While today's Case Shiller data was widely disappointing across the board, indicating a significant slowdown in price gains (and on a sequential seasonally adjusted basis, practically a decline), the one market we paid particular attention to was San Francisco. What we found is a red flag for everyone waiting to time the bursting of the latest housing bubble. Because after an unlucky 13 months of posting consecutive 20% Y/Y price gains, the San Francisco bubble appears to have finally burst, posting "just" an 18.2% price increase, the lowest since January of 2013.
While we will have much more to say about the price dynamics in the West in a follow up post, where the Western housing market appears to be appreciated right now is in the just released New Home Sales report, which showed that in May new home sales soared by a whopping 18.6%, orders of magnitude above the 1.4% increase expected, and resulting in some 504K new houses sold, far above the 439K expected, and certainly above the downward revised April print of 425K. What caused this surge? Simple: the West, which saw a 34% surge in new home sales, from 97K to 130K, the highest one month jump since February 2013.
There is a reason why Case-Shiller titled its summary presentation of the April housing market based on its 20-City Composite index "Rate of Home Price Gains Drop Sharply." The reason is simple: in April the housing market, while still preserving some upward momentum, appears to stumbled severely in April, with the Y/Y increase in the 20-City composite rising "only" 10.8%, down from 12.37% the month before, and the lowest annual increase since April of 2013. And this time there is no snow to blame it on.
Moments ago the NAR released its May data, which on first blush was widely lauded as bullish: the topline print came at a 4.9% increase, rising from 4.65MM to 4.89MM, above the 4.74MM expected. Great news... if only on the surface. So what happens when one drills down into the detail? As usual, we focused on the last slide of the NAR breakdown, located at the very end of the supplementary pdf for good reason, because what it shows is hardly as bullish. So how does this "housing recovery" in which the NAR has proclaimed the "sales decline is over" look on a granular basis. The answer is below, and it is even worse than the April data.
While California is by far the most vibrant market when it comes to the most expensive segment (at +6%, the highest in the nation), it is shambles when it also comes to the two lowest price buckets, both of which blow out any myth of a recovery for the "non-1%" out of the water, with a collapse of 40% in sales in the $0-100K range, and a 20% plunge in the prime $100-$250K market (the Median existing home price across the US in May was $213,400).
S&P 500 futures are jumping exuberantly as Japan and China PMIs print above expectations and back in expansion territory (Japan best in 3 months, China best in 7 months). This is China's best 2-month PMI rise since Oct 2010 (which makes perfect sense amid the collapsing housing market and CCFD ponzi probe) - which provides the perfect propaganda meme that targeted RRR cuts workl. However, while stocks don't care to scratch the surface, there are 2 glaring similarities that could become a problem. Both China and Japan saw employment drop (Japan's first in 11 months) and furthermore both China and Japan saw input prices rise and output prices decline - not exactly the margin expansion dream everyone is hoping for... and all this as China's Beige Book shows the slowdown deepening on most pronounced quarter-on-quarter drop in 10 quarters of surveys.
Simple overview of the week ahead.
Goldman Sachs, like most of the mainstream economists believes today's FOMC statement will likely be "broadly neutral" with no indication of sooner rate rises than expected (despite what we have noted as the timing not being better), some modest upgrades to the economic outlook (to keep the "everything's good and you don't need us anymore" meme alive), and continued taper at the same pace (with maybe some acknowledgemnet of the transitory pop in inflation). UBS, on the other side, suggests there is a chance of some FOMC surprises with Janet Yellen pulling a semi-Carney as Citi's Steven Englander has previously noted "the Fed needs more volatility in order to maintain its illusion of omnipotence."
We discussed earlier that China does not have the capacity to feed itself as it simply doesn’t have enough fertile land in production to support its population’s growing food demand. Theoretically this is fixable. With a bit of time, patience, and technology, barren soil can be rehabilitated In other words, China doesn’t have enough enough productive land capacity to support its population. But the far greater issue is China’s massive freshwater deficiency.
it is suddenly not fun being a Fed president (or Chairmanwoman) these days: with yesterday's 2.1% CPI print, the YoY rate has now increased for four consecutive months and is above the Fed's target. Concurrently, the unemployment rate has also dipped well below the Fed’s previous 6.5% threshold guidance, in other words the Fed has now met both its mandates as set down previously. There have also been fairly unambiguous comments from the Fed’s Bullard suggesting that this is the closest the Fed has been to fulfilling its mandates in many years. Finally, adding to the "concerns" that the Fed may surprise everyone were BOE Carney’s comments last week that a hike “could happen sooner than the market currently expect." In short: continued QE here, without a taper acceleration, merely affirms that all the Fed is after is reflating the stock market, and such trivial considerations as employment and inflation are merely secondary to the Fed. Which, of course, we know - all is secondary to the wealth effect, i.e., making the rich, richer. But it is one thing for tinfoil hat sites to expose the truth, it is something else entirely when it is revealed to the entire world.
A month ago, using the latest UK housing data from Rightmove, we asked a simple question: whose housing bubble is bigger: China's, or the place where increasingly more of China's $25 trillion in bank assets are being parked: the UK (specifically London). Using then available data, the answer was still a toss-up, even if the divergence in directions was quite clear. Earlier today, we finally got the official data from the UK's Office for National Statistics, and we politely retract our question, as rhetorical as it may have been. The reason: there is no contest - the UK's housing bubble has officially slammed China's, and the result is nothing short of a knock out.
Disappasionate overview of what to expect from the 2-day FOMC meeting that begins today
Stick A Fork In Yet Another "Housing Recovery": Starts Tumble, Multi-Family Permits Collapse Most Since LehmanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/17/2014 09:11 -0400
Blame it on the... spring?
- Iraq Army Tries to Roll Back Sunni Militants’ Advance (BBG)
- Starbucks to Subsidize Workers' Online Degrees (WSJ)
- ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Calls Rich to Tax-Free Tropical Paradise (BBG)
- Medtronic Is Biggest Firm Yet to Renounce U.S. Tax Status (BBG), Medtronic to buy Covidien for $42.9 billion, rebase in Ireland (Reuters)
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- Putin Seeks Paris Landmark as Hollande’s Russia Ties Defy Obama (BBG)
- GM Says It Has a Shield From Some Liability (WSJ)
- BOJ’s Bond Paralysis Seen Spreading Across Markets (BBG)
It's one of those days: despite the Iraq conflict spilling out of control and about to involve US drones and warplanes, despite China's naval conflict with Vietnam over an oil rig in disputed territory set to go "kinetic" at any moment, despite the Ukraine civil war having its deadliest day yet this weekend and adding insult to injury Russia halting gas supplies to Ukraine (letting Kiev and Berlin fight for the scraps), despite crude prices rising ever higher and about to unleash a "discretionary income" shockwave on America's summertime motorists, despite yet another massive tax inversion M&A deal in which the buyer has made abundantly clear its stock is overvalued and will be used as the purchasing currency, stocks are inexplicably not at all time highs this morning.