Today's chart of the day comes courtesy of Reuters Jamie McGeever, and it shows that based on a BofA analysis, US stocks have never in history been more expensive relative to the rest of the world, surpassing both the dot com bubble and the housing bubble.
With the number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs nearly 71% higher than it was a decade ago, and the average graduate leaving college with $29,400 in debt (crushing their hopes of leveraging up to buy that American Dream-creating house), President Obama has unleashed a double whammy of ideas in the last few days. Reducing mortgage insurance and cutting down-payment restrictions for FHA loans (i.e. providing huge leverage to segments of society to repeat the mistakes of the last housing bubble); and now, as The LA Times reports, President Obama says he is rolling out a plan to make two years of community college free, or nearly so, to every student across the country. Because it's "fair"?
Another quarter down, which means we can once again assess where the forward P/E multiple of the S&P stands relative to the previous two market bubble peaks.
Think Texas and Pennsylvania have a problem with plunging oil prices, don't look North. West Canada Select (Heavy) crude oil prices have collapsed to below $35 per barrel (the lowest since Feb 2009). This is a 60% plunge in the last 6 months and has left the industry stunned. While US rig counts have fallen for the last few weeks as the lagged response to falling prices finally catches up to reality, the Canadian oil rig count has never been lower for the first week of January. Will the Canadian housing bubble be next?
'... assuming equity prices rise by 10% this year, for their bond allocation to stay at 37% (same as of Q3 2014), US pension funds and insurance companies would have to buy $550bn of bonds in 2015."
In Canada, there seems to be a cult belief that housing simply will not correct. They are full on drinking the good old tasting real estate Kool-Aid. Canada has enjoyed many years of the global commodities boom and now finds itself contending with a market full of debt and inflated housing values. Short of oil rising back up to $80 a barrel or higher, Canada is likely going to face some short-term pain. The housing market is due for a correction.
If the tech mania was based on magic, and the housing mania was based on a supposed fact that was historically untrue, today’s mania is a mania of manias, interlinked and resting on premises that are patently illogical, contradicted by both the historical record and current experience. Those premises are: central planning works, government debt promotes prosperity, and economic growth stems from central banks buying that debt with money they create from thin air. On these premises rest manias in governments, their debts, and central banking.
"Every brick we can make has already been sold up to three months in advance – the UK brickmakers can’t supply demand at the moment," exclaims the CEO of one of Britain's largest brickmakers. With The UK's housing bubble spreading from London, The Telegraph reports that stocks of bricks have reached the lowest levels on record as homebuilders rush to take advantage of the surging demand for British property (which has seen realtors and economists worry is getting out of hand).
Should I buy a house in 2015? No one can answer that question for anyone else, but it seems prudent to ask the question in the context of an Echo Bubble in valuations that appears to be deflating and household income that is potentially at risk of declining further in a global recession that eventually impacts the U.S. economy.
Most of the “recovery” of the last five years has been fueled by cheap borrowed Dollars. Now that the US Dollar has broken out of a multi-year range, you’re going to see more and more “risk assets” (read: projects or investments fueled by borrowed Dollars) blow up.
Despite the widely held belief that 2015 will be the year in which a patient Fed finally begins to normalize rate policy, we believe the Fed has no possibility of withdrawing the stimulus to which it has addicted us. QE4 was always much more probable than anyone in government or on Wall Street cares to admit. A recession and a financial panic caused by sub $60 oil will significantly quicken the timetable by which the Fed cranks up the presses. When it does, oil could once again increase in price, along with all the other things we need on a daily basis. That should finally dispel any remaining illusions that the Fed could successfully land the metaphorical plane. More QE may minimize the damage in the short-term, but we believe it will keep us trapped in our current cocoon of endless stimulus, where we will slowly suffocate to death.
Banks and other financial entities have literally bet an amount equal to over SIX TIMES GLOBAL GDP on interest rates.
Having exuberantly reached its highest level since September 2013 last month (despite the total collapse in mortgage applications), it appears the ugly reality of the housing market has peeked its head out once again. As prices rose, existing home sales plunged 6.1% - the most since July 2010 (against an expected 1.1% drop) to 4.93mm SAAR (the lowest in 6 months). As usual there is an excuse for this carnage... NAR's Larry Yun blames the stock market (and rising home values). Quite a conundrum for the Fed...
It feels like a good time to review what we can expect when our government and its agencies attempt to create wealth out of thin air. We can see the absurdity and hubris of our policymakers who believe they can circumvent economic laws in the following excerpt from the “The National Homeownership Strategy: Partners in the American Dream”. This little gem which we are suggesting is the document that led us to the economic devastation from which we are yet to crawl out. "For many potential homebuyers, the lack of cash available to accumulate the required downpayment and closing costs is the major impediment to purchasing a home. Other households do not have sufficient available income to to make the monthly payments on mortgages financed at market interest rates for standard loan terms. Financing strategies, fueled by the creativity and resources of the private and public sectors, should address both of these financial barriers to homeownership." So what lesson did we learn the hard way? Looking around today, absolutely nothing.