Today, with bursting bubbles in corporate and municipal finance joining the mortgage bust, the U.S. Bubble economy has quickly fallen desperately short of sufficient Credit and liquidity. And the greater the Credit market dislocation and broad-based tightness of Credit, the bleaker become economic prospects and the more intense the Revulsion to Wall Street’s Credit instruments. The days of free-flowing cheap finance for home buyers, state and local governments, LBO firms, commercial real estate speculators, college students, risky auto buyers, and high-risk Credit card holders are over - and they will not be returning for some time to come.
When I have previously underestimated the "resiliency" of the U.S. Credit Bubble and economy, it was in each instance a failure to appreciate the capability of Wall Street finance to expand to ever greater degrees of Bubble excess. Today, with "contemporary finance" mired in a historic collapse, I am confident that the Credit system is today only in a position to surprise on the downside. It is this framework that shapes my view of a rapidly escalating Credit crisis feeding an arduous economic adjustment period.
And while it could undoubtedly prod a highly speculative stock market, there is no resolution to the "monoline" dilemma that would meaningfully influence the trajectory of the unfolding Credit and economic bust. As we’ve been saying for awhile now, confidence in Wall Street finance has been irreparably shattered. Trust has been broken in "AAA" ratings, "mark-to-model," CDO structures, myriad risk models, Credit insurance, counter-party risk, and various instruments and vehicles for intermediating risk in the markets. Moreover, old fashioned lending will not come close to sufficing the demands of a highly imbalanced Bubble economy, especially with bankers nervous and retrenching. Again, we’re witnessing nothing less than the Breakdown of Wall Street Alchemy – one that took a turn for the worst this week.
In a disconcerting development, recent market developments seem to confirm that the leveraged speculating community and the GSEs are poised as the next shoes to drop – the next Dominoes in an Escalating Contagion. Along with the "monolines" and mortgage insurers, the "Credit default swap market" and GSE mortgage Risk Intermediation were at the epicenter of the most egregious Systemic Risk Distortions and Accumulations. They are now quickly moving to the forefront of Current Acute Fragilities. Simplifying highly complex circumstances, the various risk models that empowered the greatest leveraging of risk in the history of finance no longer function as expected - or as required to maintain highly leveraged exposures to a multitude of escalating risks. And it was all just only a matter of time. The overriding flaw was to ignore that a runaway Bubble in market-based finance ensured that various market and Credit risks all coalesced into One Massive, Unmanageable, Highly Correlated, Unhedgable, Undiversifiable Association of Interrelated Systemic Risks.
Doug Noland is a market strategist at Prudent Bear Funds. Their website is www.prudentbear.com.