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Does This Look Like A Housing Recovery To You?

Homeownership Rate 2014We just learned that the homeownership rate in the United States has fallen to the lowest level in 19 years.  But of course this is not a new trend.  As you will see in this article, the homeownership rate in the United States has been in a continual decline for more than 7 years.  Obviously this is not a sign of a healthy economy.  Traditionally, homeownership has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class.  When people define “the American Dream”, it is usually one of the first things mentioned.  So if the percentage of Americans that own a home has been steadily going down for 7 years in a row, what does that tell us about the health of the middle class in this country?

The chart that you are about to view is clear evidence that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline.  It shows what has happened to the homeownership rate in the U.S. since the year 2000, and as you can see it has been collapsing since the peak of the housing market back in 2007.  Does this look like a housing recovery to you?…

Homeownership Rate 2014

So many people get caught up in what is happening on Wall Street, but this is the “real economy” that affects people on a day to day basis.

Most Americans just want to be able to buy a home and provide a solid middle class living for their families.

The fact that the percentage of people that are able to achieve this “American Dream” is falling rapidly is very troubling.

There are some that blame this stunning decline in the homeownership rate on the Millennials.

And without a doubt, they are a significant part of the story.  They are moving back home with their parents at record rates, and many that are striking out on their own are renting apartments in the big cities.

This is one area where the decline of marriage in America is really hitting the economy.  Back in 1968, well over 50 percent of Americans in the 18 to 31-year-old age bracket were already married and living on their own.  Today, that number is below 25 percent.

But that is not all there is to this story.

In fact, the homeownership rate for Americans in the 35 to 44-year-old age bracket has been falling even faster than it has for Millennials…

In the first quarter of 2008, nearly 67% of people aged 35-44 owned homes. Now the number is barely above 59%. The percentage of people under 35 owning homes only fell five percentage points, to 36% from 41%.

So why is this happening?

Well, it is fairly simple actually.

In order to buy homes, people need to have good jobs.  And at this point, the percentage of Americans that are employed is still about where it was during the depths of the last recession.

In addition, wages in the United States have stagnated and the quality of our jobs continues to go down.  As I wrote about the other day, half of all American workers make less than $28,031 a year.  Needless to say, if you make less than $28,031  a year, you are going to have a really hard time getting approved for a home loan or making mortgage payments.

Things have been changing for a long time in this country, and not for the better.  Our economic problems have taken decades to develop, and the underlying causes of these problems is still not being addressed.

Meanwhile, middle class families continue to suffer.  One very surprising new survey discovered that more than half of all Americans now consider themselves to be “lower-middle class or working class with low economic security”.  While Wall Street has been celebrating in recent years, economic pessimism has become deeply ingrained on Main Street…

Optimism may be harder to come by these days. More than half of Americans surveyed in a Harris poll released Tuesday identified themselves as being lower-middle class or working class with low economic security. And 75 percent said they’re being held back financially by roadblocks like the cost of housing (24 percent), health care (21 percent) and credit-card debt (20 percent).

And that’s not the kicker.

“The most disappointing aspect is that 45 percent think they’ll never get their finances back to where they were before the financial crisis,” said Ken Rees, CEO of the Elevate credit service company, which commissioned the survey. “And a third are losing sleep over it.”

The only “recovery” that we have experienced since the last recession has been a temporary recovery on Wall Street.

For the rest of the country, our long-term economic decline has continued.

When I was growing up, my father was serving in the U.S. Navy and we lived in a fairly typical middle class neighborhood.  Everyone that I went to school with lived in a nice home and I never heard of any parent struggling to find work.  Of course life was not perfect, but it seemed to me like living a middle class lifestyle was “normal” for most people.

How times have changed since then.

Today, it seems like we are all part of a giant reality show where people are constantly being removed from the middle class and everyone is wondering who will be next.

So what do you think?

