quarters of all the tax foregone in Britain and the USA; in the Eurozone it was over half.

In Spain, at the peak of the crisis in 2012 over 500 families were evicted from their homes every day. In 2014, evictions were still taking place at the rate of more than 100 a day. The number of unoccupied houses and apartments rose sharply, many repossessed by the banks after homeowners were unable to pay their mortgages. By 2015, 3.4 million homes lay vacant. In Spain, as in Ireland, people remain liable for mortgage debt, complete with penalties and interest, even after repossession. But while the British authorities continue to welcome plutocratic property speculators and create yet more incentives for under-occupation, in parts of Spain a new breed of politicians has taken action. The mayor of Barcelona, a housing activist elected in 2015, has fined banks for keeping properties empty and negotiated the temporary transfer of apartments for use as social housing.

When the credit crunch came in 2007, the demand for securitised mortgage assets dried up and Northern Rock was unable to meet debt commitments. There was a run on the bank, the first UK bank run in 150 years, and in 2008 it was taken into state ownership. Billions of pounds of outstanding mortgages remained, many in arrears. The government held on to them until the market picked up. Then, in 2015, it sold a ‘book of loans’, the collective mortgage debt of 125,000 households, to an American private equity group, Cerberus, for £13 billion. This made it the biggest-ever sale of a loan portfolio, described effusively by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the largest sale of financial assets by a European government.32 The deal immediately attracted controversy. Cerberus, which specialises in ‘distressed investing’, was still mired in a scandal over its earlier purchase of £1.3 billion in Northern Ireland property loans, following allegations that it had promised payments to individuals involved in the sale.33 Moreover, the British government had not sold the debt portfolio to the New York-based Cerberus, but to a Dutch subsidiary, enabling it to pay much less in corporation tax.


pages: 823 words: 206,070

The Making of Global Capitalism by Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin

accounting loophole / creative accounting, active measures, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, continuous integration, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global value chain, guest worker program, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, land reform, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, oil shock, precariat, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, special economic zone, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, very high income, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

The conversion of the individual mortgage into (in effect) a security has broadened the range of investors in mortgages far beyond the savings and loan industry that originally was created to finance home ownership. Today, pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and mutual funds—and not only American ones, but also many financial institutions and investors based abroad—hold mortgage-backed securities in their portfolios. Mortgage borrowers are the beneficiaries of what amounts to a global competition to lend to American home buyers.104 Indeed, by the mid 1990s household consumer and mortgage debt surpassed the total debt of nonfinancial corporations, and it also exceeded the debt of federal, state, and municipal governments combined. The global competition to lend to American workers combined with the global competition that free trade represented to integrate as well as weaken American labor. The main goal of the reform leadership slate elected to the AFL-CIO in 1995, committed to increasing the density of union organization, was to try to get “progressive competitiveness” back on the agenda: “We want to increase productivity,” the AFL-CIO’s new president declared in 1996.

The apparent guarantee of forever-rising housing prices led to an increase in the share of consumption financed in this way—from 1.1 percent in the 1990s to 3 percent in 2000–05 (with a similar trend occurring in the growth of investments in “home improvements”).20 It is significant that this went so far as to include poor African-American communities, so long the Achilles heel of working-class integration into the American Dream. The roots of the subprime mortgage crisis thus lay in the way the anti-inflation commitment had since the 1970s ruled out the public expenditures that would have been required just to start addressing the crisis of inadequate housing in US cities. As we saw earlier, a key factor in the steady expansion of Americans’ consumer and mortgage debt since the 1970s had been reformers’ faith that private finance could be used by the state in the public interest—in other words, that financial institutions could be so regulated and reformed as to ensure their functioning in the interest of social groups that they had hitherto excluded. The rising demand for home-ownership at lower income levels had been encouraged by government support for meeting housing needs through financial markets backed by mortgage tax deductions.

The rising demand for home-ownership at lower income levels had been encouraged by government support for meeting housing needs through financial markets backed by mortgage tax deductions. Of course, the desire to realize the American dream of home-ownership on the part of so many of those who had previously been excluded was one thing; actual access to residential finance markets was another. Access for such unprecedented numbers by the turn of the century was only possible because financial intermediaries were frantically creating domestic mortgage debt in order to package and resell it in the market for structured credit. Already well underway during the 1990s, this trend was given a great fillip not only by the Fed’s low interest rates but also by the Bush administration’s determination to expand the scope for “entrepreneurs” in the business of selling home mortgages, although it was mainly long-established private mortgage companies like Countrywide, and new ones that specialized in subprime loans like New Century Financial, that benefited from this.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the sewing machine, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

“While only about $150 million worth had been sold before the war, total investment in real estate bonds is thought to have been approximately $10 billion by the early thirties.”39 One reason homeownership rates soared in the 1920s as part of the massive building boom of that decade was a widespread loosening of credit conditions that allowed families to take out second and third mortgages. The value of outstanding mortgages soared from about $12 billion in 1919 to $43 billion in 1930 (i.e., from 16% to 41% of nominal GDP). Figure 9–2 plots the ratio of mortgage debt to GDP against the non-structures consumer debt ratio already examined in figure 9–1. The differing left-hand and right-hand axes indicate that mortgage debt for structures during the 1920s was consistently seven times higher than for non-structures consumer debt. The longer view in figure 9–2 shows that the value of outstanding mortgages was roughly 20 percent of GDP from 1900 to 1922.40 Figure 9–2. Ratios to GDP of Non-Structures Consumer Credit and Residential Structures Credit, 1896–1952.

Another confirmation that mortgage finance of residential structures exploded in the 1920s is provided by figure 9–3. The ratio of residential mortgage debt to residential wealth increased from 14.3 percent in 1916 to 27.2 percent in 1929. The sharp decrease evident in figure 9–3 between 1916 and 1920 is a result of wartime and postwar inflation, and the sharp increase between 1929 and 1932 is a result of deflation in the Great Contraction of 1929–32. The rise in prices after 1933, together with the near disappearance of residential construction during the 1930s and the years of World War II, helps account for the decline in the debt/wealth ratio between 1932 and 1948. Figure 9–3. Ratio of Nonfarm Residential Mortgage Debt to Nonfarm Residential Wealth, 1890–1952. Source: Grebler, Blank, and Winnick (1956, Table L-6, p. 451).

Then a first mortgage would be obtained from a savings bank or mortgage dealer for 40 percent of the sales price ($1,200) at an interest rate of 5 to 6 percent, and a second mortgage for $300 was obtained from a real estate agent. Interest was paid semiannually over three to eight years, and the lump sum of principal was due at the end of the loan period. The details of mortgage contracts differed between and within cities, with some loans extending for as long as twenty years. The largest holders of mortgage debt were individuals, savings banks, and building and loan associations. The latter pioneered amortized loans, in which the monthly payment included both interest and repayment of principal, so that no lump-sum payment was due when the loan matured. Though the inclusion of principal repayment raised the size of the monthly payment, this was in many cases offset by extending the length of the repayment period.


pages: 367 words: 108,689

Broke: How to Survive the Middle Class Crisis by David Boyle

anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, Desert Island Discs, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, housing crisis, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, mortgage debt, Neil Kinnock, Nelson Mandela, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, off grid, offshore financial centre, pension reform, pensions crisis, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, precariat, quantitative easing, school choice, Slavoj Žižek, social intelligence, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Vanguard fund, Walter Mischel, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, working poor

Of course house prices rise for many reasons, and it is hard to believe that the Corset would have prevented the flood of foreign financial institutions, mainly American, that poured their money into the UK housing market. The fact that fewer homes were built in 2009 than in any year since 1924 doesn’t help. Often prices rose because the middle classes compulsively wanted them to do so. They loved it. It made them feel rich, right up to the point where it ruined them. The Corset may have been impossible to sustain, but its demise marked the end of mortgage rationing. Mortgage debt didn’t rise at all in the Corset years of the 1970s. From 1979 to 1987 it grew at 10 per cent a year. The real problem was not so much the demise of the Corset. It was the failure to replace it with any policy that could possibly hold down house prices as the Niagara of mortgage money roared through the national economy. Howe wrote in his memoirs that he was only ever lobbied once by his government driver, and then it was about house prices — (during the cabinet battle over mortgage-interest tax relief (set at £25,000).

The upside is that junk bonds have a higher yield, and they allowed companies that couldn’t get conventional backing to launch themselves. The downside was that some of them were extremely risky. ‘The securities involve a high degree of risk,’ said the front page of one junk-bond prospectus two days after the 1987 Crash, ‘and accordingly, investors may lose their entire investment.’ A quarter of a century on, the Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), the complex instruments that bundled up good mortgage debt with unrepayable subprime debt, were deliberately packaged to be obscure so that the credit-rating agencies could not value them, and they could then be sold to less sophisticated investors. Michael Lewis interviewed the handful of people who had seen what was coming, and whose bets against the subprime bonds flew in the face of market momentum — just as Paul Woolley had done during the dot.com boom.

Nor are our pensions practised at investing in the next generation of green energy infrastructure we so badly need to underpin our lives in the next generation. But something else needs to happen if the middle classes are to claw back any kind of retirement. Over a million of us in the UK are already working beyond retirement, some because we want to, but some because we still haven’t paid off our mortgages (the average mortgage debt for pensioners is now £45,300), and one in four pensioners is still borrowing money to make ends meet. The middle classes know all this. They are all too aware of the inadequacy of their pensions, without perhaps looking too closely at how inadequate. They are all too aware that the magical compound-interest machine, which protected middle-class generations in retirement, has run down. Interest rates barely exist.


pages: 363 words: 107,817

Modernising Money: Why Our Monetary System Is Broken and How It Can Be Fixed by Andrew Jackson (economist), Ben Dyson (economist)

bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, credit crunch, David Graeber, debt deflation, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, land reform, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, unorthodox policies

As Steve Keen (2011) puts it: “Population dynamics – even immigration dynamics – have nothing to do with house prices. What determines house prices is not the number of babies being born, or immigrants – illegal or otherwise – arriving, but the number of people who have taken out a mortgage, and the dollar value of those mortgages … For changes in house prices, what matters is the acceleration of mortgage debt.” In response to the suggestion that mortgage lending increases house prices some may argue that an increase in the price of an asset acts as a signal (in the housing market) to developers to build more houses: increasing house prices lead to an increase in the number of houses being built, increasing their supply and so leading to a fall in their price. However, this argument falls down on two fronts.

Globally the situation is similar – Figure 4.4 shows the percentage of countries in a banking crisis between 1800 and 2007 (so excluding the most recent financial crisis) fig. 4.4 - Percentage of Countries affected by Banking Crises Source: Reinhart and Rogoff, 2008 Box 4.F - The house price bubble In the years preceding the most recent financial crisis, bank lending created a bubble in the property market in several countries. For example, Keen (2012) calculates that 78% of the change in American house prices over the past 25 years and 60% of the change in Australian house prices over the past 30 years can be explained by the acceleration in mortgage debt. Meanwhile, in the UK house prices increased threefold between 1995 and 2007 (Nationwide, 2012). Contrary to popular belief, the increase in house prices was not fuelled by there being ‘too many people and not enough houses’. As Figure 4.5 shows, between 1997 and 2007, the number of housing units actually grew by 8%, while the population only grew by 5%. Meanwhile mortgage lending increased by 370% over its 1997 level.

As an example, if an individual on an average salary of £25,200 took out a 25 year mortgage on an average house in 2007, the repayments would account for 47% of their salary over that period (assuming the unlikely scenario that average interest rates on mortgages remain at the historically low level of 4.5%). In contrast, the same person buying the same house in 1995 would only spend 24% of their salary servicing their mortgage debt. Today, most young people have effectively been priced out of ever being able to own their own home because of excessive money creation by the banking sector. fig. 4.5 - UK property prices, 1997 – 2010 (Indexed, 1997 = 100) Source: Nationwide house price survey 2012, Bank of England Statistical Database The flip side of this is people that owned or purchased property in the run up to the crisis now feel much wealthier.


pages: 189 words: 64,571

The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means by Jeff Yeager

asset allocation, carbon footprint, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, index card, job satisfaction, late fees, mortgage debt, new economy, payday loans, Skype, upwardly mobile, Zipcar

Our addiction to borrowing, the mechanism through which we’re able to spend more than we earn, and our aversion to saving some of what we earn for the proverbial rainy day, are both fairly recent trends in America. Total consumer debt grew nearly eight times in size from 1980 ($355 billion) to 2008 ($2.6 trillion). During that same period, the share of disposable income each household spent servicing its consumer debt and mortgage debt increased by 35 percent. Once upon a time in America, the way we accumulated savings was by, well, spending less than we made and banking the difference. In 1982, the average household put 11 percent of its disposable income into savings; twenty-five years later that figure had dropped to less than 1 percent. In those years, we came to accept as gospel (at least up until recently) that the way smart people build wealth is through the appreciation of their assets, particularly their homes.

And when they do borrow, the retirement of that debt in full, as quickly as possible, is an overriding priority for the cheapskate next door. More than 80 percent of those cheapskates polled who own homes reported that they have already paid off or plan to pay off their home mortgages sooner than required under the terms of the loan. That’s a shocker, given that roughly half of all Americans will never—during their lifetimes—be entirely free of a home mortgage debt and/or debt secured against their home. “Every minute of every day that I owe someone else money is sheer agony for me,” Alice Wilson told me. “It’s like I’m in prison, and the only thing I can think about is getting out as quickly as possible.” Alice definitely exhibits no warning signs of debtor dementia. 15. Cheapskates, Know and Trust Thyself Spend a little time with the cheapskates next door, and I guarantee you’ll find that we’re full of ourselves.


pages: 267 words: 71,123

End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

airline deregulation, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gordon Gekko, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Upton Sinclair, We are the 99%, working poor, Works Progress Administration

By that I mean that we found ourselves in a world in which lack of sufficient demand had become the key economic problem, and in which narrow technocratic solutions, like cuts in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate target, were not adequate to that situation. To deal effectively with the crisis, we needed more activist government policies, in the form both of temporary spending to support employment and of efforts to reduce the overhang of mortgage debt. One might think that these solutions could still be considered technocratic, and separated from the broader question of income distribution. Keynes himself described his theory as “moderately conservative in its implications,” consistent with an economy run on the principles of private enterprise. From the beginning, however, political conservatives—especially those most concerned with defending the position of the wealthy—fiercely opposed Keynesian ideas.

There’s also the debt overhang—the excessive private debt that set the stage for the Minsky moment and the slump that followed. Deflation, said Fisher, can depress the economy by raising the real value of debt. Inflation, conversely, can help by reducing that real value. Right now, markets seem to expect the U.S. price level to be around 8 percent higher in 2017 than it is today. If we could manage 4 or 5 percent inflation over that stretch, so that prices were 25 percent higher, the real value of mortgage debt would be substantially lower than it looks on current prospect—and the economy would therefore be substantially farther along the road to sustained recovery. There’s one more argument for higher inflation, which isn’t particularly important for the United States but is very important for Europe: wages are subject to “downward nominal rigidity,” which is econospeak for the fact, overwhelmingly borne out by recent experience, that workers are very unwilling to accept explicit pay cuts.


pages: 305 words: 69,216

A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent Into Depression by Richard A. Posner

Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, debt deflation, diversified portfolio, equity premium, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, Home mortgage interest deduction, illegal immigration, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, oil shock, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, statistical model, too big to fail, transaction costs, very high income

Low interest rates, aggressive and imaginative marketing of home mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards, diminishing regulation of the banking industry, and perhaps the rise of a speculative culture —an increased appetite for risk, illustrated by a decline in the traditional equity premium (the margin by which the average return on an investment in stocks exceeds that of an investment in bonds, which are less risky than stocks)—spurred speculative lending, especially on residential real estate, which is bought mainly with debt. As in 1929, the eventual bursting of the bubble endangered the solvency of banks and other financial institutions. Residential-mortgage debt is huge ($11 trillion by the end of 2006), and many defaults were expected as a result of the bubble's collapse. The financial system had too much risk in its capital structure to take these defaults in stride. The resulting credit crisis —a drastic reduction in borrowing and lending, indeed a virtual cessation of credit transactions, for long enough to disrupt the credit economy seriously—precipitated a general economic downturn.

