If there was one chart that shows best what is happening with the bifurcated US housing market, it is this NAR breakdown of sales by pricing bucket. It shows beyond a doubt that courtesy of the Fed's policies there is not one but two housing markets in the US: that for the 1%, or those who purchase mostly homes in the top price buckets ($500 and certainly above), and that for everyone else. Guess where the bulk of the activity (i.e. flipping) is, and worse for the so-called recovery, where it isn't.
After 6 months of missed expectations, last month's fragile beat of dismal expectations (even though it was the worst existing home sales SAAR in 21 months) provided just enough of a glimmer of hope to stoke more short squeezes in homebuilder stocks and strengthen the pillar of the US economic recovery. Now we are in April... the start of the key seasonal selling season... and existing home sales rose modestly MoM (but fell for the 6th month in a row YoY) and missed expectations. There is - simply put - no post-weather bounce.. and still NAR is blaming slow April sales being delayed due to Winter weather! This is the worst start to a year since 2007.
While everyone tries very hard to read between the lines of the Fed minutes with the consensus conclusion being that suddenly (as opposed to previously?) the Fed is confused about what the best exit strategy is, with words such as reverse repos thrown around for dramatic impact even though this topic has been around for nearly a year, the reality is that there was absolutely nothing market moving or material in today's report (which furthermore reduced the use of the word "weather" from 15 instances in March to just 8 in April although no mentions of El Nino just yet). Here is Goldman's FOMC minutes post-mortem confirming just this. "BOTTOM LINE: The April FOMC minutes contained no major surprises. There was no news on the likely date of the first funds rate hike or the pace of subsequent hikes, and participants' views on the economic outlook were unchanged. Participants discussed the exit strategy and were in favor of further testing of policy tools, but no new policy decisions were made."
More than half a decade after the collapse, and with talking heads proclaiming the recovery as strong as ever and the Fed remarking on the housing market's foundational pillar to that recovery, BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink has a few words of warning for the exuberant - the US housing market is "structurally more unsound" today that before the last financial crisis. As the data comes in weaker and weaker, despite hopes for a post-weather bounce, the fact that the US housing market is "more dependent on Fannie and Freddie than we were before the crisis," is a problem for the US taxpayer and - unlike Mel Watt's 'free credit for everyone' approach to expanding the GSE's role, Fink says with strong underwriting standards, ownership of affordable homes can again become a foundation for American families. So Watt's easy 'Subprime 2.0' or Fink's hard 'American Dream'.
With everyone focusing on the "Holy Grail" deal between Russia and China, and debating who got the upper hand in the 30 year price delivery arrangement, a just as notable story is that quietly overnight Goldman's China team just took China to the cleaners. In a flurry of reports covering everything from Chinese banks to property developers to the Chinese, Goldman effectively mirrored what Hugh Hendry said several years ago when he correctly concluded that China is drowning in overcapacity, and concluded that a "two year property downcycle is imminent."
- Eric Holder proves he is no US banker puppet by smashing another foreign bank: BNP Falls as U.S. Probe Said to Cost More Than $5 Billion (BBG)
- Fuld Was Top CEO When Fed Last Raised as New Neutral Era Beckons (BBG)
- Tymoshenko loses her magic in Ukraine presidential race (Reuters)
- GOP Sees Primaries Taming the Tea Party (WSJ)
- Heard that one before: Russian troops preparing to leave Ukraine border area (Reuters)
- Vietnam riots land another blow on the global supply chain (FT)
- Heard that one before too: Bank of England minutes show some members closer to voting for rate rise (Reuters)
- BOJ Refrains From Easing With Signs Japan Weathering Tax Rise (BBG)
- Miner Freeport Pressured by Water Costs as Copper Prices Slide (WSJ)
- Talks to end Thai crisis inconclusive, new round called (Reuters)
- Japan Court Blocks Reactor Restarts (WSJ)
The Greenspan Housing Bubble Lives On: 20 Million Homeowners Can’t Trade-Up Because They Are Still UnderwaterSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/20/2014 21:16 -0400
One of the most deplorable aspects of Greenspan’s monetary central planning was the lame proposition that financial bubbles can’t be detected, and that the job of central banks is to wait until they crash and then flood the market with liquidity to contain the damage. In short, China didn’t “save ” America into a housing crisis; the Greenspan Fed printed America into a cheap debt binge that ended up impairing the residential housing market for years to come. In any event, for those Millennials who do manage to accumulate a down payment by the time they are in their early 30s there is precious little starter home inventory available. The Greenspan mortgage debt serfs from the previous generation are blocking the way. Monetary central banking is an economy wrecker. Here is just one more smoking gun of proof.
