Putinesca! European Markets Tank, Energy Prices Explode, US 10Y Treasury Yields Plunge 13.3 BPS After Russia Invades Ukraine (Russian 5Y CDS Soars To 917)

I admit, I follow market data to get a signal of what is happening to mortgage rates and I got one. With Putin and Russia invading Ukraine, markets are in turmoil

WTI Crude is up 8.14% this morning, Brent Crude is up 8.45% and NBP (UK) Natural gas is up 40%.

Europe is having a bad day equity market-wise. Eurostoxx 50 was down 4.92%. The US Dow is braced for a 2.5% opening.

Now to bonds. The 10-year Treasury yield is down 13.3 bps this morning. Sweden and UK are down 10 bps as well.

How about the new Russian front? Ukraine’s 10y yield rose 691.0 bps while Russia’s 10Y yield rose 435 bps.

Russian 5Y Credit Default Swaps (CDS) leaped to a Greek-like 917.

Well, it looks like the sanctions imposed by Winken (US VP Harris), Blinken (US Secretary of State) and Nod (US President Biden because he always looks half-asleep) apparently didn’t work as intended.

Putin finally made up his mind.

Simply Unaffordable! How The Federal Reserve And Federal Government Are Making Housing Unaffordable For Millions (Rents Growing At 18%, Home Prices Growing At 19%, REAL Wages Growing At … -1.80%)

The Federal Reserve and Federal government are helping make housing simply unaffordable!

In January 2020, just prior to the COVID outbreak in the US, the Case-Shiller national home price index was growing at 4% YoY, the Zilliow rent index (all homes) was growing at 2.92% YoY and REAL average hourly earnings were growing at 0.52% YoY.

Then COVID struck and the Federal government dumped trillions of dollars of stimulus into the economy and The Federal Reserve massively expanded its balance sheet. Now the US has home prices growing at a 18.8% rate, rents (for those who can’t afford to purchase a home) growing at 14.91% and REAL hourly earnings growing at -1.80%.

The site Apartment List has an even bleaker view of rent growth, with rents in January 2022 having grown by 18% YoY.

Now that COVID is fading, we see New York City rents growing at 33.5% YoY followed by Florida and Arizona cities at 29.3% and higher rates. Irvine CA is seventh at 28%. The slowest growing city is Oakland, CA is growing at only 0.5%.

So, The Federal Reserve and Federal government have created their version of a horror film with even rents blowing out of control. And it’s getting weirder as inflation blows out of control.

Double Whammy, Staglflation Style! US Rents Soaring (12%) As Real-time Q1 GDP Slows To 0.7%

Call this a double whammy! Red-hot rents combined with a slowing economy.

According to CoreLogic, single-family annual rent growth finished 2021 at a new record: 11.7% YoY for high tier rental properties and 10.4% YoY for low tier rental properties.

Of course, southern and southwest rental properties are seeing the fastest rent growth. Particularly Miami at 36% YoY. Phoenix is no slouch at 19% growth in rents.

Inflation is really ripping the insides out of America’s working class. Especially with real-time GDP slowing to 0.7%.

Double whammy, indeed!

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UMich House Buying Conditions Falls To 71 As Fed Monetary Stimulypto Continues! (10Y-2Y Treasury Curve Slipping Into Darkness)

The University of Michigan consumer survey is out for February. And an ugly survey is it! Buying conditions for housing fell to 71 as The Federal Reserve continues it monetary stimulypto!

Despite 7.5% inflation, The Fed continues its “Stimulytpo” monetary policy.

As the US Treasury 10Y-2Y yield curve is slipping into darkness.

US consumer confidence is the lowest in 10 years as the yield curve crashes.

Here is the POMO schedule just released by The Fed.

I am reminded of my roommate at University of Wyoming who played James Brown over and over and over again. Much like The Fed doing nothing to curb inflation. Until they finally do something with a crashing yield curve.

Can’t wait for Powell to turn The Fed loose.

Wasting Away In Inflationville! Flexible CPI YoY Hits 18%, Highest In History (House Price Growth At 18.8% While REAL Wage Growth Crashes)

How bad is inflation in the USA? Try 18%, based on the Flexible Consumer Price Index.

The Flexible Price Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated from a subset of goods and services included in the CPI that change price relatively frequently. Because flexible prices are quick to change, it assumes that when these prices are set, they incorporate less of an expectation about future inflation.

Again, remember that Federal inflation numbers woefully undercount housing and rent inflation. For example, the Case-Shiller National Home Price index (as of November 2021) was growing at 18.8%.

The sad part is that inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings growth of all employees is crashing thanks to inflation.

Wasting away in Biden’s inflationville.

Reversal Of Fortune: Yield Curve Drooping As 2022 Forecast To Be Slower Market For Housing

No, not the Klaus von Bulow type of “reversal of fortune” (when he killed his wife). I am talking about a reversal in fortune for America.

Let’s look at the 10Y-2Y Treasury curve. It typically falls below 0 basis points before every recession. Except the mini-COVID recession of 2020. But notice that the Treasury curve did not recover from the COVID recession as it typically did. More along the lines of 1984-1985.

