Commercial Loans and Fun Blog

Economics - Will the Coronavirus Crisis Be the End of Democratic Capitalism?

Posted by George Blackburne on Fri, Mar 27, 2020

DachaYou need to pay special attention to this article, especially if you intend to retire in the next fifteen years.  The current stock market rally is just a temporary reprieve against the irresistible power of the second big decline (of three) in the US stock market.

The current Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, gets a call from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, "Hey, Fed Chairman Powell, the economy is on the verge of a complete collapse.  Would you please convince the Governors of the Federal Reserve Board to buy $2.2 trillion of newly-issued Treasury securities to fund the rescue of the U.S. economy?"  (Get your own dacha!  See below:)


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Of course, this move by the Treasury Secretary was absolutely required.  I am going on record as saying that a lousy $2.2 trillion will not be enough to reverse the Second Great Depression.  The Fed and the Treasury will eventually be required to fund a whopping $8 trillion to check the huge deflationary tidal wave crashing in from China.

This deflationary tidal wave from China will NOT be some effort by the "evil" Chinese to hurt America.  The deflationary tidal wave coming out of China will be caused by the fact that the Chinese economy got crushed by the Coronavirus Crisis.  The Chinese will be buying far less raw materials from the world and far fewer products from U.S. companies because they simply don't have the money.

When hundreds of millions of Chinese got quarantined in their homes, Chinese consumers lost their wages, and they stopped buying goods.  Chinese small business owners lost three months' worth of income.


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Chinese small business owners employ sixty percent of Chinese workers, and they have been absolutely crushed by the Coronavirus Crisis.  Even if their tiny businesses survived the collapse (many will not), they have burned through their savings.  Far from borrowing more money from their banks, these small business owners will be on a crusade to restore their savings.  

The last thing that a Chinese small business owner is going to do is borrow more more money from his bank to expand his business.  "Aye, there's the rub."  If a Chinese bank takes in a $1,000 payment from a Chinese small business, and it can't find a different business to accept a $1,000 new loan, a whopping $20,000 gets sucked out of the Chinese money supply (20:1 The multiplier effect works in reverse).

When the Chinese money supply starts collapsing like a black star, the Chinese will reduce their purchases of raw materials from the world by at least 50%.  Their purchases of finished goods from U.S. companies, like Apple, GM, and Tesla, will decline equally.


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Now to the point of today's article:

In order to stave off the Coronavirus Depression (notice the use of the term, "Depression,"), the Fed and the Treasury will fund this $2.2 trillion rescue plan.  Maybe it will be enough.  (Haha!  Just two-and-a-half trillion dollars will be woefully insufficient.  It will take at least $8 trillion.)

The Fed will end up buying up $8 trillion worth of new US Treasuries and other assets.  The economy will be temporarily rescued.  But here's the problem:


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Politicians like Andrew Yang will soon say, "The US government only sent you a lousy $1,200.  The rich kept the rest and partied in their dachas (see the pic at the top), with their mistresses, and drank expensive wines.  They could have sent each of you $3,000.  Elect me!"  

"No, that Andrew Yang dude is a scrooge.  Elect me!  I'll give you $4,000 per month."  "No, wait, I'll give you $5,00 per month."

Folks, we're screwed.  Back in 1811, a famous Scottish economic professor, Andrew Tytler, once wrote: 

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:  From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage;  From courage to liberty;  From liberty to abundance;  From abundance to selfishness;  From selfishness to apathy;  From apathy to dependence;  From dependence back into bondage.”


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Topics: Coronavirus

Commercial Loans and Some Coronavirus Funnies

Posted by George Blackburne on Wed, Mar 18, 2020


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Topics: Coronavirus, Funnies

Commercial Loans and the Second Great Recession (Another One? Yikes!)

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Feb 18, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 6.16.19 PMI have not included many funny memes today.  Instead, I need for you to appreciate just how deserted are the streets of Shanghai, a city of 24 million.  Guys, these pictures are NOT of Wuhan.  They're pictures of Shanghai, the biggest city in China!