Is there hope for the middle class, or are the economic problems that we are facing just beginning?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

 

Don’t Buy A House In 2011 Before You Read These 20 Wacky Statistics About The U.S. Real Estate Crisis

Unless you have been asleep or hiding under a rock for the past five years, you already know that we are experiencing the worst real estate crisis that the U.S. has ever seen.  Home prices in the United States have fallen 33 percent from the peak of the housing bubble, which is more than they fell during the Great Depression.  Those that decided to buy a house in 2005 or 2006 are really hurting right now.  Just think about it.  Could you imagine paying off a $400,000 mortgage on a home that is now only worth $250,000?  Millions of Americans are now living through that kind of financial hell.  Sadly, most analysts expect U.S. home prices to go down even further.  Despite the “best efforts” of those running our economy, unemployment is still rampant.  The number of middle class jobs continues to decline year after year, but it takes at least a middle class income to buy a decent home.  In addition, financial institutions have really tightened up lending standards and have made it much more difficult to get home loans.  Back during the wild days of the housing bubble, the family cat could get a zero-down mortgage, but today the pendulum has swung very far in the other direction and now it is really, really tough to get a home loan.  Meanwhile, the number of foreclosures and distressed properties continues to soar.  So with a ton of homes on the market and not a lot of buyers the power is firmly in the hands of those looking to buy a house.

So will home prices continue to go down?  Possibly.  But they won’t go down forever.  At some point the inflation that is already affecting many other segments of the economy will affect home prices as well.  That doesn’t mean that it will be middle class American families that will be buying up all the homes.  An increasing percentage of homes are being purchased by investors or by foreigners.  There are a lot of really beautiful homes in the United States, and wealthy people from all over the globe love to buy a house in America.

But because of the factors mentioned above, it is quite possible that U.S. home prices could go down another 10 or 20 percent, especially if the economy gets worse.

So what is the right time to buy a house?

Nobody really knows for sure.

Mortgage rates are near record lows right now and there are some great deals to be had in many areas of the country.  But that does not mean that you won’t be able to get the same home for even less 6 months or a year from now.

In any event, this truly has been a really trying time for the U.S. housing market.  Hordes of builders, construction workers, contractors, real estate agents and mortgage professionals have been put out of work by this downturn.  The housing industry is one of the core pillars of the economy, and so a recovery in home sales is desperately needed.

The following are 20 really wacky statistics about the U.S. real estate crisis….

#1 According to Zillow, 28.4 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in the United States are now underwater.

#2 Zillow has also announced that the average price of a home in the U.S. is about 8 percent lower than it was a year ago and that it continues to fall about 1 percent a month.

#3 U.S. home prices have now fallen a whopping 33% from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble.

#4 During the first quarter of 2011, home values declined at the fastest rate since late 2008.

#5 According to Zillow, more than 55 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in Atlanta have negative equity and more than 68 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in Phoenix have negative equity.

#6 U.S. home values have fallen an astounding 6.3 trillion dollars since the housing crisis first began.

#7 In February, U.S. housing starts experienced their largest decline in 27 years.

#8 New home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.

#9 Historically, the percentage of residential mortgages in foreclosure in the United States has tended to hover between 1 and 1.5 percent.  Today, it is up around 4.5 percent.

#10 According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings in the United States are projected to increase by another 20 percent in 2011.

#11 It is estimated that 25% of all mortgages in Miami-Dade County are “in serious distress and headed for either foreclosure or short sale“.

#12 Two years ago, the average U.S. homeowner that was being foreclosed upon had not made a mortgage payment in 11 months.  Today, the average U.S. homeowner that is being foreclosed upon has not made a mortgage payment in 17 months.

#13 Sales of foreclosed homes now represent an all-time record 23.7% of the market.

#14 4.5 million home loans are now either in some stage of foreclosure or are at least 90 days delinquent.

#15 According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are currently at least one month behind on their mortgage payments.

#16 In September 2008, 33 percent of Americans knew someone who had been foreclosed upon or who was facing the threat of foreclosure.  Today that number has risen to 48 percent.

#17 During the first quarter of 2011, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.

#18 According to a recent census report, 13% of all homes in the United States are currently sitting empty.

#19 In 1996, 89 percent of Americans believed that it was better to own a home than to rent one.  Today that number has fallen to 63 percent.

#20 According to Zillow, the United States has been in a “housing recession” for 57 straight months without an end in sight.

So should we be confident that the folks in charge are doing everything that they can to turn all of this around?

Sadly, the truth is that our “authorities” really do not know what they are doing.  The following is what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had to say about the housing market back in 2006….

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

Since that time U.S. housing prices have experienced their biggest decline ever.

At some point widespread inflation is going to reverse the trend we are experiencing right now, but that doesn’t mean that most American families will be able to afford to buy homes when that happens.

