BANK FAILURES AHead

By , January 18, 2010 4:26 pm

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200 Bank Failures Expected in 2010
by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Dear Customer,

Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Washington has so thoroughly botched its supervision of the banking industry that 200 banks are likely to fail this year — easily surpassing last year’s 140 bank failures … inevitably involving the greatest bank losses in history … and already costing the FDIC ten times more than the great S&L and banking crisis of the 1980s did.

I am not basing these conclusions on conjecture. They come straight from official sources. Specifically …

In her testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Thursday, FDIC Chairman Blair attacked the Fed under Greenspan for causing the housing bubble and subsequent debt crisis with its highly stimulative, low interest rate policy of the 2000s.

She slammed virtually all of Washington for allowing banks to establish a huge, high-risk “shadow banking system.”

And she made it abundantly clear that, without sweeping, far-reaching reforms, we risk another devastating debt crisis.

Each of her conclusions is abundantly obvious and thoroughly documented. What she did not mention, however, are the following equally obvious facts:

Obvious fact #1. The Fed under Bernanke is now pursuing an even more stimulative, lower interest rate policy than it did under Greenspan, threatening to create even larger bubbles and more devastating busts …

Obvious fact #2. In just the last two years, between bank bailouts and easy money, Washington has done more to encourage the growth of the shadow banking system than in all previous years combined, and …

Obvious fact #3. Despite all the talk and testimony, the nation’s powerful banking lobby virtually guarantees that, in the absence of another Wall Street meltdown, the chance of sweeping reforms is virtually nil.

So here’s America’s financial dilemma in a nutshell:

Without sweeping reforms, the nation is doomed to repeat history with another debt disaster. But without another debt disaster, the nation’s political will for sweeping reforms is dead or dying.

In the meantime, the aftershocks of the 2008 debt crisis are getting worse, as the latest news clearly illustrates …

171 actual total failures: In addition to the 140 banks and S&Ls that failed in 2009, 31 credit unions went under, bringing the total tally to 171.

Worse than the 1980s: If you’re among those who think today’s banking crisis isn’t nearly as bad as the great S&L and banking crisis of the 1980s, think again. The average bank failing today is six times larger than it was back then, producing far greater losses. Moreover, each bank failure is costing the FDIC about TEN times more than it did in the 1980s crisis, according to the Meridian Group of Seattle. As a result …

Worst FDIC losses of all time: The FDIC lost more money in bank failures ($36 billion) than it lost in the ENTIRE five-year banking crisis from 1987 through 1992 ($29.6 billion). And in 2010, with the number of failures likely to increase, the losses will be even larger.

Big banks still losing billions with consumers: Until last week, the consensus opinion on Wall Street was that the troubles at the BIG banks were over; that to close this chapter in history, the only task remaining was a mop-up operation at smaller regional and community banks around the country.

That theory was shattered on Friday when JPMorgan Chase revealed it was forced to add $1.5 billion to its consumer loan loss reserves. The big problem: When it took over Washington Mutual last year, the biggest failed S&L of all time, it inherited a cesspool of mortgages that are now going bad at an accelerating pace. Other big consumer banks — like Citigroup and Bank of America — likely face similar woes.

The trading profits of big investment banks are a bubble: What most Wall Street bank analysts still don’t seem to recognize is that the giant trading profits they’ve been so enthusiastic about are generated by the same low-interest Fed policy that created the housing bubble — and is now in the process of creating MORE bubbles.

Without the Fed’s largesse, without the low-cost financing, and without the big risk appetite it generates, most of the big bank trading profits would have been impossible. More to the point: Just as soon as the Fed finally executes an exit plan, the bulk of those profits are likely to turn to losses.

What To Do

First and foremost, do not let up your guard when it comes to keeping your money safe. Yes, I know. With all the talk of the “end” to the crisis and Treasury bills paying virtually nothing, it’s tempting to venture away from safe harbors.

But how much more yield can you get by doing so? If you switch from Treasury bills to bank CDs, for example, the most you can gain is a small fraction of a percent. And if you switch from bank CDs to low-rated corporate debt, the extra yield you get is even less attractive.

