Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann coaches Kaleb Wesson (34) on the sideline in the second half of an exhibition win against Wooster on Nov. 5, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor for ContentThe Ohio State men’s basketball team (6-3, 1-0 Big Ten) has wind in its sails as it prepares to square off against its arch-rival Michigan (7-2, 1-0 Big Ten) in the Schottenstein Center Monday at 6:30 p.m.The Buckeyes came away with their first signature win of the season Saturday in an 83-58 blowout of Wisconsin (3-5, 0-1 Big Ten) in Madison, Wisconsin.This game against Michigan will round out what has been a challenging slate of games for the Buckeyes. They will finish a stretch of six games in two weeks, having already played against then-No. 17 Gonzaga, Stanford, Butler, Clemson and Wisconsin.The team lost three of the games over that stretch, including blowing back-to-back double-digit leads to Butler and Clemson, respectively, but head coach Chris Holtmann said he believes the commanding win against Wisconsin was a confidence boost for a team that started to lose momentum.“We’ll see how we finish this stretch, but certainly I’m pleased with how we responded [Saturday] and then we’ll see if we can just continue to build off of it really into the coming weeks,” Holtmann said.Scouting MichiganOhio State will be transitioning from facing a team that possessed more gerth and started two forwards in Wisconsin and three guards to a taller, slightly lankier team that starts just one forward and four guards in Michigan.Though the Wolverines are not as heavy as the starting five for the Badgers, they possess the higher rebound margin with 1.2 compared to Wisconsin’s minus-1 margin. Offensively, every starter on the team has proven capable of knocking down 3-pointers. Though junior guard Duncan Robinson leads the team with 22 successful makes in 61 tries from beyond the arc, all six of the players who have started for Michigan have at least 20 attempts and 10 makes from 3-point range. Michigan has attempted the 15th-most 3-pointers in the nation (246) and drained the 20th-most (87).On the other side of the court, Michigan has proven to be among the most vaunted defenses in the nation. Its 62.4 points per game allowed is 29th-fewest in the nation, and its 66 steals rank 42nd-most.Holtmann views Michigan as a lock for the NCAA Tournament already at this early stage in the season and a team that will provide Ohio State with plenty of challenges in its attempt to end this stretch of games on a high note.“Their ability to spread you out, to make shots, to play downhill in transition, to play inside-out and their length,” Holtmann said. “They’ve got good size, good positional length. They’re just across the board a really complete team that’s no question one of the best teams we’ve played all year.”A key matchup in the game will come down to the battle at center between Michigan forward Moritz Wagner and Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson. Wagner leads Michigan in points per game (15.6) and rebounds per game (8.4) while serving as the team’s lone starting big man. Wesson, on the other hand, has been filling in at center for injured center Micah Potter.Since becoming the starter, Wesson has double-digit points in four of the five games, including a career-high 19 his last time out against Wisconsin.Holtmann said Wesson has done everything asked of him so far and has held his own against some tough matchups. Starting opposite Wagner, a player Holtmann described as a “future NBA player,” he will have to continue to prove he is ready for this next challenge in his true freshman season.“There’s things we feel like he can continue to improve in, but man he’s given a great lift coming in with obviously the injury and the depth issues we have there,” Holtmann said.Micah Potter health update:Wesson will have to continue his strong play at center for the Buckeyes because Potter will be out a little longer. Holtmann said Sunday that Potter’s ankle injury, though not from season-ending, is probably going to force the team to temporarily shut down the sophomore for the foreseeable future until he can fully heal.“He wants to get back. We desperately want him back in the lineup and we need him. He was obviously playing really well before he got hurt,” Holtmann said. “But with ankles, it may be the right thing to just kind of let it heal, limit anything he does until he is completely confident in his strength.”Ohio State has been largely without its starting center for the better part of the past five games. During the team’s fourth game of the season, Potter injured his ankle and was forced to leave the game having played in only 13 minutes. He missed the next game against then-No. 17 Gonzaga. Against Stanford and Butler, he played in just 10 minutes combined and missed all of the game against Clemson. He played just three minutes against Wisconsin.
