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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Housing/Subprime Roundup — April 8, 2008

Items of interest:

Credit losses could approach $1 trillion: IMF -- The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that turmoil in credit markets could spread with losses possibly approaching $1 trillion, and cautioned that risks to global economic growth had increased.

In its twice-yearly assessment of global financial markets, the IMF said there had been a "collective failure" to grasp the extent of leverage in the financial system and the risk that it could be unwound in a disorderly fashion. Conditions may get worse as the limping U.S. economy leads to more credit losses.

"The credit shock emanating from the U.S. subprime crisis is set to broaden amid a significant economic slowdown," Jaime Caruana, director of the IMF's monetary and capital markets department, said at a news conference...

Pending Home Sales Fall 1.9% to Record Low -- Pending sales of previously owned homes fell a bigger-than-expected 1.9 percent in February to the lowest level on record, according to a report from a real estate trade group Tuesday that pointed to more troubles in the beleaguered housing market.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on sales contracts signed in February and seen as a key barometer of future housing sales activity, fell to 84.6 in February from 86.2. That was the lowest reading since the trade group began tracking this data in 2001.

Compared to a year ago, pending sales were down 21.4 percent, according to the group.

Economists polled ahead of the report were expecting a monthly decline of 0.7 percent. January's reading was revised up to a 0.3 percent gain after an initial flat reading...
Pending Home Resales in U.S. Fall More Than Forecast

The Big Picture:
Pending Home Sales Index falls 21.4% -- I see that the NAR has hired Crackhead Bob as their new headline writer, to wit: Existing-Home Sales to Stablize Before Upturn in Second Half of 2008...
As housing falls, short sales becoming common -- A real estate group survey indicates that roughly 20 percent of all U.S. home sales in March were “short sales.” ...

The riskiest real estate markets in America -- There's roulette and there's skydiving. Then there's investing in Detroit and Cleveland real estate. ...

Critics say Senate plan won’t stem foreclosures -- Critics say a bill designed to help ease the foreclosure crisis and boost demand for housing may actually encourage foreclosures and drive down house values.
Best Cities For Home Sellers -- In these 10 spots, low inventory, new jobs and easier lending limits spell good times for sellers. ...

Ten Recession-Proof Home Improvements -- Energy-efficient features and cosmetic upgrades top the list of best remodels for the buck...
San Gabriel Valley [CA] Tribune:
Pawnshops cash in -- Middle-class patrons sell belongings, seek loans

It's a busy day at West Covina Pawn. But according to the staff at the family-owned shop, every day has been exceptionally busy since the U.S. economy started to tank.

A constant stream of customers crowded the store last week, hoping to get cash for their valuables, including jewelry and antique gold coins. Most said they needed the money to pay bills. "

The out-flowing money on loans has been exceptional," said Clint Toth, owner of Arts Jewelry and Loan in Whittier. "(We've seen) a lot of real estate agents, a lot of middle-class people."
WaMu gets $7 billion lifeline from TPG - MarketWatch
Goldman Says Sell Fannie, Freddie; Lehman Says Buy - Bloomberg
The Coming Tax Bomb - John Cogan & R. Glenn Hubbard, WSJ
Why Paulson's Economic Plan Won't Work - The New Republic
A $100 Billion Sovereign Wealth Fund? - Stephen Jen, Morgan Stanley
Postal workers attacked by wild turkeys - AP

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia