The rising risk to the housing recovery story lies in the Fed's ability to continue to keep interest rates suppressed. It is important to remember that individuals "buy payments" rather than houses. With each tick higher in mortgage rates so goes the monthly mortgage payment. With wages remaining suppressed, 1 out of 3 Americans no longer counted as part of the work force or drawing on a Federal subsidy, the pool of potential buyers remains tightly constrained. While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a "driver" of economic growth in 2015 and beyond - the lack of recovery in the home ownership data suggests otherwise.
Real Estate is a highly “illiquid” asset class ‘most of the time’. It always has been and always will be. However, some times, such as now - and from 2003 to 2007 as a prime example - when liquidity is flowing like water, Real Estate’s illiquidity is masked. Speculators can do no wrong. Simply having access to short-term or mortgage capital to purchase Real Estate guaranties a double-digit return. This continues until one day, suddenly, it doesn’t; and, the snap-back to the true, historical illiquid nature of the Real Estate sector happens suddenly and is amplified at first. This creates a snowball effect from which both house supply and illiquidity surge at the same time. Price then becomes the liquidity fulcrum and will drop, relentlessly ripping speculators faces off, until capital begins to view the asset class as a relative value once again.
This is how DB summarizes what has been the primary feature of capital markets this week - the huge move in European bond yields: "On April 17th, 10-year Bunds traded below 0.05% intra-day. Two and a half weeks later and yesterday saw bunds close around 1000% higher than those yield lows at 0.516% after rising +6.2bps on the day." Right out of the European open today, the government bond selloff accelerated with the 10Y Bund reaching as wide as 0.595% with the periphery following closely behind when at 9:30am CET sharp, just as the selloff seemed to be getting out of control, it reversed and out of nowhere and a furious buying wave pushed the Bund and most peripheral bonds unchanged or tighter on the day! Strange, to say the least. Also, illiquid.
To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, anyone who wants the government and Federal Reserve to create a housing recovery, deserves to get it good and hard, like a four by four to the side of their head. Subprime mortgages, subprime auto loans, and subprime student loans driven by preposterously low interest rates are the liquefying foundation of this fake economic recovery. Most rational people would agree that loaning money to people who will eventually default is not a good idea. But it is the underpinning of everything the Fed and government apparatchiks have done to keep this farce going a little while longer. It will not end well – Again.
The past few years have been a period of relative stability for the U.S. economy. A lot of people have been lulled into a false sense of security during that time. These people have become convinced that our problems have been fixed. But they haven’t been fixed at all. In fact, our problems are far, far worse than they were just prior to the last financial crisis. Don’t let this next recession take you by surprise.
There are three financial hurricanes hurtling towards our country and most people are oblivious to the coming catastrophe. The time to prepare is now, not when the hurricane warnings are issued.
After failing to comfortably beat expectations for the last 7 months, March Existing Home Sales surged 6.1% to a 5.19mm SAAR - the highest since Sept 2013. Despite collapsing macro data throughout March all blamed on 'the weather' The Midwest saw existing home sales rise the most (by 10.1%). All this 'pent-up demand' has crushed affordability as home prices are up 7.8% YoY - the largest gain since Feb 2014.
"Vacation-home sales account for one-fifth of all home sales and 'that should more or less rise over the next five to 10 year' as the income and number of vacation-home buyers increases," Moody's tells WSJ. That's good news because with America's "supervisory" wages on the rise and with Russian oligarchs dissatisfied with their domestic situation, a healthy market for "secondary" residences may prove critical.
Blogger Ben’s work is already done. In his very first substantive post as a civilian he gave away all the secrets of the monetary temple. The Bernank actually refuted the case for modern central banking in one blog. The truth is the real world of capitalism is far, far too complex and dynamic to be measured and assessed with the exactitude implied by Bernanke’s gobbledygook. In fact, what his purported necessity for choosing a rate “somewhere” actually involves is the age old problem of socialist calculation.
"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."
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.
The US economic recovery continues as the number of homeless in New York's shelters rises 50% in three years. De Blasio says New York needs to take "immediate and bold steps" to combat the worsening problem.
The subprime auto loan market isn't the only place where delinquencies are rising. New data shows foreclosures hitting their highest level in a year while the number of borrowers who have been foreclosed on twice has tripled since the housing bust.
Blackstone, who already may be your landlord, is reportedly close to buying the nation's second largest skyscraper in a $1.5 billion deal.
Greenspan started the destructive Keynesian tradition of pumping liquidity to stimulate the economy, and this tradition has created significant economic pain for Main Street in the form of long-term unemployment and underemployment, reduced wages, foreclosures, bankruptcies, reduced savings rates, shuttered businesses, and drained savings and retirement accounts. So, “Mr. Bubble” inferring that the Fed creates unsustainable bubbles for the benefit of Main Street is pretty insulting.