The residential real estate market is confusing. On the ground, the stats remain ugly. Twenty percent of American homeowners are underwater, meaning they owe more on their homes than they’re worth. For these people, their home is a ball and chain limiting their mobility and opportunities. And a constant reminder of a bad financial decision. But in the media, it’s a different story. And on reality TV and rich neighborhoods in New York or San Francisco, it’s as if 2008 never happened. A San Francisco realtor wrote in a letter to SFGate: “Television shows brought real estate into our living rooms and made the buying, selling, flipping and preparing of properties a national pastime. As a Realtor, I feel like a celebrity at times when I go to parties with people asking questions and fascinated by aspects of my work. This certainly was not what I expected when I started in this career.” Realtors feeling like celebrities? That’s heady stuff. And now a celebrated Wall Street housing analyst is calling the new home market by the n-word. “Nirvana is not far around the corner,” Ivy Zelman, Institutional Investor Analyst Hall of Fame Member, told CNBC this week. Zelman grinds the numbers everyone looks to in the homebuilding space. With her bullish outlook and face for TV, we’ll be seeing plenty more of her. The comely brunette doesn’t hedge her opinions. “I think we’re going to see things rip when we see the weather thaw and customers coming out.” Shortage of Homes? Ms. Zelman insists there is a shortage of available product for buyers to choose from. She’s probably getting her intel from the likes of Pulte Homes CEO Richard Dugas, who says business will be good because of “low interest rates, a limited supply of new and existing homes, and an ongoing, albeit modest, recovery in the broader economy.” However, they’re both missing a crucial point. Supply only seems restricted because of a kink in the foreclosure fire hose, which prevents houses from gushing onto the market. Mortgages were furiously bought and sold during the boom to satisfy Wall Street’s hunger for mortgage-backed securities. These mortgages were transferred electronically through MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems). All was well and good with this until borrowers stopped paying and lenders wanted to foreclose. That’s when innovative finance banged up against a legal system that in most jurisdictions was accustomed to paper-and-ink assignments. Judges wanted proof that mortgage assignees had the standing to foreclose, and in many places, the lack of old-school written assignments impeded that process. So we’re left with an unknown number of foreclosures languishing in the pipeline, just waiting to hit the market. Also, states like Nevada and California have passed “homeowners bill of rights” legislation, forcing lenders to jump through numerous hoops before they can start foreclosure proceedings. And of course in states with judicial foreclosures (where the court dictates the foreclosure timeline, not statute), the process can take years. In other words, the notion of “limited supply” is merely an illusion. Real estate attorney Shari Olefson, the author of Foreclosure Nation, says banks are pocketing a “slew of shadow inventory.” She gives the example of a bank foreclosing on a $200,000 mortgage, knowing the home is only worth half of that. The bank will then hold the home—at that inflated value—on its books. Why? First, because it hopes the market will come back. But more importantly, the bank needn’t recognize the loss until it sells the unit. Once upon a time, bank accounting wouldn’t have allowed such nonsense. But in the wake of the financial crisis, the American Bankers Association lobbied the Financial Accounting Standards Board to change accounting rules FASB 157, 115, and 124. These changes allowed banks greater discretion in determining prices for certain types of illiquid securities on their balance sheets. That’s how a bank can say a $100,000 house is worth $200,000 and get away with it. Drowning A whopping 9.3 million Americans are still underwater 25% or more. And as interest rates rise, these people aren’t going to stick around to pay even more into their equity-draining homes. They’re likely to walk away. Seven states have underwater percentages well above the national average. It’s no surprise that over 30% of homes are underwater in sand states like Nevada, Florida, and Arizona. But the Midwest is struggling too, with Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio all having about the same percentage of mortgages underwater. Certain cities have it even worse. Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa, and Chicago each have negative equity percentages between 33% and 41%. Despite this financial devastation, the 20-city Case-Shiller Housing Index for December is up 13.4% from a year ago. Since March 2012, the Index has risen 24%. That’s one of the scariest parts: though prices have improved considerably, homeowners are still way underwater. For example, homes in Las Vegas now fetch 43% more than in March 2012. But 41% of mortgages there still remain deeply underwater (defined as 25% or more). It’s a similar story in Orlando, where prices have jumped 20% last year, but 36% of the area’s homes remain underwater—and Tampa, with 35% of underwater mortgages, despite home prices rising 25% since March 2012. Yet even with this massive shadow inventory hanging over the market, builders are bullish on providing new housing. “What we hear from builders right now, they did not have enough communities to meet demand in 2013,” Zelman said. “They were caught by surprise by the surge in demand, so they didn’t have enough developed lots to open up new communities. This year they caught up, they’re very prepared, we’re going to have double-digit increases in new communities.” Builders are never shy about providing supply. Nirvana? Historically, Americans, no matter their income bracket, spend half their incomes on housing and transportation, Derek Thompson notes in his piece titled America’s Weird, Enduring Love Affair with Cars and Houses. Interestingly, that high percentage is unique to the US. Thompson wonders about the ramifications if Americans began to spend more like the Japanese, Canadians, or Brits, who spend much more than Americans on culture, food at home, and alcohol, instead of houses and cars. “It would be rocky for the real estate and auto industries who have come to rely on a steady stream of spending,” Thompson writes. Well, guess what? “This isn’t a vision of the future. It’s a description of the way a lot of young people live today,” he explains. Maybe that will pass when the recession does. Except while everyone knows we’ve been in a recession since December of 2007, the government says the downturn ended in June of 2009. On average, “official” recessions have hit the US every six or seven years in the US since 1947. The clock’s ticking, as 2009 is already five years in our rearview mirror. Predicting when the next “official” recession will hit is impossible. The point is that sooner rather than later, the economy is actually going to get worse than it is now. That won’t be great for selling homes. When realtors are rock stars and analysts call a market “nirvana,” we’re near a top. The top of a market built on the flimsiest foundation of false scarcity. New supply, a worsening economy, and higher interest rates will bring about a fall. Thankfully, it won’t be from the heights of 2006. But it will be anything but nirvana.
In This Issue. * Greece completes homework assignment. * N.Z. inflation expectations slip below 2%. * China to accumulate more Gold than world produces! * Gold and Oil both slip below psychological figures! And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts. It’s The Janet Yellen Show, Today. Good Day!… And a Tom Terrific Tuesday to you! The Eagles song: Wasted Time greets me this morning. I hope that’s not an omen for today’s letter. HA! I’ve been up a few times during the night, so right after I finish this, I’m going back to bed. The trials and tribulations of your Pfennig scribe is not what you signed up for, so I’ll cut to the chase and get with the task at hand! Speaking of hands, mine are better this morning. I apologize for scaring anyone yesterday, I should have been more upfront with what I was dealing with. I do believe my hands had an allergic reaction to special cream that Kathy gave me to put on them because they were all dry and cracked. A couple of days, and they should be back to their normal fat fingers and hands! Well, it appears that Greece passed their homework assignment, and has gone home now with an extension of 4 months to their current loan agreement, with their tails between their legs. All that talk about, “no more austerity” got shoved down their throats, and they had to accept it, or go home broke with the only prospect to leave the euro. