By Anwar Elgonemy
Skin in the Game is a new book about the bloody real estate cross roads where real estate and high-finance meet. The book is not a traditional textbook about real estate finance, nor is it one of the numerous post-mortem publications that have covered the intricacies of the subprime mortgage crisis.
As opposed to such treatises, I concentrate on the underlying fault lines in America’s financial system and its hard-hit real estate sector. By discussing these fault lines, the objective is to communicate the different ways in which we can lessen the probability of another purely real estate driven crisis, or mitigate its severity should it occur.
There are no heroes or manufactured villains in this book, nor are the vast swaths of characters, dates, plots, and events of the financial crisis minutely chronicled. Rather, I make the book an easy read, avoiding the tortured financial formulas and needlessly obscure descriptions, focusing instead on the unresolved problems of US real estate.
Skin in The Game walks the reader through the unresolved problems in the US property sector. Specifically, the following five lingering problems in American real estate are discussed in detail:
1. Misconceptions about housing
2. Negative home equity
3. Delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures
4. Commercial debt maturities
5. Private-label mortgage-backed securities
The book provides possible answers and solutions to the five unresolved problems, ending with a glint of optimism that the US will make a comeback only if its unresolved problems are dealt with properly.
Financial crises have happened before, and—if history is any guide—they will happen again. At some point, the real estate markets and the US economy will fully recover and be moving into another boom, which will most likely contain the seeds of its own downfall. This is not the view of a pessimist or a cynic.
The US financial system continues to suffer from excessive aggregate debt, weak growth in gross domestic product and employment, both results of calamitously off-the-mark assessments of real estate debt risk. Despite the attempted financial reforms by the US government, the American property sector still has significant unresolved problems and is unable to withstand a further deterioration in home values.
About the Author
Anwar Elgonemy draws on over twenty-five years of experience in real estate investments. Widely published, he has attained top-tier media coverage in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Time magazine. For more information, visit www.skininthegame.info