Category Archives: Real estate

Capital is Not Back: On Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the 21st Century’

Yves here. This article pokes at a topic near and dear to my heart, which is the generally reverential treatment of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. It appears to be a classic example of the cognitive bias called halo effect, in which people have a tendency to see things as all good or all bad. Because there is a lot to recommend Piketty’s work, for instance, the fact that it is exceptionally written, that it has made inequality into one of the hottest topics in economics, and that Piketty has done an admirable and exhaustive job of finding and analyzing the returns on certain types of income producing assets are all highly commendable.

But as readers may know, one of my pet peeves is that Piketty has made a very strong claim, in the form of his formula r>g, or the rate of return on capital (which he also calls “profit”) exceeds the growth rate of the economy, when his data falls short of what would be necessary to prove that assertion.


Wells Smacked Down Over Bad Faith Arguments in Foreclosure Case

Even though foreclosures and bank servicing abuses have virtually disappeared in the eyes of the media, it’s quite a different story in the courtrooms of America. Banks continue to proceed with foreclosures, too many of which are based on bogus charges or other servicing abuses.

Fortunately, more and more judges seem to be recognizing bank bad conduct. Wells Fargo proceeded with a foreclosure on a clear bad-faith basis, and then made some eye-rolling arguments before a judge who is on to Wells’ game and is none too impressed.


Wolf Richter: Fed’s Bullard Calls Out Ignoring Bubbles Developing “Under Our Noses,” So What About Now?

Yves here. It’s been astonishing to see members of the Fed in denial about their own handiwork, so when St. Louis Fed President James Bullard berates his fellow central bankers for their abject refusal to notice pre-crisis bubbles, it’s an all too rare departure from their usual insularity and willful blindness.


Larry Summers’ Contradictory and Dishonest Defense of Administration’s Bank-Focused Crisis Response

Larry Summers, like Tim Geithner, wants the public to believe that rescuing banks and leaving citizens to rot was the right crisis response. But neither experts, nor people who followed the crisis, nor voters at large are buying what Team Obama is trying to sell.


Ilargi: The Illusionary Economy Revives Helocs, the Home ATM

Yves here. Ilargi is duly skeptical of the enthusiastic financial press response to an increase in home equity liquidation, um, borrowing using home equity lines of credit, or Helocs. While the party line is that this development reflects an rise in home equity and increased consumer confidence, Ilargi stresses that prices appreciation that the Fed has created, the Fed can also take away. I have to wonder how many of these Heloc borrowers are doing so out of necessity or near-desperation.


GSE Reform Dead for Now

I’m a little surprised at the overly coded reporting at the New York Times and particularly the Wall Street Journal, where Nick Timiraos provides top-notch coverage on the mortgage beat, on the implications of the failure of a widely-touted, Administration-backed GSE reform bill to get out of the Senate Banking Committee. Basically, it confirms what I’ve long believed but refrained from writing about, namely, that government sponsored enterprise, aka, GSE reform, was not going to get done in this session of Congress.


Quelle Surprise! Ginnie Mae Says Bank of America Has Lots of Servicing Documents Missing; MERS Also in Hot Water

An article by Kate Berry in American Banker earlier this week hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. Anyone who was paying attention to the mortgage beat in 2010 through 2012 knew that mortgage securitization originators and servicers were playing fast and loose with critical documents like mortgage notes because they couldn’t be bothered to observe […]