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Greece, along with Spain, Italy and Portugal (Club Med) probably get down on their knees at night and thank their lucky stars they are a part of the euro. To leave the euro would be a mess of biblical proportions, and I’m sure the Greeks now know that because if it were going to be an easy process, they would have opted for the easy process long ago! The currencies pretty much all fought back VS the dollar as yesterday went along, but have given up the fight overnight, and gone right back to doing the rope a dope in the ring with the dollar. It’s all about Janet Yellen’s testimony on the economy today, folks. And right now, those that are making the calls on how the currencies trade, are of the belief that Yellen will snuff out those dovish thoughts from last week’s Meeting Minutes, and sound very hawkish today. That will be, as far as I’m concerned, a good trick, given how dovish those comments were last week. But, she’ll paint a pretty picture for labor, the cheap price of Oil fueling the economy, and sprinkle some magic dust on the lawmakers and they’ll all leave with smiles on their collective faces. When I just typed those words, magic dust, my mind did a flashback to the old Cheech and Chong skit about Santa Claus, and how he sprinkled magic dust on the reindeer to make them fly, and he would sprinkle some on the reindeer, and some for himself, and some more for the reindeer and a little more for himself. Funny stuff! So, in case you were wondering. that was my changeup this morning, for I was beginning to get all heated over the Yellen testimony today. But I’m calmed back down now, so we carry on, my wayward son. A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote the Sunday Pfennig, and we brought back the Currency of the Month, I received quite a few email responses and blog site responses with requests for the next Currency of the Month. I was surprised by one person’s request to highlight the Malaysian ringgit. I don’t believe I’ve talked about that currency, since the early 2000’s when the Malaysian Gov’t put currency controls on the ringgit. Same scenario for the Indonesian rupiah. And since these currencies are not liquid, and have controls placed on them, we don’t deal in them, and if we don’t deal in them, I don’t talk about them. You see, over the years, I’ve found it very frustrating when a pundit would write about an investment, but when you called your investment house, they wouldn’t do that asset, or trade, or strategy, etc. So, what good was it to write about it? I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused. One of our old colleagues, Ann Hopkins, used to love to hear me do my Steve Mizerany voice. Steve was an old appliance store owner that did TV and radio commercials and had this very distinctive voice, and he would say, “don’t be confused!” And that’s why I talked about this, tying back to not wanting anyone to be confused! If you’re from St. Louis, you are probably laughing right now, hearing Steve say, “if you ain’t sleeping on water, you oughta” A few months ago, I read a short book on Myanmar, which used to be Burma, and how the country was opening up. I thought to myself, “self, this looks like an opportunity to get in on the ground floor”.. So I sent out feelers for trading opportunities in the currency, the kyat. But I was told by the currency dealers I dealt with that I was too early to the party, that there was no official liquid market there. Darn the luck! Just another example of an illiquid market that would round out our Asian offerings just fine! Well, China is still on Holiday for their Chinese New Year celebrations. They end today, but for us, there’s still no movement in the renminbi / yuan with the country closed for the celebrations. It seems quite strange not having news stories and economic data, and updated numbers on Chinese physical Gold accumulation every day. I did see an article that was written about how China is now accumulating on an annual basis, more physical Gold than what the world produces. You may recall me talking about this possibility last week, and then this story came to me from dear reader Bob, and I thought. Hmmm, somewhere out there, is someone that read the Pfennig, and decided to do some investigative homework. Good for you, whomever you are! So, if that thought is true, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, how is China doing that? Well, they simply are buying supply from other holders that has been held for years, to add to the amount of physical Gold they import and produce themselves. One of these days, Alice, it’s going to come to light what their intentions were, accumulating all this Gold. And they have to be smiling like the Cheshire Cat these days, with Gold cheaper again. Yes, Gold remains below $1,200 this morning, and the price of Oil has slipped below $50 again, thus highlighting the fact that traders are all on board with thinking Yellen will be able to reverse the damage of the dovish minutes last week. So. all the risk today is on her testimony and the idea that she might now swing so hawkish. What happens if she reinforces the dovish thoughts from last week’s minutes? That’s when reporters and writers and TV guys all start calling Chuck and asking for an interview, because I was one of the few that said there would be no rate hike in June. As If! Reporters don’t call me any longer, they have fresh minds to pick these days. I don’t mean to sound bitter there.. no wait, maybe I am! Oh well, move along Chuck, you don’t want to get caught