In sum …

At this early stage so soon after the worst debt crisis since the Great Depression, the TRUE RISK of putting your money in higher yielding savings vehicles is still very high. Nevertheless, banks and other borrowers are asking you to take that risk WITHOUT paying you more than pennies for it.

My recommendation: Tell them to go fly a kite!

For your keep-safe funds, use strictly short-term Treasuries or equivalent.

Second, if you do other business with a bank or if you still want to keep some part of your savings in bank CDs … at least be sure to avoid the banks most likely to fail and stick with the ones most likely to survive. (For the latest Weiss Lists of the weakest banks and S&Ls, click here. For the strongest, click here.)

Third, bear in mind that, when it comes to your investment decision-making, TIMING is everything.

Last year, the stepped-up pace of bank failures did not derail the weak-but-continuing recovery in the U.S. economy. And for now, that’s bound to remain the case. As soon as we see signs that’s about to change, we’ll do our best to alert you. Until then, we stick with our current posture: Continue to invest, but do so with great caution.

Good luck and God bless!

Martin

 


 About Money and Markets

For more information and archived issues, visit http://www.moneyandmarkets.com

Money and Markets (MaM) is published by Weiss Research, Inc. and written by Martin D. Weiss along with Nilus Mattive, Claus Vogt, Ron Rowland, Michael Larson and Bryan Rich. To avoid conflicts of interest, Weiss Research and its staff do not hold positions in companies recommended in MaM, nor do we accept any compensation for such recommendations. The comments, graphs, forecasts, and indices published in MaM are based upon data whose accuracy is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Performance returns cited are derived from our best estimates but must be considered hypothetical in as much as we do not track the actual prices investors pay or receive. Regular contributors and staff include Kristen Adams, Andrea Baumwald, John Burke, Marci Campbell, Amy Carlino, Selene Ceballo, Amber Dakar, Dinesh Kalera, Red Morgan, Maryellen Murphy, Jennifer Newman-Amos, Adam Shafer, Julie Trudeau, Jill Umiker, Leslie Underwood and Michelle Zausnig.

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Now and then//1929, 2009//the coming Depression. Part XI//January 5, 2010

By , January 5, 2010 8:56 pm

Now and then//1929, 2009//the coming Depression. Part XI//January 5, 2010We just lost 10 years; lost because as we come to the end of another decade it will be a decade of complete totally “negative” numbers in all areas of our economic health. I’ve been saying since May that we were heading towards a “depression” worst than the “Great Depression” of 1929. (Read all my writings on this series). As 2009 came to an end a few days ago the stock market actually ended positive and a nice 9 month upward rally; as I’ve stated more than once there is still nothing substantive about this market for it to maintain any meaningful growth. I stated back in May that upswings in the markets would be temporary, that another round of “real estate” foreclosures would precede a final “commercial real estate” bust which will result in many bank failures. I’m ready at this time to put a time table on this second round of foreclosures and the commercial real estate bust. This second blow to our economy will start in mid-march and run through September 2010. This round of real estate foreclosures, the failure of commercial real estate, office buildings and ensuing bank failures will be rapid and stunning. Now I’ve been saying that we were surely headed towards a depression since last May; now I believe that we are actually in the very beginning of that depression and would be surprised if we don’t start hearing the word “Depression” bounced around soon. Don’t be surprised if we finally hear Washington use the word “Depression” sometimes this summer. Let’s get back to the “Lost Decade”, the new millennium (2000-2009) ended with the DOW at somewhat over 10,000 (a rally of nine months) helped keep it there (but the DOW first reached the 10,000 mark in March of 1999), the S&P 500 index ended with a minus 9% and the NASDAQ took a negative to the tune of 40%; with numbers like that its fairly easy to call the last 10 years a “Lost Decade”. I also have some other numbers for you liberals out there that like to change history, manipulate data or simply spin fact with other data. During these 10 years (and particularly since Obama), our national debt has doubled, employment since Bush to Pelosi/Reid/Obama went from  4.9% to 10.2%, dollar has fallen, government stimulus efforts have failed and our leaders in Washington are doing things behind closed doors without regard to the wishes of the folks that elected them. [At the end of the “Great Depression” the 40’s ended with GDP growth of 72%, the 50’s end with GDP growth of 51.3%, the 60’s end with GDP growth of 53.1 and household net worth growth of 44%, 70’s end with GDP growth of 38.1 and household net worth growth of 28%, the 80’s saw GPD growth of 34.9% and household net worth of 42%, and the 90’s had GDP growth of 38.6% and household net worth of 58%. 2000’s end with household net worth of minus 4% and GDP only grew 17.8%] and we must remember that 14.6% was accomplished 2000-2006; the bottom line here is that things started going downhill when Pelosi/Reid  took control of Congress in late 2006 and intensified in severity during the last 12 months with Obama in office. Never in history has growth coming out of a decline (recession) been as weak as what we going through at this very moment and when you consider the Trillions in Government intervention it is more than sad and dismal, it is a disaster.

