Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Today's links

1--The case for QE, The Big Picture
1) Housing Improvement
2) Corporate Balance Sheets
3) Manageable Federal Debt

2--What should be done? , IMF Forum

The general strategy is clear. Continue with accommodating monetary policy, which is a very powerful force for growth, and limit the adverse effects of the brakes holding things back. Continue with steady fiscal consolidation; our advice still holds: not too slow, not too fast. Continue to repair the financial system. Decrease policy uncertainty. In other words, deliver fiscal consolidation and maintain growth.

3--IMF Sees ‘Alarmingly High’ Risk of Deeper Global Slump, Bloomberg

A key issue is whether the global economy is just hitting another bout of turbulence in what was always expected to be a slow and bumpy recovery or whether the current slowdown has a more lasting component,” the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook report. “The answer depends on whether European and U.S. policy makers deal proactively with their major short-term economic challenges.”

4--So how are those charter schools actually doing?, naked capitalism

 As Ben Jarovsky reports in Chicago Reader (hat tip Jan F):
…the foes of the teachers’ union declare that we should pay close attention to the all-important standardized test scores. So let’s take a look.
There are 541 elementary schools in Chicago. Based on the composite ISAT scores for 2011—the last full set available—none of the top ten are charters. None of the top 20, 30, or 40 either.
In fact, you’ve got to go to 41 to find a charter. Take a bow, CICS Irving Park!
Most of the 49 charters on the list are clustered near the great middle, alongside most of their unionized neighborhood schools.
The top scorers are public schools with unionized teachers who are members of the Chicago Teachers Union
5--Earnings Concerns Weigh on Markets, NYT
Third-quarter profits and sales for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) probably fell in unison for the first time in three years, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Per-share earnings may have dropped 1.7 percent on average after they were little changed in the second quarter. Sales may have slipped 0.6 percent, the data show.

While most companies plan to keep a lid on spending, lower expenses aren’t leading to the same kinds of increases they reported earlier this year. Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest personal-computer maker, already forecast full-year profit that trailed analysts’ estimates, FedEx Corp. (FDX) cut its annual earnings forecast and Intel Corp 
. (INTC) projected lower third- quarter sales, with all three citing softening demand.
“A lot of the earnings growth that we’ve seen has been related to cost reductions,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer for Oakbrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois, which manages more than $3 billion. “Now many of those cost reduction efforts have run their course. Without revenue growth, there is no room for profit to expand further.”….

The earnings season “may be rather ugly,” based on early reports so far, according to Gina Martin Adams, a New York-based strategist at Wells Fargo & Co.
“While recession in the U.S. is not necessarily imminent, earnings are weakening fairly quickly,” Adams wrote today in a note. For the fourth quarter, companies may struggle to match analysts’ estimates as data indicates U.S. growth is stabilizing at a “depressed” pace, she said.
The U.S. economic slowdown, coupled with a worsening environment abroad, is leading more companies to consider further job and spending cuts. A Business Roundtable survey last month showed 34 percent of U.S. chief executive officers anticipate they will have fewer domestic employees in the next six months. That’s up from 20 percent when the survey was conducted last quarter.
6--Ireland to try cram-downs, NYT

Ireland has to try something audacious. House prices are still 50 percent below their peak, compared with 30 percent in the United States. And more than half of Irish mortgages are underwater, meaning the house is worth less than the outstanding debt. While some of those borrowers can afford to keep making payments, more than a quarter of mortgage debt on first homes, roughly $39 billion, is in default or has been modified by lenders.

The housing market is now in a state of limbo as the government and the banks have made little effort to clean up the mortgage mess.

Unlike in the United States, Irish banks have foreclosed on very few borrowers. While Ireland’s leaders have considered it socially unacceptable for banks to seize large numbers of homes, they also feared the fiscal cost of foreclosures.

This approach creates doubt about the true level of bad mortgages at Irish banks. And borrowers, unsure of whether they will keep their homes, remain in a state of financial paralysis.

The new law aims to end this stalemate by overhauling Ireland’s consumer debt and bankruptcy laws.
While banks aren’t required to reduce the mortgage debt, the legislation gives them a powerful incentive to write down mortgages for troubled borrowers. Under the new rules, it will be less onerous to declare bankruptcy, making it easier for people to walk away from their homes altogether. As the threat rises, banks are more likely to reduce homeowners’ debt, rather than risk losing the monthly income and getting stuck with the property.

“For the banks, where there are losses, they have to be recognized,” said Alan Shatter, Ireland’s justice minister, who has sponsored the new law, called the Personal Insolvency Bill. “This legislation gives homeowners hope for their future.”

7--Afghan Government ‘Could Collapse’ After 2014, Report Finds, antiwar

8--Dividends: U.S. Continuing Descent Toward Recession , political calculations

9--Capitalism's Two-Step Survival Plan, counterpunch

Regardless of the results of November 3, demonstrations about the austerity issue in the U.S. will inevitably continue, since even mainstream economists mostly agree that there will be no return to the pre-recession economy. The policies of austerity and structural reform — along with war — are long-term survival strategies of capitalism, which is evolving to survive a global-wide crisis of corporate growth rates by creating a “new normal” of social expectations: lower wages and fewer social programs

10--Shoot to kill, counterpunch

I can understand that a nation needs to have control of its borders. No nation have a free-for-all open border policy. But having said that, killing people for trying to find a better life is not an immigration policy. It is a war on the poor. This is all the more true when you factor in the fact that the disastrous economies in Mexico and the countries of Central America which most of the immigrants crossing into Arizona and Texas are fleeing have been largely created by US policies like NAFTA and the so-called Drug War, which have in the first case encouraged huge corporate agribusiness conglomerates to move in, set up vast industrial monoculture farms, and destroy local farming economies, and in the second funded the emergence of huge, heavily armed and violent criminal drug gangs....

The least we can do at this point is to recognize the problem as a social and economic one, and not a criminal one, and stop making the border area a war zone

11--Austerity will continue, says David Cameron, despite IMF deficit warning, The Guardian

Prime minister says there is no 'plan B' despite IMF warnings that Britain will miss deficit reduction targets
The Arizona Regional MLS reported that residential home sales by realtors in the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area totaled 6,478 in September, down 17.9% from last September’s pace. REO properties were just 12.9% (835) of last month’s sales, down from 37.1% (2,931) last September, while last month’s short-sales share was 27.0%, unchanged from a year ago. Active listings in September totaled 22,862, up 9.2% from August but down 15.2% from a year ago. The median home sales price last month was $150,000, up 30.5% from last September. Citing data from the Cromford Report, the ARMLS also reported that foreclosures pending in Maricopa County totaled 14,584 in September, down 38.1% from a year ago.


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