Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.U.S. Inner City Turmoil and Other Crises: Ron Pauls Predictions for 2015 - Dr_Ron_Paul
2. What’s In Store For Gold Price in 2015? - Ben Kramer-Miller
3.Crude Oil Price Ten Year Forecast to 2025: Importers Set to Receive a $600 Billion Refund - Andrew_Butter
4.Je ne suis pas Charlie - I am not Charlie - Nadeem_Walayat
5.The New Normal for Oil? - Marin_Katusa
6.Will Collapse in Oil Price Cause a Stock Market Crash? - OilPrice.com
7.UK CPI Inflation Smoke and Mirrors Deflation Warning, Inflation Mega-trend is Exponential - Nadeem_Walayat
8.Winter Storms Snow and Wind Tree Damage Dangers, DIY Pruning - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Oil Price Crash and SNP Independent Scotland Economic Collapse Bankruptcy - Nadeem_Walayat
10.U.S. Housing Market Bubble 2.0 Meet the Pin - James_Quinn
Last 5 days
Saudi Arabia Changes Kings, But Not its Oil Policy - 29th Jan 15
Crude Oil Price Bulls vs. Resistance Zone - 28th Jan 15
Acceleration Of Events With Rising Chaos – US Dollar Death Foretold - 28th Jan 15
The Fed and ECB Take the West back to when the Rich Owned Everything - 28th Jan 15
Washington's War on Russia - 28th Jan 15
Cyber War Poses Risks To Banks and Deposits - 28th Jan 15
Lies And Deception In Ukraine's Energy Sector - 28th Jan 15
EUR, AUD, GBP USD – Invalidation of Breakdown - 28th Jan 15
“Backup-Camera Envy” Is Driving This Unstoppaple Investment Trend - 28th Jan 15
The Great "inflated" Expectations for Gold, Oil, Commodities -- and Now Stocks - 28th Jan 15
How to Find the Best Offshore Banks - 28th Jan 15
There’s More to the Gold Price Rally Than European Market Fears - 28th Jan 15
Bitcoin Price Tense Days Ahead - 27th Jan 15
The Most Overlooked “Buy” Signal in the Stock Market - 27th Jan 15
Gold's Time Has Come - 27th Jan 15
France America And Religious Terror War - 27th Jan 15
The New Drivers of Europe's Geopolitics - 27th Jan 15
Gold And Silver - Around The FX World In Charts - 27th Jan 15
It’s Not The Greeks Who Failed, It’s The EU - 27th Jan 15
Gold and Silver Stocks Investing Basics - 27th Jan 15
Stock Market Test of Strength - 26th Jan 15
Is the Gold Price Rally Over? - 26th Jan 15
ECB QE Action - Canary’s Alive & Well - 26th Jan 15
Possible Stock Market Pop-n-drop in Store For SPX - 26th Jan 15
Risk of New Debt Crisis After Syriza Victory In Greece - 26th Jan 15
How Eurozone QE Works: A Guide to Draghi's News - 26th Jan 15
Comprehensive Silver Price Chart Analysis - 26th Jan 15
Stock Market More Retracement Expected - 26th Jan 15
Decoding the Gold COTs: Myth vs Reality - 26th Jan 15
Greece Votes for Syriza Hyperinflation - Threatening Euro-zone Collapse or Perpetual Free Lunch - 26th Jan 15
Draghi's "No-growth" QE Money for Stocks, Zilch for the Economy - 25th Jan 15
Unjust and Undeclared Wars - 25th Jan 15
The European Central Bank Commits Monetary Suicide - 25th Jan 15
Stock Market ECB EQE week - 25th Jan 15
Gold And Silver Timing Is Most Important Element - 25th Jan 15
The Best Way to Invest in the Next Alibaba Internet Stock IPO - 25th Jan 15
The Outpatient Surgery Business Rains Cash into Healthcare Stocks - 25th Jan 15
Stock Traders Flock to Gold GLD ETF - 24th Jan 15
10 Reasons Why You Need an Offshore Bank Account - 24th Jan 15
Goldman Sachs Blankfein - Regulation is Like Background Noise - 24th Jan 15
Gold in Euros Surges As ECB To Print Trillion Euros and Greek Election This Sunday - 24th Jan 15
Gold Bear Market Rally or New Bull ? - 24th Jan 15
Euro-zone 'QE already Working' Says IMF Lagarde - 23rd Jan 15
ECB and EU LTRO and QE for Dummies: Or, Make These Trades - 23rd Jan 15
Debt and Deflation: Three Financial Forecasts - There's More Than Falling Prices - 23rd Jan 15
Market Should Not Doubt' Mario Draghi ECB QE - 23rd Jan 15
Francs, Bonds, Barrels, and Bail-Ins - 23rd Jan 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

State of US Markets 2015 Report

America's Middle Class Caught in a Vice

Politics / Social Issues Feb 26, 2013 - 03:21 PM GMT

By: Money_Morning

Politics

Shah Gilani writes: This is a chicken and egg kind of discussion about what caused the housing crash.