Obviously, if the coronavirus gets loose in the United States like its already loose in China, the U.S. economy is going to crumble.  A lot of people - especially old 'gomers like me with a bad heart or with bad lungs - will be too afraid to go outside.


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Please pay attention!  

If your father and mother are over the age of 55, and they have a fairly serious pre-existing health condition, you may have to ground them for three or four months.  "Go to your room!"  This disease is killing well over 35% (50%?) of these older folks with pre-existing health problems.

This disease starts in the lungs, where it starts killing the cilia - the active little hairs in your lungs that work like oars to stir and to clean out the good mucous that protects your lungs.

In response, the immune system over-reacts (called an Immune System Storm) and floods the lungs with white blood cells.  The patient starts to drown from his own immune system response, and breathing becoming increasingly difficult.


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In many cases, the coronavirus also attacks the walls of the blood vessels in the lungs, and blood starts to seep out from the arteries and veins into the lungs, further drowning the patient.

In about twenty percent of cases, this evil virus moves on to attack the liver, and it interrupts the blood cleansing process.  Not good.  Seriously not good.  And if the disease moves on to your father's or mother's kidneys, the fatality rate is over 91%.

The good news is that younger adults seem to survive the infection.  I read today that in China, doctors are collecting plasma from young adult survivors and giving it to the very sick.  It seems to help.  Your own children?  Don't be reckless, but very few young kids are getting the serious version of this disease.  Thank God for that.  Thank you, sir.  Source for all this medical stuff:  Article in the National Geographic.


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So, of course, if the coronavirus runs rampant through the United States, the economy is toast; but today I am going to make the argument that even if the coronavirus stays predominantly in China, the U.S. may still suffer another Great Recession.

Pop Quiz:  

Q:  What's the difference between a Great Recession and an outright economic depression?

A:  In a Great Recession, the Fed intervenes and keeps the banks from failing.  That was the huge mistake that bank regulators made in the 1930's.  We let 9,000 banks fail during the Great Depression - 4,000 in just 1933 alone.


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Okay, so why would an economic slowdown in China crush the United States?  Once again, it involves the multiplier effect kicking into reverse.  You will recall from earlier articles that the multiplier effect is that virtuous cycle whereby a $100 deposit into a bank increases the country's money supply by a whopping $2,000.

In a world of fractional banking, a bank only has to keep a fraction of its deposits on hand in the form of cash, and it is allowed to lend out the rest.  Therefore, if Bank A takes in a $100 deposit, it only has to keep $5 in reserve.  It can lend out the remaining $95 at a profitable interest rate.

The proceeds of this $95 loan end up eventually as a deposit in Bank B.  Bank B keeps $4.75 in reserve (5%), and lends out $90.25.  This money eventually ends up in Bank C, which keeps 5% in reserve and lends out the rest.  And so on.


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The end result is that a whopping $2,000 in new money is created from that single deposit of $100.  Twenty-to-one.  One divided by the Reserve Ratio demanded by the regulators.  1 / .05 = 20.  

Wow.  Pretty cool, huh.  But here's the problem.  The multiplier effect can sometimes work in reverse, thereby destroying vast amounts of a nation's money supply.  

Money then becomes tight, businesses fail, workers are laid off, resulting in fewer consumers, reducing demand, lowering prices as companies desperately try to sell their products at some price.  Lower prices means lower profits, squeezing the budgets of the surviving companies, resulting in more company failures, more layoff's, and a general circling down the economic drain.


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Now let's jump to China.  Wong Chiang builds and sells parts for electric scooters.  Fearing an economic slowdown due to the coronavirus, Mr. Wong decides not to replace much of his inventory of scooter parts (they might just collect dust on the shelf), so as existing scooter parts sell out, Mr. Wong stops borrowing more money on his inventory line of credit from the bank.  In fact, he starts to substantially pay down his line of credit.

