Krugman and the pied pipers of debt

Sep 30, 2009 19:31 UTC

Investors are celebrating an incipient “recovery,” but the interventions responsible are sowing the seeds of a more violent contraction down the road. The problem, quite simply, is debt. We’ve accumulated record amounts, yet many economists tell us we need more.

Leading the charge is Paul Krugman. He exhorts us to borrow our way back to prosperity, but he doesn’t acknowledge that his brand of Keynesian economics ignores debt’s consequences. If you look at a chart of America’s total debt burden, he’s leading us over a cliff.

(Click chart to enlarge in new window)

public-and-private-debt-burden

The problem begins with the flawed way Krugman and other economists measure well-being. Primarily, they look at measures of activity, like GDP. These tell us how much people spend, but say nothing about where we get the money.

Every so often, we overextend ourselves, buying too much useless stuff with too much borrowed money. So we cut back, dumping the third family car and swapping the McMansion for a townhome.

But this is problematic for Krugman and other economists. Less spending means falling GDP. It means “recession.”

They ride to the rescue with two blunt instruments — monetary and fiscal policy — that encourage more borrowing and thus more spending. More spending equals “growth” so economists congratulate themselves for engineering “recovery.”

But if recessions never happen, bad businesses and unpayable debts are never washed away. They grow like cancer inside the system.

Since the mid-1980s, we’ve intervened whenever the economy hiccuped, so sectors that should have shrunk sharply — like housing and finance — never did. Feasting on easy credit, these sectors have exploded as a percentage of the economy.

Now, since individuals and corporations refuse to borrow more, the only way to grow spending is for the government to borrow.

According to George Cooper, author of The Origin of Financial Crises, “what is missing from today’s debate is recognition that previous growth rates were artificially supported by an unsustainable credit binge, itself the result of the misapplication of Keynesian policy.”

Cooper counts himself a Keynesian but says Keynesian policy has become “dangerously distorted.”

“We should be using Keynesian stimulus only to arrest the rate of credit contraction not to reverse it. The harsh truth is that our economies desperately need a recession.”

That’s because they desperately need to de-lever. As you can see in the first chart, debt relative to GDP is at record highs.

If we want sustainable growth, spending that drives it must come from savings, not more borrowing. To get there, we must first pay old debts. And that means recession.

Krugman is clearly aware of the consequences of excessive borrowing.

“I’m terrified about what will happen to interest rates once financial markets wake up to the implications of skyrocketing budget deficits,” he wrote in 2003, citing a $1.8 trillion 10-year deficit projection from the Congressional Budget Office.

Fast forward six years, total debt has jumped 70 percent relative to GDP and optimistic projections put the 10-year deficitat $9 trillion.

This time, however, Krugman dismisses deficit “hysteria,” arguing that we can grow our way out of debt. “We did it during the Clinton administration,” he told me when he visited Reuters last week.

But we didn’t. While Clinton balanced the federal budget, Americans plowed through their savings. We kept growing because, in the aggregate, we were still accumulating debt.

(Click chart to enlarge in new window)

personal-savings-rate

Krugman has also argued that we can handle larger deficits because we have in the past. After all, public debt peaked at 118 percent in 1945 compared with 65 percent today.

Two problems. First, the argument ignores tens of trillions of unfunded obligations for Medicare and Social Security, debt Krugman loudly lamented in his 2003 column.

It also ignores the higher private debt burden facing us today. According to economist Steve Keen, “Private sector debt accumulated in the 1920s was wiped out by the Depression, so in 1945 the private sector’s debt burden was only 45 percent of GDP. In that situation it was easy to wind down public debt from levels reached to finance WWII.”

Today, private debt is a suffocating 300 percent of GDP, making more public debt that much harder to pay down.

We know how this movie ends. Look at California — or Argentina.

We chortle from afar — “how did their budget get so out of whack?” — yet our own profligacy puts us squarely on that path. Like them, we’ve shown no political will to deal with debt. And so it will deal with us.

But we can print our own currency, you say. If all else fails, the United States can inflate its way out of debt.

Nonsense. If we try, our foreign lenders will cut us off.

As Krugman warned in 2003: “My prediction is that politicians will eventually be tempted to resolve the (fiscal) crisis the way irresponsible governments usually do: by printing money, both to pay current bills and to inflate away debt. And as that temptation becomes obvious, interest rates will soar.”