As I have written about previously, the middle class in America is shrinking.  The number of Americans on food stamps has increased by 18 million over the past four years and today 47 million Americans (a new all-time record) are living in poverty.

Millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, the cost of living keeps going up and an increasing percentage of American families are losing faith in the economy.

More Americans than ever are talking about “the coming economic collapse” as if it is a foregone conclusion.  Our federal government is swamped with debt, our state and local governments are swamped with debt and our economic infrastructure is being ripped to shreds by globalization.

So sadly, no, there are not a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic at this point about a major economic turnaround.

The U.S. economy is going down the toilet and the coming collapse is going to be incredibly painful for all of us.

Hopefully when that collapse comes you will have somewhere warm and safe to call home.  If not, hopefully someone will have compassion on you.  In any event, we all need to buckle up because it is going to be a wild ride.

Housing Armageddon: 12 Facts Which Show That We Are In The Midst Of The Worst Housing Collapse In U.S. History

We are officially in the middle of the worst housing collapse in U.S. history – and unfortunately it is going to get even worse.  Already, U.S. housing prices have fallen further during this economic downturn (26 percent), then they did during the Great Depression (25.9 percent).  Approximately 11 percent of all homes in the United States are currently standing empty.  In fact, there are many new housing developments across the U.S. that resemble little more than ghost towns because foreclosures have wiped them out.  Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures reached new highs in 2010, and it is being projected that banks and financial institutions will repossess at least a million more U.S. homes during 2011.  Meanwhile, unemployment is absolutely rampant and wage levels are going down at a time when mortgage lending standards have been significantly tightened.  That means that there are very few qualified buyers running around out there and that is going to continue to be the case for quite some time to come.  When you add all of those factors up, it leads to one inescapable conclusion.  The “housing Armageddon” that we have been experiencing since 2007 is going to get even worse in 2011.

Right now there is a gigantic mountain of unsold homes in the United States.  It is estimated that banks and financial institutions will repossess at least a million more homes this year and this will make the supply of unsold properties even worse.  At the same time, millions of American families have been scared out of the market by this recent crisis and millions of others cannot qualify for a home loan any longer.  That means that the demand for unsold homes is at extremely low levels.

So what happens when supply is really high and demand is really low?

That’s right – prices go down.

Hopefully housing prices don’t have too much farther to go down.  Ben Bernanke and the boys over at the Federal Reserve are doing their best to flood the system with new dollars in order to prop up asset values, but you just can’t create qualified home buyers out of thin air.

Many analysts are projecting that U.S. housing prices will decline another ten or twenty percent before they hit bottom.  In fact, quite a few economists believe that the total price decline from the peak of the market in 2006 will end up being somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 percent.

But whether prices go down any further or not, the truth is that the housing crash that we have already witnessed is absolutely unprecedented.

The following are 12 facts which show that we are in the midst of the worst housing collapse in U.S. history….

#1 Approximately 11 percent of all homes in the United States are currently standing empty.

#2 The rate of home ownership in the United States has dropped like a rock.  At this point it has fallen all the way back to 1998 levels.

#3 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, U.S. home prices fell 1.3 percent in October and another 1 percent in November.  In fact, November represented the fourth monthly decline in a row for U.S. housing prices.  Many economists are now openly using the term “double-dip” to describe what is happening to the housing market.

#4 The number of homes that were actually repossessed reached the 1 million mark for the first time ever during 2010.

#5 According to RealtyTrac, a total of 3 million homes were repossessed by mortgage lenders between January 2007 and August 2010.  This represents a huge amount of additional inventory that somehow must be sold.

#6 72 percent of the major metropolitan areas in the United States had more foreclosures in 2010 than they did in 2009.

#7 According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are at least one month behind on their mortgage payments.

#8 It is estimated that there are about 5 million homeowners in the United States that are at least two months behind on their mortgages, and it is being projected that over a million American families will be booted out of their homes this year alone.

#9 Deutsche Bank is projecting that 48 percent of all U.S. mortgages could have negative equity by the end of 2011.

#10 Some formerly great industrial cities are rapidly turning into ghost towns.  For example, in Dayton, Ohio today 18.9 percent of all houses are now standing empty.  21.5 percent of all houses in New Orleans, Louisiana are standing vacant.

