Rolfe Winkler

FT: Treasury proposes new powers for Fed

April 30, 2008

This article isn’t long on details. Treasury feels “enhanced regulatory powers” would be a “better tool than interest rates” to “contain asset price bubbles.”

Huffington Post: Housing still heading south

April 28, 2008

Tell you something you don’t already know, right? Though the conclusion has been stated often enough, it’s nice to see data to back up the story. For that, check out Hale Stewart’s latest article over at Huffington Post (via Patrick).

Words of the Year

April 25, 2008

With much thanks to Calculated Risk a compilation of early nominees for word/phrase of the year, 2008. This is NOT shameless plagiarism: I take NONE of the credit for these….I’m just not that witty. The best I’ve saved for last…

Inventory highest in 27 years

April 24, 2008

The bad news on housing keeps coming:

WASHINGTON — U.S. new-home sales slid further in March to their lowest level since 1991 while the supply of homes for sale soared to nearly a three-decade high, suggesting little prospect of any near-term turnaround.

Lowenstein on the Ratings Agencies

April 23, 2008

The Sunday Times Magazine will be publishing a fascinating article regarding the credit rating agencies and the role they have played in the housing bubble. (The introductory paragraphs of the article are below; the full article is available at the link above.)

Homes are still too expensive, but by how much?

April 19, 2008

Using a phrase like “too expensive” would seem to be subjective. But compare median house prices with median income (via Patrick). If people’s incomes aren’t climbing, how can they afford so much more house? (Click on the image to see a larger version of the chart….and the back button to return to the post)

Bring back the Gold Standard?

April 19, 2008

The Fed’s aggressive interest rate policy is fanning inflation fears, causing some intrepid observers to argue for a return to the gold standard. I thought it very interesting last February when the WSJ published an op-ed by Judy Shelton that concluded as follows:

The Newswire

April 16, 2008

A few interesting items to pass along today.

The first is an interesting interview with an anonymous hedge fund manager (via JL). It’s a longish interview, but a good insider’s view on everything from the credit crunch to the downfall of Bear Stearns to the hedge fund business itself. A highlight:

The "Reflation" Solution?

April 14, 2008

Didn’t think I’d see an op-ed like this in the Journal. The editors themselves hate Fed easing, and for good reason. Inflation hurts everyone in the economy except for those in debt; those who, financially-speaking, have behaved most irresponsibly. But this opinion piece says the Fed shouldn’t feel ashamed about printing money in order to get us through the housing crisis.

Consumer Confidence Craters

April 11, 2008

From Bloomberg this morning:

April 11 — Confidence among U.S. consumers sank to a 26-year low in April as the labor market continued to deteriorate and gasoline prices rose.

Should CDS be regulated like insurance?

April 10, 2008

Arthur Kimball-Stanley published a fascinating op-ed on Credit Default Swaps in the Providence Journal on Monday. I spoke with the author and he gave me permission to republish his piece in its entirety. A 30-page version of this argument was accepted for publication in a law journal to be published this fall. The author gave me a recent draft, though the article below offers the essential elements of the argument. Hopefully it gets traction……

Nationalizing the housing market

April 8, 2008

Have taxpayers already bailed out the housing market? An argument can be made that they have. From FT:

Minsky…in brief

April 6, 2008

In the latest CFA Institute Conference Proceedings, Paul McCulley’s article (“The Liquidity Conundrum”) has a superlatively readable discussion of economist Hyman Minsky’s work on financial instability. Minsky’s theory goes a long way toward explaining the housing bubble, in particular the creative mortgage products that blew it up.

Housing Bill advances in Senate

April 2, 2008

Rs and Ds in the Senate have agreed on the basic framework for a new housing bill, according to the NYT. The basic framework appears to include the follwing: