Star money manager John Hussman sees another wave of mortgage defaults coming, producing major pain for the economy.
The first problem is another wave of adjustable mortgage rate resets due to begin in late 2009 and continue through 2011, he wrote in a commentary to investors.
The second problem is “the increasing upward pressure that unemployment is putting on delinquencies (e.g. mortgages, credit cards, and home equity loans),” Hussman said.
As a result, “I am very concerned about the outlook for the economy in the coming year or two,” he said.
As for jobs, “It is very important to recognize that the increasing unemployment rate is likely to exert a different dynamic in this economic downturn than it has in prior downturns,” Hussman said.
That’s “because of the high ratio of household debt-to-income, and the high ratio of mortgage loan-to-value at present,” he said. “In normal downturns, unemployment does trigger a certain amount of loan losses, but the general tendency is for unemployment to behave as a lagging indicator.”
But, “In the current cycle, high debt-to-income and loan-to-value ratios create a situation where unemployment can easily be the trigger event for further defaults, and could therefore create a tendency for job losses to lead economic weakness,” he said.
Hussman isn’t the only expert bearish on housing. Yale economist Robert Shiller told The Washington Post that the market is "still in an abysmal situation."
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