Roubini was not the only prophet without honor in his own country. In a March 2006 article in The Economists' Voice entitled "The Menace of an Unchecked Housing Bubble," another economist, Dean Baker, had written: "When the downturn in house prices occurs, many homeowners will have mortgages that exceed the value of their homes, a situation that is virtually certain to send default rates soaring. This will put lenders that hold large amounts of mortgage debt at risk, and possibly jeopardize the solvency of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, since they guarantee much of this debt. If these mortgage giants faced collapse, a government bailout (similar to the S&L bailout), involving hundreds of billions of dollars, would be virtually inevitable." Baker, like Roubini, had hit the bull's eye. But no one in a position of authority in government, and very few in business, paid any attention, just as no one had paid attention to the warnings sounded years earlier by The Economist.


pages: 237 words: 64,411

Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Jerry Kaplan

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, bank run, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Brian Krebs, business cycle, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, Flash crash, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, haute couture, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, information asymmetry, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, Satoshi Nakamoto, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Another way to arrive at these figures is to look at how the financial markets value all public companies and bonds. At the end of 2011, the value of the U.S. bond market was just under $37 trillion, with U.S. stocks at $21 trillion, for a total of $58 trillion.35 But only about two-thirds of that is owned domestically, so let’s use $39 trillion. (Contrary to popular perception, China owns only about 8 percent of the national debt.)36 Adding the $25 trillion of value stored in homes and subtracting mortgage debt of $13 trillion, that works out to $51 trillion, or about $450,000 per household.37 But that doesn’t include the value of all privately held companies, or loans to companies and individuals, which probably accounts for a portion of the difference between this estimate and the $625,000 above. That’s now, but let’s talk about the future. Data for the last thirty years shows a GDP growth rate per person, after inflation, of approximately 1.6 percent.38 Assuming this trend is to continue, the total increase in real wealth per person in forty years would be 90 percent.

“World Capital Markets—Size of Global Stock and Bond Markets,” QVM Group LLC, April 2, 2012, http://qvmgroup.com/invest/2012/04/02/world-capital-markets-size-of-global-stock-and-bond-markets/. 36. http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/politicalcalculations/2013/01/21/who-really-owns-the-us-national-debt-n1493555/page/full, last modified January 21, 2013. 37. Cory Hopkins, “Combined Value of US Homes to Top $25 Trillion in 2013,” December 19, 2013, http://www.zillow.com/blog/2013-12-19/value-us-homes-to-top-25-trillion/; and “Mortgage Debt Outstanding,” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, last modified December 11, 2014, http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/releases/mortoutstand/current.htm. 38. “International Comparisons of GDP per Capita and per Hour, 1960–2011,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, table 1b, last modified November 7, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ilc/intl_gdp_capita_gdp_hour.htm#table01. 39. https://www.energystar.gov, accessed December 31, 2014. 40.


pages: 424 words: 121,425

How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran

access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, credit crunch, David Graeber, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, diversification, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, income inequality, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Own Your Own Home, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, the built environment, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, union organizing, white flight, working poor

It considered that option, if only briefly. The debate centered on mortgage relief, and although both administrations decided to help the people through the banks, they ended up helping the banks instead of the people. They were not always clear about their intentions, however. In 2008, Treasury secretary Henry Paulson sold the TARP to Congress and the public as an undertaking that would help relieve average Americans’ mortgage debts through modifications and other direct relief. Paulson promised Congress that he would find ways to stem the tide of impending mortgage foreclosures. But after examining direct-relief plans, including a mortgage modification protocol developed by FDIC chairman Sheila Bair, Paulson concluded that these programs would “require substantial government subsidies” and “direct spending”43 that he ultimately felt were unjustified.44 This led one congressman to call the TARP “the second largest bait and switch scheme that history has ever seen, second only to the reasons given to us to vote for the invasion of Iraq.”45 Barney Frank also angrily cut off Henry Paulson during congressional testimony, saying that “the bill couldn’t have been clearer” in being aimed at reducing foreclosures.46 When President Obama took office, his administration also promised, but failed, to achieve meaningful mortgage relief.

As explained by one scholar, “The problem of loan-sharking was brushed aside by making [high interest rates], once typical only of organized crime, perfectly legal—and therefore, enforceable no longer by just hired goons and the sort of people who place mutilated animals on their victims’ doorsteps, but by judges, lawyers, bailiffs, and police.”34 Today, American society not only accepts credit as a way of life, we embrace it. The average American has $15,000 in credit card debt, $33,000 in student loan debt, and $156,000 in mortgage debt.35 Not only do the majority of the American public borrow their way up the income ladder, but federal mortgage and student loan markets and loose credit policies led to the creation of the American middle class. We, the people, have decided (through laws and policies enacted by our elected representatives) that as a society, we want access to affordable credit for both big wealth-building items like homes, education, and businesses and day-to-day smooth-out-the-bumps sorts of things via credit cards and car loans that would have even higher interest rates if not for government policies.

Unfortunately, the poor are also an easy target, and the theory of too much credit for the irresponsible poor tends to be a much more digestible storyline than the complex Wall Street web of products. The CRA myth allows the proponents of continued banking deregulation to flip the narrative. Instead of admitting that the banks’ high levels of debt were a central problem, they can claim that the irresponsible poor and middle-class—enabled by federal government largesse—brought down the banks with their mortgage debt. Subprime borrowers were certainly not always hapless victims, but they were also not the villains in this story.88 The debate over the CRA suggests two broader questions about providing banking for the poor: (1) whether mainstream commercial banks should be tasked with providing these services, and (2) whether they can do it in a way that benefits the poor. If it is even appropriate for regulators to impose social burdens on banks whose primary purpose is to maximize profits for their shareholders, will the products that result from this coerced exchange be of any use to the poor?


pages: 593 words: 189,857

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, break the buck, Buckminster Fuller, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Doomsday Book, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Flash crash, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, implied volatility, Kickstarter, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, Northern Rock, obamacare, paradox of thrift, pets.com, price stability, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, selection bias, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tobin tax, too big to fail, working poor

I remember in August 2006, when I snuck out of the Fed’s annual economic summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to go fly-fishing, my guide was a mortgage broker; his horror stories of sketchy loans to homeowners with sketchy credit were a stark real-world supplement to the academic debates at the central banking summit. Borrowing frenzies are prerequisites for financial crises, and too many Americans were using credit to finance lifestyles their salaries couldn’t support. From 2001 to 2007, the average mortgage debt per household increased 63 percent, while wages remained flat in real terms. The financial system provided this credit with enthusiasm, even to individuals with low or undisclosed incomes, then packaged the loans into securities that were also bought on credit. The financial sector now held $36 trillion worth of debt, a twelvefold increase over three decades. The federal government was also in the red; the unfunded Bush tax cuts, Medicare expansion, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had turned the large Clinton budget surpluses into larger budget deficits.

The FDIC’s approach to haircuts would inspire fierce debate when WaMu stumbled in the fall. For the time being, though, IndyMac’s indelible images of fear were just more evidence that things were going from bad to worse. THE FINANCIAL system could easily absorb the $30 billion collapse of IndyMac. There was no way it could absorb the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two government-sponsored enterprises held or guaranteed more than $5 trillion in mortgage debt. They were funding about three of every four new U.S. mortgages, propping up what was left of the housing market. But they were heading for the abyss. Fannie’s stock price plunged to $10.25 the day IndyMac failed, down 90 percent from its peak. Just about everyone except their captured regulator agreed they were woefully undercapitalized. One Wall Street analyst calculated that they had a capital shortfall of $75 billion.

Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist who had advised Obama ever since his original Senate campaign, then outlined our thinking on housing. It was a brutally complicated problem, affecting the profligate along with the merely unfortunate, and we felt intense pressure to do something big. There had been three million foreclosure filings in 2008, and, so far, federal efforts to ease the crisis had been limited in ambition and impact. One congressionally designed program known as Hope for Homeowners, an effort to reduce the mortgage debt of families in distress, had attracted only 312 applicants nationwide. And the futures markets suggested real estate prices still had a long way to sink, which meant a lot more suffering ahead—not just for speculators who had assumed the boom would never end and conspicuous consumers who had bought bigger houses than they could afford, but for hardworking homeowners who were underwater through absolutely no fault of their own.


pages: 270 words: 73,485

Hubris: Why Economists Failed to Predict the Crisis and How to Avoid the Next One by Meghnad Desai

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gunnar Myrdal, Home mortgage interest deduction, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, Paul Samuelson, price stability, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, women in the workforce

The borrowers were mostly creditworthy but during the Clinton Administration a deliberate attempt had been made to extend mortgages to households that would not otherwise qualify. They had fragile income and employment records. They were buying their houses in the hope that as the house prices rose their debts would become payable, while interest rates would remain low. Household debt, which had been steady at around 45 percent of household income between 1965 and 1985, had risen to a peak of just under 100 percent by 2007. Much of this was mortgage debt. Lenders such as Countrywide would loan out the money for mortgages and borrow in turn from short-term money markets against the collateral of these mortgages. At the other end of the globe, China had been growing at double-digit rates. Its voracious appetite for raw materials put pressure on the commodity markets, where prices began to rise. For governments around the world this hinted at the possibility of higher rates of inflation to come.

In the UK, the period before the Depression was one of stagnation so when the Depression came it was just another dip. But after a political crisis which led to the breakup of the Labour Party and the exit of the UK from the Gold Standard in 1931, things began to bottom out. The Depression in the UK lasted for five years, from 1929 to 1934. But in the US the situation was more serious and unemployment reached the unprecedented level of 25 percent. Unable to repay their mortgage debts, many farmers lost their farms and had to migrate in large numbers from the Midwest to the West Coast or the big cities. The tumultuous and harrowing impact that the Great Depression had on the lives of the farming community was immortalized in John Steinbeck’s moving novel The Grapes of Wrath. In some sense, the US had caught up with Europe in the misery caused by the collapse of the Old Economy.


pages: 253 words: 79,214

The Money Machine: How the City Works by Philip Coggan

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, endowment effect, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, Hyman Minsky, index fund, intangible asset, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, labour market flexibility, large denomination, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, merger arbitrage, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, pattern recognition, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Washington Consensus, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

But an additional safeguard could be introduced; ensure that bonuses only be given for results achieved over the long, not the short-term. SHADOW BANKS The credit crunch has also shown that it is not just the banks that create problems. There is also a vast shadow banking system, consisting of hedge funds, private equity and structured investment vehicles or SIVs. These both invested in the mortgage debts that originated the problems and borrowed money from the banks to do so. When they collapsed, the banks were brought down with them; their disappearance also left a gap in the funding of the private sector. Should they be regulated? The answer is clearly yes, if only because of the mess that they have left. But it will be very difficult. By their nature, hedge funds, for example, are vehicles designed to be as flexible as possible; regulate them too much and they might disappear altogether.

Normal people might not weep at the prospect but the result might be less liquid markets and a higher cost of capital for businesses and homebuyers. It seems likely that the authorities will aim to increase the amount of information they hold about such funds, so they can see whether they pose a risk to the system. In his report, Lord Turner discusses the need for ‘macroprudential regulation’, a sort of longstop to the system that worries about the risks being taken across the industry. Such a regulator would warn when mortgage debt was growing too quickly or when banks were taking too much of a risk in trading. There is also talk of a global version, based around a body called the Financial Stability Forum. The problem lies in giving such a body teeth. At the national level, this could be done, as Lord Turner suggests, by using a committee drawn from the FSA and Bank of England. But both these bodies had the chance to curb risk-taking before the credit crunch, and failed to do so.


pages: 301 words: 77,626

Home: Why Public Housing Is the Answer by Eoin Ó Broin

Airbnb, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, financial deregulation, housing crisis, Kickstarter, land reform, mortgage debt, negative equity, open economy, passive investing, quantitative easing, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, the built environment

The report also highlighted the growing affordability issues for both private renters and home buyers suggesting that 20 percent of renters were paying more than 35 percent (the Government’s definition of affordability under the Planning and Development Act 2000) of their post-tax income on accommodation. While the picture for recent home buyers was less clear cut, the report did emphasise the risks inherent in the growing levels of mortgage debt, particularly if interest rates were to rise or wages fall. Interestingly the report highlights three main concerns regarding the housing system, which while not shared by all members were a significant portent of things to come. In a section on the stability of the system the following observation was made: One group of observers consider that the Irish housing market displays a strong instability and irrationality, amounting to a ‘bubble’ that is likely to burst when the irrational expectations and exuberance that drives the market turn from positive to negative.

In parallel to these measures the report urged Government to bring the Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payments in line with market rents.76 The Committee called for the introduction of a scheme for Councils and Approved Housing Bodies to purchase rental properties with the tenants remaining in situ (a Rent Switch programme); they voiced for an amendment to the Residential Tenancy Act to remove sale of property as grounds for issuing a Notice to Quit and to give tenants in such situations greater legal safeguards; they also called for a general improvement in the length of rental tenancies beyond the current four years.77 In June 2016 according to the Central Bank the total number of residential mortgages in arrears of more than ninety days was 52,571 while a further 14,828 buy-to-let mortgages were also in long-term distress.78 Their quarterly Mortgage Arrears and Repossession Statistics bulletin published that month recorded 1,783 residential dwellings in the bank’s possession at the end of the quarter with a total of 397 properties transferring to the lenders in those three months, 101 via court order to repossess with the remaining 296 as a result of voluntary surrender or abandonment.79 The total number of buy-to-let properties that had been transferred into the management of receivers at the end of the quarter was 5,741 with 305 properties being transferred to the banks in that quarter, 171 via court ordered repossession and 134 via voluntary surrender or abandonment.80 The Housing and Homeless Committee urged the Government to introduce a legal moratorium on home repossessions and as a matter of urgency to bring forward a new plan to tackle the growing mortgage distress problem. The report called Government to make better use of a number of schemes to keep people in the family home including Mortgage to Rent, split mortgages, debt write downs and downsizing.81 There had been a considerable volume of discussion at the Committee on the issue of financing social and affordable housing delivery, particularly in the context of recent funding constraints caused by the policies of austerity and the changes to European Union fiscal rules following the adoption of the Treaty for Stability, Coordination and Governance (known by its critics as the Austerity Treaty) in 2013.


pages: 500 words: 145,005

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler

"Robert Solow", 3Com Palm IPO, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, impulse control, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, late fees, law of one price, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market clearing, Mason jar, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, More Guns, Less Crime, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, New Journalism, nudge unit, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, presumed consent, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Supply of New York City Cabdrivers, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

When the housing bubble arrived and drove up prices, homeowners were told they could lower their mortgage payment and take out a bit of extra cash too, to refinish the basement and buy a big-screen television. At this point, home equity ceased to be a “safe” mental account. This fact is illustrated by a change in the borrowing behavior of households with a head that is aged seventy-five or older. In 1989 only 5.8% of such families had any mortgage debt. By 2010, the fraction with debt rose to 21.2%. For those with mortgage debt, the median amount owed also rose over this period, from $35,000 to $82,000 (in 2010 dollars). During the housing boom in the early 2000s, homeowners spent the gains they had accrued on paper in home equity as readily as they would a lottery windfall. As documented in House of Debt, a book by economists Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, by 2000 increases in home equity had become a strong driver of consumption, especially of consumer durables.

This leakage can and should be addressed by making the option of rolling the account over into another retirement account as easy as possible, preferably the default. Home equity offers an interesting intermediate case. For decades people treated the money in their homes much like retirement savings; it was sacrosanct. In fact, in my parents’ generation, families strived to pay off their mortgages as quickly as possible, and as late as the early 1980s, people over sixty had little or no mortgage debt. In time this attitude began to shift in the United States, partly as an unintended side effect of a Reagan-era tax reform. Before this change, all interest paid, including the interest on automobile loans and credit cards, was tax deductible; after 1986 only home mortgage interest qualified for a deduction. This created an economic incentive for banks to create home equity lines of credit that households could use to borrow money in a tax-deductible way.


pages: 840 words: 202,245

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present by Jeff Madrick

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, financial deregulation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Akerlof, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, inventory management, invisible hand, John Meriwether, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, minimum wage unemployment, MITM: man-in-the-middle, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, rent control, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, technology bubble, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, union organizing, V2 rocket, value at risk, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

In all, $7 trillion of mortgage debt was created between 2000 and 2007, more than the total debt of the federal government accumulated over fifty years. Some economists blamed Greenspan for cutting rates to such low levels, and keeping them there for so long. But the low rates could have been a constructive way to revitalize the economy had they been accompanied by adequate regulatory oversight. On the contrary, in one of the most remarkable episodes of government irresponsibility, Greenspan and other Washington regulators looked the other way. Regulatory failure was the open valve through which bad debt flowed. This regulatory failure, like Wall Street excess, was the product of the ideology that first took root in the 1970s. Ultimately, hundreds of billions of dollars of bad mortgage debt were bought by the world’s largest investment institutions.

