[Editor's note: The Update is going to be taking a break over the next few days and will publish only on the days that give us a reason to write. The market is in a place that does allow for that possibility so if you see a day that has a dramatic move please come here to view the Update. The Update will return on January 1st for your reading pleasure on January 2nd. We'll see you on the other side.]
Top Line: Wednesday's action seemed a little less volatile than Tuesday but remains a part of the day to day trading. Right now the market is eyeing a couple of near term events, Friday's option expiration and next week's Christmas holiday, yes and New Year's. The Update is still on the bearish side with a run down to Dow 12,500 in mind. This is not a commitment because the possibilities are still that the market doesn't have the downside power required. We will deal with that if we have to. For now, we're looking down the pipe to 12,500.
In our last post we neglected to mention the news from Hovnanian, another homebuilder with bad results. This company has now recorded five quarters of earnings under water. This report said losses were $7.42 a share--ouch. There is a followup article on Wednesday where the company is just sure things would be ok if only the housing market would pick up again.
On Wednesday the world awoke to more writedowns for mortgage debt. This time it was from Morgan Stanley to the tune of $5.7 billion and by the way that is on top of the $3.7 billion it already said it was going to writedown. (There is a front page WSJ article on Friday on Morgan Stanley, too.) That's a total of $9.4 billion--doesn't sound so bad when you can stay under $10 billion. $10 BILLION...
Morgan Stanley said it was taking a loss due to these writedowns of $3.61 a share, its first loss since it came public back in 1986. Oh, but don't worry about their capital situation because they received $5 billion from China. From our perspective, these are big numbers coming out of various finance companies and...
With that news comes, yes, government or Fed intervention. Not anything new on Wednesday but there is something new. The public is getting less and less convinced that the powers that be (PTB) can actually turn this around. The headlines are not pretty. As we look at the CNN Money Real Estate page we see do see one positive title: Foreclosures in November declined. Of course, the subtitle says that foreclosures are 68% higher than last November. The other headlines are grim...and we're not talking about the fairy tales of Grimm...Mortgage apps tumble, Hovnanian loss quadruples, Homebuilders' index scraps bottom, and New home construction drops, and more. All of this even as the PTB chase their respective tails in order to find a politically correct solution.
Just so you know, the Update believes that the situation is much bigger than the PTB can deal with effectively. This is going to get worse before it gets better. This is not something new to the Update if you take a look at our archives. Now, you are finally hearing others start to say the same things we have been predicting for the past year or two. We are not trying to gloat but urging people to take shelter by anticipating some trouble ahead in the economy.
The last item of interest is the downgrade of bond insurer ACA. This is not our area because it is outside the housing scene but this is how the mortgage problems can seep into other areas. The mortgage problems started a chain of events and no one knows where it will lead. We think a recession is assured in 2008 even as the election bears down on us.
We want to wish you all a joyous holiday season with lots of time to spend with the people you care most about.