The Scary Reality of the Student Loan Bubble in 5 Charts
The explosion of the student loan bubble could lead to the next financial crisis in the United States, says a new federal report -which highlights the growing problem in these alarming new charts.
As of 2012, about $1 trillion was tied up in student loans – more than the total amount of credit card debt in the nation, the report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said.
The majority of the student loans are backed by the federal government, which means the public bears most of the risk associated with student loans.
And those loans are looking riskier by the day.
The Debt Ceiling 2013: How We Got Here, What Could Happen
A new twist to investing and financial planning is averting travesties that the government itself created; first it was the fiscal cliff, now it's the debt ceiling 2013.
The debt ceiling is a part of the way government has to go about doing its business.
However, both sides of Washington have come to use the full faith and credit of the United States of America as a bargaining chip – and the consequences are huge.
But it wasn't always like this.
Debt Ceiling Bill Intensifies Budget Pressure on Congress
The debt-ceiling showdown took center stage on Capitol Hill today (Wednesday) as a crucial vote on a Republican bill gave the Treasury the green light to borrow a fresh stash of cash until May 19.
The Republican-controlled House passed the bill by a 284-144 margin.
It now moves on to the Senate, where it is expected to pass quickly without any changes.
Senate Democrats are expected to back the plan even though they have been hesitant to support any short-term debt ceiling fix, maintaining it creates additional uncertainty for businesses and families.
"I'm very glad that (House Republicans) are going to send us a clean debt-ceiling bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV.
The measure would go from the Senate to U.S. President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly said he will not wrangle over the debt ceiling and will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
Pleased with the results, the White House added a "but," saying it would have liked a longer- term solution.
While the legislation looked extremely likely to make it to the Oval Office, there is still a chance it could get tangled up in Congress, given a controversial provision in the bill.
The legislation includes a divisive rider aimed at coercing Senate Democrats to ink a long-term budget deal. The "no budget- no pay" provision would withhold pay for members of Congress until a sustainable deal is agreed upon.
"It's not a slam dunk. But the main thing is that the Republicans will cave on the debt ceiling. So we're now just arguing over the details," Greg Valliere, chief political strategist for Potomac Research Group, told CNN Money ahead of the voting.
The Debt Ceiling Isn't What Worries Warren Buffett
Investment guru Warren Buffett isn't sweating the debt ceiling as much as he is some of the country's other issues.
Buffett this weekend said the $16.4 trillion in debt the country has collected is not the number on which everyone should be focused.
"It is not a good thing to have it going up in relation to GDP, that should be stabilized, but the debt itself is not a problem," the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) told CBS' "Sunday Morning" this weekend.
Buffett said the country's debt is a "lower percentage of GDP than it was when we came out of World War II. You've got to think about in relation to GDP."
Here's why debt-to-GDP is what Buffett watches.
U.S. Debt Ceiling: Government "Borrows" Pension Funds to Avoid Default
The U.S. Treasury, in order to avoid default, has resorted to an eyebrow-raising move: it has borrowed from the federal employee pension fund as the country nears its debt ceiling.
The U.S. government stopped investing in the federal employee pension fund Tuesday "to avoid breaching the statutory debt limit," according to a letter Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent to Congress.
Geithner said that the move will free up some $156 billion in borrowing authority, while policy leaders in Washington wrangle over raising the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
Geithner promised the fund would be "made whole once the debt limit is increased," and maintains that federal employees and retirees would not be affected by the action.
But an IOU from the federal government isn't very settling for those relying on the fund for retirement.
Soaring Spanish Bond Yields Another Hit to Growing Eurozone Debt Crisis
Investors today (Monday) have been selling on news that Spain might need more bailouts as its 10-year yield reached a record high.
Spanish bond yields reached a record high of 7.56% and the latest unemployment rate sits at a miserable 24.6%.
Global stock markets plummeted Monday after Spain's borrowing costs soared on a third consecutive day amid concerns that an intensifying recession in the region would require Spain's government to request a full-fledged bailout.
The fresh worries come on the heels of a report Friday from the Valencia region, revealing that its economy would contract by 0.5% in 2013 instead of 0.2%, as had been forecast.
Spanish bond yields broke the critical 7%-mark last Thursday, a level many analysts worry could eventually alienate Spain from public markets and force it to seek a bailout similar to its ailing neighbor Greece.
"Those levels indicate that Spain may soon struggle to fund itself in the market and therefore unless some positive action is taken, the country will need a full bailout," Gary Jenkins, managing director of Swordfish Research told the Associated Press.
