When Gamblers Drive the Markets

At least someone is making money from this foreclosure racket. Bloomberg has the report, below.

But let’s not get distracted by envy. We need to keep our eyes on the ball. And right now, the ball is bouncing around in a room full of spikes.

There’s the prickly point of China; it could puncture the US stock market any day. There are huge banks and whole foreign governments sticking out like nails. Anyone of them could flatten this ball in a matter of hours. And what about that cactus thorn…the dollar itself? What if investors finally got tired of worrying about the greenback going down? What if they decided to get out en masse?

Or, imagine what would happen if Bernanke decided to defend the dollar!

But investors aren’t worried. They anticipate more loose money…and more bouncy prices in stocks and commodities.

So, when the G-20 meeting ended without an agreement, they took it as an “all clear” for further gambling.

Bloomberg‘s headline: “US Stocks Gain as G-20 Fuels Fed Easing Speculation.”

In other words, this market is not driven by real economic growth. It’s driven by the hope of fast, easy money. Pure gambling, in other words.

Not that we have anything against gambling. But when you gamble you have to realize that you’re going to lose sooner or later. A coin only comes up heads so often…there are only so many aces in the deck…and the “fool” in the game is sooner or later going to be you.

Investors believe the Fed will provide the fast, easy money. And they believe they will be able to get some of it by staying with stocks and commodities. Maybe they’re right. But don’t bet your life savings on it.

The promise of the stock market is fundamentally as fraudulent as the promise of the welfare state. The welfare state pretends to give citizens back more, in services and benefits, than they pay in taxes. Wall Street offers gain with no pain.

But the stock market – in total, over time – cannot really grow any faster than the economy itself. “Stocks for the long run” is a scam. Because you can only get from the stock market what you would have gotten from just about any other investment. As the economy grows, so does the value of the productive assets in it. Companies don’t grow faster – unless they are selling to other markets in other economies…or taking market share from companies. Overall, on average, you’re only going to get from stocks what the economy allows you to get – about what you would have gotten from having your money in real estate, collectibles, or other investments.

Sometimes you’ll get a bit more from stocks – even a lot more – as the stock market booms. Then, you MUST expect to get a lot less…so that the long-term performance of the stock market comes back in line with the underlying economy.

We can see this just by looking at the US stock market over the last three decades. It grew some 14 times from ’82 to ’07 – far outstripping the economy. But then, it needed to slow down…and even reverse. Over the last ten years, stock prices have gone nowhere. It wouldn’t be surprising if they dropped 30% to 50% from here… And it wouldn’t be surprising if they went nowhere over the next 10 years too.

Remember… Japan is the cutting edge market model. Japanese stocks hit a high in ’90. They’ve been going down ever since. Twenty years of correction…in order to bring it back into line with the economy.

The US stock market will do the same thing. More or less.

That ball is going to hit a spike…it’s just a matter of time.

And more thoughts…

Here’s Bloomberg with a happy report.

For Americans, the foreclosure crisis has wiped out fortunes, bringing destitution and homelessness. For Florida attorney David J. Stern, it has brought mansions, a Bugatti sports car and a luxury yacht.
Florida has the third-highest residential foreclosure rate in the US, and Stern, 50, has made a fortune off the bust. His foreclosure- processing business has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue preparing documents for the cases that his law firm brings on behalf of lenders seeking to reclaim homes from borrowers who can’t pay their mortgages.

Stern owns a $15 million mansion on an island in Fort Lauderdale, a $6 million beachfront condominium in the city, and a $6 million home in nearby Hillsboro Beach, according to property records. The mansion includes an adjoining property he bought in 2009 to make room for a tennis court and parking spaces, according to building records.

Cars registered under Stern’s name in Florida include three Ferraris, four Porsches, a Rolls-Royce, a Cadillac and the Bugatti, according to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He also owns a yacht, [Stern’s attorney, Jeffrey] Tew said.

“He started from scratch and has built a wonderful legal practice and has made a lot of money,” Tew said. “That’s the American dream isn’t it?”

One in 34 housing units in Florida was in the foreclosure process or bank-owned as of Oct. 1, the third-highest rate in the country, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc., which monitors foreclosure data. State courts have hired additional judges to hear foreclosure cases and clear the backlog.

Foreclosures processed by Stern’s law firm more than quadrupled to 70,328 in 2008 from 15,332 in 2006, according to the regulatory filing. Revenue from non-law-firm operations jumped to $199.2 million in 2008 from $40.4 million over the same period, the filing said. DJSP depends on the firm for case referrals, according to the regulatory filing.

Stern’s law firm received more than 6,000 new foreclosure cases a month and managed 100,000 at any given time, according to the filing, which is dated Dec. 28, 2009.

“David and foreclosure lawyers are foreclosing legitimate mortgages that are in default,” Tew said. “And yet, they have been successfully villainized.”

Poor Mr. Stern. Villainized! Just because he is making a buck on other folks’ suffering.

But thank God for him. Without him, what would those restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale do?

*** Meanwhile, the zombies continue to take over.

First, the latest from Baltimore. One out of every four people in the city lives on food stamps. Among children, the rate is even higher – 42%.

What a place! Half the population are zombies…

Remember, there are those who produce wealth. And there are those who live on the wealth produced by others – the zombies. As the zombie ratio increases, the quality of life and life expectancy of a community go down.

But at least Baltimore is not St. Louis. That hellhole has more than a third of its population on food stamps and nearly two-thirds of its children.

These zombies should learn how to process foreclosure documents.


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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