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Posts Tagged ‘CNBC’

Recovering From The Use Of “Recovery” In Housingspeak

September 4, 2012 | 2:38 pm | | Public |

Last week I was quoted in a few articles pontificating about the use of the word recovery that I felt was a misleading characterization of the state of housing:

Business Insider (Jill Krasny): JONATHAN MILLER: Don’t Buy The Hype About A Housing Recovery

“We keep throwing the ‘recovery’ word around, but the big numbers are coming from sources being created from the tight market,” he told Business Insider. “Tight credit is causing rents to rise; falling mortgage rates are pushing people to buy.

International Business Times (Roland Li): Good News On The US Housing Market? Not Quite

“The use of the word ‘recovery’ is really inappropriate,” said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of New York-based appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Inc. “We’re just stabilizing.”

In retrospect, I think some reading this may have interpreted me as being bearish on housing. Well I’m not, I just don’t think use of the word “recovery” is being used properly. Housing will likely slip a bit before it truly improves and I think “improvement” means real stability. “Recovery” means:

an improvement in the economy marking the end of a recession or decline.

In other words, I interpret the word “recovery” as getting better or at least not getting worse. While housing is showing gains in sales and price, it’s too soon for all the hyperbole.

Perhaps many view the word “recovery” as a process such as this great post by Diana Olick at CNBC that covers all the housing bases. I can agree with it being some sort of “process.” However I think the word when used by people in the business of real estate is different than when used by the consumer. I feel strongly that the use of the word implies to the consumer that the housing market will soon return to the heady days of yore (my recent fave saying) and that’s not what is happening.

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CNBC Street Signs – Is Miami Forming a New Housing Bubble?

June 18, 2012 | 1:10 pm | Public |


[click to play video]

Reporter Robert Frank spoke with me and pens a good piece on the Miami phenomenon and provides an interview for Street Signs. It’s worth a look.

No, not in the same way we saw one formed in the middle of the last decade.

In other words, Miami’s boom is not a broad-based market recovery driven by local families needing a home. It’s being fueled by a tiny top slice of super-rich overseas buyer looking for the latest hot investment.

They’re not buying their first home, or even their second or third. They’re investing in a stock with an ocean view.

25% of foreign investment of US real estate in Florida, most of it is in Miami.

“Most patient” capital

“Very discretionary”


Is the Miami Mansion Boom Becoming a Bubble? [CNBC]
Is there a bubble in Miami? [CNBC Street Signs]


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[In The Media] CNBC SQUAWK On The Street 7-2-09

July 2, 2009 | 1:13 pm | Public |

Diana Olick did a nice job covering the important points on the release of our Manhattan Market Overview 2Q 09.

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[HuffPost] Mad “Housing Bottom” Is A Jumbo Problem

June 25, 2009 | 4:15 pm | Columns |

The Huffington Post approached me to write blog posts about the housing market periodically. I post weekly or as inspired, not necessarily in that order.

It would be great if you could it within your heart to become a fan (actually select a “become a fan“) and make comments on my HuffPost musings if inspired.

Here’s my first foray into this bit of extracurricular activity called:

Mad “Housing Bottom” Is A Jumbo Problem

In late August of last year, Jim Cramer, a la CNBC Mad Money, predicted the housing market bottom would be reached by the third quarter of 2009. A week later, the prediction was fine-tuned in his widely read magazine article, selecting June 30, 2009 as the official day the housing market would find a bottom…[continue reading]


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[Harvard JCHS] The State of the Nation’s Housing 2009

June 23, 2009 | 12:03 am |

The Joint Center for Housing Studies just released their annual The State of the Nation’s Housing for 2009.

The report is quite extensive and topics include Housing Markets, Demographic Drivers, Homeownership, Rental Housing and Housing Challenges.

Nicolas P. Retsinas Director for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University will be appearing on The Housing Helix Podcast in the near future to discuss the release. I’m a fan of his research and had the pleasure to share a split screen with him on CNBC a few years ago.

From their quarterly peaks during the housing boom to the last quarter of 2008, real home equity was down 41 percent, existing median home prices 27 percent (and at least 40 percent in 26 metropolitan areas), new home sales 70 percent, and existing home sales 33 percent. Homeowners also pulled back on home improvement projects, with spending off 13 percent in real terms in 2008 and even larger declines expected in 2009. The cutbacks in home building and remodeling shaved a full percentage point off economic growth in 2007 and nearly another point in 2008.

Here’s a sampling of some of the charts in the report – especially the one below – loan volume is half the levels of 2003 and there is virtually no non-prime lending. That leaves a lot of people without mortgage options, that are facing payment stress.


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Wondering If The Negative Gravy Train Has Left The Station?

May 6, 2009 | 12:34 am | |

You’ve got to admire people that go out on a limb and call a market as a contrarian and turn out to be right. It’s a lucrative opportunity for those that are able to monetize it.

There is a lot of discussion lately about a slower pace of decline and that the end may be within the few years. The recession is expected to end at the end of this year and unemployment is expected to top out in about 18 months. In other words, there is plenty of room in the tank for financial opportunities for negativism.

