Prepare For Tough Times If Your Job Has Anything To Do With Real Estate Or Mortgages

Housing Crash 2013If you have a job that involves building homes, buying homes, selling homes or that is in any way related to the mortgage industry, you might want to start searching for alternate employment.  Seriously.  Interest rates are starting to rise dramatically, and mortgage lenders such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are all cutting thousands of mortgage-related jobs.  Last week, mortgage refinance activity plunged to the lowest level that we have seen since June 2009 and total mortgage activity dropped to the lowest level since October 2008.  Unfortunately, this is only the beginning.  Mortgage rates closely mirror the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries, the the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has nearly doubled since early May.  But it is still only sitting at about 3 percent right now.  As I have written about previously, it has a ton of room to go up before it hits “normal” historical levels, and so do mortgage rates.  As I noted the other day, some analysts believe that the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is going to hit 7 percent eventually.  If that happens, mortgage rates will be more than double what they are today.  And we have already seen the average rate on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage go from 3.35 percent in May to 4.57 percent last week.  If interest rates continue to rise we could be heading for a “housing Armageddon” that will make the last housing crash look like a Sunday picnic.

The mini-housing bubble that we have been enjoying for the last couple of years is coming to an abrupt end.  It doesn’t matter what the mainstream media is telling you about a “sustainable” housing recovery.  Just look at how the big mortgage lenders are behaving.  They know the gig is up.  According to Bloomberg, Bank of America has just announced that they will be eliminating 2,100 mortgage-related jobs…

Bank of America Corp., the second-largest U.S. lender, will eliminate about 2,100 jobs and shutter 16 mortgage offices as rising interest rates weaken loan demand, said two people with direct knowledge of the plans.

Would they be doing that if we were really heading into a “sustainable housing recovery”?

And Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are also both eliminating thousands of mortgage-related jobs

Mortgage lenders are paring staff as higher interest rates discourage refinancing and cast doubt on how long the housing market rebound will last. Wells Fargo & Co., the biggest U.S. home lender, plans more than 2,300 job cuts, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. may dismiss 15,000.

Would they be doing this if they thought that brighter days were ahead?

Of course not.

In fact, Well Fargo just announced that it expects to make 30 percent fewer home loans this quarter because of rapidly rising interest rates.

It’s over folks.

The mini-housing bubble that the mainstream media has been hyping so much is over.

If your job has anything to do with real estate or mortgages, it is time to start thinking about a career change.

This is especially true if your job is related to refinancing mortgages.  All of the smart people have already refinanced.  As rates continue to rise rapidly, the only ones that will be refinancing are really stupid people.  According to Zero Hedge, mortgage refinance activity has already dropped by a whopping 70 percent since early May…

For the 16th of the last 18 weeks, mortgage refinance activity plunged (dropping 20% this week alone). Since early May, when the dreaded word “Taper” was first uttered, refis have collapsed over 70%. With mortgage servicers and providers large and small laying people off, it seems hard for even the most egregiously biased bull to still suggest that the housing recovery is sustainable.

And this rise in interest rates is just getting started.  The Federal Reserve has not even begun to “taper” yet.  Once that starts happening, the consequences could be quite dramatic

“In early 1994, when the U.S. recovery gained strength, the Fed started a tightening cycle and bond markets crashed not only in the U.S. but also around the world,” European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said on Tuesday.

“If spillovers were large in 1994, we can expect them to be even larger today in an even more deeply interconnected world,” he added in the text of a speech for delivery in Brussels.

Of course when the Federal Reserve “tapers” their quantitative easing it won’t really be “tightening” as much as it will be slowing down the pace at which they are recklessly creating tens of billions of dollars out of thin air.  But the effect will be similar to what we saw back in 1994.

As interest rates rise, it will become much more expensive to buy a home and much more difficult to sell a home.  To give you an idea of how dramatically interest rates can affect housing affordability, I wanted to share some numbers from one of my previous articles

A year ago, the 30 year rate was sitting at 3.66 percent.  The monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $1374.07.