As late as the fall of 2010, the Nasdaq was still 50 percent below its 2000 high. Overall, capital investment rose in the 1990s as a proportion of GDP, but many hundreds of billions of dollars of it turned out to be wasted. The collapse of housing eight years later followed the same pattern, but the bubble in terms of actual dollars was far bigger and the collapse of greater consequence. Six to seven trillion dollars of new mortgages had been written that decade; mortgage debt was now much greater in total than federal debt. Wall Street firms learned how to raise capital for new mortgages around the world by creating attractive securities that in fact disguised the real risk of the mortgages. The major banking firms not only “securitized” these mortgages but had consumer loan subsidiaries that wrote subprime and other risky mortgages aggressively. Citigroup was every bit as aggressive at originating subprime mortgages as was Countrywide; Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill, and JPMorgan Chase had subsidiaries that were subprime leaders as well.

Alyssa Katz, “The Dubious Birth of Mortgage-Backed Securities,” Slate, June 25, 2009, http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/history-lesson/2009/06/25/dubious-birth-mortgage-backed-securities?page=0,2. 21 RANIERI WAS FIRED: Charles Gasparino, The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street Greed and Government Mismanagement Destroyed the Global Financial System (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), p. 75. 22 IN 1988, HE LEFT TO RUN: Ibid., pp. 66–69, 82. 23 THE ANNUAL LENDING BY THE INCREASINGLY OUTDATED THRIFTS: “Mortgage debt outstanding,” U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/compendia/ statab/2010/tables/10s1155.xls. The amount of mortgages outstanding at the thrifts contracted by $200 billion but expanded by nearly $300 billion at commercial banks. The GSEs increased their portfolio holdings by $100 billion. 24 WHEN STILL AN ENGINEER: Lewis, Liar’s Poker, p. 124. 25 TRADING BEGAN TO DOMINATE WALL STREET: Associated Press, “Ex-Merrill Trader Cited,” New York Times, April 11, 1989, http://www.nytimes.com/1989/04/11/business/ ex-merrill-trader-cited.html?


pages: 1,066 words: 273,703

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, break the buck, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, deindustrialization, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, diversification, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, friendly fire, full employment, global reserve currency, global supply chain, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, open economy, paradox of thrift, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trade liberalization, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, white flight, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, éminence grise

As America’s home prices almost doubled in the ten years leading to 2006, this raised household wealth by $6.5 trillion, delivering a giant boost not just to the United States but to the world economy.2 As US consumer spending surged toward $10 trillion, it added $937 billion to global demand between 2000 and 2007.3 Fluctuations on such huge scales can clearly help account for a business-cycle downturn in 2007. But to explain how this could trigger a financial crisis, with bank failures spreading panic and a credit crunch across the world, there is one crucial thing to add: Real estate is not only the largest single form of wealth, it is also the most important form of collateral for borrowing.4 It is mortgage debt that both amplifies the broader economic cycle and links the house price cycle to the financial crisis.5 Between the 1990s and the outbreak of the crisis in 2007, American housing finance was turned into a dynamic and destabilizing force by a fourfold transformation—the securitization of mortgages, their incorporation into expansive and high-risk strategies of banking growth, the mobilization of new funding sources and internationalization.

The basic anchor of America’s mortgage system in the aftermath of the savings-and-loans debacle was the so-called government-sponsored enterprise (GSE).14 The mother ship of the GSEs was Fannie Mae, founded in 1938 to create a secondary market for lenders who were willing to issue the new type of government-insured Federal Housing Authority mortgages promoted by the New Deal. Fannie Mae did not issue mortgages. It bought them mainly from commercial banks across the United States that specialized in issuing FHA-insured mortgages. By acting as a backstop, Fannie Mae lowered the cost of lending and set a national standard for both lenders and “prime” borrowers. It helped to unify America through mortgage debt. Fannie Mae was able to fund its purchases of these standardized mortgages cheaply because its credit rating was that of a government agency that could not fail. So-called agency debt was equivalent to that of the Treasury. By the same token, the obligations of Fannie Mae featured on the federal government’s balance sheet. To get them off at a time of fiscal stress during the Vietnam War, in 1968 Fannie Mae was privatized.

A top Wall Street name was scraping the very bottom of the credit barrel. The Rise and Fall of Subprime Lending in the United States, 1996-2008 (in $ billions) Note: Percent securitized is defined as subprime securities issued divided by originations in a given year. In 2007 securities issued exceeded originations. Source: Inside Mortgage Finance. The message that this communicated down the food chain was simple: We want more mortgage debt to process, and the worse the quality, the better. By the magic of independent probabilities, the worse the quality of the debt that entered into the tranching and pooling process, the more dramatic the effect. Substantial portions of undocumented, low-rated, high-yield debt emerged as AAA. In any boom, irresponsible, near criminal or outright fraudulent behavior is to be expected. But the mortgage securitization mechanism systematically produced this race to the bottom in mortgage lending quality.


pages: 273 words: 87,159

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy by Peter Temin

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anti-communist, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, clean water, corporate raider, Corrections Corporation of America, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, income inequality, intangible asset, invisible hand, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, mortgage debt, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nixon shock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, price stability, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, the scientific method, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, white flight, working poor

We have a dual financial system, where the FTE sector generally has more assets than debts and the low-wage system is largely in debt. Finance is seen in the FTE sector as a way to make large purchases or deal with emergency needs. But it is seen in the low-wage sector as a burden or a form of oppression that may lead to prison. Many workers in the low-wage sector say they cannot find funds for an emergency for which they need a few hundred dollars without selling something they would otherwise want to keep. Consider mortgages, debts that home owners secure using their houses and condos as security. The median worker did not see figure 2 as it developed in the 1980s or the developing split of the American economy that was already under way. Instead, working families had increasing trouble trying to continue the spending habits they had developed before. In terms of figure 2, they acted as if the earlier sharing of growing national production had continued unchanged.

It led to a large housing boom that collapsed spectacularly in the 2008 financial crisis.1 The fall in house prices and collapse of the credit markets left households with massive debts—often more than the value of their houses. Mortgage default normally is considered a problem for each individual, but the accumulation of household debt, which doubled relative to income after 1980, was encouraged by government subsidies through tax deductions, guarantees from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac for home mortgages, and the stagnation of working incomes. The accumulation of mortgage debt has impeded personal expenditures, depressing consumer expenditures after the crash. The result is that employment has remained low since the 2008 financial crisis due to low consumer spending.2 Mortgage relief would promote prosperity better than standard fiscal policies because it would help people most likely to increase spending. This can be seen by looking at the location of spending changes.


pages: 290 words: 84,375

China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle by Dinny McMahon

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, bank run, business cycle, California gold rush, capital controls, crony capitalism, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, fixed income, Gini coefficient, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, megacity, money market fund, mortgage debt, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban planning, working-age population, zero-sum game

It also owns eight riverboats that do scenic tours of the Three Gorges, an amusement park with performing dolphins and a bungee tower, and a traditional Chinese-medicine company that grows a type of lily used as a cough suppressant. However, the one element that this vast group of disparate companies has in common is debt. State firms might account for only a quarter of the economy, but they’ve borrowed almost 60% of all the corporate debt. China has little mortgage debt relative to the United States, and official government debt is very low, unlike in Greece; but China’s companies—and in particular its state-owned companies—have borrowed incredible amounts. According to the consulting firm McKinsey, between 2007 and mid-2014, China’s companies—both state and private companies combined—went from owing $3.4 trillion to $12.5 trillion, a faster buildup than in any other country in modern times.

The building was ultimately torn down and the land turned into a park. Four years later, the corporate descendant of Springs’s company closed the last of its Lancaster plants, packed up its machines, and moved them to Brazil. With the end of large-scale textile manufacturing in Lancaster, unemployment in the county soared, peaking a little below 19% in mid-2009. That year, Forbes magazine, based on a survey of poverty, education, income, and mortgage-debt levels, labeled Lancaster the most vulnerable county in the United States. By 2013, South Carolina had lost more than thirty thousand textiles jobs over the preceding decade, a decline of 63%. That was the year I met Zhu Shanqing. Zhu had started his career working for a state-owned chemical company, then went out on his own to trade polyester. In the year that China joined the WTO, he bought his first spinning machines.


pages: 394 words: 85,734

The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis, Paul Mason

active measures, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, endogenous growth, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, paper trading, Paul Samuelson, planetary scale, post-oil, price stability, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, structural adjustment programs, systematic trading, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, War on Poverty, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War

A little later, the RBS attempts to stave off bankruptcy by trying to raise £12 billion from its shareholders, while at the same time admitting to having lost almost £6 billion in CDOs and the like. Around this time house prices start falling in Britain, Ireland and Spain, precipitating more defaults (as homeowners in trouble can no longer even pay back their mortgages by selling their houses at a price higher than their mortgage debt). May – Swiss bank UBS is back in the news, with the announcement that it has lost $37 billion on duff mortgage-backed CDOs and that it intends to raise almost $16 billion from its shareholders. June – Barclays Bank follows the RBS and UBS in trying to raise £4.5 billion on the stock exchange. July – Gloom descends upon the City as the British Chamber of Commerce predicts a fierce recession and the stock exchange falls.

So, whereas prior to 2008 Wall Street created its synthetic financial products on its own (perhaps with the government turning a blind eye), following the 2008 meltdown it has done so with massive government (American and European) subsidies. In summary, as early as in February of 2009, the Obama administration filled Wall Street’s sails by engineering a new marketplace for the old derivatives (which were replete with poor people’s mortgage debts). The medium of exchange in this new marketplace was a mixture of the old (refloated) derivatives and new ones (based not on poor people’s mortgages but on the taxes of those who could not avoid paying them – often the very same poor people). Thus, many of the banks’ toxic assets were moved off their accounts, while the production of new private toxic money took another turn. A year and a half later, the Europeans, not to be outdone, followed suit with EFSF-style debt issues and bank bail-outs, making their own contribution to a new wave of highly toxic financial ‘products’.


pages: 433 words: 53,078

Be Your Own Financial Adviser: The Comprehensive Guide to Wealth and Financial Planning by Jonquil Lowe

AltaVista, asset allocation, banking crisis, BRICs, buy and hold, correlation coefficient, cross-subsidies, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, fixed income, high net worth, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, offshore financial centre, Own Your Own Home, passive investing, place-making, Right to Buy, risk/return, short selling, zero-coupon bond

Although variable mortgage rates are normally a few percentage points higher, they tend to follow the Bank of England rate, so Figure 6.6 gives you an idea of the way that mortgage rates could change. You can see that the Bank of England rate has ranged from nearly 15 per cent a year down to 0.5 per cent, so over the full term of a mortgage you could see considerable variation in your repayments. Changes that happen many years ahead are less important than changes within the earlier years of your mortgage. Your mortgage debt is a fixed or reducing sum, whereas your earnings will tend to rise at least in line with inflation as the years go by. Thus, your monthly payments will tend to take a smaller proportion of your income in the years ahead, giving you an expanding capacity to cope with any rise in the mortgage rate. But, in the early years of a mortgage, an increase in the mortgage rate can have a big impact on your budget and, as Figure 6.6 shows, it is quite possible for interest rates to change by, say 4 per cent or more over the space of just a few years.

M08_LOWE7798_01_SE_C08.indd 244 05/03/2010 09:50 8 n Retirement choices 245 Housing equity and social policy Pensions In 2002, the government appointed a Pensions Commission to look into the problem of providing adequate pensions for all. In its final report, the Commission made the following points: Housing wealth…has major implications for appropriate pension system design. But it is not in itself a sufficient solution to problems of pension adequacy… A 55–59 year old with an income of between £17,500–£24,999 owned housing assets (net of mortgage debt) with a median value of around £150,000 in mid 2002. And while today only a very small proportion of these are used to fund retirement via equity release or trading down, with home ownership now reaching over 60% among those aged over 80, there will be an increasing flow of inheritance of housing assets, often by people who already own one house. For many people therefore, housing assets (either accumulated or inherited) could play a significant part in the provision of resources for consumption in retirement.

However, the older you are, the more expensive cover is likely to be. Equity release and inheritance planning Some advisers suggest that equity release schemes (see Chapter 8) can be a useful way to save inheritance tax. It is certainly true that, if you take out a lifetime mortgage against your home and spend the money raised, the value of your estate will be reduced. Your home is still part of your estate but the mortgage debt is deducted. Similarly, a home reversion scheme cuts the size of your estate because your home passes out and into the ownership of the reversion company. But you should bear in mind that equity release schemes do not give you the full value of the equity you give up. This difference is likely to more than match any amount you save in inheritance tax. The upshot is that you do not have anything extra to leave to your heirs.


pages: 554 words: 158,687

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All by Costas Lapavitsas

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Flash crash, full employment, global value chain, global village, High speed trading, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, market bubble, means of production, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, oil shock, open economy, pensions crisis, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Simon Kuznets, special drawing rights, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, union organizing, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Households have amassed heavy financial liabilities in the course of financialization, reflecting rising indebtedness. There are several causes of this development which only partially relate to weakly increasing (or stagnant) real incomes among workers and others. Indeed, the available evidence reveals a nuanced and complex process of household financialization. Figures 38 to 41 disaggregate household indebtedness by splitting it into mortgage debt, unsecured consumer debt and other liabilities for each of the four countries. By far the largest component of indebtedness is mortgage debt, which has also grown strongly (except for Germany); unsecured consumer debt has also generally increased, but it is far from a dominant, or even a large, part of household liabilities.20 The bulk of household indebtedness in the period of financialization in mature countries has been for mortgage purposes. To be sure, mortgage borrowing probably conceals some consumption loans that have been obtained against the value of housing; nonetheless, housing remains the cause of most household indebtedness.21 FIG. 38 Composition of household liabilities as a share of GDP, 1945–2009; US FIG. 39 Composition of household liabilities as a share of GDP, 1987–2009; UK FIG. 40 Composition of household liabilities as a share of GDP, 1991–2009; Germany The preponderance of housing points to a key factor behind the financialization of households in recent decades: rising household indebtedness has been associated with changes in the social provision of basic services including housing, health, education, transport and so on.

Thus, when interest rates started to climb in 2004–2005, households began to face increasing difficulties in servicing housing debt. By 2006 the US housing bubble was over and the conditions were ready for the enormous crisis that followed. It is remarkable – and a true reflection of the content of financialization – that the historic crisis that commenced in 2007 was triggered by the poorest layers of the US working class defaulting on mortgage debt. Figure 4, showing bank assets relative to GDP, indicates that in the course of the bubble, banks and the financial system in general grew rapidly in the UK and significantly in Japan; there was much less rapid growth in Germany. The figures for the US are partially misleading in this respect because there has been a large increase of ‘shadow banking’ including institutions engaging in mortgage and other activities, which does not appear in the commercial bank data, as was noted in Chapter 7.


pages: 543 words: 147,357

Them And Us: Politics, Greed And Inequality - Why We Need A Fair Society by Will Hutton

Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Blythe Masters, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low cost airline, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, money market fund, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Neil Kinnock, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, zero-sum game, éminence grise

Northern Rock was far from the only bank willing to lend more than 100 per cent of a house’s value and six times the borrower’s income. The whole financial sector drowned the property market in credit, so by summer 2007 it had cumulatively issued £257 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities in the new markets for securitised assets to top up normal sources of funding. In other words, more than a fifth of the total £1.2 trillion stock of British mortgage debt was being funded through an avenue – asset-backed securities – that had not even existed a decade earlier. The competition between the lenders drove down credit-worthiness terms, as it always does. The research firm Data Monitor suggests that 7 per cent of mortgages just before the crash went to people with a poor credit history, and another 5–6 per cent required no proof of income.24 Mortgages to the buy-tolet market expanded ten times in a decade as lenders believed they were on to fail-safe lending.

The McKinsey researchers identify five countries that experienced a huge rise in their debt in the decade up to 2007 (and where, if history is any guide, the financial crisis will lead to a period of deleveraging) – the United States, the UK, Spain, South Korea and Canada. These are not economic minnows: together, they account for more than a third of the world’s GDP. The UK is particularly vulnerable. It had the biggest jump in residential mortgage debt, to reach 101 per cent of GDP in 2007 according to the institute’s calculations, the highest in the world. Moreover, UK mortgages are particularly sensitive to changes in interest rates. The financial sector grew phenomenally too, with borrowing reaching 194 per cent of GDP, although part of that represented the City’s position as a global hub. Net out foreign banks’ borrowing and the debt ratio falls to ‘just’ 112 per cent, although even this still represents a near doubling in a decade and is the highest in the world.

