Some past market performance figures

Naturally past economic cycles don’t tell us exactly what will happen in the future, but as Mark Twain once said ‘history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme’. And for that reason it is worth looking at some key figures from the past, showing that often the gains in bull markets are all found at the cusp of a bear market.

The stock market generally reacts before consumers and the real economy do and equally it will generally see recovery before them as well. Taking a view of the 20th century markets we can see the following:

In the recession of 1926 to 1927 the market increased by 41%. The years of 1933 to 1937 saw some of the most impressive gains ever in the S&P 500. The eight month recession of 1945 saw markets rise 19.5%, the eleven month recession of 1948-49 saw the markets go up 15.2%. Again in 1953-1954 the ten month recession ended with a market that rose 24.2%.

Any reader will note that much of these ‘gains’ did …

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Housing dysfunction

There are some who are saying that there are amazing deals to be found in the current market and if you consider price only then you may be tempted to believe this. Yields could also present a strong argument for property investment if yields stay at historic levels, however yields are likely to fall in 2009 and will remain stagnant until at least 2011/12 for several reasons which we will outline, we will also look at some of the current dysfunction in the market by examining a few types of sellers and how their personal situations express themselves in their selling behaviour.

The first group bought in the last days of the boom, they likely used minimal deposits (or even 100% finance) in order to purchase and they are in deep negative equity, they are now no longer on fixed rates – which tended to be 1/2/3yr fixed- and may have moved into the variable market which revises their payments upwards. One can be forgiven for thinking they may be a ‘distressed seller’ – the distress …

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Generic overview of the market 2009: by sector

I was asked by a colleague in the UK to provide an overview of the Irish mortgage market, he has often advised the Bank of England in the past on the UK buy to let market, however this time it is in relation to a talk he was due to give to an international financial services group on the Irish economy. Below are the contents of my correspondence which is a no holds barred view of the mortgage market in 2009.

Remortgage: This area is finally starting to see some life again, the rate drops are filtering through and many of the people on fixed rates taken out in 2005/2006/2007  are shopping around, as always new business attracts better rates than existing customers so there is once again an argument for switching.

However, the many people who took out trackers are basically out of the market in the long term as every single lender has removed tracker mortgages from the market, in fact, if you know of a lender willing …

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Survival of the weakest, only in Ireland.

If the State can’t organise a bailout effectively then what hope have they of running a bank? A simple and yet profound question: if the bankers who run banks for a living (many having survived the 70’s and 80’s) can’t find the answers then what hope have the state who have no track record in doing so?

This is not a simple situation, banks that survived the Great Depression have crashed and burned, given this, is it vital to save every bank? Is a bank going to make it even with a slush fund? Thus far I remain unconvinced.

Anglo Irish Bank was set to get a bailout to the tune of 1.5 billion Euro. This couldn’t be arranged in time to save the bank and they have been nationalised, the speed of their fall from grace tells us at least some basic facts:

Anglo were not the strongest bank in the bunch, I won’t get into balance sheets, loans, impairments or anything else, the mere fact that they fell first …

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The tipping point?

Today I am taking out the crystal ball, and asking it if these final weeks of December 2008 and the start of January 09′ are the tipping point of the greatest bear market since the 1930’s. The recession is huge, there has been billions in wealth wiped out, we passed the one trillion mark last month, the total is expected to be over 1.5 trillion USD in total.

The question is, how low will the path of this bear market go? [note: this is about the stock market and not the Irish property market] Central banks around the world are chopping rates, forming bailout packages and doing all possible to get the economy back on track. Today we will consider some of the reasons that we may be actually seeing the start of a tipping point.

I believe the trend will be that we saw what amounted to the greatest financial crash in modern history in nominal terms. The fallout in Q4 only escaped the ‘crash’ moniker (but ‘worldwide financial crisis’ doesn’t exactly have a …

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ECB cuts rates to 2.5% – tracker mortgage interest rates benefit.

Tracker mortgages are a mortgage that is tied to some form of base, be it the ECB base rate or the Euribor, in residential lending it tends to be the ECB in commercial it tends to be the Euribor. Today interest rates were reduced by a further 0.75% giving a new base rate of 2.5%, which is the lowest it has been since March of 2006,the Euribor is now at 3.743% and will see the base rate drop filter through in the coming days.

Commercial loans tend to follow the Euribor, specifically the 3 month money which banks actually tend to use to finance most of their operations. The way that banks operate is to sell long term but finance short term. This is where they create their margin and its based on the yield curve, part of the problem in the last 12 months was a yield curve inversion which made lending difficult and was a …

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Best mortgage interest rates for first time buyers

The current market is heavily weighted in favour of the buyer and for that reason we have seen more first time buyers interested in finding out how much they may qualify for, albeit that they may not plan to buy any time soon, many people still seem to be holding out for the ‘market bottom’, and naturally we don’t know when that time is, will be, or was (because it could have been last week, only time will tell), it is only with hindsight that the actual bottom can ever be accurately identified.

Another reason is that there are expected rate cuts coming, the next will be delivered at the 4th of December meeting of the ECB next Thursday. Many potential buyers are thus going to wait to see what kind of drop is delivered, if Trichet indicates that another may be in the pipeline it will have a strange effect of causing the inverse of what monetary policy is intended for.

The question we are getting recently is ‘what …

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Mark to Market valuations.

This is an exerpt of Steve Forbes talking about mark to market valuations and some of his feelings on the markets as well as where we are set to go from here. He makes the argument that mark to market is a bad idea and that we should use traditional methods of cost & depreciation because the market skews valuations to strongly at a time like this.

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Stepstone Mortgages, Another Irish Sub Prime lender bites the bullet.

When IIB launched their sub-prime lender ‘Stepstone’ the plan was for them to be the inverse of what The Monkeys sang about, they would be your ‘stepping stone’ towards financial stability, they looked specifically at clients who were recently self employed and therefore wouldn’t have 3 years of accounts, people who wanted to refinance who may have had arrears, and other standard specialist lending clients.

Now Stepstonehave joined the slowly (but disturbing) list of Irish Banks to close their doors for business. This means that the Irish financial industry will have to face up to the reality of unsteady world money markets in an ever more local perspective, it’s no longer happening ‘over there in the US’ or ‘across the water’ anywhere else, its up close and personal, especially for the people who were made redundant this week. I feel bad for them, they all did a great job and they were certainly not behind the decision to close up shop, it will also decrease competition in the industry as the number of …

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