Shanghai Bank, his bank, receives  a series of loan pay-downs from Mr. Wong totaling $100,000.  Since Mr. Wong refuses to borrow more money, Shanghai Bank looks around for some other borrowers to whom it might lend; but it has no takers.  Every other business owner in the Shanghai area is equally freaked out about taking on new debt.

Guess what happens?  Since the reverse multiplier effect also works at 20:1, Mr. Wong's $100,000 loan pay-down results in the Chinese money supply shrinking by a whopping $2,000,000!


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And other Chinese businessmen are also probably paying down their debt right now in anticipation of a recession.  The Chinese money supply has to be contracting right now like the tailpipe of a man about to get a prostate exam.  Hahahaha!  In order to convince older men to get prostate cancer exams, there was once a terrific commercial showing a doctor wearing one rubber glove.  "I have performed 2,332 and a half prostate exams."  Some poor guy apparently ran out screaming from the exam room.  [Oh, my goodness, laughing my tush off.]  

With billions of yuan also flowing back to Chinese banks in the form of normal monthly loan payments, the Chinese money supply must be contracting severely right now (20:1).  This is extremely deflationary.  

Could we see U.S. commercial real estate fall by 45% again?  If this epidemic drags on more than a few more months, then the answer is yes.  


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But wait, why does a contracting Chinese economy mean that the U.S. will soon go into a deflationary recession as well?  Think about all of the products that we sell to China.  Our exports to China will definitely be declining. 

And let's talk about U.S. manufacturing.  Parts.  Our factories will not be able to get all of the Chinese parts they need to manufacture their own products.

Millions of Chinese are still not back to work after their Chinese New Year vacation.  The Chinese Communist Party has closed thousands of factories in order to slow the spread of the virus.  Over 50 million Chinese are effectively in quarantine in their own homes.  Travel by private car in Wuhan was just banned today.


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Is there any hope?  The coronavirus does not like heat, humidity, or sunlight.  There is some hope that the disease may burn itself out in the Spring; but there is no guarantee.

What can you do?  Avoid taking on new debt.  Stay liquid, including keeping some extra cash at home.  Build up a supply of food.  People are starting to go hungry in Wuhan.  There were food riots at the supermarkets in Shanghai this week, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from Wuhan.  Got a gun?  Should you buy another one for your wife, each of your older kids, and your dog?  I think so.  

Dog and cat food.  Some desperate Chinese people have been forced to hurl their sweet dogs and cats from twenty-story buildings because they were competing for the family's dwindling supply of food (and there was unfortunately an erroneous rumor that dogs and cats were acting as a reservoir of the virus).


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Toilet paper.  I kid you not; there was an armed robbery in China yesterday where the perpetrators stole a huge shipment of toilet paper.  "Hey, man, did you get the goods?  Yes, we got ten pallets of toilet paper."

But here is some good news.  I no longer think the Chinese will be starting a war against us in less than four years.  This epidemic must be traumatizing the Chinese people.

The year was 541 A.D.  The Western Roman Empire had already fallen to the Visigoths; but the Eastern Roman Empire, headquartered in Constantinople (modern day Turkey), would survive for another 850 years.  The Bubonic Plague, carried by fleas, was a pandemic that wiped out much of the population of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, as well as that of the Persian Empire.

What I never knew until yesterday was that a horrible economic depression followed the Plague of Justinian (the Roman Emperor in 541).  Just sayin'.


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We may soon be going through an economic poop storm, and if we do, the banks will quickly exit the market.  Please remember that Blackburne & Sons is NOT a mortgage fund.  If you are invested in a hard money mortgage fund right now, get the heck out immediately.  There is nothing worse than being invested in a hard money fund when the sponsor fails.  You'll be lucky to recover 25 cents on the dollar.  

Instead, Blackburne & Sons quickly assembles a new and different syndicate to fund every deal.  There are always private investors willing to fund a good loan, even when blood is running in the streets.  It's simply a matter of interest rate.

