Easy money reflating house prices

Jun 30, 2009 20:33 UTC

slide21

My colleague Chris Swann says to beware of housing false dawns. I couldn’t agree more.  While the pace of decline in house prices moderated in April, one has to consider the stupendous monetary stimulus that helped drive that improvement.  With rates about as low as they can go, the only way to drive a sustainable increase in prices is to increase buyers’ income.  With the employment picture continuing to deteriorate, don’t look for rising incomes any time soon.

(Click chart to enlarge in new window)

The chart above plots the month-over-month change in the composite 20 index compared to average 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

Bulls would point to an improvement in the so-called “second derivative,” a decline in the rate of decline.  From March to April prices dropped only 0.6%, far better than the 2%+ declines each of the prior six months.

Bears would argue that the data showed a similar increase a year ago, and then promptly turned back down.

But prices have fallen 18% since last year, bulls might say.  They can’t fall forever.

The trump card, however, falls to the Bears in my view:  Mortgage rates are 110 basis points lower today than they were just last fall.  That’s a lot of monetary stimulus.

When rates go down, prices go up (all else equal).  A quick present value calculation shows that a $3,000 monthly payment can pay off a $500,000 30-year mortgage priced at 6%.  Drop rates to 5% and that same monthly payment will support a $558,000 mortgage.

Admittedly, this is a simplistic way to look at house prices.  But it serves to show how incredibly sensitive they are to interest rates.

But low interest rates, along with lending structures that allow people to borrow more relative to their income, only offer a temporary sugar high for house prices.  There won’t be a sustainable increase in prices until there’s a sustainable increase in buyers’ income.  And that’s not happening any time soon, not with unemployment speeding towards double-digits.

For more charts analyzing today’s Case-Shiller data, see below.

(more…)

COMMENT

Thanks for info about house prices.

Lunchtime Links 6-30

Jun 30, 2009 16:58 UTC

(Send links, pics, vids to rolfe.winkler at thomsonreuters)

The Cost Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care (New Yorker)  Lawyers and insurance companies get the lion’s share of blame for running up health costs in the U.S.  This piece argues convincingly that doctors themselves are deserve a good deal of blame for over-prescribing unnecessary and very expensive medical procedures.

Consumer Confidence “Retreats” (Conference Board)  The index had improved for three straight months, likely due to rock bottom interest rates and a friendlier stock market.  Now everyone realizes that employment isn’t coming back any time soon.

HSBC Chairman says financial crisis still far from over (WSJ)  He also said that resurrecting Glass-Steagall would be impractical since customers these days require a wide range of financial services.  But do they?  He argues that so-called “narrow banking,” whereby commercial banks become depositories primarily, is unrealistic.  Perhaps now.  But when it actually comes time to deal with our massive debts, much of the global financial sector could very well collapse.  At that point, it may be easier to reboot the financial sector with narrow banks as the foundation.

Governments grab unused gift cards (WSJ)  Cash-strapped states are finding a new way to reach into your wallet.

AIG has “excellent chance” to pay back U.S., Liddy says (Bloomberg)  How about all the collateral payments that passed through AIG to Goldman, Deutsche, SocGen, et al?  Are we going to get that money back too?

Cowell offered over $100 million PER YEAR to stay on American Idol (NY Post)  The article says the offer may be as high as $144 million.  Again, that would be annual pay.

Sex feels the credit squeeze in Nevada (Guardian)  Isn’t sin supposed to hold up during recession?  The article quotes the business manager of one brothel, a former employee ofRazorfish.  Speaking of which….

Microsoft seeking buyer for Razorfish (Seattle Times)  Steve Ballmer paid $6 billion for aQuantive back in 2007.  Razorfish was a big piece of that.

The Ultimatum Game (Ars Technica)  “People reject free money out of anger”

Is it easier to grow poppy than wheat? (Slate)  It’s easier to grow, but not easier to harvest: “Because the harvest is limited to about a six-week window, labor is expensive. The process is also dangerous. Most harvesters, many of them children, develop opium addictions or serious health problems by absorbing the sap through their skin. (Some farmers can tell when it’s time to harvest poppy because they wake up with headaches and nausea from the fumes.)”

Car stolen, then returned with upgrades (Craigslist)  WTF?

President interrupted with duck ringtone….

