2012 February 10 | timiacono.com

Consumer Sentiment Stops Rising

For the first time in six months, the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index stopped rising, falling from 75.0 in January to 72.5 in the first of two readings for February. This follows a decline in the consumer confidence index last week, the first time that the other major gauge of the American mood has declined since last fall.

The current conditions component within the sentiment survey dropped from a lofty 84.2 in January to 79.6 in February while the expectations component fell from 69.1 to 68.0.

Recall that, while these readings are a great improvement from the lows seen last summer as elected officials were debating a debt ceiling increase, they remain levels more often associated with recessions than recoveries as depicted in this graphic from the St. Louis Fed. In fact, during the 2001 recession, consumer sentiment never fell below 80.

Rising optimism about an improving labor market was more than offset by higher gasoline prices (and perhaps the hangover of holiday credit card bills coming due), though higher prices at the pump didn’t show up in the inflation expectations survey as the one-year outlook for the rise in consumer prices fell from 3.2 percent to 3.1 percent while the five-year view of inflation rose two tenths of a percent to 2.9 percent.

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Friday Morning Links: Mortgage Deal Edition

Here are those mortgage deal links I mentioned in the Friday Morning Links post a couple hours ago. It was another one of those days when, in the process of collecting news stories for the links post, there was a virtual avalanche of reporting and opinions on what the Justice Department hath wrought with this deal.

A ‘deadbeat’ bailout – NY Sun
The Mortgage Deal: A Reality Check – NPR
Mortgage deal: What the critics say – CNN/Money
U.S. banks agree to $25 billion in homeowner help – Reuters
Settlement launches foreclosure reckoning – Washington Post
Why the Foreclosure Deal May Not Be So Hot After All – Taibblog
Why Millions Won’t Get Help From Big Mortgage Settlement – ProPublica
Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement – Naked Capitalism
Foreclosure Settlement Falls Short, Still Worth the Wait: View – Bloomberg
Is The Foreclosure Settlement A Shadow Bailout For Broke California – Zero Hedge
What the foreclosure settlement means for you – CNN/Money
Mortgage Settlement and Negative Equity – Calculated Risk
Robo-Deal Is All About Lowering Mortgage Principal – CNBC
Banks Not Off Hook With $25B Mortgage Agreement – Bloomberg
Mortgage Plan Gives Billions to Homeowners, but With Exceptions – NY Times
Florida Homeowners Find Little to Cheer in Deal With ‘Gangsters’ – Bloomberg
Mortgage Deal Props Up California House of Cards – Bloomberg
Cramer: This Mortgage Settlement Is Huge – The Street
Foreclosure Deal to Spur U.S. Home Seizures – Bloomberg
The Mortgage Settlement Is Fine – DealBreaker

I’d be lying if I said I’d read all of these (or more than a couple for that matter), but I intend to take a look here this morning. Just based on the headlines, it would appear that the deal is getting a mixed reaction.

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A Turn for the Worse in Greece

Well, it looks like yesterday’s version of the “deal” on Greek debt has turned out like all the others over the the years as lawmakers squabble about passing the latest round of austerity measures and European officials say even that won’t be enough. The image below from the Telegraph’s live coverage of the debt crisis sums up the situation nicely.

Financial markets are now a “sea of red” in advance of the 9:30 AM EST open in New York as violence is again erupting in Athens, striking workers unhappy with what the unions have dubbed a “tombstone” policy for Greeks society.

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Friday Morning Links

MUST READS
Debt crisis: live – Telegraph
Germany Says Greece Missing Debt Targets – Bloomberg
Greek uncertainty rises as Europe demands vote – MarketWatch
Greeks strike against austerity before crucial vote – Reuters
Railing against the ‘Fourth Reich’: Anti-German Mood Heats Up in Greece – Spiegel
Greek protesters, police clash as bailout deal in limbo – Globe & Mail

— SPECIAL MORTGAGE DEAL LINKS POST TO FOLLOW —

Campaign 2012: Billionaires to the rescue – CNN/Money
U.S. Postal Service Loses $3.3 Billion – Bloomberg
Iran paying for grain with gold, oil – traders – Reuters
A Very Different Take On The “Iran Barters Gold For Food” Story – Zero Hedge
Andover voters to decide on silver dollars for employee pay – Boston Globe
Bretton Woods: not the gold standard. – Edge of the West

MARKETS/INVESTING
Oil falls to near $99 amid Greek bailout talks – AP
Gold slips as waning optimism over Greece hurts euro – Reuters
Buffett Waxes Poetic on Gold and Other Asset Classes – Kid Dynamite
Special report: The twilight of the Bond King – Reuters
CME cuts gold margin by 12%, silver by 13% – Bullion Street
How high and low could gold, silver go in 2012? – Commodity Online
Chinese rebalancing likely to boost gold demand – Mineweb
Jeremy Grantham’s investing strategies for 2012 – CBS Moneywatch
The Bernanke gold trading strategy – MarketWatch
Stocks versus Gold and Bonds – Aleph Blog

ECONOMY/WORLD/HOUSING/BANKING
Feeling Better About the Economy – NY Times
People Are Not Leaving the Labor Force -NY Times
Elite Media Downplays Austrian Economics by Building Up MMT -Daily Bell
China economy shows strain as policy shift eyed – Reuters
In Europe, Stagnation as a Way of Life – NY Times
Hong Kong Sale Underscores Price Drop Concerns – Bloomberg
Japan’s Azumi Distances Himself From Yen Intervention Remark – Businessweek
Senate bill gives principal write-downs through shared-appreciation plan – Housing Wire
Analyst: Home prices will be last to recover – O.C. Register
Been Down So Long–Has Housing Finally Bottomed? – Capital Spectator
Goldman Sachs Kept Almost All of Mortgage Bonds Bought From Fed – Bloomberg
Fed Plays Wall Street Favorites in Secret Deals – Bloomberg

 
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