The institute then looks at the level of leverage, its growth, debt service ratios and the vulnerability of borrowers to shocks either to their income or to their capacity to refinance their borrowing. The results are collated into a ‘heat map’ of where in the world deleverage pressures will be most acute. In Britain it is plain that, by these criteria, households will try to reduce their £1.2 trillion of mortgage debt, while real estate companies will try to do the same with their £350 billion commercial property debt. Banks will also attempt to deleverage. Moreover, the British will be deleveraging at the same time as the other countries in the study. The chances of growing out of trouble through export will thus be small. Meanwhile, the option of default would wreck the country’s international financial standing (and it has not been adopted as a strategy in Britain since the fourteenth century).


When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence by Stephen D. King

Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, congestion charging, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, Diane Coyle, endowment effect, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Kickstarter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, loss aversion, market clearing, mass immigration, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old age dependency ratio, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, railway mania, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working-age population

They also were associated with substantial increases in debt: borrowers were happy to borrow more because their assets (housing, for example) had risen in value, while lenders were happy to lend – often at ridiculously low interest rates – confident that the loans were backed by suitable collateral (housing, again) and secure in the belief that the world economy was not about to fall off a cliff. After all, this is what politicians and central bankers had promised. The gains in asset price and debt were extraordinary, at least relative to underlying economic performance. In the US, the Case-­ Shiller house price index more than doubled between 2000 and 2006. American households took on vast amounts of additional debt. As a share of (rising) household income, mortgage debt rose more than 50 per cent over the same period. The UK’s experience was more or less identical. Yet, in policy-­making circles, these extraordinary changes were casually brushed to one side. In 2004, Charlie Bean, at the time the Bank of England’s chief economist, argued that there was nothing amiss: he regarded house price gains and the associated increase in household indebtedness as merely ‘a transfer of lifetime wealth from younger generations to their parents’.7 In his view, first-­time buyers and those trading up were both willing and able to take out larger mortgages, thanks to lower interest rates and an increase in available mortgage finance.

Pre-­crisis, confidence in financial alchemy manifested itself in all sorts of ways: strange innovations within capital markets; the huge expansion of carry trades as investors could borrow cheaply in, for example, Japanese yen and invest in sterling, the New Zealand dollar or the Turkish lira, all of which offered much higher interest rates; rapacious bankers who were happy to bet the house (or, more likely, their bank) on ever more outlandish deals; and, for the man and woman on the street, a massive increase in mortgage debt as dream homes became part of a new, credit-­frenzied, reality. At the height of the subprime boom, when investors were falling over themselves to purchase allegedly safe assets with returns higher than those available on low-­yielding government bonds, the connection between ultimate borrower and ultimate lender became increasingly tenuous: the homebuyer in Arizona had little idea that her mortgage had, ultimately, been provided by Norwegian savers putting money aside for their future pensions.


pages: 1,213 words: 376,284

Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, From the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First by Frank Trentmann

Airbnb, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equity premium, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial exclusion, fixed income, food miles, full employment, germ theory of disease, global village, haute cuisine, high net worth, income inequality, index card, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, labour mobility, libertarian paternalism, Livingstone, I presume, longitudinal study, mass immigration, McMansion, mega-rich, moral panic, mortgage debt, Murano, Venice glass, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, post-industrial society, post-materialism, postnationalism / post nation state, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, rent control, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, stakhanovite, the built environment, the market place, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, zero-sum game

A decade later, almost half of all mortgage funds were federally insured.24 It was a golden handshake between the banks and the state, and of historic importance for the expansion of private credit. For one, a home tends to be far more expensive than a radio or a fridge. Mortgages thus make up a much larger part of personal credit than ‘unsecured’ consumer credit. There is, secondly, a close correlation in modern credit societies between mortgage debt and other consumer credit. The greater the former, the greater tends to be the latter.25 What is decisive is mortgages rather than home ownership as such. Greece and Italy today have a higher home-ownership rate than the United States, but people there inherit homes and take out less credit.26 Mortgages, by contrast, simultaneously accustom households to taking on big debt and serve as a collateral that enables them to borrow more for other purposes.

A rising credit-card bill is a drop in the ocean for households enjoying rising incomes and property values. In Britain, for example, the gross household saving ratio fell sharply from 11 per cent in 1992 to 2 per cent in 2007, and the ‘mean’ unsecured consumer credit had risen to £10,000 when the 2009 Great Recession hit – that is, as many households owed less than £10,000 as owed more than that. Mean mortgage debt stood at £100,000. These are large figures, but they were dwarfed by mean housing and pension wealth, which was over £200,000.52 Economists, by and large, turn to two models to explain what has happened to saving: the lifecycle and the permanent-income hypotheses. Both saw the light of day in the 1950s; Franco Modigliani articulated the former, Milton Friedman the latter.53 For Keynes, the primary motive for saving had been almost irrational pride: to leave a bequest for posterity.

Virtually all of it was for mortgages, however. Credit for goods and services made up a higher share in Britain and Germany (15–20 per cent); in Poland and Austria, it reached 40 per cent of total personal credit. Mortgages, then, make up the bulk of consumer credit, but they do so to a larger or smaller degree. It is a common misunderstanding to presume that because renting is widespread in the Netherlands and Germany, mortgage debt must be smaller, too. Land and property costs much more in Maastricht and Munich than in Missouri, which means that those Dutch and Germans who buy a home carry a disproportionately large burden of debt. The big difference between the Anglo-world and the rest in the 1990s and early 2000s was that, for the latter, unsecured credit (plastic, instalments, loans) shrunk as a share of private debt.


pages: 391 words: 97,018

Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline . . . And the Rise of a New Economy by Daniel Gross

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, illegal immigration, index fund, intangible asset, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game, Zipcar

In March 2008 they helped JPMorgan Chase take over an ailing Bear Stearns, with the Fed lending $30 billion to a newly created investment partnership that would acquire dodgy assets from the listing Bear. It was called Maiden Lane I, after the narrow street in lower Manhattan that runs near the Fed’s New York branch.2 In the long, hot summer of 2008 Treasury and the Fed rushed to the aid of AIG, the massive insurer whose reckless extension of credit insurance on mortgage debt threatened to sink it, its counterparties, and the global financial system. In September 2008 Treasury formally assumed responsibility for the trillions of dollars of debt issued by the housing behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a move intended to shore up the banking system. In the weeks and months after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, the bailout machine kicked into higher gear.

According to the data provider RealtyTrac, the number of properties receiving foreclosure notices soared from 1.29 million in 2007 to 2.33 million in 2008, 2.81 million in 2009, and 2.87 million in 2010. Between 2007 and 2011 more than 4 million homes were repossessed by banks. After peaking at 69.1 percent in late 2005, the homeownership rate in the United States began to fall; it stood at 66.5 percent in mid-2011. Through a combination of default, pay-downs, and shifting to rentals, Americans have shucked nearly a trillion dollars in mortgage debt since the crisis. According to the New York Federal Reserve, by the third quarter of 2011 the outstanding totals of household mortgages and home equity lines of credit were off 9.6 percent and 10 percent, respectively, from their peaks. But housing was just the beginning. According to the credit card research firm Card Hub, the delinquency rate on credit cards rose from 3.9 percent in the second quarter of 2007 to 6.61 percent in the first quarter of 2009, leading the credit card companies to write off tens of billions of dollars in balances.


pages: 139 words: 33,246

Money Moments: Simple Steps to Financial Well-Being by Jason Butler

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, buy and hold, Cass Sunstein, diversified portfolio, estate planning, financial independence, fixed income, happiness index / gross national happiness, index fund, intangible asset, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, passive income, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Steve Jobs, time value of money, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

Had I instead saved the mortgage overpayments in a deposit account it would need to pay gross interest of 16% so that after deduction of 25% income tax I would end up with a 12% return. I eventually sold my apartment in 1994 for £44,000, which was a loss of £18,000. Thankfully my overpayments had reduced the mortgage balance to about £42,000 by then, allowing me to move on. Global interest rates are currently at an all-time low, which has pushed up property values and caused lots of people to take on very high levels of debt, including mortgages. Mortgage debt is currently cheap and property values are high by historical standards – but it may not stay that way. History tells us that booms turn to busts and bubbles eventually burst, leaving a wave of wealth-destruction in their wake. Assuming you’ve got no ‘bad debt’ (see chapter five), you have an adequate cash emergency fund (see chapter 16), and you are receiving the maximum employer contributions to any workplace pension scheme (see chapter 33) overpaying your mortgage makes a lot of sense.


pages: 375 words: 105,067

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen

American ideology, asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, Cass Sunstein, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, game design, greed is good, high net worth, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, London Whale, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, mortgage debt, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, post-work, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Stanford marshmallow experiment, stocks for the long run, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, éminence grise

., 136 Ghilarducci, Teresa, 78, 85, 97–101, 234 Githler, Charles and Kim, 134, 136, 137 glide path, 89 Goldberg, Herb, 225–26, 227 governmental measures Community Reinvestment Act, 203 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 110, 198, 218 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 81 financial literacy initiatives, 197–98 Pension Protection Act, 89 Proposition 13 (California), 225 Senate Subcommittee on Deficits, Debt Management, and Long-Term Economic Growth, 76–78 Social Security, 58, 80, 81 Graziosi, Dean, 181 Grimaldi, Mark, 44–46 Hacker, Jacob, 234 Harter, Kathy, 10 Herbert, Joe, 169 Hill, Catey, 159 Hira, Tahira, 165 Holmes, Selina, 204–5 Holt, Lester, 51 home ownership. See also real estate attitudes toward mortgage debt, 174–75, 176 as automatic savings plan, 175, 176 easy access to mortgages, 176–77, 193 foreclosure, 175 G.I. Bill, 175 as leverage, 177–80, 184 as middle-class value, 174–75 rate of, 192–93 real estate crashes, 175, 180–81, 193 social issues linked to, 175–76 successful investors in, 193–95 How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years (Ruff), 33, 140 Huddleston, Pat, 111 Hulbert, Mark, 45–46, 142 Humpage, Anthony, 189 income inequality current levels, 28 equities holdings and, 78–79 gender-based wage gap, 153–54, 158 growth in, 8, 21–22 Occupy Wall Street movement, 233 risk-taking and, 166 spending decisions and, 228–29 unconcern about, 22–23 individual investors age demographic, 135, 141–42, 148 appeal of doomsday scenarios, 139–40 classes for, 132–33 day trading, 130–32 fear of retirement shortfall, 132–34 frequent trading, 130–31, 135, 168 frustration with professional advisers, 132 gender differences, 167–68 investment errors, 129 marketing aimed at, 127–28, 133–34 options trading, 131, 133–34 overconfidence, 168–69 televised financial news for, 143–49 World MoneyShow, 127–28, 134–37 insurance.

., 200–201 Lloyd, Felix Brandon, 205–6 lobbying groups, 87–88, 99–100, 110, 200, 218 Lockyer, Bill, 100–101 Loibl, Cäzilia, 165 Lucas, Lori, 88 Lucht, Tracy, 16 Lundy, Jeff, 57 Lusardi, Annamaria, 159, 198 Mackay, Harvey, 34 Mad Money (CNBC), 143–47 Mahar, Maggie, 95 Malkiel, Burton, 33 Mamudi, Sam, 95 Mandell, Lew, 201, 207–8 Marquis, Milton, 83 marshmallow experiment, 211–12 Mathisen, Tyler, 82 McCarthy, Carolyn, 111 McGee, Micki, 33, 47 McGinn, Daniel, 179 McInturff, Bill, 75–76 McKenna, Laura, 27 medical expenses, 58, 59–60, 61 Mellan, Olivia, 227 Merrill Lynch, 162–63, 167, 213 Michelman, Kate, 59–60 Middle Class Millionaire, The (Prince and Schiff), 56 Miller, George, 100 Miller, Maurice Lim, 223 Millionaire Next Door, The (Stanley and Danko), 54 Mitchell, Olivia, 159, 198 Money Island game, 205–6 Money Makeover series, 1–2, 4 Money Navigator newsletter (Orman), 44–46 MoneyShow, 127–28, 134–37 Mooney, David, 109 Moore, Michael, 41 mortgage debt, 174–75, 176–77, 193 Mullainathan, Sendhil, 107–8, 116, 162, 166, 228 mutual funds. See stock and mutual fund markets Neasham, Glenn, 115 New York Stock Exchange, 15–16, 160–61 Nine Steps to Financial Freedom (Orman), 34–35 Nocera, Joe, 79 Noeth, Markus, 162, 166 Occupy Wall Street movement, 40, 233 Odean, Terrance, 128–29, 168 Odom, William E., 200 O’Donnell, John, 133 Online Trading Academy, 132–33 Onsite’s Healing Money Issues retreat, 226 options trading, 131, 133–34 Orman, Suze as antipoverty crusader, 41, 46 Approved Card prepaid debit card, 40–42 audience, 38 background, 29, 30–32 books, 34–35, 41 business deals and partnerships, 42–43 contradictory advice, 28, 38 Courage to Be Rich, The, 30, 35, 53 criticism of, 27–28, 35, 46 on Kiyosaki, 188 latte factor calculation, 53 Money Navigator newsletter, 44–46 New Age orientation, 31, 34 Nine Steps to Financial Freedom, 34–35 popularity, 27–30, 38–39 scolding and badgering, 36–38 spending habits, 32, 40 on variable annuities, 104 wealth and source of income, 40, 42, 47 on women’s financial incompetence, 153 You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It, 34 overspending by baby boomers, 141–42 celebration of, 57 Latte Factor, 48–53 wealth accumulation and, 54–55, 56–57 by women, 159–60 Palmer, Kimberly, 53 Parker, Richard, 23 Pastor, Lubos, 94–95 Pederson, Allen, 60 Pension Protection Act, 89 pension system.


pages: 576 words: 105,655

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, debt deflation, deindustrialization, disintermediation, diversification, en.wikipedia.org, ending welfare as we know it, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Irish property bubble, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Philip Mirowski, price stability, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, savings glut, short selling, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, unorthodox policies, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

But there is no such insurance in the repo markets, so repo-market investors protect their cash by receiving collateral equivalent to the cash lent. If the borrower goes bust, the lender can still get the money back, so long as, and this is critical, the collateral doesn’t lose value. What counts as high-quality collateral? Back in the early 2000s, it included such things as Treasury bills, of course. But increasingly, AAA-rated mortgage-debt securities began to be used as collateral, since T-bills were in short supply, which is how mortgages ended up in the repo markets.7 A decline in house prices in 2006 hit the value of these bundled mortgage securities. If you were using mortgage securities as collateral for loans in the repo market, you needed to find more collateral (which people were increasingly less willing to hold) or higher-quality collateral (alternative assets that were in short supply), or you would have to take a “haircut” (a discount) on what you would get back, all of which affected your bottom line.

Add to this the fact that Spanish mortgages are recourse loans, meaning that the bank can come after the debtor for the original loan—forever—and not for just the current value of the property, and mortgagers have every incentive to sit tight and not allow the market to clear, thus making the situation worse by inches. In the United States you can walk away from a mortgage and the house is the bank’s problem. In Spain, when you walk away from the house, the mortgage debt is still your problem. Take Ireland and Spain together and you do not have a story of profligate states, feckless workers, and all the rest. Certainly, the Spanish regional governments have a few white elephant projects that have worsened the situation, airports that have no traffic, massive opera houses with no customers, and the like; but these are symptoms, not causes. Indeed, in the Basque country, where there was more political control of the cajas, investment in property was not allowed to the same extent and the result was investment in manufacturing.33 The underlying crisis is, once again, one of private, not public, finance.


pages: 1,242 words: 317,903

The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby

"Robert Solow", airline deregulation, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, balance sheet recession, bank run, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bretton Woods, business cycle, central bank independence, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, energy security, equity premium, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, paper trading, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, price stability, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, secular stagnation, short selling, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, unorthodox policies, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y2K, yield curve, zero-sum game

He wanted to know how much mortgage lending was being channeled to families who already owned homes—and who were therefore likely to spend the proceeds on things other than housing. No data existed on this “home-equity extraction,” as it later came to be known. But Greenspan estimated how much new mortgage debt might have been created as a result of the construction of new homes, and he calculated how much debt existing mortgage holders would normally repay in any given period. By taking his estimate for new mortgages and subtracting repayments on old mortgages, Greenspan arrived at the expected change in the total amount of mortgage debt in the economy. Now he was just one step away from the statistic he wanted. If the expected increase in mortgage debt was smaller than the actual change, the difference must represent additional mortgage lending to existing homeowners—home-equity extraction. Thirty years after his undergraduate vacation job at Brown Brothers Harriman, Greenspan had lost none of his taste for statistical sleuthing.4 By August 1977, Greenspan was ready to lay out his results in detail to his clients.