If the 30 year rate rises to 8 percent, the monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $2201.29.

Does 8 percent sound crazy to you?

It shouldn’t.  8 percent was considered to be normal back in the year 2000.

Are you starting to get the picture?

As interest rates go up, home prices will have to fall.  Otherwise, nobody will be able to afford them.

In the end, we could end up with tens of millions more homeowners that are substantially “underwater” on their mortgages.

So who is to blame?

The Federal Reserve of course.

They created this bubble by forcing interest rates down to record low levels.

At some point it was inevitable that interest rates would start reverting back to more “normal” levels, and that “adjustment” is going to be immensely painful for the U.S. economy.

As we saw back in 2008 and 2009, when the housing industry suffers the entire economy suffers.

And the higher that interest rates go, the more suffering there will be.

So let us hope and pray that interest rates do not go any higher, but let us also start preparing for the very worst.

11 Signs That The U.S. Government Has Become An Overgrown Monstrosity That Almost Every American Is Dependent Upon For Economic Survival

Today, the number of Americans who are able to financially survive without any reliance on the U.S. government whatsoever is declining at a staggering rate.  Whether it is through direct handouts, entitlement programs, student loans, government bailouts, government contracts or direct employment, the truth is that now a solid majority of the American people are at least partially dependent on the federal government for their economic survival.  The sad thing is that the majority of the American people say that there is too much government in their lives when opinion polls are taken, but if you try to take the government check that they are getting away from them those same people will scream bloody murder.  But the truth is that it is getting to be really, really hard to be completely independent of the U.S. government economically.  That is because the U.S. government has their hands in almost everything.  The ideal of a “limited federal government” has long since faded away.  Very few people seem to believe in it anymore.  Instead, Americans today look to the federal government as the answer to all of our problems, as the provider of all of our needs, and as the regulator of every single detail of our lives. 

The U.S. government has become the “Big Mother” that we all scramble to for a handout when we get into trouble.

When you sit down and really analyze it, you quickly realize that there is no way that the U.S. government can be extricated from the U.S. economy now.  Instead of the free enterprise system that we once had in this country, today we have a situation where the U.S. government has become the very core of the economy.  It is the hub around which everything else in the economy revolves.

You don’t believe this?

The following are 11 signs that the U.S. government has become an overgrown monstrosity that almost every American is dependent upon for economic survival…. 

#1) The Explosion Of Government Handouts

39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps.  Millions of others are completely dependent on the extended unemployment benefits that they are receiving.  Millions of other Americans are able to survive financially because of the dozens of other welfare programs that the U.S. government subsidizes.  More Americans are receiving some form of welfare than ever before in history, and each month the numbers continue to go up.  Could there come a day when we all receive government handouts every month?

#2) The Entitlements Programs That Threaten To Destroy U.S. Government Finances

Entitlements are the single biggest U.S. government expense.  These programs include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social Ponzi schemes.  Tens of millions of Americans receive government assistance through these programs.  In fact, nearly 51 million Americans received $672 billion in Social Security benefits in 2009.  We all have friends or family members who receive these kinds of payments.  But cutting so many people a check year after year is slowly but surely destroying U.S. government finances.  According to an official U.S. government report, rapidly growing interest costs on the national debt together with spending on major entitlement programs will absorb approximately 92 cents of every dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019.  That is before a penny is spent on anything else.  This is clearly not a sustainable financial situation by any definition, but who wants to tell tens of millions of Americans that their checks are going to be reduced?

#3) The U.S. Government Is Now Even Paying Mortgages

Yes, you read that right.  As part of the “stimulus” package, the U.S. government is going to send money to some of the states that were hit the hardest by the real estate crisis.  So what is that money going to be used for?  Well, Florida, Michigan, California and Arizona have all announced that they plan to use $1.4 billion the Obama administration is sending their way to help the unemployed and the “underwater” pay their mortgages.

#4) Without The Student Loan Program A Huge Percentage Of College Students Would Not Get An Education

The federal student loan program (which was recently entirely nationalized) helps millions of college students pay for their education.  Without this assistance by the government, a lot less students would be going to college.  In fact, many of you that are reading this article directly benefited from the federal student loan program.