Yet today Krugman is leading the march, arguing that we can borrow indefinitely as long as deflation remains a threat.

Tell that to the Chinese.

What happens when they stop buying our bonds? To Cooper’s point, we’ll need government intervention to cushion the blow of de-leveraging. But there’s a difference between cushioning the blow and reinflating the bubble, which is what we’re doing, wasting trillions propping up housing and banking.

The risk is that we’ll have nothing left when we really need it, when the Great Leveraging becomes the Great De-Leveraging.

COMMENT

Parker, you are so correct in sighting that proverb. Now add to it “where your treasure is there your heart is also”.And with the two, those rich in the spirit will rule over those poor in it. In this understanding the citizen is not bound by the merchant tyrants that now rule our nation. Those rich in spirit, that is to say, those who are people of conscience and who strive to live in love, can use their gifts to elevate us above this money worship we now engage in.

BlogArt: The money you could be saving…

Sep 30, 2009 14:49 UTC

Click to enlarge in new window

money-you-could-be-saving

Evening Links 9-29

Sep 29, 2009 21:27 UTC

House prices up in July (Bloomberg) The Case-Shiller 20-city index rose 1.2% in July. Though this suggests a bottom has been reached for home prices, how will they fair when (if?) government price supports are removed?

Fannie Mae seriously delinquent rate increases (CR) This is a powerful chart…

Talk to the invisible hand (Slate) Turning patients into better consumers would help reduce costs, but you can’t do that with so much information asymmetry in the health care marketplace.

Dangerous hybrid datapoint of the day (Felix) Cyclists, who tend to be environmentalists, are getting hit by hybrids because they can’t hear them. God certainly has a sense of humor…

Poland OKs forcible castration for pedophiles (Reuters)

Tiny bird’s incredible piggy back ride on hawk (metro.co.uk)

Hugh Jackman stops Broadway show for cell phone, stays in character (Reuters)

And here’s a video clip that captured the moment:

COMMENT

I recently read some very interesting articles on global currency instability at http://www.goldalert.com and how the huge government deficits are further weakening fiat currencies, in addition to how the gold price and gold mining companies could stand to benefit from these policies. I think it is useful reading for anyone interested in the economy and role that govt plays in it.

Posted by jturner | Report as abusive

BlogArt: Bernie Madoff crushed by farting bull

Sep 29, 2009 20:05 UTC

Chinese artist Chen Wenling’s take on the global financial crisis.

madoff-in-chinese-gallery

Yeah, that’s supposed to be Bernie Madoff against the wall…at least according to the BBC. Other views of the sculpture here.

One hopes this sculpture doesn’t perpetuate the once common stereotype that Jews have horns. A stereotype that happens to be derived from another sculpture.

COMMENT

Kandinsky….I didn’t say that statue was anti-semitic. Neither was Michelangelo’s Moses. The issue is that foolish, ignorant folks who are LOOKING for a reason to dislike Jews or perpetuate stereotypes often latch on to such things.

Trade places with me for a week. See how many blatantly anti-Semitic comments we have to disapprove. Jews-are-banker-pigs-and-are-destroying- the-world-economy type comments.

You’re right that such rhetoric is still more the exception than the rule. And thank goodness for that. Hopefully it stays that way…

Posted by Rolfe Winkler | Report as abusive

FDIC tries another gimmick

Sep 29, 2009 18:37 UTC

In the latest government gimmick to protect bank capital, the FDIC plans to replenish its Deposit Insurance Fund by front-loading regular premiums in lieu of another “special assessment.”

The good news is that the fund gets replenished and taxpayers don’t foot the bill. The bad news is that Sheila Bair is missing a great opportunity to shrink the financial sector.

Under a proposal released by the FDIC, banks would prepay three-and-a quarter years of regular assessments on December 30, $45 billion in total.

The gimmick is how that $45 billion will be treated on balance sheets — as an asset that won’t drain capital, not all at once anyway.

Because the funds were already scheduled to be collected, banks will be able to treat this assessment as a prepaid expense on the asset side of the balance sheet. In other words, the banks will pay the cash today but will reflect it in earnings over the next three years.

Had Bair instead decided to charge another “special” assessment, the hit to earnings would have come up front.

Hitting earnings means reducing bank capital by a like amount and reducing lending a lot more. That’s because banks lend money based on a multiple of their capital — at a ratio of 25 to 1 if one uses tangible common equity in the denominator. So reducing earnings through special assessments has an outsized impact on banks’ ability to lend.

