Weather-crushed January saw seasonally-adjusted Case-Shiller home prices - and as a reminder Case-Shiller expressly warns not to use seasonal data but opts for raw, unadjusted reporting - rise 0.87% MoM (better than expected), slower than the revised 0.91% gain in December. However, away from the 'make-everything-feel-better' adjustments, home prices slipped in January following December's brief interlude, leaving the index down 4 of the last 5 months. Of course, it goes witghout sayiung that weather was blamed, as they suggest, "unusually cold and wet weather may have weakened activity in some cities." What is more worrisome however, and farcical, is Case-Shiller's ominous warning against rate hikes, "home prices are rising roughly twice as fast as wages, putting pressure on potential homebuyers and heightening the risk that any uptick in interest rates could be a major setback."
Did stocks window dressing come one day early in this volatile, bipolar, stop-hunting, HFT-infested market? Looking at futures this morning, which are down about 12 points already on yet another surge in the USD which has sent the EURUSD just above 1.07, the lowest since March 20 , and the USDJPY back under 120 now that the "strong dollar is bad for stocks after all" algo seems to be back from vacation, all those hedge funds who chased risk higher yesterday because their peers did the same, may find they are all selling on the way down. It will be oddly ironic if all of yesterday's widely touted gains evaporate comparably in the first 10 minutes of trading today, and lead to an end in the longest streak of quarterly increases in two decades.
"Now a legal quirk could bring a surreal ending to... foreclosure cases around the country: [borrowers] may get to keep their homes without ever having to pay another dime."
When it comes to our current pre-war, pre-revolutionary world (in Paul Tudor Jones' words) there are two social classes which are jockeying for the post positioning when it all comes crashing down: the Ultra High Net Worth, i.e., the 0.01%, those 211,275 individuals (and their families) who have a net worth over $30 million and who collectively control $30 trillion in wealth, and everyone else, with the countdown to extinction for the global middle class now getting louder by the day, leaving a world of a handful of uber-wealthy oligarchs and billions of, well, others. And nowhere is this distinction more vivid than when looking at their residential real estate holdings. But while the real estate of the 99.99% is boring (and increasingly in the form of rentals), when it comes to the dwellings of the 0.01% things get exciting, and are the topic of the latest joint report between Wealth-X and Sotheby's whose findings we summarize below.
"When I was chairman, more than one legislator accused me and my colleagues on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee of “throwing seniors under the bus” (to use the words of one senator) by keeping interest rates low. The legislators were concerned about retirees living off their savings and able to obtain only very low rates of return on those savings. I was concerned about those seniors as well."
- Ben Bernanke first blog post
"The contribution of housing to US GDP continues to run at some of the lowest levels since the end of World War II. New construction of single- and multi-family homes, renovations, broker fees and the like still only make up a bit more than 3% of current GDP, well below the post-war average of 4.7%. Not only has the level of lift from housing come in low, but it has bounced out of the last official recession slowly, too," Deutsche Bank says.
If there is one chart that most clearly captures the unsustainable US home price appreciation bubble, it is the following which was released overnight from RealtyTrac: home price appreciation nationwide has outpaced wage growth by a 13:1 ratio!
- Saudi Arabia, allies launch air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters (Reuters)
- Pilot on Crashed Jet Was Locked Out of Cockpit, NY Times Says (BBG)
- Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market (BBG)
- U.S.-led coalition, Iraqis pound Islamic State in Tikrit (Reuters)
- Munger Says Prepare for Harder World as Buying Power Slides (BBG),Mocks Greek ‘Idiotic Idea’ You Can Vote Yourself Rich (BBG)
- The Central Banker Who Saved the Russian Economy From the Abyss (BBG)
- Bank of Canada says foreign buyers complicate housing market (Reuters)
- Investors Scoop Up Companies’ Bonds (WSJ)
- Espirito Santo Probe Turns Mariana Mortagua Into Portuguese Star (BBG)
Energy accounts for 10% of Canadian GDP and around 25% of exports and the swift fall in oil prices is having a profound effect in the nation’s oil producing regions where home sales are collapsing by as much as 65%.
Stocks are pulling back ahead of a greatly anticipated FED meeting. Investors are holding their breath as they wait for news from Janet Yellen on whether or not the FED will give more indication of future interest rates.
Caught Between A Housing Bubble And Falling Crude Prices, Norway Will Invest Oil Riches In Foreign Real EstateSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/23/2015 20:30 -0400
Just as the central bank runs out of viable options, the country's sovereign wealth fund (which once famously loaded up on Greek bonds) is set to buy "a lot" of Asian property with the country's oil riches.
We often hear various Fed officials described as hawks or doves but Janet Yellen’s Fed brings to mind another avian metaphor. They are afraid to raise rates for fear that doing so would upset the asset market inflation process and derail what is left of their theory. In her press conference last week Yellen said that stock market valuations were on the high side of historical norms, an appellation that only works if one includes the stock bubble of the late 90s. It seems that she and the other members of the FOMC have decided that another epic stock market bubble is better than admitting they were wrong. This FOMC doesn’t have any hawks or doves, only chickens.
The percentage of homeowners underwater in the US was flat from Q3 to Q4 which doesn’t sound all that terrible until you consider that this figure had fallen for 10 consecutive quarters. Things look particularly bad in Florida and the midwest where more than 25% of borrowers are sitting in a negative equity position. A new report from Zillow says negative equity will become a permanent fixture in the housing market.
What we have here is another powerful case of the Great Immoderation. That is, the havoc that the Fed’s bubble finance policies have visited upon the main street economy. In short, in the name of improving upon the alleged instability of the private economy - absent the Fed’s expert ministrations - the geniuses in the Eccles building have actually caused the rate of housing starts to gyrate wildly. To wit, by a factor of 5X from top to bottom - so far this century.
"The debt borne by the oil and gas sector has increased two and a half times over, from roughly $1 trillion in 2006 to around $2.5 trillion in 2014. As the price of oil is a proxy for the value of the underlying assets that underpin that debt, its recent decline may have caused significant financial strains and induced retrenchment by the sector as a whole. If the adjustment takes the form of increased current or future sales of oil, it may amplify the fall in the oil price.