Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”
Under normal circumstances, approving my mortgage application should be a no-brainer: High income, no debt, high credit score. The missus also makes a good income, has an almost-perfect credit score and has been working for the same business for 28 years.
But these are not normal circumstances.
Let me jump to the end: Yes, we got our mortgage. We put 20 percent down, bought a house that appraised for more than the purchase price and got a 3.25 percent rate on a mortgage that resets after seven years. We moved in last month.
But the process was surreal. Indeed, it was such a bizarre experience that I started hunting for explanations from people in the industry about why mortgage lending has gone astray. I spoke to numerous experts, many of whom spoke only on background. Today’s column is about what I learned.
By just about any measure, credit is tighter today than it has been in decades. Although former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s inability to refinance a mortgage is merely anecdotal, consider instead the gauge CoreLogic developed. It used 1998 as a baseline and considered six quantitative measurements to evaluate how loose or easy mortgage lending is. By those metrics, this is the tightest credit market for mortgage lending in at least 16 years.
The absurdities of my experience are worthy of its own rant, but rather than do that, I wanted to focus on what went wrong. The factors that led to the financial crisis were many, but let’s focus on three areas:
No, you are not going to die from Ebola. To quote a wag on Twitter, “More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.” But the latest scare does have a small positive: It provides me with yet another opportunity to lecture you about how incredibly dumb your lizard brain is….Read More
“We are in the business of making mistakes. The only difference between the winners and the losers is that the winners make small mistakes, while the losers make big mistakes.” -Ned Davis I began my career in finance on a trading desk. You learn some things very early on in that sort of…Read More
The bond market seems to have had its own flash crash this week. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond dipped briefly below 2 percent, as panicked equity sellers looked for a safe place to park their cash. Treasuries, of course, are the world’s option of choice, the safest and most liquid port during…Read More
Over the years, I have discussed how little I care for predictions (see “The Folly of Forecasts“). We have chatted about how poor Wall Street is at making forecasts, wondered why they keep at it and revealed the secret to making better predictions. But the bottom line is that you humans are terrible at forecasting…Read More
One of the things I like to do in all of my musings is to find some thing or person who is wrong about an investing-related subject, then trying to figure out where they went awry. On occasion, small pearls of wisdom can be derived from this analytical process, as in this discussion on narrative….Read More
The human capacity for making bad decisions about technology seems to be limitless. In many ways, this parallels bad approaches to trading and investing: Lots of unfounded rumors, emotional decision-making, poor risk-reward analysis, an inability to perform simple math. The spasms of technology silliness surrounding the iPhone 6 are just the latest in a never-ending…Read More
Another classic from Jason Zweig’s archives: On this day in 1988: Buy Stocks? No Way! hollers a headline in Time magazine. Wild horses couldnt’ drag me back into stocks. Rather than gamble in this market, I might as well go to Las Vegas, retail investor Curtis Beusman tells Time. Eleven months after last years…Read More