Some notables who seem to continue to do well are:

The Housing Bubble Blog and others like it were screaming that the bubble was going to burst. They were right, despite all efforts by NAR to keep them in check. Ben Jones is one of the most prolific content posters and has the gold standard blog name for the subject. I’ve linked out and have been checking in with his work since late 2005. Although he is a free lance writer, his content appears to be collected by copying full articles from primarily newspapers and magazines around the country – with little or no analysis. Yet he’s consistent and finds a broad array of the key articles of the day. He still attracts hundreds of commenters on every post and all kinds of theories and ideas are shared. He takes donations and has banner ads. He’s created a grass roots feel.

But site traffic is down by more than half over the past year. Are people tiring of the negative?

Professor Robert Shiller, who is a very nice person and has published some terrific work on the wealth effect, economic psychology to name a few, was able to capitalize on the contrarian perspective with his book Irrational Exuberance and the subsequent update to include housing. He called the NASDAQ and housing market bubble correctly and has since released two additional books.

According to Shiller we are looking directly in the face of an enormous “speculative bubble” and the question is not whether stock prices will fall but when!

He tirelessly promoted the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index which has become the defacto standard for housing indexes by virtually all news outlets and economists. Despite his efforts and those of S&P, the trading markets for which the index was created, has yet to gain significant traction.

Nouriel Roubini, economics professor at NYU who is also known as Dr. Doom, has been spot on in his calling of the housing bubble. He was so blunt and negative that he quickly gained many detractors.

By late 2004 he had started to write about a “nightmare hard landing scenario for the United States.” He predicted that foreign investors would stop financing the fiscal and current-account deficit and abandon the dollar, wreaking havoc on the economy. He said that these problems, which he called the “twin financial train wrecks,” might manifest themselves in 2005 or, at the latest, 2006. “You have been warned here first,” he wrote ominously on his blog.

I’ve heard his consulting firm RGE Monitor is doing well but I have no way to confirm.

When he spoke at a convention in New York, several people quipped to me that they needed to jump out of a window because the world was ending.

Roubini was known to be a perpetual pessimist, what economists call a “permabear.”

He’s been hard to find fault with, and he fights with Jim Cramer calling him a buffoon. His recent opinion piece in the WSJ called We Can’t Subsidize the Banks Forever was strong, yet was also called to task for misquoting the IMF.

However this info was just released which makes Roubini right once again::

Regulators have told Bank of America that the company needs to raise roughly $35 billion in capital based on results of the government’s stress tests, according to people familiar with the situation.

Thus, I answered my question. The gravy train for pessimism is still in the station.


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[In The Media] CNBC 4-2-09

April 2, 2009 | 11:57 pm | Public |

Yesterday Diana Olick, the housing reporter for CNBC sought me out to talk about the state of the New York housing market. I had short notice but the studio is located at 30 Rock which isn’t far from my office. It’s my second consecutive non-tie interview at CNBC so dammit I’m a rebel. We taped for about 20 minutes and then they used this portion of it in their show today.

Diana’s Realty Check blog has been on my blog roll for a long time so it was nice to get to speak to her before the interview.

Watch the video.


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[Planting A Garden] DJIA Surge = Better Mood = More Home Sales

March 23, 2009 | 11:32 pm | |

Who says the Dow Jones Industrial Average has anything to do with the outlook for the housing market?

I am certainly skeptical, and get downright annoyed every time someone would refer to the DJIA result that day as a litmus test for some sort of national mood.

Yet people seem to be feeling a little better about things (the economy/housing) today than a few weeks ago. Here’s a chronology of cause and effect (DJIA rises and home sales rise) conveniently edited to make my point:

First of all, this has been one heck of a busy news cycle and the path from DJIA to rising home sales is obvious.

Secondly, I need to splash some cold water on my face and get back to work.

Aside: we don’t need bipartisanship.

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Bank Failure Is An Option

March 8, 2009 | 11:30 pm |


Watch CBS Videos Online

60 Minutes had a good segment this Sunday called Your Bank Has Failed: What Happens Next? which was perfect timing because a number of people seem to be worried about their own banks failing.

I bank at one of the national firms in the headlines and, while the thought has crossed my mind, I still place a lot of faith in FDIC’s handling of the problem. Of course, the fact that FDIC could run out of money is a growing concern. Let’s hope our the message from elected officials doesn’t weaken confidence at a time of growing bank failures.

The clip discusses the too big to fail concept. In most cases, the failure of a small bank has limited if any impact on the depositors in those institutions, but it can wipe out investors in those institutions. Sheila Bair, FDIC chairman and one of the consistent voices of competency in Washington, suggested that lawmakers may consider some sort of cap on size – giving some definitions toward the “too big to fail” concept.

The larger exposure to mortgages over the past decade by most lenders in search of larger profits is a key factor here aside from the recessionary environment.

UPDATE – something I shared last week but thought I’d insert again because it was so good. Think banking, bailouts and “loser mortgagees.” Good grief.


