Nov 26, 2007

The Great American Write-Down

The business of mortgages.
The Mortgage Meltdown Part 1 I wrote “The widespread closures and layoffs in the mortgage industry is more than just a slow down or a shakeout, it directly points to a flawed business plan.” When you start doing No-Money-Down, Interest-Only, 100 Percent Financing, qualifying applicants on the lower “Teaser-Rates” and doing so on inflated home prices, leaves absolutely no room for error. The mortgage companies pile on significant fees and then sell those mortgages to various investment groups, many of which are listed below. Those banks sort and package those mortgages in order to either resell or issue bonds to recoup there expense. At each step the mortgage company or the bank takes their profit upfront adding to the cost of the mortgage. When the packages are funded they roll those funds into new mortgages and start all over.

It was too much money aggressively searching for deals, which ultimately drove the appreciation in housing.
There was so much pressure to produce mortgages that brokers were working every possible angle to get someone to take their money; bad credit was no problem, no money down and we’ll find a way, payment too large and we’ll up the price and get the seller to cover some of the interest, need some cash out of the deal our appraisers know the true value of the property and we love speculators because they’ll bring us lots of deals. Everyone was happy as long as they could take their profit and pass it on. There was so much stuffed on top of an already bad deal that any speed bump in the housing market could cause a crash.

Mortgages are available to qualified buyers with conservative appraisals.
Now that both the property and the financial speculator are washed out of the system, mortgages are still available to qualified buyers and at good terms. Fannie Mae and banks that didn’t handle subprime products are getting burned because of their investments into the bonds, CDO's and SIV's that were secured by these blotted mortgages.

What’s next?
Bob Janjuah, the head of credit research at RBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, has estimated that the total asset value lost by the subprime mess will end up between $250 billion and $500 billion. So far the total write-downs from the 23 American companies listed below is about $71 billion just in the past eight weeks.

Everyone but Mozilo of CountryWide agree that next year will be more of the same. These numbers are only from a handful of our largest financial corporations. As listed in my article, Mortgage Industry Producing Lots of Unemployed, hundreds of smaller companies have closed and approximately 40,000 have lost their jobs in the mortgage industry. Those costs have been enormous but don’t attract the headlines and aren’t included in the headline numbers. There are also losses like CapitalOne who had a negative $670 million turn around in the third quarter when compared to the third quarter last year. These losses are also missed in the tallies.

These huge losses also ignore some very large companies like New Century, First Magnus, American Home Finance and NovaStar. The mortgage insurance industry has been devastated; most of the companies in that sector are near death like Radian, MGIC, PMI, Balboa and First American. With losses mounting in these bond portfolios, bond insurers are facing losses beyond anyone’s imagination. The rating agency Fitch has said that bond insurers have a $2.5 TRILLION problem. Ambac, ACA Capital, Security Capital, Assured Guaranty and MBIA could be looking at hundreds of billions in losses.

If you have a pension account then you have probably lost money.
Accounts in most major pension and mutual funds have lost value. Even names you wouldn’t consider when talking about mortgages like Prudential, AIG, H & R Block and E-Trade are taking losses because of their involvement into mortgages backed securities. This spreads across all spectrum's of companies that held investments because the bonds were considered safe and paid a slightly higher dividend.

When you mention to someone that CitiBank will write-off another $10 bil this year, they look at you funny and say so what. It’s not CitiBank’s money that is being lost; it’s the money from investors and pension funds. At the low end of the above prediction the average American household will lose $2,244 in asset value (investment and pension) and that number doubles to $4,488 if we hit the higher estimate.

The problem doesn’t stop at our borders.
The following banks have all had major losses and write-downs because of their U.S. investments: Deutsche Bank –Germany $3.2 billion, Credit Suisse-Switzerland $1.9 billion, UBS-Switzerland $3.6 billion, Societe General SA-France $920 million, AMP-Australia $1.4 billion, RBS-Scotland $2.7 billion, Barclays-Great Britain $2,7 billion, HSBC Holdings-Great Britain $3.4 billion and in Canada the Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotia Bank and CIBC all had losses due to their holdings of US mortgage securities.

Take a look at the following 23 profiles of the losses recently taken by our financial community. I’ve listed them separately so individual companies can be identified and additional resources are listed for each one.

There is one who called it right; Pimco Financial. Take a look, I’ve put him first. (Just above)


Anonymous said...

Who should I get in contact with about a states own laws about mortgage broker bonds and as such, how would I get a mortgage bonds form? I life in England and am considering moving to America, don’t know where yet however I was doing some general reading about housing and came across the term mortgage broker bonds and am a little confused, is it a mortgage or a loan to acquire a mortgage?
Also if I want to set up life insurance do I need insurance bonds? Or can I simply open a policy with a company? Im a little confuse by some of the jargon. I am not moving anytime soon but thought I should be aware of things I will need to understand.

Fred Adelman said...

A bond is a debt instrument that offer pension funds, insurance companies and other financial companies a way of making a higher than treasury interest rate over a set period of time. Such as; 6.25% interest for ten years. At the end of the ten years the bond is redeemed for its face value.

A bond is usually secured by an asset; company real estate, mortgages, airplanes or some other “hard asset”. Some bonds get sold to individuals who may purchase these bonds through a broker. Some are offered directly to individuals and are considered more risky, this happened too many that got burned during the S & L meltdown.

We rarely use the word "bond" is to replace the words "insurance or guarantee". Surety bond is the only exception that comes to mind.

jon said...

Can you tell me what Surety Bonds are? I have heard of Corporate Surety Bonds but I don’t understand what they are, can you help?