Regarding President Obama’s White House job summit held on December 3rd of 2009, irrespective of the debate outcomes on what kind of green, pink or blue jobs to create, the 64 thousand dollar question is still how to come up with additional money to fund new jobs creation and create new economic stimulus. It is the greenback, not the green jobs, that is going to get us out of the current economic problems.
Beating the dead horse on pushing for more conventional bank lending through private sector or tapping more taxpayer’s money may only push us into a vicious cycle of further unscrupulous lending, over-leveraging and increased political risk sooner or later. Perhaps it is time to think outside the box for an innovative solution out of the current conundrum. Capitalism has always survived its own excesses and abuses through repeated innovations. This time around, it should be no different.
With that being said, I would like to revisit the subject again on how property owners could use SwapRent transactions to create jobs and generate new economic activities at local community grassroots level as an alternative that will not incur any further debts for our federal or local governments or inadvertently make Wall Street fat cats even fatter.
Since this new alternative housing finance system is not based on a lending concept but rather a tradable co-ownership equity financing concept to help our nation de-leverage, it does not have to rely on a low interest rate environment to be effective to create jobs and to stimulate our nation’s economic growth. Therefore, once a SwapRent market has been established, the Fed or central banks in other countries could raise rates at any time as they see fit in order to prevent growing further asset bubbles, to fight potential inflation or to save the value of the US dollar without having to worry about its potential impact on hurting the chances of an economic recovery.
The relevance to job creations is the part in the proposed SwapRent book chapter that talks about how entrepreneurs could create new monthly income by willingly giving up partial future appreciation of their homes which may or may not be realized by the horizon date (e.g. 2, 3, 5, 8 or 10 years) given the current economic situation. The entrepreneurs could then use these pooled new monthly cash flows to hire people or make new investments at the grassroots level. However, this concept would be much better explained and executed in the broader context of how the government could use SwapRent transactions to accomplish these economic stimulus goals as more fully explained in that chapter.
All the government needs to do is to encourage and facilitate the current risk holders of those legacy mortgage assets to be very generous in the design of the initial monthly subsidy income scheme so that local property owners and other normal small business owners feel it is too good a deal to pass. Based on pure free market principles, the more people there are in the “targeted neighborhoods” to sign on to this new program the more likely the local property markets and the local economic prosperity will indeed recover and the more likely free market based investors will step on each other’s shoulder to rush to inject fresh new fund into the local communities directly through this new free market mechanism. As a result the more the SwapRent contracts will appreciate in value due to the property market recovery that will reward the initial monthly subsidy providers. As described before, this new economic concept of a farming approach to wealth creation is indeed a self-fulfilling prophecy in the true spirit of capitalism. The more you sow, the more you’ll reap.
Wealth creation by enhancing property value in this manner is by no way creating asset bubbles again. Low interest rates will. Bubbles are created when buying interests were created from using borrowed money where owners have an on-going obligation to service debts. The SwapRent approach by nature is based on a tradable economic version of the shared equity financing concept. Equity financing means that owners do not have any interest burden of debts. Therefore asset wealth value created this way is not like leveraging created asset bubbles made up of hot air that are usually doomed to burst, the analogy could be more like igneous rocks cooled from molten lava. This is simply the inherent more stable nature of equity financing vs. debt financing.
Homeowners who see the signs of an imminent swift recovery will think twice about their earlier plans to walk away. The only way for homeowners to feel that they should not purposely make a strategic default and walk away seems to be to somehow make them feel that they might be missing out on a swift recovery if they do walk away.
If the government itself is the stake holder, it would be an excellent opportunity to use the TARP fund for the purpose of providing the initial monthly subsidy through the SwapRent transactions. The initial offerers of these monthly subsidies to homeowners through these SwapRent contracts, whoever they may be, could later sell these appreciated SwapRent contracts to other free market investors to get their money back. This economic concept is not unlike what the Government had successfully done to use TARP money to rescue big banks by asking for a warrant of the equity of the bank they provided money to last year. SwapRent contracts executed at REIDeX make possible and facilitate practicing these similar economic concepts on homeowners and property owning small business owners by providing a precise quantitative pricing methodology, standardized operational procedures and a secondary trading marketplace.
