While the markets race higher today on the news of the European debt deal, our future economic landscape here in the United States remains squarely focused on the same two sectors today as it did three years ago. Those being, JOBS and HOUSING!!
Our employment problem is a function of many variables, but mostly a reflection of massive structural problems in many sectors of our economy.
On the housing front, far too many in Washington still seem to believe that they can stem the continued erosion in home values and foreclosures. When will they learn that market interference and manipulation do not work but only exacerbate the situation.
The White House and Democratic Party are already hard at work vilifying Mitt Romney for embracing the truth and market based principles for dealing with our housing fiasco.
Am I cold hearted for embracing a market based approach? Believe what you want but I firmly believe that our housing market would be in far better shape currently if we had allowed the market to work right from the get go. Why? Because private capital would have already entered at a much greater and faster rate than currently. This private capital is ‘being paid to wait’ as housing supply and likely foreclosures overhang the market.
The Wall Street Journal lead editorial today echoes sentiments I expressed on this topic back a few years back. Let’s navigate as the WSJ writes, Romney’s Finest Hour,
Campaigning last week in Nevada, the epicenter of the housing bust, Mr. Romney was asked by the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board what he would do about housing and foreclosures. His reply:
“One is, don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up. Let it turn around and come back up. The Obama Administration has slow-walked the foreclosure processes that have long existed, and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.”
How’s that for refreshing? After five years of politicians trying without success to postpone disclosures and levitate the housing market, Mr. Romney dared to tell the truth.
Romney is right. Our nation’s housing market will be far stronger the sooner that Uncle Sam gets out of the way. I wrote as much in May 2009 back when I penned, Water Finds Its Own Level,
If housing led us into this mess and is going to lead us out, then bring an extra pair of boots because we still have a long way to go.
Could the government intervention in the housing market promote short term support but also long term pressure? What do I mean? As I wrote yesterday in Mortgage Magic or Mortgage Mayhem, the government is providing real subsidies in terms of mortgage rates, guarantees, closing costs, and points.
These subsidies are generating support to segments of the housing market. That said, housing in general remains under severe pressure in many regions. The higher priced markets with very limited government intervention are virtually stagnant.
I think we will see further downward pressure on prices and a delay in real improvement in housing due to the fact that more homeowners are now under water on their mortgages.
Government intervention is simply attempting to apply sandbags to this problem. While I fully empathize with the families impacted, these sandbags are no remedy or foundation for a long term fix. In fact, I think these sandbags are potentially causing pools of private capital to refrain from entering the market. Why is that? A market that is being artificially supported will always cause real money to wait in the wings.
As the water finds its own level, the private capital will definitely enter. In so doing, it is very likely the private capital will ultimately push the market to levels even higher than current.
Any market participant knows, though, that a market that is manipulated may stay elevated for a short stretch but will move lower, find its natural clearing level, and then move higher. Housing is no different.
The White House and the Democratic supporters can try to hammer Romney for his embracing of market based principles to resolve our housing dilemma. I would ask Barack and team how his programs have worked so far. I would expect he would say that housing would have been so much worse without his interventions.
Don’t you believe it just as the market itself does not believe it either.
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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets, our economy, and our political realm so that meaningful investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.