The deeper worry rattling markets worldwide is that with so many of its 17-member nations needing bailouts, European finance ministers will have a tough time finding funds to rescue an economy as large as Spain. Spain is the region's fourth-largest economy after Germany, France and Italy.
Why an Italy Bailout Package is on the Way
An Italy bailout package is likely to be the next costly move in the spiraling contagion.
Italy on Thursday held its first bond auction since European finance ministers came to Spain's rescue, willing to give the ailing country up to 100 billion euro ($126 billion) to shore up its beleaguered banks.
The auction raised a heap of concerns.
Italy's borrowing costs soared following a Treasury sale of 4.5 billion euros of debt, including 3 billion euros of its 3-year benchmark bond that yields a lofty 5.3%. That was the highest yield since December and an increase of nearly 1.4 percentage points from the last sale just a month ago.
In addition, Fitch Ratings reported May 23 that foreign ownership of Italian debt slipped from 50% in 2008 to a current 32%.
"I think Italy could well be a problem, because its current government isn't very good and has no legitimacy, having been imposed by the EU – and it hasn't cut spending as it needs to," said Money Morning Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson. "I'd put it a few weeks away though – market's focused on Greece and Spain at present."
Why the Eurozone Debt Crisis Never Really Went Away
How many times have we been told the Eurozone debt crisis is resolved, only to have it turn up again like a bad penny?
Last year's string of good news/ bad news on the Eurozone debt crisis had the markets going up and down like a yo-yo until the routine grew so tiresome that most people stopped paying attention.
But while the crisis faded into the background, it never really went way.
Remedies that were sold as solutions haven't solved a thing.
The celebrated bailouts of countries like Portugal, Ireland, and especially Greece have served mainly to postpone real solutions that would be far more painful.
"The Eurozone politicians in their infinite wisdom have concluded that it is easier to prolong the agony than to take their medicine," said Money Morning Chief Investment strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
In fact, the Eurozone debt crisis is getting worse.
Collective debt among the 17 member nations is on the rise, having increased from 85.3% of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2010 to 87.2% last year. That's the highest level in the history of the Eurozone.
Unemployment in the Eurozone rose in March to 10.9%, up from 10.8% in February and 9.9% a year ago. Manufacturing also declined last month, as new orders fell for the 11th month in a row.
And the austerity imposed on the troubled PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) to bring their budget deficits and debts under control have actually made the situation worse.
"It's done no good at all," Fitz-Gerald said of the Eurozone's efforts to deal with the debt crisis. "It's an absolute travesty."
The steep and sudden cuts in spending are pushing most of Europe back into a recession, which will eventually be felt here at home.
Subprime Student Slaves: The Lowlife Trap of Higher Education
"And the strong to seem to get more
While the weak ones slave
Empty pockets don't ever make the grade
Mama may have, and Papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own."
We can thank the late, great Billie Holiday for those lyrics. And we can thank our higher education system for giving "the child that don't his own"a chance to get some.
Some debt, that is.
Students, many of them adults looking to gain new skills, are being systematically ripped off and enslaved by schools and lenders, blinding them with hope about what a higher education can do for them while bilking them for billions in the process.
It's a dirty game, and a big one at that. You probably know, because you probably owe.
First, let me offer some insights on the market before I get to my indictments…
Why the Doom and Gloom?
So far, so good…as far as earnings season, that is. Three quarters of companies reporting, so far, have beaten Street expectations. And 81% have offered up better than expected revenue forecasts for the future.
So… why all the doom and gloom?
The Student Loan Bubble is the Next Subprime
Don't look now but there's another giant bubble out there. It's so big it rivals subprime.
I'm talking about the student loan bubble.
Recently, the outstanding volume of student loans passed $1 trillion. What's more bothersome is that the average individual amount owed by new college graduates has passed $25,000.
With college costs zooming upwards faster than inflation, this is rapidly becoming another subprime mortgage-like sinkhole.
Just like subprime, the problem is that people of modest means are being suckered by high-pressure salesmen into taking on too much debt.
The difference is that since student loans are government guaranteed and can't be released in bankruptcy, the burdens will be paid by the unfortunate ex-students and the U.S. taxpayer.
The standard justification for soaring higher education costs is a simple one.
The United States needs to maintain an educational lead in order for its wage levels to remain above those of its competitors.
I'm talking largely about emerging markets, which have been helped enormously by modern communications, making global sourcing much easier than it was.
There are two problems with this view.