Blackburne & Sons was in the marketmaking commercial loans, every single day of the S&L Crisis, the Dot-Com Meltdown, and the Great Recession.  

Commercial lending is all about relationships.  Were you smart?  When the everything was peachy keen, did you bring your good hard money deals to Blackburne & Sons, or did you foolishly try to establish a relationship with some hard money mortgage fund that will be out of business in the next nine months?  

Most hard money mortgage funds are Ponzi Schemes.  When new deposits stop flowing into the fund, and the sponsors lack the dough to make new loans and earn new loan fees, hard money mortgage funds fold like a cheap suit.  But Blackburne & Sons will still make you a commercial real estate loan - every single day of the Coronavirus Crisis.  We are always in the market.


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Topics: commercial loans, Coronavirus

Corona Beer Virus

Posted by George Blackburne on Fri, Jan 31, 2020

Google has reported a growing number of searches on the "Corona Beer Virus."  I'm serious.  It got to the point where the makers of Corona Beer had to make a public statement, "No relationship!"  Hahahaha!


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I am actually taking this pandemic very seriously.  Although only about 20% of infected people get seriously sick with pneumonia, the ones who are dying are the men, over the age of 55, with heart issues (like me).  Geesch, I just retired, and now I could die in two months.  So, this weekend, during the Super Bowl, be sure to tell your Dad that you love him.  

This is a bona fide pandemic, and the death count among the old and the weak just keeps rising.  I've seen a number of videos this week showing people in Wuhan collapsing and just lying there, either dead or near-death, in the street.

Today I will share what steps I have taken to prepare my family for potentially a year of captivity inside in our home.  Yes, I have lots of funny memes today; but in truth this is no laughing matter.


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My buddies and I are going to see the movie, 1917, this weekend.  I couldn't imagine going "over the top" during World War I into the face of machine guns.  What a horrific waste!  In 1916, at the Battle of the Somme, the cream of England went over the top and ran towards the German machine guns.  The week-long artillery barrage was supposed to have taken out the enemy machine gun nests and trenches, but in many cases, it didn't even take out the barbed wire.  The British suffered 60,000 casualties (approximately the same number of people who will be attending the Super Bowl) in the very first day of the attack.

The reason I mention this is because the Spanish Flu killed more people in 1918 than had been killed on both sides in four long years of the war.  Fifty million people people were killed by the Spanish Flu worldwide between 1918 and 1920.  So yes, this coronavirus is potentially serious stuff.

But what can you do?


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By now I am sure you have seen the video, recorded by a nurse in Wuhan, detailing how last week they already had 90,000 people stricken with the coronavirus.  Last week, a different nurse, in a heart-wrenching video, suggested there were 100,000 sick.

And this was six days ago.  With the virus spreading almost exponentially, Heaven only knows how many people in China are truly sick.  Clearly the Chinese are grossly understating the number of sick people.  If you think that this disease can still be contained, you've been smoking too much of that Colorado oregano.  The genie is not just out of the bottle, he is flying to every country on earth.  You literally have just four to six days to prepare.

But what on earth can you do?  My advice is next.


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The first thing you need to do is to go out and buy a ton of food.  Food-food-food.  Hong Kong announced today that their scientists had developed a possible vaccine; but they warned that it will not be available for over a year.  Not only do they have to do about ten months of testing and clinical trials, but it will take many months after that to produce the vaccine in any serious quantity.

You may therefore need enough food for you and your family to last for at least a year.  Wuhan residents reported yesterday that the city is running out of food.  In the 2011 movie, Contagion, there were food riots.  Of course there were riots.  If your children are hungry, a parent will do anything.  You do NOT want to be out and about, looking for food, when other similarly-desperate people are on the prowl.  

