Housing Starts

The Keynesian Jabberwocky Gets Downright Dumb

The Fed is now pre-occupied with an unanswerable and fanciful question, according to Jon Hilsenrath’s pre-meeting missive on the Fed’s current monetary policy “debate”. Figuratively estimating the number of angels which can dance on the head of a pin, Fed officials and economists suppose they can specify the the appropriate money market rate down to the decimal place for virtually all time to come... Of course, every one of these three magic numbers are perfectly arbitrary, academic and silly. Due to the structural failures of the US economy owing to decades of destructive Washington policies, the “unemployment rate” today is not remotely comparable to what was being measured in the 1950s and 1960s when today’s Keynesian theology with respect to the Phillips Curve, Okun’s Law and full-employment policy was being formulated.

Fourth Turning Accelerating

"In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” - The Fourth Turning - Strauss & Howe – 1997

Key Events In The Coming Week

This week brings some key events and releases in DMs, including US FOMC (Goldman expects $10bn tapering, in line with consensus), IP, CPI, and Philly Fed (expect 13.5), EA final May CPI (expect 0.50%), and MP decisions in Norway and Switzerland (expect no change in either).

Stocks Fail To Soar Despite Global Geopolitical Risk Contagion

It's one of those days: despite the Iraq conflict spilling out of control and about to involve US drones and warplanes, despite China's naval conflict with Vietnam over an oil rig in disputed territory set to go "kinetic" at any moment, despite the Ukraine civil war having its deadliest day yet this weekend and adding insult to injury Russia halting gas supplies to Ukraine (letting Kiev and Berlin fight for the scraps), despite crude prices rising ever higher and about to unleash a "discretionary income" shockwave on America's summertime motorists, despite yet another massive tax inversion M&A deal in which the buyer has made abundantly clear its stock is overvalued and will be used as the purchasing currency, stocks are inexplicably not at all time highs this morning.

Here Are The Funniest Quotes From BofA As It Throws In The Towel On Its "Above-Consensus" GDP Forecast

It is hard not to gloat when reading the latest embarrassing mea culpa from Bank of America's Ethan Harris, who incidentally came out with an "above consensus" forecast late last year, and has been crushed month after month as the hard data has lobbed off percentage from his irrationally exuberant growth forecast for every quarter, and now, the year. As a result, BofA has finally thrown in the towel, and tongue in cheekly admits it was wrong, as follows: "our tracking model now suggests growth of -1.9% in 1Q and 4.0% in 2Q for a first half average of just 1.0%.... Momentum is weak, but fundamentals are strong. We have lowered second half growth to 3.0% from 3.4%."

The US Housing Market's Darkening Data

When looking at residential real estate, we often tend to focus almost solely on recent price movements in assessing the health of the housing market at any point in time. But as both homeowners and income-earners in the larger economy, of which the housing market is an important component, to really understand what's going on, we need clarity into the larger cycle driving those price movements. The more we look at today's data, the more it looks like that we are in a new type of pricing cycle -- one that homeowners and housing investors have no prior experience with. And the more we learn about the fundamentals underlying the current cycle, the harder it becomes to justify today's home prices on any sustained level. Meaning a downward reversion in home values is very probable in the coming years.

Case-Shiller Home Prices End Four-Month Losing Streak, Rebound More Than Expected In March

Following the fourth consecutive decline in home prices as reported by Case Shiller (remember, it was the weather), it was inevitable that in the last month of Q1, when the weather warmed up and when Americans went on a spending spree that took their savings rate to the lowest since 2009, home prices, those tracked by the Case Shiller index, would post a rebound. Which they did: According to the just released Top 20 City Composite Index, home prices bounced by 0.88%, higher than expected, with the composite printing at 166.80, more than the 166.23 forecast, following fourth consecutive sequential declines. This represented a better than expected 12.37% annual price increase, even if the pace of annual price increases appears to be slowing: this was the lowest annual price increase since August.

Housing Starts, Permits Smash Expectations On Surge In Rental Construction

The serial extrapolators will be pleased... and the talking heads will now proclaim this as clear evidence that the cold-weather dysphoria has abated and its blue skies for real estate from here... Housing Permits back over 1 million homes SAAR (and biggest jump in a year) to new 6 year highs and Housing Starts back above 1 million SAAR near last year's highs. However, there is one major caveat - almost the entire surge was led by an almost 40% spike in multi-family units as the 'rental nation' grows ever stronger. Multi-family accounted for almost 30% of all starts - the highest in over 4 years as single-family starts rose a dismal 0.8%. Not exactly the "but housing inventories are so low and they must builder more homes" kind of growth that the headlines will crow about...

Frontrunning: May 16

  • Bank of England sees 'no housing bubble' (Independent)
  • ‘If the euro falls, Europe falls’ (FT)
  • India's pro-business Modi storms to historic election win (Reuters)
  • Global Growth Worries Climb (WSJ)
  • Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director (Reuters)
  • Blackstone Goes All In After the Flop (WSJ)
  • SAC's Steinberg loses bid for insider trading acquittal (Reuters)
  • Beats Satan: Republicans Paint Reid as Bogeyman in 2014 Senate Races (BBG)
  • Tech Firms, Small Startups Object to Paying for Internet 'Fast Lanes' (WSJ) - but they just provide liquidity
  • U.S. Warns Russia of Sanctions as Ukraine Troops Advance (BBG)
  • Major U.S. hedge funds sold 'momentum' Internet names in first-quarter (Reuters)

Yen Carry Slide Drags Futures To Lows

The perfectly expected if completely irrational overnight ramp in various Yen carry pairs tried, and failed, and both the USDJPY and EURJPY were tumbling to overnight lows as we go to print. This is happening despite a rout in India in which Narendra Modi's opposition block is poised for the biggest Indian election win in 30 years, with his BJP party currently leading in 332 of 543 seat - an outcome that is seen as very pro business (and seemingly pro asset bubbles: the INR soared and the Sensex was up as much as 6% in intraday trading before paring virtually all gains following what many say was RBI intervention). And while the Nikkei (down 200 points) did not help the mood this move was mostly in response to yesterday's US selling, which means as usual the culprit for lack of algo risk-taking overnight has been the Yen carry, which moments ago hit intraday lows, and is increasingly flirting with the 101 level (after which double digits, and Abe's second resignation, come very quickly).

Key Events In The Coming Week

This week markets are likely to focus on a few important data prints in DMs, including Philly Fed in the US (expect solid expansionary territory) and 1Q GDP releases in the Euro area (with upside risks). In DMs, the highlights of the week include [on Monday] Japan’s trade balance data and Australia business conditions; [on Tuesday] US retail sales, CPI in Italy and Sweden; [on Wednesday] US PPI, Euro area IP, CPI in France, Germany and Spain; [on Thursday] US Philly Fed, CPI, capacity utilization, Euro area and Japan GDP; and [on Friday] US Univ. of Michigan Confidence. In the US, we expect Philly Fed to print in solidly expansionary territory (at 14, similar to consensus) and to inaugurate what we call the active data period of the month. We also expect CPI inflation to print at 0.3% mom (similar to consensus), and core CPI inflation at 0.18% mom (slightly above consensus).