I want to punch this guy in the face. Why? Not because he was an idiot with his finances and is a portrait of all the stupid individual manoeuvres made over the last few years - tho' he's certainly that - but because he's a New York Times financial reporter who actually reported on all these kinds of stupidity while he was emulating them. Honesty's nice and all, but EDMUND L. ANDREWS is an idiot, and should never work as a financial reporter again. Seriously, read it, it has it all; liar loans, multiple refinances, automatic withdrawals(!) from credit cards in response to bouncing cheques, idiotically frivolous spending - and as of right now, he's living in a house rent- and mortgage-free for the last eight months because his latest bank is so far behind in processing restructuring applications that they still haven't even got to him!
Punchings. Lots and lots of punchings.
US consumer sentiment rose in May "on a rosier outlook," says Marketwatch, or, on buying into the bear-market rally, says me. Well, that, and falling prices - the biggest drop in 54 years - will make people happier, until and unless a deflationary cycle really starts to eat people.
There's a neat contradiction in polled perceptions and reality, however; take this from the CNBC version of the Reuters story:
"Consumer confidence rose in early May as consumers became increasingly convinced that the economy is in its final stages of contraction, and paradoxically, that their personal finances would remain dismal and keep their spending at reduced levels for the foreseeable future," the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said in a statement.Neat, huh? The typical poll respondent is saying essentially, "The economy's going to start getting better now for everybody but me. My sitation is getting worse, and I expect it to keep getting worse. Externalised optimism of this sort is kind of a new one on me.
Confidence remained shaky overall however, with the majority of consumers in early May reporting their financial situation had worsened due primarily to income declines, shorter work hours and lost jobs, according to the survey.
Oh, and credit card defaults set another new record in April. Citigroup's charge-off rate hit an annualised 10.21%, Wells Fargo hit 10.03% (also annualised, as these all are), JP Morgan Chase and Company hit 8.07%, Discover's hit 8.26%.
GM announced its dealership cuts today - 1,100 across the US on the GM label, another 470 from cutting Saturn, Saab, and Hummer. Mergers will bring the total cuts to 2,600 for GMC as a whole; add in Chrylser's closings and you're looking at about 100,000 in job cuts.
If you want some bear pr0n, by which I mean economic bear pr0n, check out Marc Faber on CNBC and John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital, the latter calling for a DJIA - yes, DJIA - of 1,000, also on CNBC. Bill Spiropoulos argues back that jobless claims are falling - and they're still below April peaks - which is the counter-argument. Idly, the atmosphere right now feels a lot like 1930 - everyone optimistic and thinking it's about wound up, but, well.
Mish expects oil prices to drop as Chinese storage capacity is reached. Russia's economy, already reeling from oil price drops, will not like that. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's economy contracted at the worst rate since 1955 in the first quarter, down at an annualised rate of 6.5%. Germany and Italy both set modern decline records, leading Europe down in the last quarter.
Today's another FDIC Friday. Florida expects to see at least one bank seizure today. We'll find out, and I'll eta this later if appropriate.