During the Depression and its aftermath, the credit-creating machinery of Wall Street had been almost comatose. It was said that you could walk the famous canyons near the stock exchange and hear only the rattle of backgammon dice through open windows. But by the early 1950s, financiers were active once again. The GI Bill had promised mass home ownership, turning a generation of Americans into mortgage borrowers; and once they had acquired a taste for mortgage debt, other kinds of borrowing soon followed. By the time Greenspan joined Townsend, consumer loans were becoming so ubiquitous that the bill collector emerged as “the central figure of the good society,” as one contemporary put it.17 Meanwhile, a southerner named Charles Merrill shocked the Wall Street establishment by promoting stock market investment to ordinary Americans.18 Thanks partly to Merrill’s hard-hitting advertisements, the amount of money invested in mutual funds shot up fivefold between 1950 and 1960.

Since 1990, the first year in which Fannie and Freddie both operated as profit-seeking public companies, the growth of the two housing finance giants had been almost as astounding as the growth of derivatives. By 2001, their combined balance sheets had swelled nearly ninefold: they now held $1.2 trillion of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Meanwhile, they also guaranteed payments on another $1.5 trillion of mortgage securities held by other investors. All told, Fannie and Freddie shouldered the risk associated with almost half of all outstanding residential mortgage debt—a market share that had nearly doubled in the span of just over a decade. Greenspan usually saw the bright side of financial innovation and agglomeration, but the near doubling of Fannie and Freddie’s market share was an exception. The explosion of over-the-counter derivatives reflected free choices by investors, leading Greenspan to give it the benefit of the doubt; in contrast, the rise of Fannie and Freddie reflected a sinister subsidy.


pages: 453 words: 117,893

What Would the Great Economists Do?: How Twelve Brilliant Minds Would Solve Today's Biggest Problems by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

For banks, it is typically expensive to raise new capital on the open market, so their balance sheets are primarily determined by earnings and asset values. In turn, the level of bank capital relative to regulatory levels can be an important determinant of a bank’s cost of financing. But banks’ capital positions also tend to be strongly pro-cyclical since assets tend to increase in value in a boom and fall in a recession. This further enhances the potential potency of the financial accelerator, observed in the large build-up of mortgage debt and high leverage of the financial sector in the run-up to the financial crisis. It also means that in the aftermath of a financial crisis, where the banking system finds itself overleveraged, burdened with non-performing loans and insufficient capital, there can be a sharp drop in the flow of credit to the economy. This was seen in Japan when the financial problems of its banks and corporations contributed to lost decades of growth.

Buccleuch, Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of budget deficits and austerity Burns, Arthur Burns, Mary business cycle theory Fisher Hayek Schumpeter Callaghan, James Cambridge School see also Keynes, John Maynard; Marshall, Alfred; Robinson, Joan Cambridge University Girton College Kings College Newnham College St Johns and women Canon capital accumulation capital investment capitalism in aftermath of 2008 financial crisis and communism derivation of term and Engels and the financial crisis of 2008 free-market and Hayek inequality and capitalist economies laissez-faire see laissez-faire and Marx and the Occupy movement and Schumpeterian ‘creative destruction’ socialism vs welfare state capitalism car industry Carney, Mark Carter, Jimmy Case, Elizabeth central banks Bank of England Bank of Japan European Central Bank Fed see Federal Reserve forward guidance macroprudential policy monetary policy tools see also quantitative easing (QE) Chamberlin, Edward Chicago School see also Friedman, Milton Chile China 1949 revolution asset management companies banking system Beijing Consensus Communist Party corporate debt Cultural Revolution domestic innovation economic transformation ‘effect’/‘price’ employment system entrepreneurs exports Five Year Plan (1953) foreign direct investment (FDI) and Germany industrialization and reindustrialization inequality innovation challenge legal institutions manufacturing Maoism and Marx national debt openness ‘paradox’ poverty reduction privatization R&D investment regional free trade agreement renminbi (RMB) as second largest economy services sector shadow banking smartphones social networks trade-to GDP ratio and the USSR wage increases women Churchill, Winston class Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England and Marx middle see middle class and Ricardo wage earner class Classical School of economics see also Mill, John Stuart; Ricardo, David; Smith, Adam Clinton, Bill Clinton, Hillary cloth clothing Coase, Ronald Cold War Collectivist Economic Planning collectivization Collier, Paul Columbia University communism Bolshevik Party and capitalism Chinese Communist League First International Marxism see Marxism and Robinson Socialist/Second International Third International USSR see Soviet Union Vietnamese vs welfare state capitalism Communist League comparative advantage theory competition ‘competing down’ (Schumpeter) imperfect between money providers perfect and Robinson wages and competitiveness computers Conard, Ed construction consultancy firms consumerism consumption and comparative advantage theory consumer spending and marginal utility analysis convergence hypothesis corn, free trade in Corn Laws repeal and Ricardo corporate debt Cowles Commission Crafts, Nicholas crafts credit crunch credit default swaps (CDS) credit rating Crimean War crypto-currencies currency crises first-generation second-generation third-generation currency stability Cyprus death duties debt Chinese corporate debt-deflation spiral and government bonds indexation and protection from and Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis mortgage debt national see national debt private corporate as share of GDP decentralization defence deflation debt-deflation spiral Fisher and combating deflation Japan self-fulfilling deindustrialization and globalization premature reversing/reindustrialization and trade US Deng Xiaoping depression see Great Depression (1930s); Long Depression (1880s); recession/depression diminishing returns to capital distributive lag model Douglas, David, Lord Reston Douglas, Janet DuPont East Asian ‘tiger’ economies see also Hong Kong; Singapore; South Korea; Taiwan eastern Europe Eastman Kodak Econometric Society Econometrica economic development challenges and Beijing Consensus financial/currency crises and institutions and Lewis model Myanmar and North and path dependence poverty eradication/reduction South Africa Sustainable Development Goals Vietnam and Washington Consensus economic equilibrium economic freedom economic growth and austerity barriers convergence hypothesis development challenges see economic development challenges drivers of 2 see also innovation; institutions; public investment; technology endogenous growth theories inclusive growth through investment Japan’s growth and Japan’s ‘lost decades’ Lewis model mercantilist doctrine of and new technologies policy debates on raising and poverty reduction and productivity debate/challenge slow growth and the future Solow model UK government’s renewed focus on and unemployment Economic Journal economic rent Ricardo’s theory of economies ‘animal spirits’ of crises see financial crises deflation see deflation emerging see emerging economies equilibrium in GDP see gross domestic product global macroeconomic imbalances growth of see economic growth inequality and capitalist economies inflation see inflation and international trade and investment see investment; public investment national debt see national debt QE see quantitative easing rebalancing of recession see recession/depression services economy see services sector and stagnant wages state intervention Economist education higher role in reducing inequality universal Eliot, T.


pages: 406 words: 113,841

The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, bank run, basic income, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

The additional tax burden imposed on Americans by this reform would more than be cancelled out by the long-term financial benefits accrued under an EOF regimen. All of this is important. In 2000, the total level of student debt nationwide was estimated to be around $200 billion.11 A mere twelve years later, that number had increased to an astonishing $870 billion—or $24,000 for each graduate who left college having taken out loans. And, while underwater homeowners could use the bankruptcy system to clear their mortgage debts, there was no legal mechanism in place to allow student-loans to be similarly discharged. In April 2012, when Michigan Congressman Hansen Clarke proposed HR 4170, a Student Loan Forgiveness Act that would allow people to discharge their debt if they had paid at least 10 percent of their discretionary income on student loans for at least ten years, more than 1 million people signed petitions in support of the legislation.12 Yet the GOP-led House didn’t pass it.

Several other community credit unions were established to provide similar help to homeowners elsewhere. There’s no good reason these models shouldn’t become a key part of state and federal housing strategy in the near future, with credit unions able to access low-interest federal startup loans in return for guaranteeing to keep given numbers of people in their homes. More ambitiously, given the amount of toxic mortgage debt that the federal government was forced to buy up in the months following the 2008 collapse, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t use its status as a de facto lender of last resort to create similar profit-sharing agreements of its own with homeowners underwater on their loans or already skidding along the foreclosure route. Why not allow these families to stay in their homes on hybrid rental-ownership agreements?


pages: 363 words: 28,546

Portfolio Design: A Modern Approach to Asset Allocation by R. Marston

asset allocation, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, carried interest, commodity trading advisor, correlation coefficient, diversification, diversified portfolio, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, family office, financial innovation, fixed income, German hyperinflation, high net worth, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, inventory management, Long Term Capital Management, mortgage debt, passive investing, purchasing power parity, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Sharpe ratio, Silicon Valley, stocks for the long run, superstar cities, survivorship bias, transaction costs, Vanguard fund

It’s just P1: a/b c11 P2: c/d QC: e/f JWBT412-Marston T1: g December 20, 2010 Real Assets—Real Estate 17:3 Printer: Courier Westford 223 in comparisons between the NCREIF Index and the NAREIT Index that leverage has to be taken into account. HOME OWNERSHIP For many families in the United States, their home is their largest financial asset. In many cases, home ownership is leveraged with mortgage debt with the latter typically representing the largest financial liability of the family. But even taking into account mortgage debt, home ownership represents a substantial portion of net wealth for many families. So it’s important to study returns on homes as part of a larger study of investment returns. Many families believe that home ownership provides some of the highest returns that they earn in their lifetimes. One of the reasons for this belief is that families often suffer from money illusion.


pages: 160 words: 46,449

The Extreme Centre: A Warning by Tariq Ali

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, bonus culture, BRICs, British Empire, centre right, deindustrialization, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, full employment, labour market flexibility, land reform, light touch regulation, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, North Sea oil, obamacare, offshore financial centre, popular capitalism, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system, Wolfgang Streeck

Yes, we question this democracy because the parties in power do not look out for the collective good, but for the good of the rich. Because they understand growth as the growth of businessmen’s profits, not the growth of social justice, redistribution, public services, access to housing and other necessities. Because the parties in power are concerned only for their continuation in office … Because no politician has to live with what they legislate for their ‘subjects’: insecurity, mortgage debt, uncertainty. We question this democracy because it colludes with corruption, allowing politicians to hold a private post at the same time as public office, to profit from privileged information, to step into jobs as business advisors after leaving office, making it very profitable to be a politician. Yes, we question this democracy because it consists in an absolute delegation of decision-making into the hands of politicians that are nominated in closed lists and to whom we have no access of any kind.


pages: 154 words: 47,880

The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It by Robert B. Reich

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, financial deregulation, Gordon Gekko, immigration reform, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, job automation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

By 2007, the typical American household owed 138 percent of its after-tax income. Americans borrowed from everywhere. Credit card solicitations flooded mailboxes; many American wallets bulged with dozens of cards, all amassing larger and larger debt loads. Auto loans were easy to come by. Students and their families went deep into debt to pay the costs of college. Far and away the largest borrowing was to buy homes. Mortgage debt exploded. As housing values continued to rise, homes doubled as ATMs. Consumers refinanced their homes with even larger mortgages and used their homes as collateral for additional loans. As long as housing prices continued to rise, it seemed a painless way to get additional money. (In 1980 the average home sold for $64,600; by 2006 it went for $246,500.) Between 2002 and 2007, American households extracted $2.3 trillion from their houses, putting themselves ever more deeply into the hole.


pages: 430 words: 140,405

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. Mcdonald, Patrick Robinson

asset-backed security, bank run, business cycle, collateralized debt obligation, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, diversification, fixed income, high net worth, hiring and firing, if you build it, they will come, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, naked short selling, negative equity, new economy, Ronald Reagan, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, value at risk

But Wall Street had outsmarted everyone, and instead of the old-fashioned regular reliable bonds, investors now stampeded for residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), and structured investment vehicles (SIVs), paying around 5 to 8 percent. Securitization. What a stroke of pure genius. Turning those mortgage debts into tangible entities. Hardly anyone noticed the minor flaws that would, in time, bankrupt half the world. The year 2003 turned into 2004, and still the flame of my ambitions burned as strongly as ever. I still wanted a seat at Wall Street’s top table, right up there in the major leagues, and I thought I had what it took to make those final steps. And there I would prove my dad was wrong to be so gloomy, and so devoid of optimism.

Hell, we were the leaders in this property rampage; we’d helped invent the CDOs, and no one could sell these gold-edged derivatives better than us. I didn’t dare mention even a semblance of doubt, not to anyone. That would have been tantamount to high treason, as if the president of the United States had invited Osama bin Laden to Camp David for the weekend. Still, without one iota of reason, evidence, or fact, I wondered. Deep in the night I wondered. Sometimes I went to sleep trying to make sense of the billion-dollar mortgage debts against our breathtaking profits. And then, four days before Christmas something happened. Something that was a puzzle more than a truth, and it did not occur to anyone else. At least I don’t think it did. No one ever said anything. It occurred perhaps only to a guy like myself, a natural worrier, who had been lying awake at night, wondering. Four days before Christmas, December 21, 2004, the news flashed onto my screen.


pages: 484 words: 136,735

Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis by Anatole Kaletsky

"Robert Solow", bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, global rebalancing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nelson Mandela, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

In particular, the genuine wealth created in the free market period is now perceived to have been much smaller than the wealth created by the government-led high-tax capitalism of the 1950s and 1960s. On this reading of history, even the apparent resolution of class conflicts in the 1980s was a conjuring trick, because the true living standards of working people fell for most of the free-market period, with their pauperization disguised by a fraudulent inflation of property values and buildup of mortgage debt. As this tower of debt collapses, the middle class and the poor will realize that they gained little or nothing from free-market reforms. And if, as the New Normal assumes, economic conditions turn out to be even worse after the crisis than they were in the precrisis period, then a fortiori, the middle class will conclude that the free-market reforms of the Thatcher-Reagan period have made them much worse off than they were in the Keynesian Golden Age.

After all the speculative bubbles and phony financial froth were blown away, the true wealth created from the 1980s onward turned out to be much smaller than the wealth created in the era of government-led, strictly regulated, high-tax capitalism from 1945 until the 1970s. On this reading of history, even the apparent resolution of class conflicts that was arguably the greatest achievement of the 1980s was a mirage. The living standards of working people had actually fallen and this pauperization had simply been disguised by the ultimately ruinous build-up of mortgage debt. As this illusion vanished, the middle class and the poor should have realize that they gained nothing from the reforms of the free-market period. Their prospects in an austere postcrisis New Normal would be even worse than they were in the 1980s and 1990s and, therefore, far worse than in the Keynesian Golden Age of the postwar decades. If this view of the world turns out to be right and the post-crisis decades turn out to be even tougher for working people than the 1980s and 1990s, free-market capitalism would seem to be doomed, the Thatcher-Reagan reforms would be seen as a failure, and a return to the big government approach would seem inevitable.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate raider, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, God and Mammon, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, land value tax, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

Here is a typical pro-inflation argument by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research: If it is politically impossible to increase the deficit, then monetary policy provides a second potential tool for boosting demand. The Federal Reserve Board can go beyond its quantitative easing program to a policy of explicitly targeting a moderate rate of inflation (e.g., 3–4 percent) thereby making the real rate of interest negative. This would also have the benefit of reducing the huge burden of mortgage debt facing tens of millions of homeowners as a result of the collapse of the housing bubble.22 The problem is, in a deflationary environment when banks aren’t lending, how can the Fed create inflation? This is the biggest problem with the inflation solution in a situation of overleveraging and overcapacity. Quantitative easing exchanges a highly liquid asset (base money, reserves) for less liquid assets (e.g., various financial derivatives), but that won’t cause price or wage inflation if the new money doesn’t reach people who will spend it.23 Even if the Fed monetized all debt, public and private, the essential problem would remain.

No longer will greed, scarcity, the quantification and commoditization of all things, the “time preference” for immediate consumption, the discounting of the future for the sake of the present, the fundamental opposition between financial interest and the common good, or the equation of security with accumulation be axiomatic. THE DEBT CRISIS: OPPORTUNITY FOR TRANSITION A golden opportunity to transition to negative-interest money may be nigh in the form of the “debt bomb” that nearly brought down the global economy in 2008. Consisting of high levels of sovereign debt, mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loans, and other debts that can never be repaid, the debt bomb was never defused but just delayed. New loans were issued to enable borrowers to repay old ones, but of course unless the borrowers increase their income, which will only happen with economic growth, this only pushes the problem into the future and makes it worse. At some point, default is inevitable. Is there a way out?


pages: 421 words: 128,094

King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone by David Carey

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, diversification, diversified portfolio, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, margin call, Menlo Park, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, risk tolerance, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Sand Hill Road, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, The Predators' Ball, éminence grise

Many industry insiders predicted that, collectively, private equity funds raised in the mid-2000s would not break even, performing even worse than funds raised at the end of the 1990s that were invested during the last market high. The push by some firms like Apollo, KKR, and Carlyle to diversify away from LBOs into other asset classes by launching business development companies and publicly traded debt funds also proved calamitous. A $900 million mortgage debt fund that Carlyle raised on the Amsterdam exchange, shortly after KKR launched its $5 billion equity fund, was leveraged with more than $22 billion of debt and capsized in 2008 when its lenders issued margin calls and seized all its assets. It was a complete wipeout. KKR Financial, a leveraged mortgage and corporate debt vehicle in the United States, had to be propped up by KKR and barely survived.