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TED’s Excellent Adventure

February 13, 2009 | 3:23 pm | |

Link to Bloomberg Chart

Ok, so this is my second Bill & Ted reference this week, but hey, Keanu Reeves starred, Matrix, etc.

I was having lunch with a good friend (other than the grief I regularly get about my bright shirt colors) the other day and he suggested I follow the TED spread more closely. While I have followed it, I’ve not been as fanatical about as many economists are. Perhaps I should be since, like the Fed’s Senior Loan Office survey, TED provides useful insight into the lending environment beyond mortgage rates.

I watched the CNBC special last night House of Cards, which was very good – not too much I hadn’t heard before but it did provide more clarity to the sequence of events and expanded my understanding of the roles Fannie/Freddie, Greenspan, CDOs and the rating agencies played in the risk/reward disconnect.

I also learned that the word Credit is derived from the Latin for Trust.

The TED spread (Treasury Eurodollar) for the uninitiated is the rate spread between treasury bills and and LIBOR.

Treasury bills are thought to represent risk free lending because there is the assumption that the US government will stand behind them. LIBOR represents the rate at which banks will lend to each other.

the difference in the two rates represents the “risk premium” of lending to a bank instead of to the U.S. government.

When the TED spread is low, banks are likely in good shape because banks feel nearly as confident lending to each other as if it were backed US government (The US has recently proved we’ll back pretty much back anything).

The spread is usually below 100 basis points (“1” on the chart). It reached a recent low of 20 basis points in early 2007, which in my view, shows a disconnect in the pricing risk since the subprime mortgage boom began to unravel in early 2006.

The spread spiked in in mid 2007 at the onset of the credit crunch (that was a summer to remember) and later spiked to 460 on October 10, 2008 as the wheels came off the financial system and became the new milestone or “tipping point” for the new housing market.

The spread has been contracting which is perhaps a sign that banks are starting to feel less panicked about each other. I think lending conditions will improve over the next few years, but there is a long way to go as measured by years rather than quarters.

Note: Another TED worth noting. A great resource for the intersection of Technology, Entertainment and Design.


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CNBC Original – House of Cards

February 11, 2009 | 3:54 pm |

CNBC is premiering a special documentary tomorrow night that explores the relationship between risk and reward in real estate.

There have been a number of specials on this topic but it is always good to review what is happening on the ground right now and reflect on how we got here. I watched the trailer and it is compelling.

CNBC sent me the announcement about the special tomorrow:

Was reading your blog and thought the upcoming documentary on CNBC might interest you and your readers…

Tomorrow (Thurs Feb 12), the CNBC Original “House of Cards” will premiere at 8p ET / 9p PT on CNBC. “House of Cards” explains how we got into today’s economic mess – with inside accounts from key players from home buyers to mortgage sellers to Alan Greenspan.

The documentary launch page.


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[Apologist Pollyanna Prognosticator] For $495/Year, Lereah Will Drop The Spin

February 11, 2009 | 12:48 am | |

Back in January, David Lereah, former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, came clean with the Wall Street Journal. It appeared to be more of a timed interview to coincide with the start of his new venture.

Mr. Lereah, who says he left NAR voluntarily, says he was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts — then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. “I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to,” he said, looking out his window to his tree-filled yard in this Washington suburb.

Of course his successor, Lawrence Yun, who started off with the same hard core spin, but a few months into the credit crunch pulled back from his wildly optimistic ways which was, for lack of a better word, refreshing (relatively speaking).

Coverage after the WSJ article was here, here, here and here, etc. You get the picture.

The spin from NAR was excessive and offensive during his reign – so much so he inspired blogs like David LereahWatch and kept the blogosphere full of content for many years. I remember thinking the disconnect of his press releases during his reign was significant and infuriating.

I got to meet him in the green room before we were both on a CNBC special in 2004 at his height (I was an obviously lesser figure in the program) yet he seemed embarrassed about his prognostication.

It’s hard to imagine that NAR and Lereah were not acting as a team in the false message delivered in a procession of press releases. Although both have separated ways, NAR and Lereah are still at it.

MarketWatch did a humorous recap of the major forecasting errors provided by Lereah.

So why am I bringing all this up when I said I was tired of the topic of Lereah?

Because I came across a press release today from his new venture Reecon Advisors, Inc. For $495 per year, you can get to hear what Lereah thinks about the housing market – he writes his newsletter from home and has less than 50 subscribers but hopes to get more. Because he is now independent, he will provide an non-biased viewpoint. Ok, doesn’t the very fact that he would say this completely discredit because it infers – he – can – be – bought. Why is now different?

Listen, I don’t fault the guy for trying to make a living. After 7 years of hard core spin, a subsequent apology that confirmed this, mockery by the blogosphere who outed his frequent misdirections, and later disenfranchisement with NAR, who on earth would actually subscribe?

The web is a beautiful thing. You can set up a web site and appear like a big research think tank. Makes your head spin doesn’t it.


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