up in the quagmire that this could create. So, speaking of the price of Oil slipping again. I read an article in the local paper here on Sunday, and of course forgot to talk about it yesterday, so here I am today with it. the article talked about the Oil Refinery strike at the largest refinery in the U.S., located in Port Arthur, TX, that started last Friday, was going to lead to other refinery strikes. So, that could be a real road block to cheap gas prices folks. not as if the cheap gas prices were the manna from heaven to the economy that everyone thought they would be. But, eventually they would be, I think. just maybe too little too late.. The New Zealand dollar / kiwi is getting whacked this morning, as overnight the latest survey of businesses put the inflation expectations at its lowest reading (1.8%) since 1999. In the second QTR of 2014, N.Z. inflation reached a cyclical high of 2.36%, but it’s been a downward slope since. But isn’t that why the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) hiked interest rates in 2013 and 2014? 2% IS the target for the RBNZ. and apparently, those rate hikes worked! But now, with inflation below the target, the rate cut campers are crawling out of the floorboards and spreading all over, and that has spooked kiwi holders and traders. This is crazy folks! The RBNZ works to get inflation below the 2% target, and achieves that goal, only to have rate cut campers explode on them. UGH! If it’s not one thing it’s another thing with the poor beleaguered kiwi.. Well, did you hear the news? There’s good rockin’ at midnight! No wait! The news I’m talking about came courtesy of the WSJ last night and talks about how JP Morgan Chas is preparing to charge institutional customers for some deposits. The bank talks about how new rules make holding money for the clients as too costly. Uh-Oh. first it starts with “some deposits” for “institutional clients” and eventually it trickles down to “all deposits” and then “all customers”. I sure hope this kind of thing doesn’t catch on with other banking institutions. Another WSJ story overnight was about how U.S. officials are investigating at least 10 major banks of possible rigging of precious metals markets. You may recall that the European officials began a project like this only to scrap it after finding no wrongdoing.. So, I’m sure this will be much like that outcome. no harm, no foul. but then the officials in Europe were the 3 blind mice! HA! In another follow up from my Sunday Pfennig of two weeks ago on the pound. One of the Bank of England’s (BOE) members and their most hawkish member, Weale, was talking about interest rates and all that, when he calmly mentioned how” the risk of a fall in the pound because of the concern for the balance of payments remained substantial” That’s one of things I focused on in my Sunday piece. the Debt problems in the U.K. weighing on the economy and their ability to administer normal monetary policy. The pound has perked up a bit in recent days, but its ability to move higher now might have had a roadblock placed in front of it, by Mr. Weale’s comments.Gold is still trading below $1,200, and doesn’t look like it has the Oomph to mustard a rally. But, if Yellen goes dovish on us today, Gold could rally again. Otherwise, it’s another Turn down day. Do you remember that song by the Cyrkle? It’s a turn down day, and I dig it. Here’s some cocktail party trivia for you. The Cyrkle was the opening band for the Beatles! The U.S. Data Cupboard is chock-full-o-data today. It all gets started with the S&P/ CaseShiller Home Price Index. That is followed by the Markit Composite PMI (services and manufacturing), and then the relatively stupid Consumer Confidence Index. and a regional manufacturing index from Richmond. And that’s all followed by the Yellen Testimony. Yesterday’s Data Cupboard, had some very weak Housing Data. Existing Home Sales fell 4.9% to a nine-month low of 4.82 million units in January from a revised 5.07 million units in December.. The markets had expected 4.95 million units in January, so not only did the January number of units sold disappoint VS December, but also disappoint VS expectations. And the Feds are thinking of hiking rates? Seriously, right? For What It’s Worth. This past Sunday, we posted titled: What’s Going On With Oil? And in it we made an error, so here’s our mea culpa. In this past Sunday’s edition of the Daily Pfennig® newsletter, “What’s Going On With Oil?”, we erroneously reported that most shale producers needed oil to be above $140 a barrel to make shale drilling worthwhile, and our loyal readers let us know about our mistake. We apologize for the inaccuracy and did additional research. Citing information obtained from the industry source www.energyglobal.com (https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2031/IMG673.jpg” alt=”last_img” />