The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the third quarter was 2.97 percent, an increase of 22 basis points from the second quarter of 2008 and 128 basis points from one year ago. The percentage of loans in the process of foreclosure set a new record this quarter, to 1.35 million.
Mortgages are counted as delinquent or in foreclosure (once they are in foreclosure they are not counted as delinquent). So the total percentage of mortgages not being paid by the homeowner is 2.97% (in foreclosure) + 6.99% (delinquent) = 9.96%. That is amazingly bad. In February of 2007 I wrote about this and the delinquency rate was 4.7% which sounded pretty bad to me. Amazingly 4.4% is a historic low for this figure. Can you believe 1/25 mortgages is delinquent and that is as good as we ever get? That is pretty shocking to me.
The seasonally adjusted total delinquency rate is now the highest recorded in the Mortgage Bankers Association survey. The seasonally adjusted delinquency rate increased 41 basis points to 4.34 percent for prime loans, increased 136 basis points to 20.03 percent for subprime loans, increased 29 basis points to 12.92 percent for FHA loans, and increased 46 basis points to 7.28 percent for VA loans.
The percent of loans in the foreclosure process increased 16 basis points to 1.58 percent for prime loans, and increased 74 basis points for subprime loans to 12.55 percent. FHA loans saw an eight basis point increase in the foreclosure inventory rate to 2.32 percent, while the foreclosure inventory rate for VA loans increased 13 basis points to 1.46 percent.
Since loans that would have gone into foreclosure in the past are being kept out of foreclosure due to some programs ( ) the rate or seriously delinquent is a useful measure of serious problems. Seriously delinquent mortgages are 90 days past due. The rate increased 52 basis points for prime loans to 2.87 percent, increased 171 basis points for subprime loans to 19.56 percent, increased 62 basis points for FHA loans to 6.05 percent, and increased 45 basis points for VA loans percent to 3.45 percent.
Compared to a year ago: the seriously delinquent rate was 156 basis points higher for prime loans and 818 basis points higher for subprime loans. The rate also increased 51 basis points for FHA loans and 89 basis points for VA loans.
Recent market collapses have made it even more obvious how import proper retirement planning is. There are many aspects to this (this is a huge topic, see more posts on retirement planning). One good strategy is to put a portion of your portfolio in income producing stocks (there are all sorts of factors to consider when thinking about what percentage of your portfolio but 10-20% may be good once you are in retirement). They can provide income and can providing growing income over time (or the income may not grow over time – it depends on the companies success).
Strategy #3: Buy common stocks with solid dividends and a history of raising dividends for the long haul. That way you let time and compounding work for you. While you may be buying $1 per share in dividends today with stocks like these, you’re also buying, say, 8% annual increases in dividends. In 10 years, that turns a $1-a-share dividend into $2.16 a share in dividends.
3 of this picks are: Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP), dividend yield of 15.5%, dividend history; Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), 11.2%, dividend history; Rayonier (RYN), yielding 6.7%, dividend history.
Of course those dividends may not continue, these investments do have risk.
All you need is a broadband internet connection and you can Kiss your phone bill good-bye:
Replacing your phone service is, of course, just the start for Ooma. In some ways, calling is the Trojan horse to get the box in your house and then figure out other services to sell, like enhanced network security or kid-safe Web surfing.
I just ordered mine from Amazon for $203. I have been using Vonage for awhile and have been considering canceling it for awhile (and just using my cell phone) but I currently have a limited cell phone plan (because unlike so many people, I don’t feel a need to talk to someone every single minute of the day). I normally just use the cell phone if I am meeting someone or traveling. Otherwise, just leave a message, I don’t need to speak to you right now.
US, French and British officials puzzle over Germany’s refusal to tackle the recession head-on. German leaders, meanwhile, cannot see why their taxpayers’ money should go into encouraging precisely the kind of behaviour – reckless lending, careless borrowing and overconsumption – that precipitated the financial crisis.
I am with the Germans on this one. The people that want to find some more credit cards to run up don’t understand the problem. Until they come up with strong policies that admit we have been living beyond our means for decades and have to pay for this at some point and fashion a policy based on that understanding we are in danger. Yes another credit card can allow you to continue to live beyond your means, but it also puts you into even worse financial shape than you have already gotten yourself into. It is not a solution, it is an emergency to deal with the complete failure of yourself previously and without a plan to change it is just setting yourself up for a worse situation soon.
Instead of money, they want legislation to suspend a federal law that would make them pump billions of dollars into retirement plans to offset stock-market losses as many struggle to find enough cash just to stay in business.
