Counterparties

By Nick Rizzo
November 11, 2011

Paul Krugman explains the Euro crisis in one sentence — Business Insider

An interesting attack on ECRI’s recession call — Stone Street Advisors

Pretty much everyone at MF Global was fired en masse — Reuters

29% of all US mortgages are underwater — Ritholtz

And the gigantic foreclosure settlement won’t give homeowners very much — Huffington Post

Unemployment for young veterans is 30% and rising — Businessweek

While homelessness for female veterans has increased each of the last six years — LA Times

UK MPs will probably find James Murdoch “ill-informed” but not “mendacious”.  They’ve got it reversed — Guardian

11 comments

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The stat on underwater mortgages comes from Zillow. Almost every home I have looked at on Zillow has an unrealistic value, so I don’t know that I accept that 29% number as fact.

Everybody gets fired at MF, and people are shocked. Why? They’re bankrupt, what do they expect? One employee was angry because there was no severance. Who was supposed to pay the severance? The government? Depositors?

Krugman says the Greece and Italy are like 3rd world countries that have to borrow in someone else’s currency, because they joined to EU. That would be the case for any over-extended country, except for the US. When South American countries were going bust in the 80s, nobody wanted to lend them money in their own currency, and it wouldn’t be any different for Greece and Italy today. Italy is luck they are only paying 7%. He can make the same case for individual states in the US that are not allowed to print their own currency.

Unemployment for young vets is 30%: what was the rate of unemployment for those soldiers before they enlisted? Can’t any of the business people, the ones who support all wars, who always praise the bravery of American servicemen and women, invest in giving them jobs when they get back? Or is Obama stopping them from doing that?

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive

KenG_CA, if the Zestimates on home values are high, wouldn’t that mean that MORE houses are underwater? If the true values are lower, but the mortgage values are whatever they are, that seems like the logical conclusion…

Krugman has actually addressed the issue you’re talking about re: states. Read his blog.

Posted by Auros | Report as abusive

“KenG_CA, if the Zestimates on home values are high, wouldn’t that mean that MORE houses are underwater?”

Is arguable that many of them are low.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

TFF is right, they are low. I looked at values of homes in my neighborhood, and they are typically 20% below what the houses are selling for (which was already depressed).

I don’t buy that so many houses are underwater. It’s a bad problem, no doubt, but it’s hard to say what all those houses are worth. A bigger problem is too many people can’t afford their payments, regardless of the “market” value.

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive

@KenG_CA,

3rd-world countries are obliged to borrow in foreign currencies because they require foreign capital. That is not true of Italy, which is still a fabulously wealthy country. Private debt is low (mortgages are unusual), and average household net worth high (around 350K euros.) Yes, the government debt is over 100% GDP, but that’s not new: it has been for a decade. It is really only in being on the euro – a gold standard without the gold – that Italy is like a 3rd-world country. So Krugman is correct.

It is in fact somewhat peculiar that Italy should have been the next domino to fall. Their deficit – 4% – is low by European standards, and unlike e.g. the UK, they still have a (tiny) primary surplus. Sure, their government is dysfunctional, but Belgium doesn’t even have a government, and seems on the verge of splitting in two. It’s debt is nearly as high, it’s deficit much higher, yet it pays only 4.4% for money. The difference seems to be essentially psychological, a matter of perception and stereotypes.

Posted by Greycap | Report as abusive

GrayCap, Italy still has a big trade deficit – if you are shipping to Italy, would you be willing to be paid in lira, knowing Italy will be printing more of it to cover their government spending, when there are other alternatives? Italy might very well be a fabulously wealthy country, but if the wealth is in their native currency, what will it matter? The only reason the U.S. is able to get away with big trade and budget deficits is because the dollar is essentially the standard (for now).

That you are right about the perception of different economies being based on psychology is irrelevant; if people start believing, rightly or wrongly, that a currency is worthless, it will lose value until enough people change their mind. Like orange juice futures in Trading Places.

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive

greycap, and italian govvies not too long ago were considered the smart play…

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

So what I don’t understand, with all this talk of “underwater” mortgages, is what happens if some entity happens to take your underwater property through imminent domain?

How much is “just compensation”? Do you get stiffed? Does the lender? Are you happy or sad?

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