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Did the Federal Reserve collude with the big banks to hold millions of houses off the market until the Fed finished adding $1.25 trillion to the banks reserves? Did the Fed do this to make it appear that its bond purchasing plan (quantitative easing) was stabilizing prices when, in fact, it was the reduction in supply that stopped prices from plunging? It sure looks that way. This is from Bloomberg News:
"U.S. home foreclosures reached a record for the second consecutive month in May, with increases in every state, as lenders stepped up property seizures, according to RealtyTrac.Inc.
Bank repossessions climbed 44 percent from May 2009 to 93,777, the Irvine, California-based data company said today in a statement. Foreclosure filings, including default and auction notices, rose about 1 percent to 322,920. One out of every 400 U.S. households received a filing." (Bloomberg)
Inventory steadily declined during the period the Fed was exchanging cash-for-trash (toxic assets and non performing loans for reserves) with the banks. Now inventories have begun to rise again as the banks get back to business as usual, in other words, throwing people out of their homes. The sudden uptick in repossessions and property seizures coincides perfectly with the ending of the Fed's giant "no bankster left behind" program. Clearly, there must have been a quid pro quo.
What's so impressive about Bernanke's trillion dollar sleight-of-hand operation; is its utter simplicity. We're just talking "supply and demand" here, not rocket science. The banks agreed to cut supply (by temporarily stockpiling homes) while the Fed loaded them up with a cold trillion-plus in reserves. Meanwhile, John Q. Public assumed (incorrectly) that Bernanke's program helped to stabilize prices. It's a very ingenious deception worthy of a professional conman.
Readers may remember that quantitative easing (QE) was promoted as a way to increase lending to consumers and to keep interest rates on mortgages low. But that was all just public relations hype. Consumer lending contracted in the last year while interest rates on the 30-year mortgage have fallen since Bernanke's QE program ended at the end of March.
So what does it all mean? It means the public was snookered yet again. It also means that housing prices will fall further as banks dump more inventory on the market. How far prices drop will depend on how quickly the banks clear their shadow inventory which, in turn, depends on (secret) agreements they've made with the Fed and the other banks. Housing inventory is being released in drips and drabs according to an unknown plan. Some would call it price-fixing. Here's an excerpt from an article in the Wall Street Journal that says that there's a 9-year backlog of distressed homes:
"How much should we worry about a new leg down in the housing market? If the number of foreclosed homes piling up at banks is any indication, there’s ample reason for concern. As of March, banks had an inventory of about 1.1 million foreclosed homes, up 20% from a year earlier....