It's not that there's a right answer (but I am right) or a wrong answer, it's about looking at what happened to determine whether it's going to happen again. It is.

I'm always right.


Really, it's about America's middle class mostly, and the vise they're caught in.

Notice, the title here poses that as a question. Are they caught in a vise?

I say, "Yes!"

But, I'll get to that.

First, it's back to the chicken... or the egg.
Did borrowers over-borrow because they were greedy? Or, did lenders over-lend because they were greedy? Yeah, yeah, we all agree. They both were.

But what precipitated it?

Of course I want your opinion. But, first you're going to have to hear mine. And since I'm always right, you may just want to come along with me and be smart. Just kidding!

It's simple to me: You can't borrow if lenders won't lend.

There. I rest my case.

Oh, you want more depth, more color? Okay.

But let me first put aside something that I know will come up anyway. The Community Reinvestment Act didn't cause the subprime surge.

Did the surge happen when the government forced banks to reach into underserved areas to offer loans to folks who weren't over-banked - and who didn't have ATM machines on every corner of their neighborhoods - only to have those same banks create subprime loans that would later default?

Yes it did.

But the number of defaults in the subprime category within the boundaries of CRA-demarked neighborhoods is a drop in the bucket compared to the national corral, where subprime loans were drawing out, and creating subprime borrows out of better than subprime buyers - with higher creditworthiness.

Look at borrowers as the chickens. They had to be hatched. Not from eggs, because they were already in the market. Most of them would have been far too afraid to risk over-leveraging themselves on something they knew they couldn't afford if they were charged the kind of interest that high-risk borrowers face.

To fatten them up, hard-boiled lenders gave those chickens legs and dreams - and a means to fly out of their old neighborhoods and roost in fancier digs.

Most people forget - or didn't know - that prime borrowers had been pretty well exhausted by lenders bending over backwards to get them into new homes.

Interest rates were kept artificially so low for so long, which left investors clamoring for yield. Prime borrowers were getting harder and harder to find, so bankers grabbed the two-for-one throttle and pulled subprime borrowers into their origination factories. Then they did a "pool "em and fool "em" maneuver - for yield-hungry investors, that is - and put them into mortgage-backed securitization, get "em off my balance sheet, schemes.

And it worked. Well, at least for a while.

Middle Class Mistakes?
So, what does all this have to do with the middle class being in a vise?

Bloomberg Businessweek is a great publication that I highly recommend. This week's issue, February 18-24, 2013, has a piece titled, "Oh, Craps. U.S. Homeowners Are Repeating Their Mistakes."

The gist of the article is that, for folks with a "very high risk exposure - a low wealth-to-income ratio, more than three-quarters of their assets are in housing or stocks, and (have) debt greater than a quarter of their assets," which serves as my definition of the middle-class in America, lost 47% of their wealth between 2007 and 2010.

What bothers me about the article is that it presupposes that homeownership makes it hard to diversify. It states that, "since 1983, for the richest 20 percent of U.S. households, the principal residence as a share of net worth has been around 30 percent. For the next 60 percent - most of us - housing has risen from 62 percent to 67 percent of total wealth."

So, what's the problem? Those Americans leveraged themselves to get into their homes and borrowed against them.

We know what happened next.

But, it's not just about middle-class America's homes as their source of wealth. The article states, in its opening paragraph, "If there's one thing Americans should have learned from the recession, it's the importance of diversifying risk. Middle-class households had too much of their net worth tied up in their homes and were too exposed to stocks through 401(k)s and other investments."

In other words: WAKE UP AMERICA - you idiots who have been struggling to get into the middle class and you idiots in the middle-class (thank goodness that idiot class is shrinking, right?) have it all wrong. You shouldn't just be buying houses and stocks.

It's not Bloomberg. They're just putting this out there. I don't want to insult one of my favorite magazines, but WHAT THE...

What is the middle class supposed to do? Trade derivatives?

It's not ironic, it's sad - no, it's disgusting - that the two principal sources, or steps up the aspirational ladder in America - home ownership and an equity portfolio - are... well...

I'm not going to call them schemes, though there's a part of me that wants to. That would be hyperbole to the max...

Those two steps up the ladder in America are manipulated by bankers and brokers for their own self-serving benefit.

That's why I think - no, that's why I know -that America's shrinking middle class is caught in a vise.

Do I have answers for this dual problem?

You bet I do.

But, first, I want to hear what you have to say.

The floor is open. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Source :http://moneymorning.com/2013/02/26/is-americas-middle-class-caught-in-a-vise/

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2013 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email: customerservice@moneymorning.com

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investent advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014