#11 According to Zillow, U.S. home prices have already fallen further during this economic downturn (26 percent) than they did during the Great Depression (25.9 percent).

#12 There are very few signs that the employment situation in the United States is going to improve any time soon.  4.2 million Americans have been unemployed for one year or longer at this point.  While there has been some nominal improvement in the government unemployment numbers recently, other organizations are reporting that things are getting even worse.  According to Gallup, the unemployment rate actually rose to 9.6% at the end of December.  This was a significant increase from 9.3% in mid-December and 8.8% at the end of November.

But even many Americans that do have jobs are finding out that it has become very, very hard to qualify for a home loan.

In an attempt to avoid the mistakes of the past, banks and financial institutions have become very stingy with home loans.  While it was certainly wise for them to make some changes, the truth is that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far at this point.  The U.S. housing industry will never fully recover if they can’t get their customers approved for mortgages.

Congress is talking about passing even more laws that will make it even more difficult to get home loans.  Even though they give speeches about how they want to help the U.S. housing industry, the truth is that Republicans and Democrats are both backing proposals that would make home mortgages much more expensive and much more difficult to obtain as a Bloomberg article recently explained….

Government officials and lawmakers want to make the market less vulnerable to another credit crisis, and all the options lead the same general direction: Borrowers will need larger down payments than in the bubble years, have higher credit scores, and pay extra fees to cover risks and premiums for federal guarantees on government-backed mortgage bonds.

While all that may sound reasonable, the truth is that the U.S. middle class has become so cash poor that the vast majority of them cannot afford homes without the kind of mortgages that were available in the past.

Not that we should go back and repeat the mistakes of the past 20 years.  It is just that nobody should expect the U.S. housing market to “bounce back” in an environment that has fundamentally changed.

The housing market is not like other financial markets.  It is difficult to artificially pump it up with funny money.  If the U.S. housing market is going to rebound, it is going to take lots of average American families getting qualified for loans and going out and buying houses.  But they can’t do this if they do not have good jobs.  Today, only 47 percent of working-age Americans have a full-time job at this point.  Without a jobs recovery there never will be a housing recovery.

In fact, there are all kinds of warning signs that seem to indicate that the U.S. economy could get even worse in 2011.  Many economists are now openly using the word “stagflation” for the first time since the 1970s.  Back in the 70s we had both high unemployment and high inflation at the same time.

Well, we have already had very high unemployment, and thanks to the relentless money printing of the Federal Reserve, it looks like we are going to have high inflation as well.

Middle class American families are going to be spending even more of their resources just trying to survive, and this is going to make it more difficult for them to purchase homes.

In fact, in recent years average Americans have been getting significantly poorer.  Over the past two years, U.S. consumers have withdrawn $311 billion more from savings and investment accounts than they have put into them.  That is very troubling news.

Now the price of food is soaring and the price of oil is about to cross $100 a barrel again.  So what is going to happen if we have another major financial crisis and we witness another huge spike in the unemployment rate?

The Federal Reserve is trying to smooth all of our problems over with a flood of paper money, but it isn’t going to work.  Yes, increasing the money supply will produce some false highs on the stock market and some false economic growth statistics for a while, but the tremendous damage that will be done to the economy is just not worth it.

In any event, let us all hope that we see some really great real estate deals over the next couple of years, because in the times ahead land will be something very good to own.  In fact, down the road it will be much better to own land than to have your money sitting in the bank where it will continuously decline in value.

Use your paper money wisely.  It will never have more value than it does today.

So what do all of you think?  Is the “housing Armageddon” almost over, or do housing prices still need to decline a bit more?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

20 Shocking New Economic Records That Were Set In 2010

2010 was quite a year, wasn’t it?  2010 will be remembered for a lot of things, but for those living in the United States, one of the main things that last year will be remembered for is economic decline.  The number of foreclosure filings set a new record, the number of home repossessions set a new record, the number of bankruptcies went up again, the number of Americans that became so discouraged that they simply quit looking for work reached a new all-time high and the number of Americans on food stamps kept setting a brand new record every single month.  Meanwhile, U.S. government debt reached record highs, state government debt reached record highs and local government debt reached record highs.  What a mess!  In fact, even many of the “good” economic records that were set during 2010 were indications of underlying economic weakness.  For example, the price of gold set an all-time record during 2010, but one of the primary reasons for the increase in the price of gold was that the U.S. dollar was rapidly losing value.  Most Americans had been hoping that 2010 would be the beginning of better times, but unfortunately economic conditions just kept getting worse.

