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Monday, June 22, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — June 22, 2009

Items of Interest:

CNN Money:
Housing saviors: The echo boomers -- When economy picks up, housing demand will return, thanks to robust population growth.

The seeds of a housing recovery have already been planted, according to a report released Monday. In fact, many of them were sown starting around 1979.

According to an annual state of the nation's housing from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, once the U.S. emerges from recession, strong demographic trends will restore health to the housing market. The key is echo boomers, the 75 million Americans born between 1979 and 1995...

Diana Oleck / CNBC Realty Check:
Mortgage Bankers Slash 2009 Forecasts -- Today the Mortgage Bankers Association put out a revision in its 2009 originations forecast. A big revision. A $700 billion revision. “$84 billion of the drop is due to lower purchase originations and the rest is due to lower rate/term refinances and very low volumes in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).” That’s big too...
Bill Gross of PimcoNY Times:
Treasury’s Got Bill Gross on Speed Dial -- Every day, Bill Gross, the world’s most successful bond fund manager, withdraws into a conference room at lunchtime with his lieutenants to discuss his firm’s investments. The blinds are drawn to keep out the sunshine, and he forbids any fiddling with BlackBerrys or cellphones. He wants everyone disconnected from the outside world and focused on what matters most to him: mining riches for his clients at Pimco, the swiftly growing money management firm.

Mr. Gross, 65, has long been celebrated for his eccentricities. He learned some of his lucrative investing strategies by gambling in Las Vegas...
Todd Harrison / Minyanville:
Monday Morning Quarterback: Five Battles Will Define the War -- The government effectively bought the cancer and sold the car crash, which is to say they kick-saved an apocalyptic systemic collapse but inhaled more toxic waste than John Coffey on Green Mile...

There was a very interesting article on Bill Gross in the Sunday New York Times. I was particularly intrigued by the comment by Paul McCulley that "part of his job is to ingratiate himself with officials at the Treasury and the Federal Reserve so PIMCO can better understand impending policy decisions." Call me old fashioned but isn't that dangerously close to being considered front running inside information? ...

Barry Ritholtz / The Big Picture: Why Treasury ♥ Bill Gross
Wall Street Journal Advertisement from 1930's for 80 Broad St., NY, NYNews From 1930 Blog:
Impressions of the week June 16-21, 1930 --
This is America. Piffling talkers would turn back the calendar to the nineties and destroy the economic progress of thirty years. Vicious rumors spread for selfish purposes; flippant predictions of a five-year slump in business; wholesale demands for the cutting of wages are unworthy of American intelligence. Credit is super-abundant. Business is no worse than three months ago. Twelve months of declining volume is behind us. Many adjustments have been all but completed. Engineering and marketing brains are as fertile as ever. Problems there have always been. To proclaim their insurmountability is childish...
Paul Kedrosky / Infectious Greed:
News from 1930 -- Yes, That 1930 --This is an interesting idea (and apologies if I'm late to it): Someone is writing a regular blog summarizing the economic and market news from today's date in 1930 in the Wall Street Journal...
Washington Post:
Poll: Americans Less Upbeat About Stimulus Bill's Impact — Expectations for President Obama's stimulus package have diminished, with barely half of Americans now confident the $787 billion measure will boost the economy, and the rapid rise in optimism that followed the 2008 election has abated …
Paul Volpe / Capitol Briefing: Post Poll: Pelosi Popularity Declines
Douglas McIntyre / DailyFinance: Americans begin to lose confidence in stimulus
Angelo MoziloThe New Yorker
Angelo’s Ashes -- Six years ago, Countrywide Financial Corporation was regarded with awe in the business world. In 2003, Fortune noted that Countrywide was expected to write $400 billion in home loans and earn $1.9 billion. Countrywide’s chairman and C.E.O., Angelo Mozilo, did rather well himself. In 2003, he received nearly $33 million in compensation. By that same year, Wall Street had become addicted to home loans, which bankers used to create immensely lucrative mortgage-backed securities and, later, collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.s—and Countrywide was their biggest supplier. Under Mozilo’s leadership, Countrywide’s growth had been astonishing. He was aiming to achieve a market share—thirty to forty per cent—that was far greater than anyone in the financial-services industry had ever attained...
Felix Salmon / Economics Roundtable: Regulatory arbitrage anecdote of the day
David Zaring / Conglomerate: Regulatory Competition Outsource
NY Post:

It's not every advice-book writer who can boast that his business acumen once earned him a spot a Fortune magazine Top 50 list. Fewer still can claim to have made the list Michael Franzese appeared on in 1986, when he was No. 18 on the mag's tally of the "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses," only five slots below John Gotti...

As a caporegime of New York's notorious Colombo family -- and son of legendary underboss John "Sonny" Franzese -- Michael earned his spot by spearheading a web of criminal enterprises that raked in millions of dollars a week...

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