Lee Partners: Vyvyan Tenorio, “It Could Have Been Worse,” Deal, Jan. 7, 2010; Vyvyan Tenorio, “The Fallen,” Deal, Feb. 19, 2009. 16 Forstmann Little: Tiffany Kary and Don Jeffrey, “Citadel Broadcasting Can Use Cash During Bankruptcy,” Bloomberg News, Dec. 21, 2009. 17 In Britain, Terra Firma Capital Partners: Devin Leonard, “Battle of the Bands: Citigroup Is up Next,” NYT, Feb. 6, 2010. 18 The deals done: David Carey, “Buyouts and Banks,” Deal, Nov. 30, 2008. 19 The rescue of Washington Mutual: Geraldine Fabrikant, “WaMu Tarnishes Star Equity Firm,” NYT, Sept. 27, 2008. 20 Executives at two other: Background interviews. 21 One of Blackstone’s coinvestors: SVG Capital plc Interim Report 2009, 13. 22 TXU, the record-breaking buyout: David Carey, “Future Shock,” Deal, Nov. 24, 2009; Jenny Anderson and Julie Creswell, “For Buyout Kingpins, the TXU Utility Deal Gets Tricky,” NYT, Feb. 27, 2010. 23 A $900 million mortgage debt fund: Peter Lattman, Randall Smith, and Jenny Strasburg, “Carlyle Fund in Free Fall as Its Banks Get Nervous,” WSJ, Mar. 14, 2008; Henny Sender, “Leverage Levels a Fatal Flaw in Carlyle Fund,” Financial Times, Nov. 30, 2009; home page of Carlyle Capital, www.carlylecapitalcorp.com. 24 KKR Financial: KKR Financial Holdings LLC press releases, Sept. 24, 2007, and Mar. 31, 2008. 25 Apollo Investment Corporation: Apollo Investment Corporation Annual Report 2009, 24. 26 The steady profits: Craig Karmin and Susan Pulliam, “Big Investors Face Deeper Losses,” WSJ, Mar. 5, 2009. 27 “By December [2007]”: Background interview with an adviser to limited partners. 28 CalSTRS, was so cash-strapped: Karmin and Pulliam, “Big Investors”; background interviews with an adviser to limited partners and an executive at a private equity firm. 29 More than $800 billion: “The Leveraged Finance Maturity Cycle,” Credit Sights, Apr. 29, 2009; “Refinancing the Buyout Boom,” Fitch Ratings special report, Oct. 29, 2009; Mike Spector, “Moody’s Warns on Deluge of Debt,” WSJ, Feb. 1, 2010. 30 Peterson felt so badly: Confirmed in e-mail from Peter Peterson, Feb. 25, 2010, in response to a query. 31 That month the firm announced: Blackstone annual report for 2008, Mar. 3, 2009, 158. 32 Motorola’s cell phones were eclipsed: Freescale and Motorola annual reports. 33 “In every fund”: Stephen Schwarzman interview. 34 In early 2008: Freescale press release, Feb. 8, 2008; background interviews with two sources familiar with the change. 35 Chip sales … nose-dived: Freescale financial reports. 36 “The game on a deal”: Schwarzman interview. 37 Harry Macklowe: Jennifer S.


pages: 515 words: 132,295

Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business by Rana Foroohar

accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Alvin Roth, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, bank run, Basel III, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, High speed trading, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, John Markoff, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vanguard fund, zero-sum game

And getting people to feel secure, and thus to spend more, is crucial to a sustainable recovery in an economy like America’s, where consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of GDP.9 Some economists have called on Americans to reconsider the model of home ownership as the cultural norm, arguing that it would make more economic sense for people to rent rather than own, since the former increases labor mobility and helps diversify investment risk. That may be true for some groups and in certain parts of the country—one thing we learned from the 2008 crisis was that heavy mortgage debts aren’t for everyone. But the American Dream of home ownership is deeply entrenched. Like it or not, a home, not stocks or savings, remains the chief financial asset for most Americans. And that’s likely to continue to be the case over the next several years, since returns from stocks are unlikely to match those of the recent past, for reasons covered in the previous chapters. Moreover, there’s ample proof that home ownership creates more economic and social stability in communities, since owners tend to be more civically engaged than renters and have a greater stake in the quality of local schools, parks, and playgrounds.10 Unfortunately, the economic climate and policy decisions taken since the 2008 crisis have resulted in a small group of rich investors—not American families—driving the real estate market and reaping most of the gains.

Everyone hunkers down and stops spending, and unemployment grows. The perverse cycle continues, as out-of-work people with even less spending power are buried under mounds of debt (no federally subsidized bailouts for them). Indeed, House of Debt paints a fascinating picture of how similar the periods leading up to the Great Depression and the Great Recession were in this regard. From 1920 to 1929 there was “an explosion in both mortgage debt and installment debt for purchasing automobiles and furniture,” a consumer spending spree based on easy credit that mirrors the doubling of consumer debt in America between 2000 and 2007 in the run-up to the housing crisis.23 Monetary policy of the sort we’ve had for the last several years—meaning superlow interest rates and big asset purchases by central bankers—can’t do much to help, since the people benefiting from it are those who actually own assets, not debt.


pages: 1,202 words: 424,886

Stigum's Money Market, 4E by Marcia Stigum, Anthony Crescenzi

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, business climate, buy and hold, capital controls, central bank independence, centralized clearinghouse, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, full employment, high net worth, implied volatility, income per capita, intangible asset, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, large denomination, locking in a profit, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, offshore financial centre, paper trading, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, profit motive, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, technology bubble, the payments system, too big to fail, transaction costs, two-sided market, value at risk, volatility smile, yield curve, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Strictly speaking, pass-throughs are not a money market instrument, since their average life, a variable number at best, exceeds by far that of true money market instruments. However, pass-throughs are traded so actively and in such volume that it is hard to write about the money market without mentioning them here and there. The Securities Total residential mortgage debt outstanding stood at $8.6 trillion in December 2005, well above the $4.2 trillion of Treasuries outstanding. About half of residential mortgage debt has been securitized and thus used to back various types of negotiable securities, which in turn have been sold to investors. The securitization of mortgages increases the amount of capital available for the financing of residential mortgages. Pass-through securities are formed when mortgages are pooled and undivided interests in the pool are sold.

As Table 2.1 shows, households in 2005 had gross savings of $1.186 trillion yet made capital expenditures of $1.712 trillion, leaving the sector with a funds deficit of $526 billion. This funds deficit has been a persistent phenomenon in the early 2000s. Every year consumers as a group have been saving less than they have been investing in housing and other capital goods. Consumers have been financing their investments mostly through home mortgages; household mortgage debt doubled between 2000 and the first quarter of 2006, increasing from $4.4 trillion to $8.9 trillion. With consumers running large funding deficits, it could be said that the business sector has been lucky that it hasn’t had to depend upon the household sector to finance its capital expenditures. In past years, the consumer sector was a major supplier of funds to the business sector, which is to be expected in any developed economy in which the bulk of its investing is carried on outside the government sector.

Given the steady growth in the size of the agency securities market, it is likely to continue to become an increasingly active market in the years to come, although much depends upon the impact of congressional legislation on the GSEs and the level of housing activity. Growth Prospects for Agency Securities The market for agency securities is likely to grow in the years ahead, even if housing demand slows and the government legislates a slowing in the growth of retained mortgage portfolios at the GSEs. One reason relates to the sheer size of the mortgage market. At over $9 trillion, residential mortgage debt was the biggest debt that households had at the end of 2006 (households had about $13 trillion in debts at the end of 2006). Importantly, only about half of all mortgage loans have been securitized. In other words, companies such as Fannie Mae have repackaged only about half of all mortgages into securities. This leaves plenty of room for continued growth. One potential obstacle to growth of the GSEs is the emergence of concern voiced by members of Congress over the so-called implicit guarantee that the GSEs enjoy.


pages: 165 words: 48,594

Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism by Richard D. Wolff

asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, feminist movement, financial intermediation, Howard Zinn, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, wage slave, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration

The American Dream increasingly moved beyond working families’ reach. Threatened with the prospect of slowing consumption, advertisers intensified their association of personal worth and success with the extent of one’s consumption of commodities. Without rising real wages, and unable to earn enough with extra hours of labor, US households turned en masse to the only remaining way to achieve the American Dream: borrowing. Mortgage debt soared, partly enabled by rising home prices and partly contributing to those rising home prices. More borrowing to buy homes increased demand for them and, thus, their prices. As prices rose, homeowners could refinance and borrow more against the increased collateral their rising home values represented. This wonderful “virtuous circle” yielded a housing expansion that fueled an economic upturn.


pages: 208

Planning Your Perfect Home Renovation: Save Time and Money With This Essential Guide to Fuss-Free Home Improvements by Alex May

mortgage debt

Camille and Roy’s floorplan highlights the pokey nature of the semi and its poor connection with the outdoors.They realise how awkward the kitchen and bathroom configuration is. ‘I hate having to go to the back of the house to use the loo,’ Camille says. She’d like to think about rebuilding the back section of the house, but thinks that they can’t afford it. The couple is stretched financially, and because both of them are contractors, they do not have stable enough incomes to take on more mortgage debt. Camille and Roy have saved $7500 but don’t want to spend all of it on the renovations. Their small budget and modest desire to make some cosmetic improvements means that it is easier to work backwards with their budgeting, starting with the total amount and working out how much they can spend per square metre: $7500 divided by 81.92 sq m = $91.55 per square metre. Looking at the Archicentre costs guide for renovation, outlined in Chapter 2, it will cost between $195 and $415 a square metre for a refurbishment, Roy and Camille realise they will need to be extremely frugal with their renovation.They don’t have the money to upgrade or rebuild any failing structures.


pages: 825 words: 228,141

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins

3D printing, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, addicted to oil, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, backtesting, bitcoin, buy and hold, clean water, cloud computing, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, Dean Kamen, declining real wages, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, estate planning, fear of failure, fiat currency, financial independence, fixed income, forensic accounting, high net worth, index fund, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jeff Bezos, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Lao Tzu, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, money market fund, mortgage debt, new economy, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, optical character recognition, Own Your Own Home, passive investing, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, riskless arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, telerobotics, the rule of 72, thinkpad, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, World Values Survey, X Prize, Yogi Berra, young professional, zero-sum game

(According to what many experts estimate, currently, that’s 54.25 cents per dollar.) Good ol’ Uncle Sam. And we’re not done yet. After 54.25% has been lopped off for the tax man, you can also say good-bye to another 17.25% of each dollar you earn in interest and fees. Got a car, a house, any credit card or student loan debt? In April 2014 the average US household had credit card debt of over $15,000; student loan debt of over $33,000; and mortgage debt of over $150,000. As a nation, we are up to our eyeballs in debt. The fact is, on average, approximately one-third of the income you have left after taxes will be spent on paying down interest! That leaves you with (drumroll, please) a whopping 28.5% of your hard-earned income left over to pay for everything else in life: food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, travel, entertainment, and anything else you happen to stumble upon at the mall or on Amazon!

Look back to the early 2000s, when Americans were buying whatever they could get their hands on (including people with little money!). But they weren’t just buying homes because “interest rates were low.” Interest rates were even lower in 2009, and they couldn’t give houses away. People were buying during the boom because prices were inflating rapidly. Home prices were rising every single month, and they didn’t want to miss out. Billionaire investing icon George Soros pointed out that “Americans have added more household mortgage debt in the last six years [by 2007] than in the prior life of the mortgage market.” That’s right, more loans were issued in six years than in the entire history of home loans. In Miami and many parts of South Florida, you could put down a deposit, and because of inflationary prices, before the condo was even finished being built, you could sell it for a sizeable profit. And what did people do with that home equity?

They used their home like an ATM and spent it, and that massive spending stimulated the profitability of corporations and the growth of the economy. Soros cited some staggering numbers: “Martin Feldstein, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, estimated that from 1997 through 2006, consumers drew more than $9 trillion in cash out of their home equity.” To put this in perspective, in just six years (from 2001 to 2007), Americans added more household mortgage debt (about $5.5 trillion) than in the prior life of the mortgage market, which is more than a century old. Of course, this national behavior is not a sustainable way to live. When home prices dropped like a rock, so did spending and the economy. In summary, which season or environment can powerfully drive home prices? Inflation. But in 2009 we experienced deflation, when prices sank, and many mortage holders were left with a home underwater—worth less than what they owed.


The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (Hardback) - Common by Alan Greenspan

"Robert Solow", addicted to oil, air freight, airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, equity premium, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nelson Mandela, new economy, North Sea oil, oil shock, open economy, Pearl River Delta, pets.com, Potemkin village, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, reserve currency, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stocks for the long run, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, working-age population, Y2K, zero-sum game

Soon statisticians could see a bulge in consumer spending that matched the surge in capital gains. Some analysts estimated that 3 percent to 5 percent of the increase in housing wealth showed up annually in the demand for all manner of goods and services, from cars and refrigerators to vacations and entertainment. And, of course, people poured money into home modernization and expansion, further fueling the boom. This pickup in outlays was virtually all funded through increases in home mortgage debt, which financial institutions made particularly easy to tap.* The net effect was characterized neatly by economics columnist Robert Samuelson, who wrote in Newsweek on December 30, 2002: "The housing boom saved the economy.... Fed up with the stock market, Americans went on a real-estate orgy. We traded up, tore down and added on." Booms, of course, beget bubbles, as the owners of dot-com stocks had painfully learned.

*Many of our Founding Fathers feared that American majority rule without the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America—our Bill of Rights—would be tyranny. 345 More ebooks visit: http://www.ccebook.cn ccebook-orginal english ebooks This file was collected by ccebook.cn form the internet, the author keeps the copyright. E I G H T E E N CURRENT ACCOUNTS AND DEBT C onsumer short-term d e b t . . . is approaching a historical turning p o i n t . . . . It must soon adjust itself to the nation's capacity for going in hock ; which is not limitless/' declared Fortune in March 1956. A month later the magazine added, "The same general observations apply to mortgage debt—but with double force." Chief economist Sandy Parker and coauthor Gil Burck arrived at those dour conclusions after poring over detailed data on the money owed by U.S. households. (The data had been assembled by me, working as a Fortune consultant.) Their concern was hardly unique—many economists and policymakers were worried that the ratio of household debt to household income had risen to a point where the American family was in danger of delinquency and default.

Fred, Bates Gill, Nicholas Lardy, and Derek Mitchell. China: The Balance Sheet. N e w York: Public Affairs (Perseus Books), 2 0 0 6 . Breyer, Stephen. "The Uneasy Case for Copyright: A Study of Copyright in Books, Photocopies, and C o m p u t e r Programs." Harvard Law Review 84, no. 2 (December 1970): 2 8 1 - 3 5 5 . Burck, Gilbert, and Sanford Parker. "The Coming Turn in C o n s u m e r Credit." Fortune, March 1956. . "The Danger in Mortgage Debt." Fortune, April 1956. Burns, Arthur F., and Wesley C. Mitchell. Measuring Business Cycles. N e w York: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1946. C a n n o n , Lou. Reagan. N e w York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1982. Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, w i t h Brian Winter. The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir. N e w York: Public Affairs, 2006. Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. N e w York: Penguin Press, 2004. .


pages: 524 words: 143,993

The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned--And Have Still to Learn--From the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

air freight, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandatory minimum, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market fragmentation, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, very high income, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

This was true for many institutions and countries, but it was dramatically true of the UK. The balance sheet of the UK banking system grew from about 50 per cent of GDP for the century prior to 1970, to a little over 200 per cent in the late 1980s and over 500 per cent of GDP immediately before the crisis of 2007.26 This partly reflected the increased debt within the UK economy, particularly household mortgage debt. But between the late 1990s and 2008, the consolidated foreign claims of UK headquartered banks also rose from less than $500bn to $4tn, or about 150 per cent of GDP.27 Part of this was because of increased trading activity and part of it was because of mergers, particularly the 2007 takeover of the Dutch banking group ABN AMRO by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Ben Broadbent, a member of the UK’s monetary policy committee, remarked in 2012 that ‘the major UK-owned banks have lost around 15 times on non-UK mortgages what they have in the domestic market.