So will things improve in 2011?  That would be nice, but at this point there are not a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic about the economy.  The truth is that we are trapped in a period of long-term economic decline and we are now paying the price for decades of horrible decisions.

Amazingly, many of our politicians and many in the mainstream media have declared that “the recession is over” and that the U.S. economy is steadily improving now.

Well, if anyone tries to tell you that the economy got better in 2010, just show them the statistics below.  That should shut them up for a while.

The following are 20 new economic records that were set during 2010….

#1 An all-time record of 2.87 million U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in 2010.

#2 The number of homes that were actually repossessed reached the 1 million mark for the first time ever during 2010.

#3 The price of gold moved above $1400 an ounce for the first time ever during 2010.

#4 According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, approximately 1.53 million consumer bankruptcy petitions were filed in 2010, which was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.  This was the highest number of personal bankruptcies we have seen since the U.S. Congress substantially tightened U.S. bankruptcy law several years ago.

#5 At one point during 2010, the average time needed to find a job in the United States had risen to an all-time record of 35.2 weeks.

#6 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs, which is believed to be a new record low.

#7 The number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” was the highest it has been in at least five decades during 2010.

#8 The number of American workers that are so discouraged that they have given up searching for work reached an all-time high near the end of 2010.

#9 Government spending continues to set new all-time records.  In fact, at the moment the U.S. government is spending approximately 6.85 million dollars every single minute.

#10 The number of Americans on food stamps surpassed 43 million by the end of 2010.  This was a new all-time record, and government officials fully expect the number of Americans enrolled in the program to continue to increase throughout 2011.

#11 The number of Americans on Medicaid surpassed 50 million for the first time ever in 2010.

#12 The U.S. Census Bureau originally announced that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that was the highest number of Americans living in poverty that they had ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.  But now the Census Bureau says that they miscalculated and that the real number of poor Americans is actually 47.8 million.

#13 According to the FDIC, 157 banks failed during 2010.  That was the highest number of bank failures that the United States has experienced in any single year during the past decade.

#14 The Federal Reserve brought in a record $80.9 billion in profits during 2010.  They returned $78.4 billion of that to the U.S. Treasury, but the real story is that thanks to the Federal Reserve’s continual debasement of our currency, the U.S. dollar was worth less in 2010 than it ever had been before.

#15 It is projected that the major financial firms on Wall Street will pay out an all-time record of $144 billion in compensation for 2010.

#16 Americans now owe more than $881 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record.

#17 In July, sales of new homes in the United States declined to the lowest level ever recorded.

#18 According to Zillow, U.S. housing prices have now declined a whopping 26 percent since their peak in June 2006.  Amazingly, this is even farther than house prices fell during the Great Depression.  From 1928 to 1933, U.S. housing prices only fell 25.9 percent.

#19 State and local government debt reached at an all-time record of 22 percent of U.S. GDP during 2010.

#20 The U.S. national debt has surpassed the 14 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever and it is being projected that it will soar well past 15 trillion during 2011.

There are some people that have a hard time really grasping what statistics actually mean.  For people like that, often pictures and charts are much more effective.  Well, that is one reason I like to include pictures and graphs in many of my articles, and below I have posted my favorite chart from this past year.  It shows the growth of the U.S. national debt from 1940 until today.  I honestly don’t know how anyone can look at this chart and still be convinced that our nation is not headed for a complete financial meltdown….

House Prices – Up Or Down In 2011?

How soon will it be before people finally start using the term “depression” to describe what has happened to the U.S. housing market?  It has been four and a half years since housing prices began to decline, and they are still falling.  In fact, U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Just think about that.  We are now in unprecedented territory, and most analysts believe that U.S. house prices will continue to decline in 2011.  Mortgage rates have been moving up, mortgage delinquencies are on the rise again, U.S. mortgage lenders have really tightened lending standards and “foreclosuregate” continues to plague the entire mortgage industry.  It would be really nice for the overall economy if house prices did go up in 2011, but right now it looks like that simply is not going to happen.

