FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Great Housing Crash of ’07

by MIKE WHITNEY

 

This month’s figures prove that the so-called “housing bubble” is not only real, but that its cratering faster than anyone had realized. As the UK Guardian reported just yesterday, “the orderly housing slowdown predicted by the Federal Reserve will (soon) become a full-blown crash”.

All the indicators are now pointing in the wrong direction. Consumer confidence is down, inventory is at a 10 year high, and the number of homes sold in July was 22% lower than last year. As Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics said, “Things seem to be getting worse very quickly. Freefall is a strong word, but I think it’s the right one to use here.” (UK Guardian)

The housing bubble is a $10 trillion equity balloon that will explode sometime in 2007 when more than $1 trillion in no-interest, no down payment, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) reset; setting the stage for massive home devaluation, foreclosures and unemployment. (“By some estimates housing activity has accounted for 40% of all the jobs created since 2001”. Times Online) July’s plunging sales are just the first sign of a major slowdown. The worst is yet to come.

The blame for this rapidly-approaching meltdown lies entirely with the Federal Reserve, the privately-owned collection of 10 central banks who cooked up a way to shift wealth from one class to another through low interest rates.

Sound crazy?

Well, just as high interest rates cause the economy to slow down; low interest rates have the exact opposite effect by stimulating the economy through increased spending. It’s all pretty clear-cut.

When the stock market nose-dived in 2000 the Fed lowered rates 17 times to an unbelievable 1% to keep the economy sputtering-along while the Bush administration dragged the country to war, gave away $450 billion a year in tax cuts, and awarded zillions in no bid contracts to their friends in big business. All tolled, the Bush-handouts amounted to roughly $3 trillion dollars, the largest heist in history, and it was carried out under the nose of the snoozing American public.

At the same time, America’s debts and deficits have continued to mushroom behind the smokescreen of low interest rates.

Rather than face the recession which should have followed stock market crash, the Fed chose to increase the money supply (which doubled in the last 7 years) and lower the qualifications for getting mortgages. (I read recently that 90% of first time home buyers not only lie on their mortgage applications, but that 50% of them say that they earn TWICE as much as they really do. The applications are not cross-checked with IRS statements) Now, tens of thousands of Americans live in $400,000 and $500,000 homes without a penny of equity in them and with loans that are timed to increase dramatically in 2007. (Many of the monthly payments will double)

So, how can we blame the Fed for the reckless and irresponsible behavior of the average homeowner?

Well, because they knew the effects of their “cheap money” policy every step of the way.

First of all, the Fed knew exactly where the money was going. Greenspan endorsed the shabby new lending-regime which put hundreds of billions of dollars in the hands of people who never should have qualified for mortgages. They were set up to fail just like the victims in the stock market scam who kept dumping their life savings in the NASDAQ when PE’s were shooting through the stratosphere.

Secondly, the Fed knew that wages had actually regressed (2.3%) since Bush took office, so they knew that the soaring value of real estate was entirely predicated on debt not real wealth. In other words, home values increased because of the availability of cheap money which inevitably creates a buying-frenzy. It had nothing to do with real demand or growth in wages.

And, thirdly, according to the Fed’s own figures, “the total amount of residential housing wealth in the US just about doubled between 1999 and 2006″up from $10.4 trillion to $20.4 trillion”. Times Online.

UP $10 TRILLION IN 7 YEARS! That is the very definition of a humongous, economy-killing equity monster. In other words, the Fed knew the ACTUAL SIZE OF THE BUBBLE and chose to steer it towards the nearest iceberg without warning the public.

This is what Greenspan called “a little froth”.

There is no real growth in the American economy. Figure it out. Last year Americans saved less than 0% of their net earnings while they borrowed a whopping $600 billion from their home equity to piss-away on a consumer spending-spree. Once home prices begin to retreat, that $600 billion will evaporate, real GDP will shrivel, and the economy will begin flat-lining. (Consumer spending is 70% of GDP)

The Federal Reserve’s plan is so simple; we shouldn’t dignify it by calling it a conspiracy. It’s merely a matter of hypnotizing the masses with low interest rates while trillions of dollars of real wealth is diverted to corporate big-wigs and American plutocrats.

It might not be rocket science, but it worked like a charm.

Now, the trap-door has been sprung; the country is dead-broke and all the levers are in place for a police state. As the housing-balloon slowly limps towards earth, the new Halliburton detention centers are up and running, the National Guard is in Rummy’s control, the Feds are able to listen-in on every phone call we make.

The noose is beginning to tighten.

New Orleans was just a dress rehearsal for the new world order; 300,000 million Americans reduced to grinding poverty while the economy explodes into sheets of flames.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

 

 

More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
Richard Hardigan
The Media is Misleading the Public on the Al-Asqa Mosque Situation
Matthew Stevenson
Travels in Trump’s America: Memphis, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Bentonville
Ruth Fowler
Fire at Grenfell
Ezra Kronfeld
The Rights of Sex Workers: Where is the Movement to Legalize Prostitution
Mark Weisbrot
What Venezuela Needs: Negotiation Not Regime Change
Binoy Kampmark
From Spicy to the Mooch: A Farewell to Sean Spicer
Wim Laven
Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing
Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail