Mortgage rates have increased more than 1 percentage point since early May, jumping half a percentage point since last week’s FOMC meeting, raising concerns that this rapid rise may derail the housing recovery and dim the outlook for the broader economy, especially in the context of generally tighter financial conditions. As Goldman notes, the rise in mortgage rates may impact the economy through two broad channels: (1) the direct impact on construction activity and home sales, which feed into the residential investment component of GDP, and (2) the indirect effects of lower home prices and less refinancing activity on consumption. Goldman estimates Housing Starts could plunge 11% in the coming quarters, total home sales could drop 7%, residential investment may fall 6 percentage points, could weigh on home prices, and pull up to 0.4 percentage points from real GDP growth - presenting a significant downside risk to their somewhat rosy current outlook.
Richmond Fed's Lacker: "Falling Markets Should Not Be Too Surprising... Further Volatility Seems Likely"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/28/2013 08:24 -0500
"Bond and stock markets fell sharply in response, but that should not be too surprising. The Chairman’s statement forced financial market participants to re-evaluate the likely total amount of securities the Fed would buy under this open-ended purchase plan — in other words, how much liquor would ultimately be poured into the punch bowl. Market participants also had to reconsider their estimate of when the Federal Reserve would begin to remove the punch bowl by raising interest rates. These reassessments appear to have warranted price changes across an array of financial assets. As market participants gain additional insight from the words of Federal Reserve officials or by policy actions in coming quarters, further asset price volatility seems likely." - Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker
There is no greater crime in Washington today than speaking truth about the US economy in public. This is why Ben Bernanke is not being reappointed for another term as Fed Chairman.
- Stocks Fall With China in Bear Market as Bonds Decline (BBG)
- Russia defiant as U.S. raises pressure over Snowden (Reuters) ...
- and sure enough: Kerry Warns Hong Kong and Russia on Snowden (WSJ)
- Slow-Motion U.S. Recovery Searches for Second Gear (WSJ)
- PBOC Sees ‘Reasonable’ Liquidity in China’s Financial System (BBG)
- Italy's Berlusconi faces verdict in underage sex trial (Reuters)
- Fed Monetary Course Difficult for a Bernanke Successor to Alter (BBG)
- Another China central bank worry; companies push into lending (Reuters)
- Gold Miner Writedowns at $17 Billion After Newcrest Fallout (BBG)
- Snowden Faces Often-Posed U.S. Fugitive Question: Where to Run? (BBG)
In the real economy on Main Street, the circumstances are different. If you want to buy a house in the US and you need a conventional mortgage, and if you are not a speculator and want to live in dwelling, your costs have now risen substantially.
- China cash crunch deepens as PBOC withholds funding (FT), just a week behind ZH
- Platts in hot manipulated crude again: Traders Try to Game Platts Oil-Price Benchmarks (WSJ)
- Kabul Suspends Security Talks With U.S., jeopardizing plans to maintain a U.S. military presence (WSJ)
- Afghan government irked over U.S. talks with Taliban (Reuters)
- BOJ Kuroda: BOJ to Adjust Policy If Japan Econ Changes (MNI)
- Google Considering Private-Equity Alliances (BBG)
- Korean Air Buying 747-8s to End Boeing’s Sales Drought (BBG)
- Syria's Islamists seize control as moderates dither (Reuters)
- SEC considers policy shift on admissions of wrongdoing (FT)
- U.K. Banker Bonuses Face Decade Delays in Industry Overhaul (BBG)
Hedonically-adjusted inflation is in check, and the housing "recovery" is in doubt: the perfect cocktail for Bernanke to announce no tapering... Or to shock the world and in just over 24 hours say that as we prepares to wave bon voyage he will start to reduce the liquidity injection into the markets as he has been warning for the past 3 months.
There was non-Fed news in the overnight market. Such as Nikkei reporting that Germany's Angela Merkel was the first G-8 member to be openly critical of Japan's credit-easing policy "that has led to the yen's weakening against major currencies" in what was the first shot across the bow between the two export-heavy countries. Not helping risk in Asia was also news that China May new home prices rose in 69 cities over the past year, compared to 68 the prior month, thus keeping the PBOC's hands tied even as the liquidity shortage in traditional liquidity conduits continues to cripple the banking system and forcing the Agricultural Development Bank of China to scale back the size of two bond offerings today by 31% "as the worst cash crunch in at least seven years curbs demand for the securities." Rounding up Asia were the latest RBA meeting minutes which noted the possibility of further weakness in AUD over time, adding downside pressure on the currency and pressuring all AUD linked equity pairs lower. Still, the USDJPY caught a late bid pushing it above 95 on some comments by the economy minister Amari who said that the government would not be swayed by day-to-day market moves and the BOJ "should continue making efforts to convey its thinking to markets" adding the government was not making policy to pander to markets, confirming that Japan is making policy solely to pander to markets.