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Economy not getting well in 2010

By , January 4, 2010 12:35 pm

MONEYANDMARKETS»


Monday, January 4, 2010

 

[«] Money and Markets 2009 Archive View This Issue On Our Website [»]

Advance warning:
Danger of bond market collapse!
by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Dear Subscriber,

Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

If you think 2010 is going to bring investors a carefree, nonstop ride to glory, think again!

Profit opportunities abound, and we intend to be among the first to lead you to them.

But we’re also here to give you advance warnings of threats that can sneak up from behind and catch you by surprise.

Case in point: The danger that Treasury bonds will fall sharply in price, drive up long-term interest rates and ultimately threaten the U.S. recovery.

This is an advance warning because long-term interest rates are still very low. Even if they rise from here, their impact on the economy may not be felt right away.

But if you hold medium- or long-term bonds, you need to get out NOW — before you suffer further damage.

10 year and 30 year charts

Using nearest futures contracts as the metric, the price of a 10-year Treasury note tumbled from a high of 130.09 on December 18, 2008, to a low of 114.98 on June 18, 2009.

It then spent most of the year’s second half trying to recover from that debacle.

But just in the last few days of December, while most traders were away or asleep, a renewed plunge in Treasury-note prices erased nearly all the gains since June … threatening new lows, paving the way for a new plunge in prices, and driving a new surge in 10-year yields.

The price decline in 30-year Treasury-bond prices has been even more dramatic: An historic 27-point plunge from 142.62 on December 19, 2008, to 115.67 on June 18, 2009 … followed by a feeble recovery … and now, as with Treasury notes, a new, ominous price decline and surge in yields.

The impact on consumers is unmistakable:

Even while Washington seeks to flood mortgage markets with easy money, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates are moving sharply higher. And even as the Fed does everything in its power to get Americans to spend, U.S. banks are tightening their credit standards and slapping on new fees.

The causes of the bond market troubles are equally obvious:

We have …

  1. The biggest and most permanent federal budget deficits in our country’s history — $1.4 trillion of red ink in fiscal 2009 and AT LEAST another $7 trillion in deficits over the next decade.
  2. The biggest government borrowing binge of all time. Just in the last week of the year, the Treasury Department borrowed $44 billion with the sale of 2-year notes, $42 billion with 5-year notes and $32 billion in 7-year notes, for a total of $118 billion — a new record. Expect more of the same throughout 2010.
  3. The most inflationary monetary policy of all time, including a sudden, record-smashing DOUBLING of the nation’s monetary base in 2009.

And most ominous of all …

A Government Gone Wild!

This is not a matter of personal opinion or political philosophy. Regardless of your particular persuasion, you cannot deny the folly of Washington’s escapades …

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve has tossed its traditional rulebook in the trashcan. It has opened its credit window to brokerage firms, guaranteed trillions of junk credit of the private sector and bought up over a trillion in junk mortgages.
  • The U.S. Treasury has bailed out the nation’s largest and most outrageous risk-takers — not only institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG, and GM … but, indirectly, also high-rollers like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
  • And now, adding madness to insanity, the U.S. government is opening the gauntlet to even more of the same:

On Christmas Eve, the Treasury Department announced it will remove the limits on any and all aid to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the next three years.