For many U.S. homeowners, all of this is absolutely sickening.  Millions of homeowners are stuck in houses that they desperately want to sell, but they don’t want to take huge losses on their investments either.

Millions of other U.S. homeowners are stuck paying on mortgages that are for far, far more than their homes are now worth.

Could you imagine paying $400,000 for a home that is now only worth $200,000?

Unfortunately, U.S. house prices just continue to decline.

According to CoreLogic, U.S. house prices have fallen for four months in a row, and in November (the last month CoreLogic has released numbers for) housing prices actually fell 5.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Sadly, house prices have dropped so much at this point that we have entered truly historic territory.

According to Zillow, U.S. housing prices have declined a whopping 26 percent since their peak in June 2006.  Amazingly, this is even farther than house prices fell during the Great Depression.  From 1928 to 1933, U.S. housing prices only fell 25.9 percent.  A brand new record has now been established.

So have we hit bottom yet?

Will house prices recover in 2011?

Unfortunately, every indication seems to point to even more declines in U.S. home prices.  The following are five key factors that will continue to drive house prices down….

#1 Mortgage Rates Are Going Up

Over the past couple of months, mortgage rates in the United States have been moving up fairly steadily.  That is going to make mortgages even more expensive for potential home buyers.

#2 Mortgage Delinquencies Are Increasing Again

As we approached the end of 2010, the number of mortgages in the U.S. that are “seriously delinquent” started to creep up once again.  That means that we are likely to see another bump in foreclosures at some point in 2011.  There are already way, way too many homes on the market, so more foreclosures will only add even more supply to a market that already has way too many homes for sale.

#3 Mortgage Lenders Have Really Tightened Standards

Most large financial institutions have responded to the mistakes of the past decade by really, really tightening mortgage standards.  It is now much harder to get a home loan in the United States.  But if less people can qualify for a mortgage that means that less people will be out there buying homes.

#4 The Entire Mortgage Industry Continues To Be Mired In Legal Problems

Foreclosuregate is a huge story that simply refuses to go away.  For example, just the other day the highest court in Massachusetts voided the seizure of two homes after the big banks involved failed to prove that they actually held the mortgages at the time they foreclosed.  This case made headlines all over the nation, and precedents such as this will encourage even more homeowners to challenge their foreclosures in court.  This is going to be really bad for the big mortgage lenders and it is going to really slow down the pace of mortgage lending.

#5 The Underlying Economy Continues To Be Very Poor

The American people cannot afford to buy good homes if they do not have good jobs.  But today there are seven million fewer middle class jobs than there were about ten years ago.  As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Until there is a “jobs recovery” there simply is not going to be a “housing recovery”.

There are very few top economists that are actually optimistic about the U.S. housing market in 2011.  In fact, there seems to be an emerging consensus among analysts that house prices in America are going to decline quite substantially this year….

*Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics says that U.S. house prices are “double dipping” and that we will likely see another 5 percent decline in housing prices during 2011.

*Economist Nouriel Roubini recently declared to CNBC that the “double-dip” for the U.S. housing market has already arrived….

“It’s pretty clear the housing market has already double dipped.”

*Standard & Poor’s analysts are projecting that U.S. home prices will fall another seven to ten percent during 2011.

*Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries expects home prices to continue to fall until at least mid-2011 and he is convinced that more hard times for the U.S. real estate market are still to come….

“Zillow believes that we’ll see bottom in national home values in Q2 or Q3 of 2011 (more likely the latter), that home values will fall another 5-7% nationally (in the Zillow Home Value Index) between now and then, and that we’ll experience a very long, protracted bottom before home value appreciation returns to historically normal rates.

So it looks like the U.S. housing crash is going to continue for a while.

For those that make a living by building or selling homes, this has got to be very depressing news.

But for those that are seeking to buy a house or that are seeking to buy some land, there could potentially be some very good deals out there over the next year or two.

So what do you think is going to happen to house prices in 2011?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your analysis….