Just say no to banks

Jun 30, 2009 14:54 UTC

– Rolfe Winkler is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

NEW YORK, June 30 (Reuters) – When it comes to taxpayers’ money, the chutzpah of banks knows no bounds. Take Guaranty Financial Group, a Texas savings and loan, which said in a filing last month that there was “substantial doubt” that it can continue as a going concern. Now it is calling for an unusual government lifeline.

Guaranty said in an SEC filing on Monday that it has approached the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation over “open bank assistance,” a method by which FDIC subsidizes “too-big-to-fail” banks in order to avoid absorbing their toxic assets.

If GFG’s primary bank subsidiary, Guaranty Bank, collapses, it would be the largest bank failure so far this year. With $14.4 billion of assets and $11.7 billion of deposits, it would be a very big fish to swallow at a time when FDIC is already choking on illiquid assets received from other failed banks.

FDIC prefers to resolve failed banks via purchase and assumption transactions, whereby a healthy bank buys part of a failed bank’s balance sheet while FDIC takes the remaining assets into receivership.

Typically this is least disruptive for bank customers and it has the attendant benefit of wiping out shareholders and some creditors. What’s left of the failed bank’s franchise value accrues first to depositors and secondly to the Deposit Insurance Fund, which is ultimately backed by taxpayers. Between 1980 and 1994, 73 percent of bank failures were handled this way.

Deposit payoff transactions are a second option and made up 18 percent of bank resolutions between 1980 and 1994. Here the bank’s assets are essentially liquidated. From a market discipline perspective, this is the superior solution. Shareholders, creditors and uninsured deposits are wiped out. No moral hazard here.

A third, if rarely used option, is open-bank assistance. It is intended for larger banks whose failure poses a systemic risk or that FDIC is badly equipped to resolve. FDIC prefers to avoid this method — only 8 percent of 1980-94 resolutions were handled with OBA — because of the obvious moral hazard implications. Shareholders are largely wiped out, but uninsured depositors and general creditors are made whole.

With its SEC filing, Guaranty management now acknowledges it can’t survive its portfolio of toxic mortgage-backed securities and loans, not without OBA, an FDIC bailout as it were. Without it, the bank will no longer be able to maintain the accounting fiction that it has the “ability to hold” toxic assets to maturity, forcing it to increase estimated losses for 2008 from $444 million ($8.84 per share) to $2.2 billion ($39.92 per share).

Fortunately for taxpayers, Sheila Bair isn’t keen on bailouts (if you exclude the subsidized debt offered to banks and “nonbanks” like GE Capital, General Electric’s financial services business, through the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program.)  She turned down BankUnited’s request for OBA last month.

Indeed, her agency is typically the last refuge of market discipline for the banking sector. Every Friday evening the FDIC forces more failed banks to meet their maker (45 seizures so far this year). This is the proper way to resolve failed financials: recapitalization whereby shareholders are wiped out and creditors are forced to absorb their share of losses. In the case of Guaranty, she needs to stick to her guns.

If only the government would impose similar recaps on the biggest busted banks — Citigroup and Bank of America for starters — we might finally achieve a solid financial foundation for sustainable economic growth.

Lunchtime Links 6-29

Jun 29, 2009 16:32 UTC

(Send links, pics, vids to optionarmageddon at gmail)

Madoff gets 150 years, applause as judge announces sentence (Reuters)

China’s banks are an accident waiting to happen (Telegraph)  Bank balance sheets are much messier in China compared to the U.S.  For the moment, though, China is still at high tide.  Those swimming naked aren’t being exposed.

No way out: Treasury and the price of TARP warrants (Baseline Scenario)  In a wonkish post, Simon Johnson notes that Treasury has come up with yet another scheme to gift taxpayer money to banks.  As part of TARP, taxpayers got warrants in order to participate in the upside if banks recovered.  They have, for the moment, and the banks now want to exit TARP.  To do so, they have to buy back the warrants.  But they don’t want to pay fair value.  Johnson argues that Treasury has come up with a scheme to let them underpay.  To be sure, regulators’ goal was never to make money for taxpayers.  It’s to recapitalize the banks in a way that protects existing management and creditors.  See, for example, the collateral payments that went to AIG’s counterparties.

