From Charles Hugh Smith:
Central Planning has crippled the real estate market to "save" their core constituency, the banks.
If you were head of Central Planning (howdy, Ben!) and were tasked with crippling the real estate market, here's what you would recommend.
1. Choke the market and banking sector with zombie banks. Central Planning creates zombie banks in one easy step: it allows insolvent banks to mark their impaired "real estate owned" to fantasy rather than to market. This enables the banks to survive in a deathless state, propped up by free money from the Federal Reserve and lax regulations that enable fantasy accounting and all sorts of off-balance sheet trickery.
Zombie banks have no incentive to auction off their holdings of real estate with defaulted, underwater, or otherwise impaired mortgages, for having the market discover the price of these properties would immediately reveal the insolvency of the bank as properties it held on its books at (say) $400,000 were actually only worth $200,000. Since the mortgage is (say) $350,000, the bank would be forced to recognize a $150,000 loss (actually more with transaction fees, repair of the derelict property, etc.).
If the bank's entire portfolio of phantom-value properties was auctioned off or its price discovered by the market, the...
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