Home prices will continue to fall, defaults will continue to rise, and the banking system is technically insolvent. The Oil import volume into the U.S. will decline from this point forward, making the value of any property that is dependent upon cheap and abundant fuel for its egress, provisioning, and maintenance worth less and less and less, etc... This negative feedback loop will continue until all of the silly, worthless subdivisions that are standing on productive, VALUABLE farm land have been removed from the surface of the earth. The process might take 20 or 25 years to complete - but think about it: That means the "DEMAND DESTRUCTION" you hear tell about in the media regarding energy will apply to suburban and exurban housing at a rate of 4 to 5% per year.Fannie, Freddie, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual are gone. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation is on deck, and the big social programs will be gutted before the end of the next decade.
Still think that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Citi, and the rest of these miscreants will survive? Really?
What we are witnessing is mass denial, confusion, and desperation at the Federal level. For the past 2 years we have been bombarded with attempted manipulations from the Fed, U.S. Treasury, The National Association of Realtors, etc... and myriad smaller equally desperate interest groups (nothing special about them.) The housing crisis is "contained", then housing prices were bottoming. When this did not come to pass, the "bottom is in sight" became the mantra in the Mainstream Media. And just where does the MSM get their data? From the very folks that cannot, under any circumstance, vary from the script.
It is the improper response that will do most of the damage as business as usual is not an option. Government's refusal to cut their budgets. The Individual's insistence that "THEY" will do something.
I regularly receive comments and emails from folks that seem to believe that the "rate of change" will be a rapid one. While I think that is possible, as I have posted many, many, many times before, I believe it will be a slow, steady, grinding unfolding of events. If, as I believe the most likely outcome, that U.S. oil imports go from circa 13mm barrels per day in 2007 to circa 5mm barrels in 2020, it won't be the end of the world. But it will be the end of the U.S.$, suburbia, the bulk of the value of social programs, defaults by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. and Fannie & Freddie, and a litany of other issues foreseen and unforeseen.
Fannie Mai & Freddie Mac, nearly down for the count last month, survived with the help of a "standing 8 count" engineered by the finance hair club for men. It did not work, and they cannot survive. Government manipulations in free markets NEVER work. EVER. Are you listening, Mr. President-elect to be?
The head fake from the U.S. $ really spooked the leveraged folks in the commodity's markets, but some of those markets had gotten WAY ahead of themselves and now it would appear have gotten WAY behind - again.
The race to ZERO by the major currencies is still on. The U.S. $ simply must give up much of its purchasing power, and American's much of their lifestyle, if the U.S. is to balance its budget & trade deficits. There will be more head fakes along the way. If I could call them with any accuracy, would not need my day job... but the long term structural issues are there for all to see.
Housing will not be "bottoming" in 2009. It may hit bottom in 2009, or 2010, 2011, or 2012 for that matter, and stay there for 10 or 20 years. Hitting bottom and "bottoming" are 2 different things, aren't they? "Bottoming" implies a return to an upward trend in prices, an outcome I would have serious doubts about.
Commercial property values are also about to be "marked to market" in a most unsettling way.
Commodities are all about Oil. Oil, in US$ terms, is all about interest rates in the U.S. If the Fed decided to bring Oil to $80 or less, they could do it. A 5% Fed Funds rate would do the trick nicely. On the other hand, a 5% Fed Funds rate would demolish the banking industry and slaughter the housing market and bring the the U.S. into a 1930's level recession. Hardly worth the price of "cheap" Oil, wouldn't you say?
If the Fed keeps the Fed Funds rate at 2% through 2009, Oil will likely head over $150 in 2009.
On the OTHER other hand, if Oil imports into the U.S. decline by another 7.5 % in 2009 from 2008 (as they have so far in 2008 from 2007), Oil prices will likely top $150 irrespective of the Fed Funds rate.
Keep your eye on the data. And then, question the data.