5 Trillion MORE Dollars To Fix Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac???

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have become gigantic financial black holes that the U.S. government endlessly pours massive quantities of money into.  Unfortunately, if the U.S. government did allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to totally implode, both the mortgage industry and the housing industry in the United States would completely collapse.  So essentially the U.S. government finds itself between a rock and a hard place.  Prior to the financial crisis of the last few years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were profit-seeking private corporations that also had a government-chartered mission of expanding home ownership in America.  But now that they have been officially taken over by the U.S. government, they have become gigantic bottomless money pits.  It is hard to even describe just how much of a mess Fannie and Freddie are in.  However, the unprecedented intervention by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the mortgage market over the past couple of years has been about the only thing that has kept it from plunging into absolute chaos.  So what does the future hold for Fannie Mae and for Freddie Mac?  Well, according to one estimate, it could take another 5 trillion dollars to “fix” Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac.

Yes, you read the correctly.  According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are facing $5 trillion dollars in liabilities that the federal government is going to have to deal with one way or another….

An exit strategy could involve adding Fannie and Freddie’s roughly $5 trillion in obligations, in effect, to a federal balance sheet that already includes $13.3 trillion in federal government debts. The GSE obligations would be a different animal, because those liabilities would need to be covered by taxpayers only if things went bad in the housing market.

It is hard to even put into words how much money that is.  If you were alive when Jesus was born, and you spent one million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not a one trillion dollar problem.

They are a five trillion dollar problem.

And if the housing market gets even worse (which it will), that figure could rise substantially.

Of course the U.S. government should have never gotten into the mortgage business in the first place, but these days the U.S. government is intervening in virtually every industry.

And don’t expect U.S. government support for the mortgage industry to stop any time soon.  In fact, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says that the U.S. government plans to continue to play a prominent role in back-stopping mortgages in order to keep the U.S. economy stabilized.

But if the only thing keeping the U.S. housing industry from plunging into the abyss is unprecedented intervention by the U.S. government, what does that say about the overall health of the U.S. economy?

Mortgage defaults and foreclosures continue to set new all-time records even with all of this government intervention.  In fact, major U.S. banks wrote off about $8 billion on mortgages during the first 3 months of 2010, and if this pace continues it will even exceed 2009’s staggering full-year total of $31 billion.

Not only that, but construction of new homes in the U.S. and applications to build new homes in the U.S. both declined to their lowest levels in more than a year during July.

And things are rapidly getting even worse for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie are going delinquent at a very alarming pace as the Christian Science Monitor recently explained….

As of March 31 this year, 6.3 percent of mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie are either seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. Although that’s down slightly from the figure three months earlier, it represents a big one-year rise (from 3.9 percent in early 2009).

An increase in delinquencies of over 50 percent in just one year?

That is not a promising trend.

If the U.S. housing market takes another big dive in the next few years, and things certainly look very ominous at the moment, what in the world is that going to do to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

So what is the solution?

Well, on Tuesday the Obama administration invited prominent banking executives to offer their thoughts on the mortgage market.

So what was the consensus?

It was something along the lines of this: “Please, oh please, oh please continue propping up the 11 trillion dollar mortgage market.”

So much for capitalism, eh?

When even the banksters are begging for massive ongoing government intervention you know that the game has changed.

Adam Smith must be rolling over in his grave.

But this is where we are at.

We are on the verge of a horrific economic collapse, and it is only enormous intervention by the U.S. government that is holding things together.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration backed approximately 90 percent of all home loans made during the first half of 2010.

So where would we be without the government?

Of course we could let the whole thing collapse and allow housing prices to eventually settle at a level where people could actually afford them, but what fun would that be?

No, for now the U.S. government will continue to endlessly spend billions of dollars to prop up a system that is artificially inflated and that is destined to collapse one way or another.

The truth is that the American middle class is slowly being wiped out and they just can’t afford to pay $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 for their houses anymore.

Without good jobs, the American people are not going to be able to afford hefty mortgages.  Unfortunately, millions upon millions of middle class jobs are being offshored and outsourced every single year and they are not coming back.

There simply will never be a recovery in the housing market without jobs.  But in the new global economy, American workers have been put in direct competition with the cheapest labor in the world.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that jobs are going to be taken away from American workers and given to people who are willing to work for less than ten percent as much.

So, no, the housing market is never going to fully recover.  Things got dramatically out of balance over the past couple of decades, and the housing market is going to try to restore that balance regardless of what the U.S. government does. 

The U.S. government can continue to throw billions (or even trillions) of dollars at the problem, but in the end the underlying economic fundamentals are simply not going to be denied.

Finca Bayano

Panama Relocation Tours




 

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