US Q1 GDP Sags To -5% QoQ Annualized As Virus Lockdown Helps Crush Economy (Corporate Profits Shrink 14% In Q1)

Oof.

US GDP growth QoQ annualized plunged to -5% in the first quarter. Still not to the depths of The Great Recession (aka, housing bubble burst and ensuing financial crisis).

But you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Atlanta Fed GDPNow estimate for Q2 GDP is -41.907%.

Why will Q2 look like a disaster? Take a peek at April’s preliminary durable goods orders: down -17.2%. Take out transportation and the decline is “only” -7.4%. In other words, the print (actual) are lower than the surveys. And while jobless claims clocked in at 2.12 million, it is the first decline in jobless claims so far.

Corporate profits shrank by 14% in Q1.

Mortgage Purchase Applications Rise 9% YoY Even With COVID-19!

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Refinance Index decreased 0.2 percent from the previous week and was 176 percent higher than the same week one year agoThe seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 9 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 7 percent compared with the previous week and was 9 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

Mortgage refinancing applications declined slightly by -.23% despite near historic low mortgage rates.

Take that, COVID-19!

My Kuroda! A 0.0000148% Yield on Bond Sale in Japan Is Exciting Investors (Student Loan Bonds)

Its a sad state of the world where investors get “excited” about a zero percent bond.

(Bloomberg) — A 0.0000148% yield drew strong demand for a bond offering in Japan, as investors clamor for safe debt amid the pandemic even if it pays them next to nothing.

Japan Student Services Organization priced 30 billion yen ($278 million) of two-year social bonds on Friday with a coupon of 0.001% and a price of 100.002 yen, which equates to the near-zero yield. Orders totaled about 2.5 times the amount sold, according to people familiar with the matter.

Japan has long been home to striking examples of how investors will grab at whatever yield they can find on safer securities, a trend that has gone global and been intensified by monetary easing to cushion economies from the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The securities from Jasso, an independent administrative agency that offers student loans, are rated AA+ by Rating & Investment Information.

Jasso’s bonds drew strong demand from investors who are raising their holdings of environmental, social and governance assets. Buyers ranged from pension funds, banks, shinkin banks and foreign investors, according to the people familiar, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.

The organization has a history of notable debt deals. It priced Japan’s first minus-yield agency bond last year, when it sold a note with a coupon of 0.001% and a price of 100.003 yen, working out to a yield of around minus 0.0005%. 

It is not that surprising since 2-year Japanese Government Bond yields remain in negative territory, as do JGB of maturities of 10-years or less.

My Kuroda!

US New Home Sales Decline 6.2% YoY In April Despite Near-Record Low Mortgage Rates (Case-Shiller Home Price Index STILL Rising)

According to the US Census Bureau, sales of new homes fell 6.2% YoY in April.

No, it does not look like new home sales from the housing bubble burst of the ALT-A, private label MBS years.

Yes, near record low mortgage rates are helping to mitigate the horrid effects of the COVID-19 fiasco.

Home prices in March, according to the lagged Case-Shiller national home price index rose 4.4% YoY. COVID-19 epicenters Seattle and New York City both managed to see YoY gains in home prices in March. (Phoenix AZ is leading the nation in YoY home price growth at 8.2%, nearly twice the national average).

So far the COVID-19 epidemic does not look like the notorious housing bubble burst of the second half of the 2000-2010 decade of The Big Short frame. But the CMBX BBB- index of commercial mortgage-backed securities is getting crushed by retail, hotel and office losses.

Although this has nothing to do with real estate, this Bloomberg headline grabbed my attention: “Macron Pledges $9 Billion in Stimulus to Help French Carmakers.” Hey Macron, how about telling Renault, Citroën and Peugeot to make cars that buyers in US want to buy!

Gold And Silver: Silver Outperforming Gold Over Past Month

Its Gold and Silver time!

Silver, the beautiful metal so beloved in the Southwest US and in Mexico, is starting to gain against its more expensive cousin gold over the past month.

Short positions on silver (and gold) are near their lowest levels in years.

And the price ration of gold to silver is declining.

It appears that silver is playing “catch-up” behind gold. Thanks to Jesse!

To paraphrase Jackie DeShannon, “Put A Little Silver in Your Portfolio.”

US Existing Home Sales Plunge 17.8% In April, Worst Since 2010 (Lower-end Housing Hit The Worst)

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), US existing home sales in April plunged 17.8% from March, the largest drop since 2010.

Existing homes sales MoM is the white line, the Mortgage Bankers Association 30-year rate is the blue line.

Given how unemployment is differentially hurting lower-wage workers, it is not surprising that existing home sales in the $0-$100,000 range fell 33% in April.

While $500k-$750k home sales fell by “only” 12.2%.

Existing home sales inventory remains low while median home price of existing home sales rose 2% from March to April.

First Auction of 20-year Treasury Bonds Since 1986 Has High Yield Of 1.220% (Slightly Higher Than Savings Series I Bonds At 1.06%, But Lower Than a 1Y CD)

The US Treasury, desperate for revenue with the COVID-19 shutdown crushing the economy and tax receipts, has reintroduced something that hasn’t been seen since 1986: the 20-year US Treasury bond.

Today’s auction led to a 1.220% high yield rate, only slightly higher than Series I savings bonds.

20yauc

And around 1.35% for a bank certificate of deposit (CD).

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 1.48.57 PM

The Martin Luther King Series I savings bond at 1.06% composite rate (the composite rate for Series I Savings Bonds is a combination of a fixed rate, which applies for the 30-year life of the bond, and the semiannual inflation rate).

sbimlk1

US Housing Starts Crash In April Thanks To COVID-19 Lockdown (Despite Declining Mortgage Rates)

US housing starts in April crashed to their lowest level since 2015 despite near-record low mortgage rates.

housingstartsomg

1-unit starts declined 25.4% from March to April. But it is the 5+ unit starts (apartment) that suffered a 40.31% MoM decline.

aprilstats

It appears that The Fed’s snake juice isn’t working.

snakejuice

Taylor Rule Calls For Negative Rates Of -10%, Powell Says No

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is adamant that the US will not go where other Central Banks have gone before … to negative rates.

Even though the Mankiw specification of the Taylor Rule model says that The Fed Funds Target rate should be -10.01% based on the surge in unemployment (14.70%) and the lack of core inflation (1.70%). The Fed Funds Target rate remains at 0.25%.

trnef

As unemployment surges (green line) with the lockdown, banks are expecting a tsunami of loan delinquencies and defaults. Hence, bank excess reserves have spiked as well (white line fever).

u3cal

Hopefully with states opening up again, this is simply temporary.

Instead of losing my blues, Powell is giving me the blues.

queenjanetprincejerry