Equity markets are not happy about the Fed's Charles Plosser's economic exuberance ("3% growth no matter the weather" which is 20% above consensus of 2.5%) and his 'good-news-bad-news' monetary policy hawkishness ("may need to raise rates sooner rather than later"). But perhaps the most crucial part of his speech this morning was what the headlines notably left out. Plosser admonished his global central bank brethren: "if central banks do not limit their interventionist strategies and focus on returning to more normal policymaking aimed at promoting price stability and long-term growth, then they will simply encourage the financial markets to ignore fundamentals and to focus instead on the next actions of the central bank." Simply put, he warned, "central bankers have become too sensitive and desirous of managing prices in the financial world.."
Not much going on tonight, except for the non-coupy martial law announcement in Thailand where the government is said to still be in charge of everything except for martial law decisions taken by the army of course, which in turn is in charge of everything else apparently including the central bank which intervened so extensively in the market, the Baht was barely changed at one point. There was also news of explosions and clashes in Benghazi but as everyone knows, what difference does Libya make at this, or any other, point. Additionally overnight there were reports that the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in east Ukraine were being shelled by the Ukraine army but that too barely registered as bullish for the USDJPY (which in now traditional fashion ramped during the US day session then sold off during Asia hours).
Ironically, the Fed does have a point: rates do impact existing home sales. The only problem is that according to actual, historical data, not some Fed model projection based on ridiculous assumptions, they impact it exactly in the opposite way of what the Fed proposes!
China's or the UK's?
It was supposed to be a blistering Mega Merger Monday following the news of both AT&T'a purchase of DirecTV and Pfizer's 15% boosted "final" offer for AstraZeneca. Instead it is shaping up to be not only a dud but maybe a drubbing, with AstraZeneca plunging after its board rejected the latest, greatest and last offer, European peripheral bond spreads resume blowing out again, whether on concerns about the massive Deutsche Bank capital raise or further fears that "radical parties" are gaining strength in Greece ahead of local elections. But the worst news for BTFDers is that not only did the USDJPY break its long-term support line as we showed on Friday, but this morning it is taking even more technician scalps after it dropped below its 200 DMA (101.23) which means that a retest of double digit support is now just a matter of time, as is a retest of how strong Abe's diapers are now that the Nikkei has slid to just above 14,000, while China, following its own weak housing sales data, saw the Shanghai Composite briefly dip under 2000 before closing just above it. Overall, it is shaping up to be a less than stellar day with zero econ news (hence no bullish flashing red headlines of horrible data) for the algos who bought Friday's late afternoon VIX slam-driven risk blast off.
Yesterday we provided a detailed breakdown of the cost aspect of a college education, particularly for young people who have no choice but to fund their education with student debt, a key part of the equation that the San Fran Fed in its particular cost-benefit "analysis" of college education avoided. There is much information in the post, but one particular aspect of the Pew analysis that the article was based on bears repeating and highlighting for all those less than "1%" young Americans debating whether a college education is worth the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans: the median net worth of "young" households, those where the head is younger than 40 years old, is $8,700, or 20% less than not college educated households with no student debt.
Momentum stocks, the money transfer machine the city relies on, are crashing. Fallout hits record home prices. This is so 2007.
The labor market is really starting to tighten and Thursday`s initial jobless claims coming in at 297,000 for the May 10 week is the lowest reading since May 2007.