Is that really a bad thing? We’re told that without “more lending” the economy can’t recover. But the economy is still saddled by huge amounts of debt. More lending provides the temporary illusion of growth — propping up asset prices and industries dependent on credit — but in the end only adds to our burden.

In any case, we know the financial sector has grown too large relative to the rest of the economy. If we’re serious about shrinking it, that means less lending. There are no two ways about it.

“Assessments should hit earnings and reduce lending today,” says Martin Weiss, president of Weiss Research Inc, an investing consulting firm. “Gimmicks like this will backfire.”

To be sure, the proposal isn’t the worst that could have been expected. The FDIC might have chosen to borrow from Treasury or from banks themselves. It’s far better to have banks pay directly. This avoids moral hazard by making those who benefit from the Deposit Insurance Fund responsible for its solvency.

Still, given Bair’s desire to shrink the biggest banks, it’s a shame that she’s willing to sheath her sharpest weapon.

COMMENT

So they pull forward $45B but will use it all in less than a year on upcoming bank foreclosures! Game the citizens into thinking it’s just about over.

How many banks do you think are going to fail over the next 4 years? What do you think the FDIC will have to pay out? Has the FDIC been anywhere close to honest on the expense of those already closed?

Honestly and integrity are completely missing in true discussions with the citizens (taxpayers), imo.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

“Kicking the problem upstairs”

Sep 29, 2009 18:34 UTC

James Rickards of Omnis shares many deep thoughts in this interview on CNBC.

Among other things he argues that IMF Special Drawing Rights will replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency in an attempt to solve Triffin’s dilemma.

He also says the Fed should raise rates (I thought I was the only one!).

Another tidbit: For his “conservative clients” he recommends a portfolio of 10% gold and 90% cash.

Rosenberg in the morning

Sep 29, 2009 11:54 UTC

From Gluskin Sheff’s Chief Economist David Rosenberg this morning:

Now that Cash-for-Clunkers is over, auto sales are collapsing again. Edmunds.com says the run-rate so far in September is down to 8.8 million units at an annual rate, but we see now that JD Power’s tracking is down to 590,000, which would be little better than a 7.0 million rate or half the pace of August and 24% below the already-depressed levels of a year ago. The November 30th expiry date for the first-time homebuyer subsidy, and this group has been responsible for one-third of housing activity, may also have something to do with the below-consensus sales figures for August that came out last week.

But don’t worry — Uncle Sam is coming back to the rescue. Congress is moving to extend emergency jobless benefits to over one million workers who are about to see their benefits expire by year-end. The House already approved on Tuesday a 15-week extension in states with unemployment rates of 8.5% or higher (oh — that only includes 27 states right now, by the way) and now Congress is looking at extending and expanding the homeownership tax credit. The short-term-ism in fiscal policymaking in terms of still trying to promote consumption and credit remains is fully intact and is actually quite sad because the U.S. boomer population is seriously short of savings needed to fund a boom in the retirement community over the next two decades. A Harvard University report shows that 60% of Americans do not have enough savings to fund their retirement. Why the government wants to resist the natural trend towards higher savings rates is … well, it’s unnatural. When your homeownership rate is over 67% and your consumption-to-GDP ratio is over 70%, you’re not exactly suffering from under-spending.

You can subscribe to Rosenberg’s research here.

COMMENT

3547 extended benefits for 13 not 15 weeks

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

Lunchtime Links, Yom Kippur edition

Sep 28, 2009 15:52 UTC

Hi all, back tomorrow with more columns after the high holiday.

The mortgage machine backfires (NYT) A great column from Gretchen Morgenson on MERS today. You’ve never heard of it, I know. Fascinating topic in light of a recent Kansas court ruling…

Chicagoans for Rio (chicagoansforrio.com) This website makes a great point. With a busted city budget, does it make sense to spend billions preparing for the Olympics and building venues that may never be used again? The site is in the news because, according to Drudge, the Fox affiliate in Chicago that first featured the site has been asked not to put it back on the air. The powers that be want to avoid embarrassment ahead of the official announcement for the 2016 host city.

Money figures show there’s trouble ahead (Evans-Pritchard) Ambrose is looking at money supply aggregates noting deflationary pressure. He says we’ve no choice but to monetize debt to avoid a deflationary spiral. But how could that be done without destroying confidence in fiat currencies?