Pillow fights at the Four Seasons (NYT)  Owners of Four Seasons franchises are in a bind: they need to cut expenses but have no control over the checkbook.  Often the only choice is to walk away…

Sheila Bair cancels house listing after cutting price (WSJ)  The FDIC Chairwoman is waiting for the market to improve.

Credit Card Hell (click to enlarge) (Mint.com)  Another great illustration from the Mint blog.  (ht Patrick)

Paper avalanche buries plan to stem foreclosures (NYT)  Loan modifications are increasingly difficult to complete.  The question this piece doesn’t discuss is whether some banks are deliberately complicating the process.  Since Bernanke/Geithner have committed themselves to the reflation solution, banks would appear to have an incentive to delay the day of reckoning as long as possible.

Obama is choosing to be weak (FT)  “The greatest waste of talent in all this, however, is that of Mr Obama himself. Congress offers change without change – a green economy built on cheap coal and petrol; a healthcare transformation that asks nobody to pay more taxes or behave any differently – because that is what voters want. Is it too much to ask that Mr Obama should tell voters the truth? I think he could do it. He has everything it takes to be a strong president. He is choosing to be a weak one.”

Priced to Sell: Is Free the Future? (New Yorker)  A book review in which author Malcolm Gladwell questions the conventional wisdom that “information wants to be free.”  He doesn’t go far enough.  Yes, there is lots of information available for free, but if you want someone to organize it in a fashion that makes it intelligible, you need to pay them.

Building cantilevered structures with pennies, etc. (fincher.org)  Ultra cool.  Scan through the 26 pages of samples and be amazed.

COMMENT

Everyone should read what you linked to as “Obama is choosing to be weak”, as it’s an outstanding opinion piece. What a golden opportunity he has to make historic moves. He is definitely the coolest guy we have ever had in the office and that means a lot when it comes to getting the public behind him. His talk is excellent in the way it shows his understanding of the problems we face. But so far there is only mush, instead of much, to show for it.

Posted by CB | Report as abusive

Busy Friday

Jun 27, 2009 00:08 UTC

FDIC announced five more bank seizures this evening, two of which are in Georgia, the Chernobyl of Banking.  None of the five will be a big drain on the Deposit Insurance Fund, but, as noted at the bottom, there’s another DIF-related issue that bears watching.

#41

  • Bank:  Community Bank of West Georgia, Villa Rica, Georgia
  • Buyer:  None  (FDIC will mail checks to insured depositors).
  • Vitals:  At 5/15/09, assets of $199.4 and deposits of $182.5 million.
  • DIF Damage:  $85 million

Note that this was a payout transaction.  FDIC couldn’t find a buyer for the banks assets.  As CR noted a couple months back, FDIC tries very hard to avoid payouts.

#42:

  • Bank:  Neighborhood Community Bank, Newnan, Georgia
  • Buyer:  CharterBank, West Point, Georgia.
  • Vitals:  At 3/31/09, assets of $221.6 million and deposits of $191.3 million
  • DIF Damage:  $66.7 million

#43

  • Bank:  Horizon Bank, Pine City, Minnesota
  • Buyer:  Stearns Bank, National Association, St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • Vitals:  At 3/31/09, assets of $87.6 million and deposits $69.4 million
  • DIF Damage:  $33.5 million

#44

  • Bank:  MetroPacific Bank, Irvine, California
  • Buyer:  Sunwest Bank, Tustin, California
  • Vitals:  At 6/8/09, assets of $80 million and deposits of $73 million
  • DIF Damage:  $29 million

#45

  • Bank:  Mirae Bank, Los Angeles
  • Buyer:  Wilshire State Bank, Los Angeles
  • Vitals:  At 5/29/09, assets of $456 million, deposits of $362 million
  • DIF Damage: $50 million

The Deposit Insurance Fund had dwindled to $13.0 billion as of March 31st.  Since then, nearly $9.0 billion of new estimated losses have accrued.  (The biggest chunk was $4.9 billion for BankUnited.)

Luckily, $13.0 billion isn’t the sum total of FDIC’s reserves.  Before Sheila Bair has to hit up Treasury, she also has $28.5 billion of loan loss reserves.  Also, there’s the (estimated) $5.6 billion special assessment that will be collected over the next week.

But there’s another potential issue here.  Once upon a time, before the cascade of bank failures, the DIF was invested entirely in Treasurys.  Now a portion is composed of received assets from busted banks.