The intended consequence was to allay investor concerns that these two mortgage giants will exhaust the available government bailout funds.

Treasury officials know that an estimated 3.9 MILLION U.S. homes went into foreclosure last year … and, they know that they can expect more of the same in 2010. So they’re literally pulling all stops to funnel funds into this market.

But the unintended consequences are potentially greater concerns:

  • An even deeper hole in the federal budget,
  • An even larger avalanche of Treasury borrowings,
  • Still lower bond prices, and, inevitably,
  • Far higher long-term interest rates.

Most Financial Institutions Highly Exposed

If America’s financial institutions were prepared for higher interest rates, this might not be quite as serious. But as I demonstrated here two weeks ago, nothing could be further from the facts. (See “Three Government Reports Reveal New Looming Risk.”)

Specifically …

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reports that many more banks are now taking on higher levels of interest-rate risk, leaving them overly exposed to rate rises at precisely the wrong time. They’re stuffing their portfolios with long-term mortgages, which invariably fall in value when interest rates rise. And they’re relying too heavily on short-term financing, which will inevitably be more expensive when rates rise.
  • The U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) reports that America’s largest banks now hold $172.5 TRILLION in derivatives that are directly linked to interest rates, the most of all time. That’s over THIRTEEN times the amount they hold in credit derivatives — a primary cause of the 2008-2009 debt crisis.
  • And the Federal Reserve reports that banks aren’t the only ones vulnerable to higher interest rates. Also exposed are credit unions, life and health insurance companies, plus property and casualty insurers.

Bottom line: Don’t march into 2010 as if the word “risk” had been stricken from investment lexicon like four-letter words in a grammar school dictionary.

It hasn’t been; it’s still there. And it mandates continuing caution — to buy excellent values … with strong fundamentals … prudent risk management … and plenty of cash in reserve.

Good luck and God bless!

Martin

 


 About Money and Markets

For more information and archived issues, visit http://www.moneyandmarkets.com

Money and Markets (MaM) is published by Weiss Research, Inc. and written by Martin D. Weiss along with Nilus Mattive, Claus Vogt, Ron Rowland, Michael Larson and Bryan Rich. To avoid conflicts of interest, Weiss Research and its staff do not hold positions in companies recommended in MaM, nor do we accept any compensation for such recommendations. The comments, graphs, forecasts, and indices published in MaM are based upon data whose accuracy is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Performance returns cited are derived from our best estimates but must be considered hypothetical in as much as we do not track the actual prices investors pay or receive. Regular contributors and staff include Kristen Adams, Andrea Baumwald, John Burke, Marci Campbell, Amy Carlino, Selene Ceballo, Amber Dakar, Dinesh Kalera, Red Morgan, Maryellen Murphy, Jennifer Newman-Amos, Adam Shafer, Julie Trudeau, Jill Umiker, Leslie Underwood and Michelle Zausnig.

Attention editors and publishers! Money and Markets issues can be republished. Republished issues MUST include attribution of the author(s) and the following short paragraph:

This investment news is brought to you by Money and Markets. Money and Markets is a free daily investment newsletter from Martin D. Weiss and Weiss Research analysts offering the latest investing news and financial insights for the stock market, including tips and advice on investing in gold, energy and oil. Dr. Weiss is a leader in the fields of investing, interest rates, financial safety and economic forecasting. To view archives or subscribe, visit http://www.moneyandmarkets.com.

From time to time, Money and Markets may have information from select third-party advertisers known as “external sponsorships.” We cannot guarantee the accuracy of these ads. In addition, these ads do not necessarily express the viewpoints of Money and Markets or its editors. For more information, see our terms and conditions.

View our Privacy Policy.

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© 2010 by Weiss Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

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