In the week ahead, we get the usual middle-of-the-month batch of early business surveys, including the New York Empire, Philly Fed and Eurozone Flash PMIs. The second key focus will be a number of important monetary policy meetings, including the FOMC, as well as the Swiss, Norwegian Turkish and Indian policy decisions. The latter two are particularly interesting in the light of the recent EM weakness. The main event this weak will be the FOMC meeting after the recent market focus on the timing of tapering of the QE3 program. Swings in bond markets related to the FOMC meeting could be the primary source of FX volatility this week.
First it was the "most important" payroll print in years, then the "most important" retail sales number, and now we are just days ahead of the "most important" FOMC statement in years as well, as the fate of the centrally-planned markets lies in the hands of Bernanke's decision to taper, or not to taper. The main catalyst for now still appears to be an ongoing wrong interpretation of Hilsenrath's Thursday blog post in which some still see reaffirmation by the Fed that it won't taper, when all the Fed's mouthpiece said is that the short-end would be anchored even as the long-end is allowed to rise. Looking at the well-known no volume levitation futures action, which in the overnight session has wiped out all of Friday's losses and then some simply due to a 2.73% rise in the Nikkei overnight back above 13,000 driven by the USDJPY briefly regaining 95.00, the market has made up its mind (if only for the time being) that whatever decision the Fed takes regarding the monthly level of liquidity injection is a bullish one. At least until it changes its mind next.
S&P Revises U.S. Credit Outlook To "Stable" From Negative
Fed's Bullard Details How QE Can Be Cut
Fed Retreat From Bond Buying Expected By Fourth Quarter - Poll
U.S., Japan Leading Recovery In Major Economies - OECD
Preview of tomorrow's Bernanke testimony and FOMC minutes.
While we have wondered on numerous occasions previously if the collapse in lumber prices is the far more accurate indicator of end demand for housing (as confirmed by the recent collapse in multi-family housing starts), perhaps an even better indicator of trends in housing (and by implication the broader economy) is private sector intermediate end demand, such as Caterpillar North America sales, which unlike government data, are far less subject to political intervention, interpolation, guesswork, seasonal adjustments and otherwise, general manipulation. And even though we have previously reported on the woes ailing the world's largest seller of bulldozers, excavators and wheel loaders, such focus was primarily targeted in the offshore markets, and especially China (the abysmal European market needs no mention). So maybe the time has come to shift attention to the US, where as Caterpillar just reported, not only are all foreign markets still trending at several impacted levels, but where US machine retail sales just saw the biggest tumble in three years, falling 18% Y/Y: the most since early 2010. What is more disturbing is that CAT equipment is used in far-broader economic activities than merely housing, and likely is a far more accurate indicator of true industrial end-demand than any other number cherry-picked by the government.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony to Congress will be important in setting the tone for the markets (particularly the dollar, equities and US treasuries), as traders hunt for clues on when the Fed is likely to ease its rate of asset purchases.
Is a $400,000 house with NINJA loan normal? How about a $200,000 REO with missing appliances, a dead yard, a long list of maintenance and no financing? Maybe normal is a $300,000 flip after the flipper fixed everything and colored up the yard, and did some upgrades to the interior. Some may suggest that normal is more like a $300,000 sale with a 5.5% fixed rate and 20% down. Then again, it may be more normal if this $300,000 sale is financed with a 3.5% down FHA loan at 4%. Of course, all of the above is actually referring to the same house. So what is normal? At the moment, we know prices are going up in certain markets, and so are sales. Mortgage rates are higher now than when QE3 started in September 2012. Investors are gobbling up everything in sight in their favored target markets. As an example, they are buying 30% of the houses in Southern California, 38% in Phoenix and 53% in Vegas. First time buyers do not stand a chance. The percentage of home ownership is declining. Are policy makers happy with these results? Are these intended or unintended consequences of public policies?