Cuts meet a culture of spending at Condé Nast (NYT)

Phillipine man loses life after savings dozens from flood (theage.com.au)

The angry evolutionist (Newsweek)

Spider weavers weave one of a kind tapestry (NPR)

Helmet cam captures skier buried by/rescued from avalanche (Vimeo) It’s amazing the guy was only buried 4 minutes before he got pulled out. Very lucky.

Lunchtime Links 9-26

Sep 26, 2009 16:53 UTC

Chicago cabbies want $50 puke fee (Sun-Times) Can you blame ‘em?

Schadenfreude alert: Ponzi-schemer Stanford gets in fight at Texas jail (Bloomberg)

Fed weighs naming borrowers (WSJ) Ron Paul’s “audit the fed” drive, and Bloomberg’s FOIA request are pressuring the Fed into disclosing more information about its lending programs.

From Obama, G-20′s mission as Tim sees it (NYT) Joe Nocera writes a cute column about the importance of raising bank capital requirements, and making sure American and European banks subscribe to the same ones. The only new piece of information is that apparently 8% could be the new minimum Tier 1 ratio (up from 4%). As Simon Johnson points out, Lehman had Tier 1 Capital of 11.6% when it failed. And we still don’t know what the heck happened there. How could they have so much capital one day, and be tens of billions in the hole the next. Joe also emphasizes the point frequently made in this space that tangible common equity is what matters….

In one home, Detroit’s rise and fall (WSJ)

Woman gets pregnant while pregnant (MSNBC) So, uh, how will she manage delivery?

The dog ate global warming (National Review)

Transporting 510 ton steam generators to a nuclear plant (YouTube)

Sand animation on Ukraine’s Got Talent…

COMMENT

yeah, it’s not “steam generator” as in “something that generates steam”. It’s a steam powered generator. The nuclear reactor is, effectively, the generator of steam, which then turns the turbine down the line. They were moving the turbine units.

Which is much less effective power system than the pebble bed reactor systems with gas (as in helium) driven turbines.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Bank Failure Friday

Sep 25, 2009 20:50 UTC

Sheila got an early start this week, normally the first failures happen after 6PM EST.

#95

  • Failed bank: Georgian Bank, Atlanta GA
  • Acquiring bank: First Citizens Bank & Trust
  • Vitals: as of July 24th, assets of $2 billion, deposits of ~$2 billion
  • DIF Damage: $892 million

Yet another failure in Georgia!

COMMENT

The FDIC takeover is not a bailout — it is just the opposite — it is the “closure” of 2 banks. (has absolutely nothing to do with Tarp)

Another bank may purchase the failed banks, and if not,
then the assets will be sold to another willing buyer. The FDIC will cover up to $250,000 per account (if properly vested) and those funds come from “all” Banks in a form of dues based on bank deposits.

This is the FDIC not the Fed (which is a private corporation).

Posted by ddavid | Report as abusive

Time for a Fed fire drill

Sep 25, 2009 18:36 UTC

Former Federal Reserve Chairman William McChesney Martin joked that it was his job to “take away the punch bowl just as the party gets going.” But Alan Greenspan never did, choosing instead to spike it every time the party slowed down. The results were more than a little unfortunate.

Now, faced with years of economic stagnation, most economists conclude interest rates will stay low indefinitely. The Fed is doing little to disabuse them, though an opinion article from Fed Governor Kevin Warsh in today’s Wall Street Journal tries to warn us not to get complacent.

Warsh says, a bit technically: “‘Whatever it takes’… cannot be an asymmetric mantra, trotted out only during times of deep economic and financial distress, and discarded when the cycle turns.” In other words, if the Fed only intervenes during downturns, it risks its credibility as protector of the dollar.

But talk is cheap. Not since Paul Volcker raised rates significantly in the early 1980s has the Fed done anything substantial to fight the forces of irrational exuberance. The Fed won’t reestablish its bona fides until it puts the economy through pain.

With a “recovery” under way, the printing press running on high to support the housing market and $850 billion of excess reserves just waiting to spark inflation, the Fed’s credibility is, well, strained to say the least.

So Warsh goes a bit further: “Policy likely will need to begin normalization before it is obvious that is necessary, possibly with greater force than is customary …”

Dollar bears like me like the sound of “greater force than is customary,” but we don’t believe the Fed would actually use it.