So lets see, you minimally fund the pension plan for your workers and make optimistic projections about investing returns. The market goes down, and you are now so far underfunding your pension that the law requires you to add funds to the pension. Your solution, go cry to the politicians. How sad. If Pfizer or IBM are having cash flow problems that is amazing. They really should be able to manage their cash better than that. Their most recent quarterly reports do not indicate cash flow problems. Yes I understand we have a credit crisis so if GM were having problems I wouldn’t be surprised (but you know what – they aren’t, in this area).
GM was notably absent from the five-page list of companies and organizations asking Congress for relief from the asset thresholds. GM said its pension plans had a $1.8 billion deficit as of Oct. 31, down from a $20 billion surplus 10 months earlier. At that level, GM’s plans would top the pension law’s 2008 asset threshold.
I think companies need to meet their obligations. If they choose to minimally fund their pensions without understanding that financial market are volatile, then they will have to pay up as required by law. When times are good you see all these CEOs taking advantage of pension fund “excesses” to reward themselves. They need to learn that you don’t raid your pension funds (either by taking cash out or not funding current investments – because you claim the assets are already sufficient). Pension funds are long term investments and you cannot manage as though the target value is the minimum amount allowed by law (unless you are willing to pay up cash every time your investments don’t meet your predicted returns). This is very simple stuff.
“We’re not getting what we pay for,” says Denis Cortese, president and chief executive of the Mayo Clinic. “It’s just that simple.”
“Our health-care system is fraught with waste,” says Gary Kaplan, chairman of Seattle’s cutting-edge Virginia Mason Medical Center. As much as half of the $2.3 trillion spent today does nothing to improve health, he says.
Not only is American health care inefficient and wasteful, says Kaiser Permanente chief executive George Halvorson, much of it is dangerous.
The United States today devotes 16 percent of its gross domestic product to medical care, more per capita than any other nation in the world. Yet numerous measures indicate the country lags in overall health: It ranks 29th in infant mortality, 48th in life expectancy and 19th out of 19 industrialized nations in preventable deaths.
One way to reconfigure health spending is to shift large sums into prevention and wellness, said Reed Tuckson, a physician and executive vice president at UnitedHealth Group in Minneapolis. The idea is to tackle the handful of preventable, chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes that account for 75 percent of health-care costs.
the Dartmouth team concluded that as much as 30 percent of medical spending — or $700 billion — does nothing to improve care.
I continue to write about this serious problem for the USA. The credit crisis is an immediate crisis (with roots in many bad decisions over the last decade). But the health care crisis is just as deadly. The health care crisis is like a person smoking. It might not kill the economy immediately, but the huge harm down to the economy by the broken healthcare system is like a cancer on the economy.
Previous posts on problems and suggestions for improvement: PBS Documentary on Improving Hospitals – site and books on improving the health care system – International Health Care System Performance – USA Health Care Improvement – Broken Health Care System: Self-Employed Insurance – Excessive Health Care Costs – USA Spent $2.1 Trillion on Health Care in 2006
I believe in the management at Google is doing as good a job as the management at any company. They are not afraid to pursue their convictions even if conventional wisdom says they should not. I believe in Google more than the conventional wisdom. And I have been buying Google stock as it has declined the last 6 months.
I am perfectly happy for Google’s stock price to continue declining: I will continue to buy. I have no intention of selling for decades. Things could change, that would lead me to sell but right now I am firmly a believer in owning a piece of Google for the long term. I am thrilled to have very smart engineers effectively guiding a company (including sustaining a culture where engineers can provide value without the amount of pointy haired boss behavior found elsewhere) to provide value to customers and users of their services while profiting quite nicely. And at these prices the investment opportunity looks great to me. I still believe in following prudent diversification practices (far less than 10% of my investments are in Google stock)
He was quick to add that Google has a material interest in lower energy costs to help power its crucial data centers. “We’re going to likely consume more [energy], and we’d like the prices to go down,” he said.
Schmidt said the bulk of spending on necessary research and development for Google’s ambitious energy plan will have to come from the government. The CEO added that he’s almost certain that an opportunity to tap government largesse is now at hand, as he believes a “stimulus package” will follow the $700 billion Wall Street bailout
I have written about Google’s focus on energy previously: Google Investing Huge Sums in Renewable Energy and is Hiring – Google.org Invests $10 million in Geothermal Energy – Reduce Computer Waste.
With most companies I would be very skeptical delving into area pretty far removed from their core business would likely not prove an effective strategy. But I believe Google can be successful with such efforts. Some will certainly fail but Google will manage that fine and have at least one or two payoff in such a large way that all the investments are paid off quite well.
The decline, the largest one-month loss since December 1974, was fresh evidence that the economic contraction accelerated in November, promising to make the current recession, already 12 months old, the longest since the Great Depression. The previous record was 16 months, in the severe recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s.