In addition to these changes, as Andrew Smithers has argued, there is a powerful case for attacking the bonus culture, which leads management to under-invest in capital goods and over-invest in share buybacks.17 The fourth area is changes in financial contracts. The idea would be to create debt contracts that automatically adjust to circumstances. Index-linked debt is an example: the nominal value depends on the rate of inflation. Similarly, the nominal value of mortgage debt could be indexed to house prices: if house prices rose above a certain amount, lenders would share in the gain and similarly, if house prices fell, lenders would share in the losses. Such contracts might be an attractive way for investors to gain from rising house prices without having to put together portfolios of houses. They would also reduce the need for foreclosures. The fifth area is income redistribution.


pages: 497 words: 150,205

European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics Are in a Mess - and How to Put Them Right by Philippe Legrain

3D printing, Airbnb, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, cleantech, collaborative consumption, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, Diane Coyle, disruptive innovation, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, eurozone crisis, fear of failure, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, hiring and firing, hydraulic fracturing, Hyman Minsky, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, interest rate derivative, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Irish property bubble, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, liquidity trap, margin call, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, peer-to-peer rental, price stability, private sector deleveraging, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, savings glut, school vouchers, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, working-age population, Zipcar

But being tied to a particular property prevents people from moving to take advantage of better job opportunities, while their unpayable debt burden depresses their spending. It would be better to write down debts across the board, in a way that allows families to remain in their homes and provides banks with an upside if house prices recover. One way is to create economy-wide mechanisms that allow banks to swap their bad mortgage debts for an equity stake, with mortgage-holders paying rent on the proportion of the property owned by the bank. Likewise, the IMF has advocated creating economy-wide mechanisms for writing down unpayable corporate debts while giving viable companies the scope to remain in business. While the failure to tackle the overhangs of household and corporate debt is impeding the recovery in many countries, so too is the failure to deal decisively with Greece’s unsustainable government debt, as subsequent chapters will explain.

But my pay has been cut and there has been on top of that a substantial amount of pension cuts.” She set up Irish Homeowners Unite, a campaigning group for distressed borrowers that advises households on their options. While the Irish government introduced new insolvency laws in 2013 that aim to make it easier for distressed homeowners to negotiate “sustainable” deals on their mortgages with lenders, that is not enough. Mortgage debts ought to be reduced through economy-wide debt-equity swaps. Where necessary, personal bankruptcy terms ought to be eased and the process streamlined. Corporate debt has continued to soar in Ireland and Portugal and remains high in Spain.327 The IMF reckons that up to 20 per cent of southern European companies’ debts may end up in default: some 30 per cent in Italy, 41 per cent in Spain and 47 per cent in Portugal.328 The Fund therefore proposes a move towards insolvency procedures along the lines of America’s Chapter 11, which allows companies to continue trading while restructuring their debts, as well as economy-wide write-downs.


Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, Brownian motion, business cycle, buttonwood tree, buy and hold, California gold rush, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, colonial rule, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, dogs of the Dow, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the telegraph, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, land tenure, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, margin call, means of production, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, statistical arbitrage, survivorship bias, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Vanguard fund, working poor, yield curve

Economic agents knew 224 Investment: A History enough not to view the equity of technology firms as low risk, and therefore agents generally did not assemble their balance sheets in such a way so as to have their financial obligations depend fundamentally on the value of those stocks. For the rational agent, then, the shock produced by the precipitous decline in the stock of tech companies did not induce severe distress. This was quite different than the highly rated tranches of mortgage debt (often having AA and AAA ratings), where agents believed in the soundness of the asset and often constructed their liabilities to depend fundamentally on their valuation not declining substantially. Agents thought, in short, that these mortgage assets involved their low-risk capital and as such could build more liabilities against them, and when that turned out not to be true, disaster struck.

., 214 Mises, Ludwig von, 205 Mitchell, Charles, 164 Mit Ghamr Savings Bank, 38 Modigliani, Franco, 121–22, 233 Moley, Raymond, 211 momentum investing strategies, 314 monetarist school, 206–7, 212 428 Investment: A History Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, A (Friedman and Schwartz), 206 money: Aristotle on, 33, 59; expanding supply of, 176; sterility of, 23; time value of, 32 moneylenders (doso), 31 money market mutual funds, 143 Monte, 83 moral hazard, 219 Mores, Edward Rowe, 132 Morgan Stanley, 294 Morgenthau, Henry, 209–10 mortality risk, 132, 145 mortgages, 321–23; insurance, 321; mortgage-backed securities, 217, 266, 323; mortgage debt, highly rated tranches of, 224; subprime-mortgage lending, 223 mudaraba contract, 35, 53, 55 mufawada contract, 55 Muhammad, 37 Murlyn Corporation, 190 Murphy, Thomas, 7 Muscovy Company, 65–66 musharaka contract, 53 Muth, Richard, 207 mutual funds, 139–44; closedend, 140, 141; 401(k) and, 144; Great Depression and open-ended, 141–42; industry today, 144; money market, 143; opportunities with, 92; during postwar period, 142–44; precursors to, 140; in retirement accounts, 295; shares through, 93 mutual life insurance companies, 133–34 mutual savings banks, 134–37 Napoleon, 74 Napoleonic Wars, 87 naruqqum investment partnerships, 52 Nasser Social Bank, 38 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, 124 National Housing Act of 1934, 321–22 national or international exchange, 94 National School Lunch Program, 167 National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), 278 Natomas Company, 186 natural catastrophe, 332; raising funds by selling, 162; “safe,” 1; selling and purchasing, 165; Treasury, 252 natural resources, commodities and, 281–82 NBC Reports, 111 Needham & Co., 187 negotiable bills of exchange, 83–84 nemulum (net profit), 52 net present value (NPV), 231–32 net profit (nemulum), 52 new asset classes, 331–32 New Deal, 92, 108, 109 new elite, 10, 291, 304–5, 315, 318 New World, 65, 69 New York Curb Market Agency, 89, 97 New York Life, 102 New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), 88, 191; closure of, 203; mergers and transformations, 95; “Own Your Share of American Business” campaign, 92; stock ticker network, 95; trading Index 429 volume, 89, 90; Whitney, R., and, 164–67 New York Stock Exchange Gratuity Fund, 165 New York Yacht Club, 165 Nicostratus, 24 no-arbitrage condition, 235–36 Nomos Nautikos, 52 nonnegotiable bills of exchange, 83 Norman, Montagu, 202 Nourse, Edwin, 207 NPV.


pages: 477 words: 144,329

How Money Became Dangerous by Christopher Varelas

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, airport security, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, Bonfire of the Vanities, California gold rush, cashless society, corporate raider, crack epidemic, cryptocurrency, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, fiat currency, fixed income, friendly fire, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, interest rate derivative, John Meriwether, Kickstarter, Long Term Capital Management, mandatory minimum, mobile money, mortgage debt, pensions crisis, pets.com, pre–internet, profit motive, risk tolerance, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Predators' Ball, too big to fail, universal basic income, zero day

Rather than reward and encourage vocational careers, we have instead come to define success in relation to acceptance by a well-known college, with a greater emphasis placed on the institution’s brand name than on the actual education it provides. The student loan market has facilitated schools’ raising the cost of education astronomically, which in turn has made it even less viable for those unable to access loans and scholarships. Our national education bubble has swelled to $1.6 trillion in debt outstanding—that’s larger than both credit card and auto loan debts, a consumer debt market smaller only than mortgage debt. Two million people in our country owe more than $100,000 in student loans. After being told their whole lives about the importance of a college education, then working hard to get into the best school they could, they graduated into a Kafkaesque existence, shackled to debts they have limited ability to repay while working jobs that leave them living at subsistence levels. Meanwhile, the children of the rich and famous are matriculating at even better schools, unburdened by financial considerations as they set up their cameras to plug new products and vlog about their glamorous lives

” * * * During the early 2000s, when Northern California was beginning to recover from the dotcom bust, the housing market began its rise to historic levels. All across Stockton, residential construction exploded in hopes of attracting Bay Area commuters. In most local economies, residential housing is a small percentage of overall growth and value creation, but in Stockton, an extremely large percentage of expansion was funded by mortgage debt, since the city had basically shifted its central industry to home construction. Eager to cash in on its proximity to the center of tech and culture, Stockton was soon rolling in property tax revenue. Median home prices quadrupled in just six years. Leading up to this moment, Stockton also overcommitted on future pensions, offering retirement at age fifty to the city’s underpaid police- and firemen, while boosting their pensions and benefits, including medical coverage for life.


pages: 585 words: 151,239

Capitalism in America: A History by Adrian Wooldridge, Alan Greenspan

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Asian financial crisis, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, business process, California gold rush, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, global supply chain, hiring and firing, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Mason jar, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade route, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, white flight, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War, young professional

The rise of Silicon towns such as Palo Alto and Seattle coincided with the decline of Rust Belt towns such as Youngstown, Ohio. The “great unraveling” was already under way. As we note in chapter 12, the crowding out of savings by the surge in entitlements required a rapid rise in consumer debt. Between 1981 and 2007, consumer debt as a proportion of disposable income grew by 8 percentage points and home-mortgage debt grew by 57 percentage points. So did America’s level of anxiety. Information technology had already started to do for some white-collar jobs—particularly secretarial and clerical jobs—what machines had done for blue-collar jobs, creating a nagging fear of technological obsolescence. In 1991, at the bottom of the business cycle, a survey of workers in large corporations showed that 25 percent were afraid of being laid off.

Neither fish, flesh, nor fowl, they sometimes acted like regular private companies (and certainly paid their executives like private companies) but also enjoyed both the implicit backing of the government (which allowed them to borrow at rock-bottom interest rates) and close relations with politicians. Their skill at packaging mortgage loans into mortgage-backed securities and selling them on to investors, all with the implicit backing of the U.S. government, encouraged foreign savings to pour into the American housing market. Fannie and Freddie had doubled their share of the American mortgage market from 1990 to 2000 and were responsible for about half of America’s mortgage debt, despite extraordinarily thin buffers of equity capital. But in a rare display of political unity in those partisan times, both George Bush and the congressional left wanted them to expand still further and provide poorer Americans, including those with “nontraditional financial profiles,” a chance to live “the American dream of home ownership.” The housing department provided Fannie and Freddie with such ambitious goals that they had no choice but to invest, wholesale, in subprime securities rather than hold individual mortgages.


pages: 219 words: 59,600

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

clean water, follow your passion, helicopter parent, mortgage debt, sharing economy

In America, we consume twice as many material goods as we did fifty years ago.2 Over the same period, the size of the average American home has nearly tripled, and today that average home contains about three hundred thousand items.3 On average, our homes contain more televisions than people.4 And the US Department of Energy reports that, due to clutter, 25 percent of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside and another 32 percent have room for only one vehicle.5 Home organization, the service that’s trying to find places for all our clutter, is now an $8 billion industry, growing at a rate of 10 percent each year.6 And still one out of every ten American households rents off-site storage — the fastest-growing segment of the commercial real-estate industry over the past four decades.7 No wonder we have a personal-debt problem. The average household’s credit-card debt stands at over $15,000, while the average mortgage debt is over $150,000.8 I’ll stop there with the statistics dump, because I don’t want to depress you. Besides, you don’t need statistics and surveys to help you recognize that you very likely own too much stuff. You see it as you walk through your house every day. Your living space has become filled with possessions of every kind. Your floor space is crowded. Your closets are stuffed. Your drawers are overflowing.


pages: 179 words: 59,704

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

"side hustle", Airbnb, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, buy and hold, carbon footprint, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, East Village, financial independence, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, index fund, indoor plumbing, loss aversion, McMansion, mortgage debt, passive income, payday loans, risk tolerance, Stanford marshmallow experiment, universal basic income, working poor

You probably won’t make all of your money back, but since the initial, colossal depreciation already took place, your resale price will be much closer to the price you paid. This as opposed to the remarkable discrepancy between the price of a new car and its resale potential. Paying cash for cars is also a perfect illustration of the fact that frugality is a compounding game. By never having car payments or any other non-mortgage debt, and the often-exorbitant interest rates that go along with such debt, Nate and I have always been able to save at a high rate, which means we’re able to avoid having car payments, which means we’re able to save at a higher rate . . . it’s a virtuous cycle of low spending and high saving that’s self-perpetuating. The less money you need to live on, the more you save, and the less you need to earn.


pages: 215 words: 61,435

Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen

David Brooks, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, mortgage debt, Nicholas Carr, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, Ronald Reagan, shared worldview, Steven Levy, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Those who remain in the hamlets, towns, and cities are generally condemned to straitened economic circumstances, destined for low-wage and stagnant service industry jobs and cut off from the top tier of analytic-conceptual work that is reserved for elite graduates. They are rooted in economically deprived regions or survive on the outskirts of concentrations of elites, where they will struggle with inflated real estate prices either by overpopulating subpar urban housing or by living at a great commuting distance from work and entertainment. They generally own extraordinary and growing levels of debt, mainly college loans and mortgage debt, though the insistent demand that they participate fully in the broader economy as consumers doubtless leads them to accumulate other excessive debts as well. While there is always the chance that one of their children might move up the economic ladder—particularly via an elite college—in the main, fairly static differentiation now persists between the classes. The fact that there can be both upward and downward movement, however, and that competition has now been globalized, leads all classes to share a pervasive anxiety.


pages: 218 words: 62,889

Sabotage: The Financial System's Nasty Business by Anastasia Nesvetailova, Ronen Palan

algorithmic trading, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, bitcoin, Black-Scholes formula, blockchain, Blythe Masters, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business process, collateralized debt obligation, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, diversification, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ross Ulbricht, shareholder value, short selling, smart contracts, sovereign wealth fund, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail

They also wanted to resell the Italian unit, Banca Antonveneta, to Monte dei Paschi di Siena for €9bn, after it had been valued at just €6.6bn.22 Alfred Saenz, Santander’s chief executive, said bluntly: ‘We have got the best bits of ABN AMRO; we got the best meat from the kill. We are the only ones coming out smiling.’23 After the takeover was complete, Botín, Santander’s victorious CEO, refused to take phone calls from Goodwin.24 A three-decade-long partnership had ended. Unlike RBS, Santander survived the global financial crisis relatively well – mainly due to its focus on retail banking and little exposure to US subprime mortgage debt.25 Indeed, from January 2009 the Spanish bank had lobbied the European Commission to launch an investigation into ‘state aid’ given to the nationalized Lloyds Bank and its old ally, RBS. Santander’s aim in lobbying the European Commission was to achieve ‘a break up of both RBS and Lloyds so he could cherry-pick the best bits at fire-sale prices’.26 The strategy worked: in 2009 Santander was allowed by the authorities in London and Brussels to bid for RBS business branches called Williams & Glyn.27 In pursuit of cheap deals, Santander pulled out of the bidding competition several times but stated that it ‘may return to the negotiating table if the Edinburgh-based lender is prepared to lower its asking price’.28 If the ABN takeover was the ‘nail in the coffin’ for RBS, then Santander was key in manoeuvring RBS into this deadly corner.


pages: 598 words: 172,137

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airline deregulation, anti-communist, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, business cycle, business process, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, family office, full employment, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, index fund, industrial cluster, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, low cost airline, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, mega-rich, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, Occupy movement, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Vanguard fund, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

But Lawrence Lindsey, Bush’s first chief economics adviser, said no Bush official wanted to raise the alarm. “No one wanted to stop that bubble,” said Lindsey. “It would have conflicted with the president’s own policies.” The Warnings Those were comments made in hindsight. But there were warnings ahead of time from outside economists. In 2003, Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington cautioned that rising mortgage debt had reached dangerous levels and this was “especially scary” because housing prices “may be inflated by as much as 20 to 30 percent.” Other warnings that the housing market was dangerously overheated came from economists Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley and Paul Krugman of Princeton. In 2004, Robert Shiller, whose book Irrational Exuberance had foretold a stock market bust in 2000, reported ominous housing bubbles in key regional markets, warning that speculative fever could bring widespread mortgage defaults.