Why should we? Earlier this week, the central bank put out another wishy-washy policy statement that says it will hold interest rates low “for an extended period,” while gradually weaning the economy from the support of the printing press.

That will only encourage investors to take on risks that will tie the Fed’s hands later on.

To avoid a return to that status quo, we need more than tough talk. We need a fire drill — a quick, small rate increase that no one is expecting.

Always telegraphing your moves months in advance is what breeds complacency. Investors make stupid mistakes and the Fed is left to pick up the pieces, putting the dollar at risk.

So, Kevin, if you’re worried about investor complacency, give us a rate increase when we least expect it. Perhaps next week?

COMMENT

http://moneyfinancetaxinvesting.blogspot .com/2009/10/monetary-policy.html

Basically what Rolfe is saying is that the Fed should mess with the markets expectations to build credibility. Usually when people mess with my expectations, their credibility decreases. I can understand how someone may want the Fed to take a more conservative approach with monetary policy, but I do not understand why it would build credibility if they did this when the market “least expects it.”

Lunchtime Links 9-25

Sep 25, 2009 15:30 UTC

Iran reveals existence of second uranium enrichment plant (WaPo) According to the article, we’ve known about this site for years but Obama/Brown/Sarkozy “decided to publicly disclose the existence of the facility after learning that Iran had become aware the site was no longer a secret.” Pardon me for not understanding the intricacies of diplomacy, but if we’ve known about this site for years, why wasn’t it made public? I’m sure there’s a reason…

Credit quality declined sharply for Shared National Credits (CR)

Randy Quaid, wife arrested over unpaid hotel bill (Reuters) More from TMZ.

Bank bailout reject embraced by declawed Tiger (David Reilly) “Irish taxpayers are guinea pigs in a government experiment to buy property loans from banks at prices higher than market values yet lower than the amounts banks carry them for on their books. Although markets are reacting favorably, there’s a good chance taxpayers will get stung”

The $20 theory of the universe (Esquire) Hilarious. From 2003.

A fare price? (Economist) The costliest cities for public transport.

Warning: This image has been photoshopped (ars technica) “The French parliament has held its first hearing of a proposed law that would require every advertisement to display a disclaimer telling the public that images of people were manipulated. The goal is to help cut down on body issues in adolescents, and violating the law could be costly.”

G20 protesters blasted by sonic cannon (Guardian) Interesting, but wouldn’t recommend playing this at work.

37Signals valuation tops $100 billion after bold VC investment (37signals.com) Poking a little fun at Twitter…

Lack of sleep increases risk of catching a cold (NYT)

James Bond squirrel…

COMMENT

“U.S. officials said they believe the Qom plant is not yet operational but is intended to produce highly enriched uranium — suitable for nuclear weapons”

That is very questionable. There’s only been one bomb ever, that was made out of enriched uranium, and we dropped it 64 years ago in Hiroshima. Every nuke after that is plutonium based, including the gadget at Trinity, the fat man on Nagasaki, and the plutonium fission triggers to our fusion big boys.

Posted by Mikey | Report as abusive

Afternoon Links 9-24

Sep 24, 2009 20:32 UTC

(Reader note: yeah, R.I.P. in two successive headlines is problematic. My bad. Next time we’ll plan our headlines a bit better.)

Volcker criticizes Obama plan on “systemically important” firms (Bloomberg) The guy is on fire here. Though he’s an adviser to Obama, he’s clearly willing to criticize many of the flaws of Obama’s financial regulatory overhaul. Here is the full text of Volcker’s speech. Worth reading on your commute home…

Lost Vegas (Sun UK) The tunnel people…

Twitter to raise $100 million, values company at $1 billion (Deal Journal) But still no revenue. A good excuse to repost this video.

White House pares its financial reform plan (NYT) Regarding compromise financial reform legislation, Barney Frank is quoted saying this, which I don’t exactly follow: “We will be providing for mechanisms for putting financial institutions out of their misery. There will be death panels enacted by this Congress, but they will be for large institutions that are seen as too big to die. We are talking here about dissolution, not resolution. We are talking about making it unpleasant for these institutions to die.” Are you going to kill them or not Barney?

Fed extends (but doesn’t expand) support for mortgage markets (Federal Reserve) Money printing to buy MBS and agency debt will be limited to the original target of $1.45 trillion, but remaining purchases will be spread out through the end of the first quarter. As Peter Eavis notes, the Fed has bought $850 billion worth of MBS so far this year, 80% of the total. That’s a pretty stunning statistic when you think about it.

