California Tax Refunds To Be Delayed

The state of California, the 9th largest economy in the world, is having liquidity issues of its own. Faced with a shortfall in taxes, it under-budgeted by nearly $42 billion. The government said it will have to delay issuing tax refunds. In fact, according to Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state could run out of cash by February.

According to the AP News:

California’s controller says he will begin a 30-day delay on tax refunds and other payments starting Feb. 1 because the state is running out of money.

Controller John Chiang said Friday he must delay $3.7 billion in payments next month because lawmakers have failed to address California’s growing deficit.

With a $41.6 billion shortfall over the next year-and-a-half, the state is on the brink of issuing IOUs.

Chiang says his office must continue education and debt payments but will defer money for tax refunds, student aid, social services and mental health programs.

A severe drop in revenue has left the state’s main bank account depleted. The state had been relying on borrowing from special funds and Wall Street investors; those options are no longer available.

California Properties Overvalued By 40%

According to Andrew Blackman of Bloomberg:

Californian homes are overvalued by as much as 40 percent and stricter lending standards will probably contribute to “material” price declines, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

Prices in the state “have proven surprisingly resilient, given the severe curtailment of credit availability and rising unemployment,” the analysts said in a note to investors. “However, we believe that a downturn is imminent.”

In August, the median price for houses in California was $589,000, though economic conditions only support prices of $350,000 to $380,000, the analysts said. The average U.S. home is 13 percent to 14 percent overvalued, the report estimated.

For the past 2 and half years, I’ve been harping on about how over-priced California real estate is and how the National Association of Realtors is completely clueless about real estate cycles, valuations and trends. Here’s a funny video about David Lereah who wrote a book “Are you missing the real estate boom” right at the peak of the cycle in 2005. Lereah is Chief Economist of NAR. (Hey, maybe I should apply for that job!)