Questions for FDIC: What portion of the DIF’s assets are illiquid?  What are the marks on these assets?  How much of the DIF may need to be written off if markets stay depressed?

Lunchtime Links 6-26

Jun 26, 2009 18:13 UTC

(Send links, videos, pics to optionarmageddon at gmail with subject “link”)

China Wants Super-Sovereign Currency (Reuters)  Particularly ironic: “In thinly-veiled criticism of loose U.S. monetary and fiscal policies, the PBOC urged the International Monetary Fund to exercise closer supervision of the economic and financial policies of major reserve-issuing countries.” The Rubin/Summers/Geithner prescription delivered to Asia via IMF hammered those economies in the short-run, but helped stabilize them in the long run.  It’s what we need now.  Monetary and fiscal stimulus are counterproductive when in debt.

N.Y. Fed to Trim AIG Debt, Receive $25 billion stake in two subsidiaries (WaPo)  CR puts it best: “The Fed is now in the insurance business.”

Many of Fed’s Alphabet Soup Rescue Facilities Get Extended (Fed)  With rescue facilities, it’s easy to add but not so easy to subtract.

U.S. Savings Rate at Highest Point in 15 Years (NYT)  Folks are saving their stimulus money, which is entirely rational.  After-tax incomes are likely to fall in the not-so-distant future as government tries to pay back debt used to fund stimulus in the first place.  It will be good to have some savings.  One other comment: it’s remarkable that anyone would interpret this data as “bad for stocks.”  Yeah, when spending falls, earnings are depressed.  But investors should be thinking about the next few years, not the next few quarters.  Long-run returns will be better once Americans have built up a cushion of savings.

Japan Deflating (BBC)  Japanese consumer prices fell 1.1% in May.  Kind of remarkable that after years of 0% interest rates mixed on occassion with quantitative easing, Japan has not had an inflation problem.  But is this is an argument in favor of running the printing press to fight a recession?  I fear not.  Despite huge monetary stimulus, Japan is now closing out its second lost decade.  So how much good has it done?  The additional risk that we confront, as a huge net debtor nation, is that our lenders lose confidence in our currency.

700 NYC teachers paid to do nothing (Yahoo)  Remember, the auto sector’s “Jobs Bank?”  Apparently NYC has its own for teachers.  And it costs taxpayers $65 million a year.  What makes this one different, and more objectionable, is that these are teachers that were fired for cause, they aren’t assembly line workers that were simply laid off.

A Redacted Copy of the June FOMC Statement (Aleph Blog)  David Merkel parses the Fed’s language.

Money floods out of Iran as election crisis continues (Telegraph)

The quiet Americans (Economist) “Employees are proving stoical in the face of pay cuts and compulsory unpaid leave.”

7 Cartoons from the Great Depression (Bearish News)  The first one (below) is particularly relevant.

pigs-at-the-trough

COMMENT

In-this-cartoon,we-see-pure-delusion.
The-American-gov’t-cannot-expand-anymore .
It-is-bankrupt.The-cartoon-for-today-wou ld
have-the-hogs-eating-each-other.Uncle-Sa m
would-be-dead.

Posted by Tomsk | Report as abusive

“There were no discussions on AIG”

Jun 26, 2009 16:16 UTC

I’m sorry I missed this CNBC interview last week with Robert Wolf, chief of UBS Investment Bank in the U.S.  There’s a remarkably eye-opening sound bite.   (hat tip M. Mayer)

…there were no discussions on AIG during that three day period [the weekend Lehman failed].

Wait, really?  Does this mean the Fed had no idea AIG was about to collapse when it was working to resolve Lehman?  Two days later it threw $85 billion at them with completely insufficient security, a package that later expanded to $150 billion.

Clearly there needs to be some mechanism to receive the assets of failed systemically-important companies.  FDIC has its hands full with insured depository institutions.  It has no mandate, much less the capability to handle a behemoth like AIG.

But should we be giving more authority to the Fed to handle this?  There is a singular explanation for the financial bubble and ensuing collapse: leverage.  The Fed has ultimate control over leverage via the reserve requirements it is supposed to impose on banks.  Taken in by mathematicians whose models explained that leverage could be made riskless via complicated hedges, Greenspan/Bernanke/et al totally abdicated their responsibility to enforce sensible reserve requirements.