The manufacturing sector has been particularly hard hit, losing more than half a million jobs this year. That is nearly half the 1.2 million jobs lost since employment peaked in December and, in January, began its uninterrupted decline. The cutbacks seem likely to accelerate as the three Detroit automakers close more factories and shrink payrolls even more
With all this in mind, and particularly the shrinking employment rolls, economists are estimating that the gross domestic product is contracting at an annual rate of 4 percent or more in the fourth quarter, after a decline of 0.3 percent in the third quarter.
The news was even worse than the anticipated 350,000 losses. And Previous months figures were adjusted from 240,000 losses in October to 320,00 and from 284,000 in September to 403,000. And these numbers are on an already extremely poor job picture the previous 7 years. One of the great strengths of the US economy over the last 50 years has been job creation. We know we are in for serious problems, the question is how serious and how long. One of the most important gages of that will be how many jobs are lost.
When job losses stop and job gains start (in the aggregate, for the entire economy) it will be a very positive sign. Normally jobs are a lagging indicator, meaning job data lags the actual economy. Job losses will not increases until after the economy starts to grow. Of course, economic data doesn’t always fit the conventional wisdom.
This is one more piece of evidence that the economy is not looking good. And 2009 is likely to be a bad year for the economy overall.
Continuation of: USA Manufacturing is Healthy
The real problem with the USA economy is that a country cannot live beyond its means forever. Those living in USA have consumed far more than they have produced for decades. That is not sustainable. The living beyond our means is mainly due to massively increased consumption, not shrinking output (in manufacturing or service). One, of many examples, of the increased consumption is average square footage of single-family homes in the USA: 1950 – 983; 1970 – 1,500; 1990 – 2,080; 2004 – 2,349.
In case it isn’t totally obvious to you. You don’t fix this problem by encouraging more spending and borrowing: either by the government or by consumers. The long term problem for the USA economy is that people have consuming more than they have been producing. Personally, as this continues you reach a point where getting another credit card does not work. The same holds true for the collective health of a country. A country cannot solve the problem of having bills come due from decades of living beyond its means by charging more so that they can continue to live beyond their means.
Where the USA is in the continuum, is hard for me to judge. For the sack of illustration, lets say a consumer can get to 10 cards before they finally fail. If the consumer reaches the limit on 2 credit cards they have the choice to continue to the party by getting another credit card. Or they have the choice of addressing the situation they have gotten themselves into. If they decide to become responsible they have a challenge but one they can endure with some hardships.
If they press on to 5 credit cards and then max them out they come to the same decision. Dig themselves deeper in debt to avoid the problem today or live up their past behavior and become responsible. The work they have ahead of themselves is much more challenging than if they had started working on the problem when they only had 2 cards.
If they press on to 9 cards and now have the decision again. The effort to find a solution may be almost impossible. Borrow more to pay for past mistakes while maintaining some expenditures may be possible (but they will have to live on less than they earn). By the time you are this far down the failed path you have so much going to pay for your past bills you can’t spend even close to what you currently earn on current expenses. Letting yourself get to this point is very bad. And most likely as a person you will go bankrupt.
When looking at the long term data, USA manufacturing output continues to increase. For decades people have been repeating the claim that the manufacturing base is eroding. It has not been true. I realize the economy is on weak ground today, I am not talking about that, I am looking at the long term trends.
The USA manufactures more than anyone else – by far. The percentage of total global manufacturing is the same today it was two decades ago (and further back as well). For decades people have been saying the USA has lost the manufacturing base – it just is not true. No matter how many times they say it does not make it true. It is true since 2000 the USA increase in manufacturing output (note not a decrease) has not kept pace with global grown in manufacturing output (global output in that period is up 47% and the USA is up 19% – Japan is down 10% for that period).
I would guess 20 years from today the USA will have a lower percentage of worldwide manufacturing. But I don’t see any reason believe the USA will see a decline in total manufacturing output. I just think the rest of the world is likely to grow manufacturing output more rapidly.
Looking at a year or even 2 or 3 years of manufacturing output data leaves a great deal of room to see trends where really just random variation exists. Even for longer periods trends are hard to project into the future.
Conventional wisdom is correct about China growing manufacturing output tremendously. China has grown from 4% of the output of the largest manufacturing companies in 1990 to manufacturing 16% of the total output in China today. That 12% had to come from other’s shares. And given all you hear from the general press, financial press, politicians, commentators… you would think the USA must have much less than China today, so may 10% and maybe they had 20% in 1990. When actually in 1990 the USA had 28% and in 2007 they had 27%.