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Steve Russell Mortgage Banker PRMI Phone: (850) 221-8334 Fax: 888-257-8383 steve@steverussellonline.com www.SteveRussellOnline.com

 

 

 

 

Dear Valued Partner,

The Chinese have a proverb: "May you live in interesting times." And we are living through interesting times indeed. Whatever the political posturing regarding the rescue plan, a plan needed to be passed. Credit markets are frozen and banks are going bust every day. This is not totally because of "toxic" mortgages. This has a lot to do with FASB 157, also known as "mark to market". Each day, lenders must mark their assets to the marketplace. It’s like you having to appraise your home everyday and, if your neighbor was under duress because she got very ill, divorced, lost her job and was forced to sell her home quickly, she may have sold it super cheap. Now, does that mean your house is worth that super cheap price, too? Clearly not. Why? Because you are not under duress. You have the time to sell your home and get a more normal price, which more accurately reflects true market conditions. But "mark to market" does not allow for this, which creates a vicious cycle. Why is this so bad? Because, as lenders mark down their assets the amount that they have previously loaned becomes much riskier in relation to their assets. For example, say a bank has $1 million in assets and say they have $15 million in loans outstanding. Their ratio is an acceptable 15 to 1. But should they take a paper write down of $500 thousand due to "mark to market" requirements, their ratio suddenly changes to 30 to 1. This is because their assets are now only $500 thousand after taking the paper loss, while their loans outstanding are still $15 million. And at 30 to 1 this bank is viewed as a risky investment. So the stock price starts to get hit, it becomes harder to borrow, and most importantly harder to make money. The bank is then forced to sell some of its loans to reduce its ratio…at cheap prices. And this makes the vicious cycle continue. And a quick look at the holdings of these loans show that 95% are problem free. Additionally, the Credit Default Swaps (CDS) that are used with the pools of mortgages are relatively safe. But this requires a bit of understanding. You see, when a pool of mortgage loans is put together it isn’t just A paper or B paper etc. it’s everything. It’s got some A paper, B paper, C paper…and even what looks like toilet paper. An "A" investor buys the whole pool but because they are an "A" investor their safety is greater because they can avoid the first 20% (an example) of defaults. So they own the whole pool but are sheltered from the first batch of defaults, and for this they get the lowest rate of return. As you can figure from here the more risk investors want to take, the higher the return. So the investments are relatively safe, but the accounting rules currently place undue pressure on the banking institutions. Now add to all this, the opportunistic "shorting" done on the financial stocks, much of it illegal because those shorts did not legitimately borrow shares (called naked shorting), and you exacerbate this whole problem. Thank goodness for the recent temporary ban on shorting in the financial sector. As for the plan, the government is the only one who can step in to do this. And they have to do this. And they will do this. The political posturing from both sides is just part of the process. This is not easy to understand for the general public. In fact most politicians don’t get this either. That’s why it is a difficult yet critical bill for them to vote on. Once this is done, it will take some time but the markets will stabilize. As for the real estate and mortgage industries, it will take a bit of time but we will make it through this. Rates will remain attractive and the influx of credit availability will help the housing market gradually improve. This ultimately will be the medicine needed to improve the situation overall. As always – please keep in touch during these volatile times. I am here to help you and your clients in any way that I can. Sincerely, Steve Russell PRMI (850) 221-8334 steve@steverussellonline.com

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 2:11 pm and is filed under Gulf Coast Mortgages. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

 1 

War, economic meltdowns,etc. This is definitely interesting times. What more can happen to make it more exiciting? How about the first american president.

Andrew’s last blog post..Basic mortgage information that you need to know.

April 23rd, 2009 at 7:56 am

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