The first raise on June 30, 2004, increased the rate to 1.25 percent, and the final one, on Greenspan’s last day as Fed chairman, on January 31, 2006, raised the rate to 4.5 percent. 33 Housing prices from the late 1990s Shiller, Irrational Exuberance, 13. 34 “The growth of housing prices” Johnson and Kwak, 13 Bankers, 112. 35 Massive defaults were inevitable Shiller, Irrational Exuberance, 13. 36 Gramlich cautioned Greenspan Gramlich, Subprime Mortgages, 6; Gramlich, “Booms and Busts: The Case of Subprime Mortgages,” lecture, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City symposium, August 30–September 1, 2007, 106, published in Economic Review (Fourth Quarter 2007), Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, http://​www.​kansascityfed.​org/​publicat/​econrev/​PDF/​4q07​Gramlich.​pdf. 37 51 percent of subprime loans Gramlich, Subprime Mortgages, 21; Greg Ip, “Did Greenspan Add to Subprime Woes?” The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2007. 38 “Like a city with a murder law” Gramlich, “Booms and Busts.” 39 “What we forgot” Johnson and Kwak, 13 Bankers, 142–44. 40 No Bush official wanted Jo Becker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Stephen Labaton, “White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire,” The New York Times, December 21, 2008. 41 Mortgage debt had reached dangerous levels David Cay Johnston, “Business; In Debate Over Housing Bubble, a Winner Also Loses,” The New York Times, April 11, 2004. 42 Shiller’s warning was more stark Robert J. Shiller, “Household Reactions to Changes in Housing Wealth,” Discussion Paper 1459 (New Haven, CT: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, April 2004), http://​cowles.​econ.​yale.​edu. 43 “May be the biggest bubble in U.S. history” Robert J.


pages: 543 words: 157,991

All the Devils Are Here by Bethany McLean

Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, Black-Scholes formula, Blythe Masters, break the buck, buy and hold, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, financial innovation, fixed income, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, interest rate swap, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, Own Your Own Home, Ponzi scheme, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, telemarketer, too big to fail, value at risk, zero-sum game

Rosner’s eureka moment comes when he sees data showing that about 35 percent of the mortgages used to purchase homes in 2004 and 2005 are not for primary residences, but for second homes and investment properties. And as he has been saying for years, the number of people borrowing to buy an actual home is dwarfed by the number of people borrowing to refinance. The refis, in turn, are made possible by rising home values—which may not even be real, given all the inflated appraisals. (In fact, Alan Greenspan himself noted in a study he co-authored in 2007 that about four-fifths of the rise in mortgage debt from 1990 to 2006 was due to the “discretionary extraction of home equity.”) Like Ranieri, Rosner has become worried about the CDO market. Around the same time as Ranieri’s speech, Rosner approaches a finance professor at Drexel University, Joseph Mason, to co-author a paper with him. They deliver it in February 2007 at the Hudson Institute. The title is a mouthful: “How Resilient Are Mortgage Backed Securities to Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions?”

But they had never focused on credit risk—the risk that the mortgages Fannie and Freddie guaranteed or held would default. Maybe it was because they had been so blind over the years to all the credit risk in the system, from subprime originators to AIG, that they never saw it coming with Fannie and Freddie, either. Thus it was that in 2007 Fannie and Freddie would add $600 billion in net new mortgage debt to their books, debt that would wind up being highly destructive. They would continue to buy and guarantee mortgages well into 2008. And thus it was that the GSEs would lumber, slowly but inevitably, toward a cliff they didn’t see. The financial crisis came on in fits and starts, and all the while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were accumulating the very mortgage risk that would cause the long-dormant volcano to finally erupt.


pages: 597 words: 172,130

The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire by Neil Irwin

"Robert Solow", Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, break the buck, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency peg, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Flash crash, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Google Earth, hiring and firing, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, Julian Assange, low cost airline, market bubble, market design, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, Paul Samuelson, price stability, quantitative easing, rent control, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Socratic dialogue, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, union organizing, WikiLeaks, yield curve, Yom Kippur War

Jobs may have been scarce at times—both the 1991 and 2001 recessions were followed by slow, “jobless” recoveries—but consumers were able to keep buying things because they could always put them on a credit card or take out a second mortgage when times were tough. The result: Americans in 2005 had $41,000 in household debt for every man, woman, and child in the country, up from $6,400 in 1980. If debt levels had grown only as fast as the overall economy, consumers would have owed less than half as much. The details were different in other countries where home prices rose, but the basic trend wasn’t: In Spain, for example, mortgage debt rose at an average rate of 20 percent a year from 2000 to 2004, a period in which home prices rose 16 percent a year. It’s almost impossible for real estate prices to go through that kind of rapid price increase without borrowed money making it possible, which raises a question: Just who was doing all that lending—and why? To answer that, you have to go back a little bit. • • • In the late 1990s, a string of emerging nations experienced deep financial crises.

But as the crisis emerged in 2007 and deepened in 2008, Bernanke’s work would become all too relevant. He had documented how problems in the financial sector tend not to stay in the financial sector, but to spread to other areas of the economy, slowing down overall growth. This, he argued, was a major cause of the deep downturn of the 1930s, a large part of what made the Great Depression great. When banks and other lenders suffer major losses, as they did with mortgage debt in 2007, they pare back lending of all kinds. That weakens the economy, which causes banks’ losses to mount further, setting up a vicious cycle—the “financial accelerator,” as Bernanke and frequent coauthor Mark Gertler called it. From the earliest days of the crisis, the Fed chief was concerned that the problems in the U.S. housing market could spiral into something very dangerous indeed. Bernanke’s academic background had prepared him intellectually for what was to come.


pages: 526 words: 160,601

A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Cannon Gibney

1960s counterculture, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate personhood, Corrections Corporation of America, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, equal pay for equal work, failed state, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kitchen Debate, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Menlo Park, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, operation paperclip, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, school choice, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, Snapchat, source of truth, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, survivorship bias, TaskRabbit, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, War on Poverty, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

The one area where the 1986 reform appeared bad for Boomers was the elimination of deductibility of personal-interest payments of any kind—a potential constraint on the consumption the sociopathic Boomers cherished. The more than compensatory sweetener was that mortgage interest would remain deductible, now for up to $1 million in indebtedness, and another $100,000 in “unrelated interest”—and thus, the home equity line of credit was born.* A little paperwork, and the Boomers once again had their personal interest deduction, and indeed, “much of the [new, mortgage] debt finance[ed] vacations, cars, boats, and other consumer purchases.”16 Of course, this was the part of the Boomers’ life cycle in which they were snapping up real estate at tremendous volume, and while the numerical bulk of the deduction went to the richest (as is the case with most deductions), the most populous beneficiary group was the most-indebted (i.e., youngest) homeowners, whose ranks were swelling with Boomer voters.

Still, a nuclear option isn’t unthinkable, given that Boomer debt insanity was on full display in 2016 when Trump went so far as to suggest the government issue debt with intent of subsequently renegotiating its terms—i.e., premeditated default.41 Because that’s what many Boomers have done with their personal borrowing, Trump wasn’t so much bloviating as reflecting a reality practiced at home. Private Liabilities As to that, just as government borrows to maintain its lifestyle, so do citizens. On a personal basis, American debt totaled $14.2 trillion in 2015, of which about $9.5 trillion is mortgage debt, $1.3 trillion educational debt, plus an assorted remainder.42 Some of these debts, like student loans to pay tuition at elite schools, are really in the nature of debt-financed investments.* Others are offset in whole or part by assets like houses, though as the underwater mortgages in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada show, not as much as one would hope. Nevertheless, there is simply a huge amount of debt outstanding, of every imaginable variety, much of it spent unproductively, and increasingly steadily since 1980 to unsettling levels.


pages: 257 words: 64,763

The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street by Robert Scheer

banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, fixed income, housing crisis, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, mega-rich, mortgage debt, new economy, old-boy network, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics

“This current financial crisis had many causes . . . in the widespread use of poorly understood financial instruments, in shortsightedness and excessive leverage at financial institutions. But it was also the product of basic failures in financial supervision and regulation.” What irony that Summers, who as Clinton’s Treasury secretary pushed through legislation guaranteeing “Legal Certainty for Swap Agreements” and banning the regulation of securitized mortgage debt, should now admit that “securitization led to an erosion of lending standards, resulting in market failure that fed the housing boom and deepened the housing bust.” According to Summers and Geithner, the Obama plan promised that all derivatives dealers would be “subject to supervision, and regulators will be empowered to enforce rules against manipulation and abuse.” If such language is ever passed into law, I hope that Brooksley Born is in the gallery and gets the standing ovation she deserves as the woman who, as head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, warned that the derivatives market needed to be regulated.


pages: 261 words: 70,584

Retirementology: Rethinking the American Dream in a New Economy by Gregory Brandon Salsbury

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, buy and hold, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, estate planning, financial independence, fixed income, full employment, hindsight bias, housing crisis, loss aversion, market bubble, market clearing, mass affluent, Maui Hawaii, mental accounting, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, new economy, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the rule of 72, Yogi Berra

As comedian Jackie Mason said, “Right now I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.”25 • Four in ten Americans now feel buyer’s remorse—wishing they had spent less money during good times and put more away over several years.26 • Average American household credit card debt equals $8,565, up almost 15% in 2008 since 2000.27 • Americans have $10.5 trillion in just mortgage debt since the end of 2007, more than double the $4.8 trillion in 2002.28 • The big buzz kill. – According to a survey by Lightspeed Research, 60% of Americans have scaled back on fancy or expensive coffee in the past six months; 43% of those completing the survey indicated that they frequented Starbucks the most.29 – For the first time, annual sales of flat panel TVs looked to decline from $24.4 billion in 2008 to $21.8 billion in 2009.30 • Hummers not humming


pages: 288 words: 64,771

The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality by Brink Lindsey

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Asian financial crisis, bank run, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Build a better mousetrap, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, experimental economics, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, inventory management, invisible hand, Jones Act, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, mass incarceration, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, patent troll, plutocrats, Plutocrats, principal–agent problem, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart cities, software patent, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Washington Consensus, white picket fence, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce

Dot-com stocks were held mostly by comparatively rich people, so the losses fell on those best able to bear them; by contrast, falling home prices inflicted pain much more broadly. Furthermore, and crucial for our purposes, there was a difference in how the two bubbles were funded. The dot-com bubble was inflated with infusions of equity financing; the subprime bubble, on the other hand, was inflated with debt, not only mortgage debt held by home buyers but also short-term debt that provided the vast bulk of financing for banks and shadow banks alike. The evidence shows that debt-financed bubbles are much more damaging than those financed with equity, as the recessions that follow are much steeper and the ensuing recoveries are much slower.17 First, debt financing by home buyers channels losses through the financial system rather than directly to households (as is the case with equity bubbles); second, heavy levels of debt by financial firms render them highly vulnerable to insolvency crises in the event of declines in the value of their assets.


pages: 317 words: 71,776

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

A fake South African township had been built with the explicit intention of allowing the rich ‘to experience the grinding life of the poor’.84 He went on to explain that the delights apparently included an unlicensed bar, a ‘long-drop’ toilet, and shabby shacks complete with rusty corrugated-iron walls and roofs. One night in a fake shanty-town shack costs the same as an average month’s wage in South Africa. But why do rich American tourists fly all the way to Africa to experience extreme poverty? They could just as easily find it at home. On average, the few homes that the poorest 40 per cent of Americans own are worth less than nothing, due to their mortgage debt. In the UK, wealth inequality is, as yet, nowhere near this level, and fear of kidnap is much less; but as UK wealth inequality rapidly increases, we need to look to the US to see where we are heading. By 2012 almost 50 per cent of the UK population were no longer satisfied with their personal financial situation, and less than a fifth expressed high satisfaction (Figure 4.6). What would make the rich safer and more secure is being less wealthy.


pages: 242 words: 71,943

Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity by Charles L. Marohn, Jr.

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, A Pattern Language, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, bank run, big-box store, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, corporate governance, Detroit bankruptcy, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Ferguson, Missouri, global reserve currency, housing crisis, index fund, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, low skilled workers, mass immigration, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, reserve currency, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, white flight, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-sum game

When we build a neighborhood all at once to a finished state, we have – at best – a moment of perfection, a period of time when everything works as envisioned. But even in the most perfect development, an unavoidable, yet entirely predictable, stress looms. The homes were all built at the same time; they will all reach the end of their life cycle at the same time. Within the lifetime of the mortgage debt for the home, the homes in the neighborhood will simultaneously start to fail. An asphalt-shingled roof will last for 25 to 30 years, and then it will need to be replaced. Because they were all built at the same time, every home in the neighborhood will need a new roof within a few years of each other. Failure to maintain the roof has serious consequences; a modern chipboard and sheetrock home will go bad quickly with a failed roof.


pages: 741 words: 179,454

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Jones Act, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Satyajit Das, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Subprime lending contributed to increases in American home ownership rates to a high of 69.2 percent in 2004, up from 64 percent in 1994. Between 1997 and 2006 the higher overall demand caused average house prices to double. By late 2006, the average U.S. home cost four times the average family income, an increase from the historical two or three times. As house prices rose, Americans saved less and borrowed more. American home mortgage debt increased to 73 percent of American GDP in 2008, up from below 50 percent in the 1990s. High house prices put home ownership beyond the means of the people that the policy was meant to assist. Borrowers were forced to enter into expensive creative mortgages to purchase houses. Eventually a surplus of unsold homes and unsustainable levels of borrowings caused housing prices to decline from mid-2006, leaving homeowners with unsustainable levels of debt.

Jefferson County paid fixed rate and received a floating rate of, say, 67 percent of one-month LIBOR. Historical studies going back to 1986 showed that the notes typically trade at 67 percent of 1-month LIBOR. If the relationship did not change (known as basis risk), Jefferson County saved between 0.75 and 1.25 percent per annum. In January 2008, when monoline insurers were downgraded by rating agencies because of exposure to subprime mortgage debt, the ARSs guaranteed by them also got downgraded. Investors exited the ARS market and auctions failed. Where there is an auction failure, the rate increases to a pre-agreed maximum level, as high as 20 percent, to compensate investors unable to sell their investments. In February 2008, Jefferson County’s interest rate rose to 10 percent from 3 percent. The interest costs of Jefferson County’s sewer debt reached more than $250 million, against the $138 million in revenue the system produces.


pages: 322 words: 77,341

I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay by John Lanchester

asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, Blythe Masters, Celtic Tiger, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, George Akerlof, greed is good, hedonic treadmill, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, intangible asset, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Martin Wolf, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, new economy, Nick Leeson, Norman Mailer, Northern Rock, Own Your Own Home, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, The Great Moderation, the payments system, too big to fail, tulip mania, value at risk

Contrast this to Britain, with our ridiculously crook-friendly libel law and huge cash awards—if anybody cared about the point of alleged honor, the cash wouldn’t be necessary.) Add this together, and you get an entirely different culture of money, borrowing, and debt, one which means that the French have dramatically lower levels of household debt than the Anglo-Saxon economies. In Britain, going into the credit crunch, the typical household owed more than 160 percent of its average income—an alarmingly high figure and one which reflects our high levels of mortgage debt, and general willingness to borrow, borrow, borrow in order to spend, spend, spend. In France the equivalent figure was 60 percent. Individually and collectively, French households are much less stretched and much less at risk from a downturn. Economists attribute this to the fact that Germany and France were the first countries to emerge officially from the current recession. Back in the days of my first mortgage, British loans were like European ones, in that the bank preferred not to lend you more than half, or at the most three-quarters, of the value of the property.


pages: 183 words: 17,571

Broken Markets: A User's Guide to the Post-Finance Economy by Kevin Mellyn

banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, information asymmetry, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mobile money, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, seigniorage, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the payments system, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

The Agony of the Household Sector Up to 2008, with no significant financial wealth, debts in excess of their income—which was in any case stagnant—and diminished employment security, the great American “middle class” continued to drive the economy. Up until 2008, personal consumption accounted for 70 percent of US GDP. The largest positive item on the US household balance sheet was the value of residential property, and the largest negative item was mortgage debt. As long as house prices rose faster than consumer debt, household spending would continue to grow. But that depended on the great Wall Street leverage machine continuing to turn consumer credit into investments. When it became clear that it had gone too far and the machine seized up, so did demand for houses, and therefore their prices fell, especially in the most overheated and overbuilt real estate markets, such as California, Nevada, and Florida.


The Fix: How Bankers Lied, Cheated and Colluded to Rig the World's Most Important Number (Bloomberg) by Liam Vaughan, Gavin Finch

asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, buy low sell high, call centre, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, eurozone crisis, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, urban sprawl

Yes, one of his peers chimed. And we don’t want to be coerced into anything “by outside sources such as the media”.14 The banks on the committee had a sound reason to resist significant changes to the way Libor was set.By 2008,the benchmark was embedded in an estimated $350 trillion of derivatives contracts and $10 trillion of loans around the world.15 To put that into perspective, the total amount of U.S. mortgage debt outstanding at the start of 2015 was $13 trillion. Any substantial alterations could have invalidated those contracts, some of which, in the case of interest-rate swaps, lasted decades.16 On top of that, acknowledging serious flaws in Libor would have left the banks facing a barrage of litigation and legal wrangling. The FXMMC concluded that the best option would be to change nothing and promise to do a better job of policing the rate.


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