Well, The Federal Reserve is doing what they wanted … crushing the housing market as they fight inflation.
Today we get our first glimpse of the carnage in the housing market from August. With mortgage rates having soared and homebuilder sentiment tumbling (and permits plunging), it should be no surprise that existing home sales were expected to fall for the 7th straight month (-2.3% MoM vs -5.9% MoM in July).
Somewhat surprisingly, existing home sales ‘only’ fell 0.4% MoM in August (from a revised 5.7% MoM drop in July), but that is still 7 consecutive drops. This left existing home sales down 19.87% YoY.
Look at existing home sales YoY as M2 Money Yoy crashes.
Median prices YoY for existing home sales plunged to 7.63% while inventory for sale (yellow line) remains depressed.
The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the third quarter of 2022 is 0.3 percent on September 20, down from 0.5 percent on September 15. After this morning’s housing starts report from the US Census Bureau, the nowcast of third-quarter residential investment growth decreased from -20.8 percent to -24.5 percent.
The culprit? US Housing starts!
We knew from this morning that housing starts declined -0.01% YoY as The Fed’s Stimulypto wears off.
It was not immediately clear why buyers had submitted requests for capacity when Russia has given no indication since it shut the line that it would restart any time soon.
Russia, which had supplied about 40% of the European Union’s gas before the Ukraine conflict, has said it closed the pipeline because Western sanctions hindered operations. European politicians say that is a pretext and accuse Moscow of using energy as a weapon.
But German inflation, using CPI, is only 7.9%. Something has to give!
On the western front (US), the US Treasury 10yr yield is up +10.2 bps. And sovereign yields in Europe are all above 10 bps.
Its a beautiful morning here in Columbus Ohio! Unfortunately, things are not so beautiful for the US economy.
Let’s begin with the US Treasury 10yr-2yr yield curve slope. Historically, the yield curve inverts prior to a recession. As of this sunny morning, the US Treasury yield curve is inverted and sinking further into inversion. Notice that headline inflation (blue line) has increased declined slightly after hitting 40-year highs as The Federal Reserve begins SLOWLY trimming their balance sheet (orange line). The green line is the expectation of Fed rate hikes by the December 2022 FOMC meeting indicating further monetary tightening.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its US economic growth estimates for 2023 after recently boosting its predictions for Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.
US gross domestic product will increase 1.1% in 2023, economists including Jan Hatzius wrote in a note Friday, compared with a forecast of 1.5% previously. The projection for 2022 was left unchanged at 0%.
Goldman raised its federal funds rate forecast by 75 basis points over the last two weeks for a terminal rate forecast of 4% to 4.25% by the end of 2022.
Then we have Federal Express which plunged -43.85 points on Friday. I use this an example on how inflation begat Fed tightening that begat an economic slowdown.
The Biden Administration is cheering the “Inflation Reduction Act” and the recent decline in the rate of inflation to a gut-wrenching 8.3% YoY. Bear in mind that since Biden was sworn-in as President, WTI Crude Oil is UP 75%, gasoline prices UP 54%, food prices are UP 48% and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is DOWN -32%.
Then we have Gold and Bitcoin relative to the INVERSE of the US Dollar since Biden was installed as President.
As inflation rages thanks to Biden’s energy policies and insane Federal spending, The Federal Reserve is trying to cool inflation (or Bidenflation).
As The Fed tightens, the 30-year mortgage rate has risen to 14 year highs. And home prices are still hot, hot, hot (though slowing). But consumer sentiment for housing remains in the doldrums (UMich Buying Conditions For Houses).
The good news? Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow real-time GDP tracker shows the US economy at positive growth of 0.521%. Ok, that is kind of lousy given the massive Fed stimulus and Federal spending since Covid.
M2 money velocity demonstrates the lousy return of Fed/Federal government “investment”.Near the lowest level in US history.
So, The Fed will have to destroy the US economy to save us from Bidenflation (bad energy policies and out-of-control Federal spending).
And more good news! The NASDAQ composite index is down only -1% today!
REAL average hourly earnings growth remain in the toilet at -3.06% YoY.
Fuel oil used to heat homes rose 68.8% YoY. Food at home rose 13.5% YoY while rent (shelter) rose “only” 6.2% YoY. Wow, renters are REALLY getting the short-end of the stick from The Fed and the Biden Administration!!
New vehicles are UP 10.1% YoY. Good luck buying those “cheap” electric cars that Mayor Pete Buttigieg trumpets! And wait for the bill when the battery needs to be replaced!!!
The Federal government reaction to the Covid outbreak in early 2020 included massive monetary stimulus, Federal government spendathons and Biden’s green energy policies have resulted in a sizzling 8.5% inflation rate (update on Monday morning).
The problem is that The Federal Reserve is far behind the inflation curve with their target rate at only 2.5%. And The Fed’s balance sheet remains near $9 TRILLION in assets held.
In Euroland, we are seeing a similar problem (Frankfurt, we have a problem!). The Eurozone inflation rate is at 9.1% while their version of The Fed Funds Target rate is only 0.75%, a large catch-up gap.
If we look at the Taylor Rule for the US using headline inflation, we see that The Fed needs to raise their target rate to … 21.72% to crush inflation.
In Euroland, the problem is similar. At 9.10% inflation, the ECB will have to raise their version of The Fed’s target rate to 16.80% to combat inflation. As if that will happen in either the US or Euroland.
On a different note, is it my imagination or does US Democrat Senate candidate from Pennsylvania John Fetterman look like the alien from the flick “Battleship”?
Thanks to Federal Reserve increases in their target rate, the 30-year mortgage rate has risen above 6%.
What drives me crazy about The Fed is their failure to removed monetary stimulus following the financial crisis of 2008 when they dropped their target rate to 25 basis points (0.25%) and began assets purchases (orange line). The Fed raises their target rate only once during Obama’s Presidency but then raised rates 8 times after Trump was elected President.
Now we are seeing The Fed NOT shrinking their balance sheet in a meaningful way. However M2 Money growth YoY (green line) has slowed to 5.2%.
While it is a good thing that The Fed is FINALLY reducing some of the monetary stimulus in place since 2008, the bad thing is that mortgage rates are rising rapidly.
The Fed’s quantheads are predicted to resume easing in March 2023.
The August jobs report is out. 315k jobs were added, which was considerably higher than the ADP jobs added report of 132k. Hmm.
Be that as it may, US Average Hourly Earnings YoY remained at 5.2%. That’s a shame since the last inflation report had US inflation at 8.5%. That translates to REAL Average Hourly Earnings YoY of … -3.3%.
Labor force participation rose to 62.4%.
This is a decent jobs report and will likely lead The Fed to continue raising rates, particularly when The Fed sees that multiple jobholders has increased to cope with inflation.
As inflation burns the US middle class and low wage workers, The Federal Reserve reaffirmed at Jackson Hole that they are the NEW Smoky The Bear (only The Fed can fight inflation fire!) But of course, Federal spending and energy policies can drive up prices too.
Having said that, the 2-year Treasury yield and 30yr mortgage rate are rising rapidly.
The Fed is trying to cool demand by raising rates after lax monetary policy since late 2008.
While the US 2-year Treasury yield is up only slightly today, the Eurozone is seeing their 2-year sovereign yields spiking by 11-15+%.