Now that mortgage rates are sliding back to 2015 lows, any sense of urgency from the demand side of the pricing equation has been removed. So what is the alternative? Pushing the supply into overdrive of course, and doing more of precisely what got the US financial system (and the bailed out GSEs) in trouble in the first place: today Freddie Mac, together with Quicken Loans, announced a new lending program, one which would enable "eligible borrowers" and focusing on millennials, to finance a house with a "down payment of as little as three percent."
Home building is a miserable business. First you borrow to buy land, then borrow some more to develop land, then more to build, while paying out exorbitant executive compensation all along. Years later, you finally sell the finished product, maybe for a profit, maybe at a loss. Builders have been buying more land at much higher prices in hope for a continuation of optimal conditions. Lucrative margins can turn into large losses, much like 2006-07. Unless the Yellen Fed comes up with a big surprise, shorting rallies will be the way to go.
News That Matters
News That Matters
Despite surges in mortgage applications juxtaposed with notably downbeat commentary from KB Home and Lennar, existing home sales rose modestly in December (+2.4%) but missed expectations for the 2nd month in a row (+3.0%) for a SAAR of 5.04mm sales. Only the Southern region saw sales improve. However, for all of 2014, there were 4.93 million sales, a 3.1% decline from 2013 (5.09 million) - the first drop since 2010. This should be no surprise as NAR finally admits the problem (instead of blaming weather) - “Housing costs – both rents and home prices – continue to outpace wages and are burdensome for potential buyers trying to save for a downpayment while looking for available homes in their price range.” It's the price, stupid!
The 30 Year U.S. Treasury bond yield hit 2.35% yesterday. Long term interest rates are not controlled by Yellen. They reflect the economic prospects of the country. When they are rising it means the economy is doing well. When they are plummeting to all time lows, the economy is either in recession or headed into recession. Take your pick. No amount of government data manipulation, feel good propaganda spewed by the captured mainstream media, or Ivy League educated Wall Street economist doublespeak, can change the fact this economy is in the dumper and headed much lower. The Greater Depression is resuming its downward march toward inevitable war.
Pimping Passports For Chinese Capital: America's Ingenious Ploy To Raise CapEx From China's OligrachsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/10/2014 22:54 -0500
A week ago we wrote how Pennsylvania is financing various state infrastructure projects by selling residency to Chinese "investors" for $500K each. As it turns out, the practice of pimping passports for Chinese capex is hardly new or just isolated to Pennsylvania and is, in fact, massively widespread throughout America's insolvent states whose tax collections are far below budget and which are in desperate need of fresh funds to embezzle invest in random boondoggles. Case in point, New York, where the Biggest real-estate project in a generation, the Hudson Yards, is now officially financed by 1200 Chinese families in search of visas allowing them to live (and park their stolen cash) in the US. In all, 10,928 foreign investors applied to invest through the program in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, up from 6,346 a year earlier and 486 in 2006, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the program’s administrator. Most projects have been real-estate developments.
We are now far advanced into the third central bank generated bubble of the last two decades, but our monetary politburo has taken no notice whatsoever of its self-evident leading wave. Namely, the massive malinvestments and debt mania in the shale patch.
- -0.07%: Germany Secures Record Low Funding Cost at Bond Auction (WSJ)
- Pentagon Sees Possible Role for U.S. Ground Forces Against Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- China Joins ECB in Adding Stimulus as Fed Scales Back (BBG)
- Stealthy or Normal? Analysts Diverge on PBOC’s Action (BBG)
- Sony Forecasts Massive $2B Loss as Smartphones Lag (AP)
- Islamic State campaign tests Obama's commitment to Mideast allies (Reuters)
- Brent Crude Rebounds as Libya’s Sharara Oilfield Shut (BBG)
- Market calm over Scottish vote at odds with disaster warnings (Reuters)
- Showtime for Apple: Big phones, smart watches and high expectations (Reuters)
- Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney Signals Spring Rate Rise (WSJ)
- Quebec Shows Scots Question Returns Even If Answer Is No (BBG)
- Hush money with a 9 year vesting period: Ex-SAC Fund Manager Martoma Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison (BBG)
- Dreams on hold, Brazil's 'new middle class' turns on Rousseff (Reuters)
- Fed to Hit Biggest U.S. Banks With Tougher Capital Surcharge (WSJ)
- Egypt court sentences Brotherhood leader, cleric to 20 years in jail (Reuters)
When we broke the story of China's "secret" money laundering into US real estate scheme, we said "So what happens next? Assuming there is the anticipated resulting backlash and crackdown on Chinese banks, which will finally enforce the $50K/year outflow limitation, this could well be the worst possible news not only for Chinese inflation, which suddenly - no longer having a convenient outlet for the unprecedented liquidity formed in the country every month - is set to soar, but also for the ultra-luxury housing in the US. Because without the Chinese bid in a market in which the Chinese are the biggest marginal buyer scooping up real estate across the land, sight unseen, and paid for in laundered cash (which the NAR blissfully does not need to know about due to its AML exemptions), watch as suddenly the 4th dead cat bounce in US housing since the Lehman failure rediscovers just how painful gravity really is." What we forgot to add is that virtually every other financial mainstream outlet would promptly pick up on the story even as the original source back in China took its secrets to the grace. Metaphorically speaking, we hope...
Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.
- Minorities Seen Driving U.S. Household Growth (Reuters)
- GM prepares to recall some Cruze sedans with Takata air bags (Reuters)
- PBOC Halts Repos as China Money Rate Climbs to Seven-Week High (BBG)
- Ukraine Optimism Wavers on Peace as Cease-Fire Winds Down (BBG)
- Economic Rebound Seen Undercut by Weak Pay as Vote Winner (BBG)
- Cracks Open in Dark Pool Defense With Barclays Lawsuit (BBG)
- The Survivor: How Eric Holder outlasted his (many) critics (Politico)
- IBM, Lenovo Tackle Security Worries on Server Deal (WSJ)
- Militants take Iraqi gas field town, president calls parliament session (Reuters)
- Carney Surprises Confounding Markets as BOE Manages Guidance (BBG)
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.
Has the United States ever experienced a time when a foreign nation has attempted to buy up so much of our land all at once? As Michael Snyder details below, it appears the Chinese are on a real estate buying spree all over America as they are now the dominat 'buyers' of investment green cards. This is occurring as private equity buyers and hedge funds exit the buy-to-rent business en masse and are, as Mike Krieger explains, are desperate to pitch American property to anyone willing to keep Housing Bubble 2.0 inflated... it seems Zillow is more than happy to enable that, "Zillow agreed to make its U.S. property listings available to Chinese consumers through a partnership with a Beijing-based website."