Yet Obama thinks they can handle a bigger book of business?

COMMENT

Thanks MarkJ….good to know that Wolf is misinformed. Nevertheless, the Fed clearly can’t handle its existing mandate. Doesn’t makes sense to expand it. There’s got to be a better way.

What we really need is a Fed chair who’s willing to let deleveraging happen.

Posted by Rolfe Winkler | Report as abusive

The Temporary Problem

Jun 26, 2009 15:10 UTC

– Rolfe Winkler is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) – “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program,” Milton Friedman said. That’s the danger of the financial bailout programs, as officials hesitate over whether to start taking them down. The larger risk is that not removing them will inflate a bigger credit bubble.

One agency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, has now taken a step in the right direction, proposing two alternatives for “successfully concluding” one rescue facility, the transaction account guarantee program, or TAG. But the FDIC has much more work to do.

Since October, the FDIC has had three “temporary” guarantee programs to stabilize the banking system. Two were higher limits for deposit accounts — $250,000 for individual non-retirement accounts and a new unlimited guarantee for certain transaction accounts. The third was its Debt Guarantee Program (DGP), which allows banks to issue FDIC-guaranteed debt.

This essentially turned participating banks into wards of the state, in the manner of Fannie and Freddie. No longer was FDIC merely in the business of protecting depositors; now it explicitly backs some bank creditors as well.

Between the two deposit facilities, FDIC now backs $6.26 trillion, a figure that is 30 percent higher than the official total of $4.83 trillion. The official figure excludes the two “temporary” increases in deposit insurance. As of March 31, the TAG program added $700 billion and the increase to $250,000 added approximately $725 billion.

For its part, the Debt Guarantee Program added another $346 billion of potential liabilities as of May 31.

Underneath this pile of risk sits FDIC’s very meager resources, approximately $50 billion at the end of the first quarter if you include reserves taken against estimated future losses. A large chunk of these reserves will disappear as bank failures mount. Estimated losses for the 40 banks that have failed so far in 2009 add up to $10.2 billion. Acting responsibly, FDIC has scheduled a special assessment on banks to replenish the fund, but additional bank failures are likely to eat through that amount quickly.

Last month, Congress extended the $250,000 limit to 2013. Having been made effectively permanent, this program will be counted among the official total for insured deposits beginning in late November. But the other two programs, the DGP and TAG, are still set to expire. And on Tuesday this week, FDIC moved a step closer to running out the clock on TAG.

Under Alternative A, TAG would be allowed to expire as scheduled, on December 31, with participating banks paying, in effect, insurance premiums of 0.1 percent of the amount insured through that date. Under Alternative B, TAG would be extended through June of 2010, but banks would see their insurance premiums rise to 0.25 percent.

By raising premiums, FDIC would be encouraging banks to opt out of the program before its scheduled termination. Easing onto the brakes as it were.

The sooner these programs go away, the better. Offering essentially free deposit insurance, FDIC grossly distorts investor incentives. Seeking refuge from financial Armageddon, investors quickly run to FDIC-insured banks, even ones close to insolvency if they offer high interest rates.

FDIC is aware of this, which is why they want to wind down these programs. Still, that’s risky. Will removing them pull the rug out from under the financial system? This is the same question facing Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner as they plot their “exit strategies.” Removing these programs might indeed cause panic. But that’s a bad argument in favor of maintaining them.

A credit bubble is not a stable foundation on which to build an economy. Inflated FDIC deposit guarantees — along with runaway Fed printing and incremental borrowing from the government — serve only to reflate the credit bubble that just imploded.

Good rescue facilities should be like methadone clinics, offering replacement therapy that eases addicts off the junk. What isn’t helpful, and only sows the seeds of the next collapse, is making rescue facilities permanent.

COMMENT

Great Friedman quote. It’s amazing that so many can delude themselves into believing the “Fed will soak up everything later” and “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” nonsense. Either that, or they realize big inflation is the most palatable way to deal with the problem.

Posted by Adam Sharp | Report as abusive

Evening Links 6-24

Jun 25, 2009 03:38 UTC

The Great American Bubble Machine (Rolling Stone via ZH) Matt Taibbi strikes again, this time taking on Goldman Sachs. What makes the story so refreshing is the language RS lets Taibbi use. The fraud and corruption occurring at the highest levels of finance is obscene; Taibbi describes it with obscenities.