Pension funds and insurance companies could be the ideal long-term investors as the economic landlord investors to provide the monthly subsidy cash flows to either credit worthy homeowners or property owning small business owners in the farming approach to wealth creation since they normally would have more longer term liabilities to match. Those mortgage risk holders that had provided the initial monthly subsidy cash flows could resell the SwapRent contracts to these institutional investors. These SwapRent contracts could enhance their portfolio returns and reduce unnecessary risks over the long run from being able to further increase portfolio diversification due to the new found ability to treat residential real estate as a separate investable asset class. This is because of the fact that SwapRent rates would make this new asset class a yield bearing commodity. Of course they would be free to sell these SwapRent contracts again to any other free market based investors located both domestically and around the world at any time as well in the secondary SwapRent marketplace in order to either take profit or cut loss. This would open up the window to attract world-wide capital to flow into our country for home equity financing, the same way the stock market has brought equity capital to our corporations and also how GSEs have brought world-wide debt capital to our home financing in the past.
The key new economic concept for this proposed program to work well is to change from an ideological focus on preferential rescue treatments for distressed homeowners that causes moral hazards to a “free market based swapping of a part of future appreciation for a generous current monthly income cash flow” offer which is open to all property owners and targeted at a few specific high concentration foreclosure-infected neighborhoods that the banks have exposures to.
As the property owners who do not even need any additional monthly income from swapping a part of future appreciation of their own properties also get motivated due to greediness since they do not expect the property market would appreciate by horizon dates anyway (e.g. 2, ,3, 5 or 8 years, etc.) given the current economic conditions and the lack of prudent government policy, these additional monthly income would become their discretionary disposable income that would make them the ideal consumers with a new found consumption power to purchase the goods and services from the small business owners in the local communities.
As also mentioned before, a 100% ownership of future zero appreciation by horizon date is still zero, a partial shared 50% ownership of future 20% or 30% appreciation of their own properties driven by the new fresh capital injection into local communities induced by the SwapRent program will translate into a 10% or 15% gain for them. It seems a much better deal. Meanwhile with the new swapped current monthly income streams they could enjoy the additional flat screen TVs purchased at local malls, lease another new electric hybrid car from local car dealers or eating out more at local restaurants. Wouldn’t that be the American way as usual without piling up any more debts?
In a sense, the more participation by local property owners to the SwapRent program the more additional fresh new capital would be injected into the local community through the new economic landlord investors. That is exactly the reason why this SwapRent program has to be open to all property owners to participate, not just for the distressed homeowners. Let the free market forces rein and the economic prosperity will happen.
Credit and taxpayer’s money may not be the only ways to finance our country’s economic growth. Aside from the current monetary and fiscal policies to manage economic growth, the new outside the box solution could be a tradable economic version of home equity financing. Just think about what economic benefits a stock market has brought to corporate financing through its ability to attract world-wide capital. It is hard to imagine what our world would have been like without the invention of a stock market for corporations.
With this realization, the roles and economic functions of a SwapRent contract and REIDeX that were originally created to accomplish for home financing were purposely made to perform the similar roles and economic functions that a stock certificate and the stock market have already accomplished for corporations for centuries.
When these new tradable equity based home financing objectives have been met, residential real estate properties will soon join corporations to become the dual engines of economic growth of our capitalism society, one for small business and the other for big business. Home financing through debt alone can not make that dream happen, as has been clearly illustrated by the current crisis. Without the stabilization factor of equity, debt financing only creates boom and bust cycles. Therefore instead of a policy of continuing to push banks for more credit at this very moment to repeat what brought us here, it may make better sense for our government to consider helping the private sector entities look for new ways to increase the equity-based home financing.
The best way to make this de-leveraging process happen smoothly is perhaps through the debt-for-equity swap concept built in the SwapRent transactions and facilitated through the new HELM consumer product in order to help homeowners keep their homes, small business owners create jobs, consumers continue to spend and investors contain losses on mortgage assets all at the same time in this all-in-one single effort to ensure a speedy economic recovery for our country.
Again, this proposed SwapRent program could be operated on top of any other plans already in place or currently in the pipeline. It is only supposed to be complementary, not competing with any other homeowners rescue or economic stimulus plans. There are also no conflicts with other plans.