No doubt there is a shadow inventory. In fact, our sources indicate a substantial, almost incredible number of foreclosed homes in the national bottleneck. Our original post on this topic was “Shadow Inventory, yes. Banks holding back, not likely”. As indicated, this was posted in rebuttal to the referenced WSJ article, last July.
Of course a lot can change in 6 months. Since then we have come to believe that Fannie Mae is, in fact, deliberately holding back inventory, a probable attempt to stabilize or stimulate values, another ill-fated artificial manipulation of the marketplace. Only government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) can get away with holding non-performing debt rather than having to liquidate it. Apparently the recent near collapse of Fannie and Freddie did little to cure their attitude. How can you hold onto to non-performing debt and survive? Obviously you can’t.
The fallout of this strategy of the GSEs is that the major banks like Wells and BofA now have to follow suit, whether they want to, or whether it makes good business sense, or not.
It’s amazing how resilient and patient these guys are. First they absorb all the bankrupt competition and all the non-performing debt. Then, the government traps then into partnership through TARP and forces them to take bailout money they don’t want. Then, moratoriums and intervention handcuff them and prevent them from doing any sensible business at all. In the meantime, the media vilifies them and the public hates them.
But these guys are the only hope. They are the only survivors amongst dozens of bankrupt banks. They survive through fiscal responsibility and good management, two concepts that seem to elude all federal agencies.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were saved from bankruptcy by bailout from the federal government, the largest debtor in the world. The only reason the federal government isn’t not bankrupt already is because they can print money (see our blog “What Is The FED?, Part Two” 10/3/09). These are proven fiscally irresponsible agencies. They maintain the illusion of being in control of our economy. They are manipulating national housing, foreclosure and lending laws, with no consistent vision or policy. This is a disaster.
The irony in San Jose and Silicon Valley is that Fannie and Freddie haven’t been much of a player here. For the past 10-12 years our average values were above FNMA limits. All these ’05 loans that are foreclosed are from non-GSEs, yet our marketplace is captive to their manipulations.
So, we wait. In the meantime it’s a warzone: lots of buyers, no inventory. It’s all in the bottle. Heck of a recovery strategy. Let it out! We can sell it! NOW!
If the federal government, the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would get out of the way, maybe we can get out of this mess. Maybe we wouldn’t have gotten into it in the first place. Let the banks do their job.