US Treasury Auction changes may overstate bids (Reuters) Is Treasury manipulating bond auctions to overstate the interest of foreign lenders?

Not Paying the Mortgage, Yet Stuck With the Keys (WaPo) Remember the odd conclusion to NYT journo Ed Andrews’ article about his debt troubles? That he’d stopped making his mortgage payment eight months prior but hadn’t heard a word from his bank? There’s a method to the madness and it isn’t just that lenders are swamped with mortgage delinquencies. Lenders are watching all levels of government work to reflate the credit bubble. Their hope is that if they hold on long enough, reflation will bail them out. This seems foolish since the reflation, if it comes, will likely be temporary. The Fed/Treasury/FDIC/et al can’t maintain their rescue facilities forever. Agnes Crane makes the point more directly in a great post from this afternoon, which outlines how banks are extending commercial real estate loans hoping borrowers will magically become solvent once more.

Some Chrysler Dealers See Lending for Car Inventories Cut off by GMAC (WSJ) Sounds like GMAC is making responsible lending decisions for a change.

California lawmakers reject budget fix, state could begin using IOU’s next week (LA Times) Three cheers for CA Controller John Chiang, who is holding political feet to the fire.

Updated MTA Payroll (Empire Center) 10% of NY transit workers make over $100k per year. Some Long Island Rail Road workers seem to do particularly well. On a related note, the MTA is trying to raise revenue by selling naming rights to subway stations.

The Newsweekly’s Last Stand (The Atlantic) Along with most of print media, weekly news magazines are dying. The Economist bucks the trend.

Why IE is better: Can Firefox do this? (TechDo)

Physics Discussion Ends in Skateboard Attack (SF Chronicle)

COMMENT

I agree w/Dave. I’m happy to follow you over to Reuters, Rolfe, but I’m awfully attached to the Lunchtime links — hope you still have some time for them!

Posted by CyberSquirt | Report as abusive

Taxpayers to support higher Citi salaries

Jun 25, 2009 00:56 UTC

From NYT:

After all those losses and bailouts, rank-and-file employees of Citigroup are getting some good news: their salaries are going up….

The troubled banking giant, which to many symbolizes the troubles in the nation’s financial industry, intends to raise workers’ base salaries by as much as 50 percent this year to offset smaller annual bonuses, according to people with direct knowledge of the plan….

For some Citigroup investment bankers and traders, the changes could mean salary increases of as much as 50 percent, depending on their position. Legal and risk management employees, as well as those in the credit card and consumer banking units, whose pay is typically skewed toward salary, rather than bonuses, are expected to receive smaller increases.

Ugh. The fact that Citi employees could get raises is rather obnoxious. By definition, every dollar they earn comes directly or indirectly via taxpayers.

Particularly irksome is that these raises are going to supposedly “high-value” employees—traders and bankers—the guys who broke Citi’s balance sheet in the first place.

That government-backed banks are allowed to operate hedge funds remains beyond comprehension. Now Citi is jacking up pay so their hedgies traders don’t jump ship. One great way to manage risk at Citi, and to wind down taxpayer support, would be to let the bank’s prop desk die by attrition, which may happen if Obama can keep pay in check.

As for bankers, for years they’ve literally leveraged the company balance sheet in order to drive deal flow. None should be rewarded. If Citi’s feel underpaid, they can go somewhere else.

Bankers will argue that Obama has no business making compensation decisions. That’s simply wrong since taxpayers now functionally own the banking system. Still, I agree that letting politicians insert themselves into pay decisions smacks of central-planning wackiness.

But that’s not an argument in favor of letting failed bankers use taxpayer money to pay themselves bigger salaries, it’s an argument in favor of letting the market wipe them out in the first place.

Getting up to speed

Jun 24, 2009 16:22 UTC

Hi Reuters readers.  Happy to have joined the team.  Looking forward to blogging about all things financial and economic.

Also a big welcome to all my regulars from Option ARMageddon.  Thanks for stopping by and changing your bookmarks.

You may have noticed that the most recent entries below only date through March of 2009.  That’s because archives are still being imported from my old blog.  I’m told that process should be complete by next week.  There are some other issues that will need to be resolved over time, but these won’t impact my blogging.  Anyone with questions, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to optionarmageddon at gmail.

Cheers,

Rolfe

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