A $4 billion bailout for the postal service (Politico)

Rare earths are vital, and China owns them all (Marketwatch)

Very luck guy (YouTube) Why you probably shouldn’t shoot at steel plates for target practice…

Matthew McConaughey can’t stand up by himself (HuffPo) Great excuse to reprise this post.

For first time, researchers report some AIDS vaccine success (LA Times)

This photo is from 1999. The firefighter had just rescued this pregnant doberman and she wanted to say thank you.  I repost because a couple months ago he was back in the news for saving 9 puppies.

kiss

COMMENT

That’s why most shooting ranges won’t let you use steel bullets. Lead bullets will either penetrate the target or splatter (not that they CAN’T richochet back, but its much less likely).

Also why people shoot rifles at targets more than, oh, 15-20 yards away.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Let’s say RIP to PPIP

Sep 24, 2009 19:21 UTC

Remember PPIP? The Public-Private Investment Program was to provide cheap government financing to encourage investors to overbid for banks’ toxic assets.

Investors would overbid, it was thought, because they were being offered a free put option. If the toxic assets they bought fell further in value, taxpayers would be left holding the bag.

The program has been largely left for dead, but the FDIC still sees some life in its part of the plan. Last week, the agency had a pilot sale, offering loans out of the estate of failed Franklin Bank, whose assets are in FDIC receivership.

Sure enough, the winning bidder elected nearly the maximum available amount of non-recourse leverage, resulting in a 22 percent premium for the assets over bids that didn’t take advantage of leverage.

On the surface, this seems like a good thing for taxpayers, since the higher purchase price accrues to the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund.

But in a new paper, Linus Wilson of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette argues that while the auction prices are increased by leverage, the increase is offset by the loan guarantee the FDIC makes as part of the deal.

So at best it’s a wash and at worst the “subsidized leverage discourages the winning bidder from maximizing the value of loan portfolios.”

If true, this last part is problematic. The point of getting assets back into private hands is that private investors are supposed to be better than the FDIC at managing them. But if the structure of the sale discourages investors from maximizing value, then FDIC may be short-changing itself in the long run.

At least in this case, the 22 percent purchase premium was captured by the Deposit Insurance Fund, since the pilot sale was for assets already in FDIC receivership.

But FDIC conducted the test with an eye toward using it on living banks. If it does so, shareholders and creditors of those banks will capture any increased value that results from government leverage, while taxpayers will be left holding most of the risk.

Another potential problem according to Wilson: Inflated prices from PPIP auctions may give other banks an excuse to mark up their own assets, reducing their incentive to raise necessary capital.

A better idea is to let asset prices fall to levels that don’t require government support. Shareholders and bank creditors should eat those losses. Such a recapitalization will put the financial system on firm footing again, providing a strong foundation for sustainable growth.

COMMENT

An sin el espaol David Silva en su centro del campo debido a una lesin, los “citizens” tenan el baln aunque no lograban definir ante el guardameta estadounidense Brad Guzan.

BlogArt: Corus, R.I.P.

Sep 24, 2009 02:15 UTC

On Tuesday, Lingling Wei and Anton Troianovski published an interesting article in the WSJ about the auction process surrounding Corus Bank’s busted condo loans. Readers who saw my recent post on commercial real estate prices are aware that not many transactions are taking place, making it difficult to get a good sense for CRE prices. These condo loan auctions will provide very important data points in that regard…

About 10 investors are expected to submit bids to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. by Friday for $5 billion in condominium loans and other property held by the failed Corus Bank, in a key test of U.S. commercial real-estate values.

The government-run auction, with loans backed by more than 100 real-estate developments, is the largest bulk sale of commercial-property assets since the financial crisis erupted. Bidders are looking at some of the highest-profile condo projects in the U.S., scattered from the waterfront Paramount Bay in Miami to Juhl in downtown Las Vegas.

On the way to O’Hare last Sunday, I passed by an old Corus branch, now re-branded MB Financial…

img_0062

I wonder: Is the sun rising or setting on the U.S. banking system?

COMMENT

yeah, but corus’s portfolio is pretty well known and fairly basic. Its just condos and condo construction projects. Nothing exotic, and something that can be bid on by something other than banks and adventurous hedge funds.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive
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