Speaking of Reversal of Fortune, everything changed once Fed Chair Powell started to speak after Tuesday’s FOMC meeting.

Hmm. Midterm elections, possible Russian invasion of The Ukraine, further problems in China, etc. While The Fed Funds Future data implies that The Fed may raise their target rate 5 times over the coming year, we’ll see.

I happen to agree with Fannie Mae’s Doug Duncan who says that he is less bullish about the housing market in 2022.

If 2021 was a great year for the US housing market, 2022 faces “a new normal” marked by a slowing down of home price rises, job layoffs in the mortgage industry, and concerns over rising inflation and interest rate hikes, according to Douglas Duncan (pictured), Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist.

Duncan said “a shift” was underway in the market and the wider economy, which would result in far more moderate home price appreciation, expected to be between 7% and 7.5% this year due to the ending of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

“One of the elements of the shift is that you’re going to see house prices up, but not nearly as far as they were in the last two years because that was driven hugely by the fiscal and monetary stimulus (now) being removed,” he told MPA.

Ominously, he added that low interest rates “may never be seen again”. Or at least until Biden appoints more doves to The Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

The doves at The FOMC.

US New Home Sales Crash -14% YoY In December As Median Price Slows To +3.4% YoY (Mortgage Applications Decline As Mortgage Rates Increase)

US new home sales spiked in December by 11.9% from November, but were down 14% year-over-year.

But the median price of new home sales (YoY) declined to 3.4%.

The Midwest saw a surge in new home sales (+56%).

The MBA’s mortgage applications index shows declining purchase applications (-1.83%) and declining refinancing applications (-12.60%) as mortgage rates increased from 3.64% to 3.72% for the week of 01/21.

Now, mortgage purchase applications rose for the week of 01/21 if we used non-seasonally adjusted data.

Simply Unaffordable! Fannie Mae Multifamily Financing Grew 23% … While Home Prices Grew 19.1% And Real Hourly Earnings Fell -2.36% (Rising Mortgage Rates Make The Affordability Problem WORSE)

Mortgage Orb has the tantalizing headline: “Fannie Mae’s Financing for Multifamily Affordable Housing Grew Over 23%.” At first, this sounds amazing … until you realize how simply unaffordable housing is much of urban/suburban America.

If you look at the following chart, you can see multifamily (5+ unit) starts remain elevated (pink box) which is not surprising given that home prices at growing at 19.1% YoY nationally (orange circle) and REAL hourly earnings have declined (yellow triangle) thanks to reemergence of inflation after 40 years.

Then we have the humming dragon, rising mortgage rates, that will reduce housing affordability even further.

Home ownership has become simply unaffordable much like steaks. Doctor, doctor (Yellen), we got a bad case of unaffordable home ownership.

Mortgage Rates in the U.S. Soar to the Highest Since March 2020 (3.45% Nominal Rate, -3.59% REAL Rate)

Mortgage rates in the U.S. rose for a third straight week, reaching the highest point in almost two years. 

The average for a 30-year loan was 3.45%, up from 3.22% last week and the highest since March 2020, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday.

Rates tracked a jump in yields for 10-year Treasuries, which climbed to levels not seen since early 2020, before the pandemic roiled financial markets. Signs point to borrowing costs rising further as the job market improves and the Federal Reserve steps up its efforts to tame inflation.

That would increase the burden on homebuyers who are already stretching to afford a purchase. Rates for 30-year mortgages tumbled to a record low of 2.65% a little more than a year ago.

Cheap loans have helped fuel a housing rally that’s still running hot even as home prices soar out of reach for many Americans.

But wait! The REAL 30-year mortgage rate (nominal 30-year rate – CPI YoY) is -3.59%.

Lael Brainard, Biden’s nominee to be Vice Chairman of The Federal Reserve, has been one of the “inflation is transitory” crowd. US Senator Toomey is questioning Brainard in today’s hearing. From Toomey’s opening statement:

Last year, Governor Brainard repeatedly insisted that inflation was transitory. We have now had nine consecutive months where inflation has been more than two times the Fed’s 2% target. That makes it pretty clear that inflation is not transitory. Yesterday’s CPI release of 7.0%—the highest in 40 years—confirms that.

Inflation is a tax that is eroding Americans’ paychecks every day. Even though wages are growing, inflation is growing faster and causing workers to fall further and further behind.

At least the REAL mortgage rate is negative!

I hope Senator Toomey shows Brainard this chart of “transitory” negative wage growth.

Negative wage growth and negative REAL mortgage rates. What a total mess!

CoreLogic: Home Prices Rise Record 18.1% In November (When Will Fed Take Its Foot Off The Pedal??)

  • Home price growth especially strong in Mountain West and Southeastern states
  • By November 2022, annual home price growth is predicted to slow to 2.8%

Yes, US home prices continue to rage with CoreLogic’s home price index rising 18.1% YoY.

Their forecast for 2022 is only 2.8% YoY likely due to forecast mortgage rate increases and fiscal stimulus wearing out.

Arizona, of course, is leading at 28.6% YoY. Florida is in second place followed by Idaho.

Slowdown? Let’s hope the slowdown doesn’t turn into a Matchbox and lead to declining home prices.