#5) The Bailout Of AIG

One of the biggest insurance companies in the world, AIG, would not be in existence today if not for direct federal government intervention.  It kind of makes you wonder what George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would think about a federal government that hands big bags of cash to a giant insurance company so that it can survive.  Whether it was so they could pay off their debts to Goldman Sachs or whether it was so that they could keep paying out record-setting bonuses, the truth is that AIG would not have made it without the federal government stepping in.

#6) The “Too Big To Fail” Banks

But it wasn’t just AIG that got bailed out.  A number of big banks may have gone under if not for the U.S. government.  The U.S. government decided that they were “too big to fail”.  Well, what about all the small banks that are going under?  The truth is that they are “too small to bother with”.  We now live in a nation where the U.S. government is the one who decides which banks live and which banks die like dogs.  Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

#7) The Bailout Of General Motors

But not only does the federal government bail out financial institutions – it is also now in the car business.  Yes, grand old General Motors may have ended up on the scrap heap of history if not for the U.S. government stepping in.  So if you work for General Motors or if you work for any company that does business with General Motors, you can thank Uncle Sam for the fact that you still have a job.

#8) The Bailouts Of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

If the U.S. government had not bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we may not have much of a mortgage industry at this point at all.  According to Inside Mortgage Finance, government-related entities backed 96.5% of all home loans during the first quarter of 2010, which was up from 90% in 2009.  So if you borrowed money to buy a home over the past couple of years, there is a very strong likelihood that the U.S. government was involved.

#9) The U.S. Government – The Nation’s Biggest Employer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 2 million civilians work for the federal government, excluding the Postal Service.  When you add in all U.S. military personnel, that number goes much higher. 

The truth is that as the government continues to expand (become more bloated), more Americans than ever are hopping aboard the gravy train.  Today, the average federal worker now earns about twice as much as the average worker in the private sector.  So if you want to do little work, produce little of real value and enjoy super cushy benefits, maybe you should apply for a job with the federal government too.

#10) Millions Of Americans Are Employed By Firms That Rely On Government Contracts

When considering the impact of the U.S. government on the economy, you can’t forget the hundreds of companies that would go out of business if their U.S. government contracts were taken away.  There are literally millions of people who work for companies that do business with the government.  If the government disappeared it would cause economic chaos for those firms.  The truth is that a whole lot of people make a really good living plugging into the sweetest revenue source of them all – the U.S. government.

#11) The U.S. Government Takeover Of The Health Care System

The U.S. government takeover of the health care system is going to fundamentally change the economics of the health care industry.  The U.S. government will now play a major role in deciding which hospitals get built and which do not.  Approximately 17% of U.S. GDP is spent on health care, and now the U.S. government has unprecedented control over where that money goes.  Over a dozen new taxes have been established by the new health care reform law, and the U.S. government is going to pour an unprecedented amount of money into the system.  So will this result in all of us getting better health care?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

The truth is that the Founding Fathers never envisioned a federal government that completely dominated that national economy.  But that is what we have got.  As of now, only a very small percentage of Americans are still able to say that they are completely financially independent of the U.S. government. 

You see, in economic terms the U.S. government is not just the elephant in the room.  It is the elephant that sat on the room and nearly suffocated everything else out of existence.

As Americans, we live in an economy that is so intertwined with the government that it is impossible to separate the two anymore.

But the really bad news is that the U.S. government is in massive financial trouble.  According to one new report, the U.S. national debt will reach 100 percent of GDP by the year 2015.  Many economists regard that as an incredibly dangerous threshold to cross.

If U.S. government finances collapse, it will mean the collapse of the entire U.S. economy as well.  There is simply no separating the two.  And considering the fact that the U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, things don’t look promising.

America is headed for an unprecedented economic collapse, and the U.S. government is leading the way.  If you can get financially independent, now is the time to try to do that, but the reality is that we will all feel massive economic pain when this thing comes crashing down.

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