The second thing you will need is face masks.  It is important to understand that normal surgical disposable masks face will NOT protect you against airborne viral particles.  The viral particles are too small, compared to the gaps in the cloth of the mask.  Also, these surgical masks fit poorly, and virus particles simply enter through the gaps around the nose.


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So why are two-hundred million Chinese wearing surgical face masks?  Surgical masks prevent you from touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth.  Did you know that humans touch their mouth or face three to five times per minute?  Therefore if you can miraculously find any surgical face masks still on some store shelf, you should buy as many as you can.  They're cheap, and I think you're only supposed to use them one time.  If their primary purpose is to keep you from touching your mouth, however, they should still provide important value after twenty uses.

The face mask you really want is the N95 respirator used by painters, available in hardware stores like Lowe's.  These respirators capture as many as 95% of all airborne particles.  I think they are precise enough to screen out the virus.  If you can find one, the N99 respirator is even better because it screens out 99% of all airborne particles.

The next thing you need is weapons.  In the movie, Contagion, there is a scene where the hero, Matt Damon, hears gun shots coming from the house next door.  It is a particularly disturbing scene because all you see are gun flashes coming out of a dark house.  Everything is left to your imagination.  Then you see four guys in ski masks running out of the house with goods in their arms.  Sooo disturbing.


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Indiana is a pro-gun state, and we have some of the easiest carry permit laws in the country.  My wife and daughter recently applied for a carry permit, and the permit was granted in less than ten days.  (I was shocked.  Mine took almost a month last year.)  Then I took my wife to the gun shop, filled out a pistol purchase application, and it was approved online in just three minutes.  No waiting.  No cooling off period.  We walked out with an 8-round, 9mm, Smith & Wesson automatic with a grip safety.  In other words, it has no safety switch.  Merely grasping the gun in the normal way depresses a lever in handle and makes the gun capable of firing.  Like I said, that gun flashes scene in Contagion was very disturbing.

Did I mention that you will need lots and lots of food?

Here are some additional items to consider:  Toilet paper!  If the stores are sold out, looted, or boarded up, where are you going to go for toilet paper?  Flashlights, batteries, and candles.  It's not impossible that the power might go out at some point.  Surgical gloves and hand sanitizer.  You will want to sanitize your hands every time you go out.


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The hospitals in Wuhan are so overwhelmed with patients that officials are now telling most people to stay home and fight the fever with aspirin and ibuprofen.  (Don't a lot of kids with a fever die if given aspirin?)  You therefore may probably want to stock up on some ibuprofen and aspirin.

Gasoline!  You will need gasoline to get your VERY sick family member to the hospital.  In Wuhan, the gas stations all closed down early in the crisis, and many of its citizens lacked the fuel to rush their loved ones to the hospital.  Therefore, you should keep your cars topped off with gas.

If you look at any of the videos coming out of Wuhan, you will notice that all of the nurses and doctors are wearing some sort of eye protection.  In one video smuggled out of Wuhan, a young man mentioned that the disease can enter the body through the mucus membranes of the eye.   I have no idea if this is true, but I purchased some cheap painter's goggles from Lowe's yesterday.


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Dog and cat food!  You don't want to eat Fido and Miss Fuzz Buckets because you are running out of food, and they are eating your declining supplies.

I fear that a global pandemic is inevitable.  I suspect that it will be nowhere near as bad as the Spanish Flu; but we could still lose a few million people worldwide.  More importantly, however, your life is almost certainly going to be interrupted.  There may be a shortage of food.  Stores and gas stations may close.  Hopefully the power and water stay turned on.  (Yikes, what do you do with all of the poop if the water stays off?)

I urge you not to wait until the last minute to do your emergency shopping.  Even if you start today, many of you will be unable to find face masks.  And the food stores may be cleared out in an afternoon once the panic starts.  The Chinese stock markets have been closed for several days already, and the U.S. stock market is down 400 points right now.  The country is waking up to the risk that we are going to lose some old people, and life for the rest of you is going to become quite inconvenient.


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Topics: Coronavirus