Sign Of The Times? Citi Economic Surprise Index Falls To -17.70 As US CDS (Default Insurance) And Fed Reverse Repos Remain Elevated

Its a sign of the times!

First, US default risk as measured by credit default swaps remains elevated (primarily because Biden and Democrats refused to cut wasteful spending or reign in non-retirees on Social Security). And NY Fed’s Reverse Repos remain elevated.

And then we have Citi’s economic surprise index for the US at -17 as The Fed slows money growth to 0%.

I wish I knew a place where inflation and insane Federal government spending and policies doesn’t exist.

The Thrill Is Gone! US Existing Home Sales Decline -34% Year-over-year For 17 Straight Months (Median Price Of EHS Falls -1.53% MoM)

The Thrill Is Gone from the US housing market as M2 Money growth fells to 0%.

US Existing Home Sales fell -1.5% from November to December (MoM) to 4.02 SAAR units sold. That translates to a depressing -34% decline since December 2021 (YoY).

On the positive side, these numbers are better than expected (-3.4% MoM expected). Still, these numbers are pretty dismal.

Existing home sales MEDIAN PRICE fell to $366.9k as M2 Money growth vanishes. And inventory of existing homes for sale remains lower than pre-Covid levels.

Let’s see what Powell and the Gang (aka, The Federal Reserve Board of Governors) does with interest rates going forward.

Today, the 10-year Treasury yield is up 7.1 basis points, but the real action is in Europe where sovereign yields are up 11.5 bps in France, 9.8 bps in Germany and 18.6 bps in Italy.

Janet Yellen And Treasury Tap Retirement Funds (Social Security) to Avoid Breaching US Debt Limit (US CDS Elevated To 2013 Debt Crisis Level)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has signalled that she will “tap” into Social Security to avoid breaching the US debt limit. Of course, if she does, it is unlikely that she will return the dollars.

The Credit Default Swaps 1-year for the US (insurance against default) sits at 68.55, near the highest since 2013 debt ceiling crisis.

Notice that the debt ceiling keeps on climbing once the Kabuki Theater of Democrats and Republicans is over.

The Volatility Cube for the US CDS 1 year signals that it will all be over soon.

So, Yellen and Treasury are threatening us with taking away Social Security and Medicare if we don’t agree with their lavish Pelosi-like spending sprees and debt.

And why exactly is Janet Yellen flying to China? I admit Washington DC has lousy Chinese food, but at least I hope Yellen takes Hunter Biden with her to negotiate the impending US default and debt workout.

‘Soft Landing’ Narrative Nuked As US Industrial Production Plunges In December And New York Biz Leaders Survey Crashes To -21.4 (US Treasury 10Y Yield Drops -14.1 Basis Points)

Soft landing for the US economy? It is looking less and less likely. The bond market (10-year Treasury yield) just shed -14.1 basis points. As I always told my investments students, any 10 basis point shift in the 10-year Treasury yield is significant.

Let’s start wit the US business leaders survey of current conditions. It just crashed to -21.4

Then we have US industrial production, down -0.7% in December. And is up only 1.65% year-over-year as M2 Money growth stalls.

Capacity Utilization plunged more than expected to 78.7% (79.5% exp).

Biden claiming the US economy is strong is pure Fantasy Island.

Today, Jean Pierre annouced that Biden’s economic plans are working.

Markets Are Strange! Mortgage Applications Rise 27.9% Since Previous Week, But Purchase Applications Remain 35% Lower Than Last Year (Refi Apps 81% Lower Than Last Year)

Markets are strange.

Mortgage applications increased 27.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 13, 2023. But mortgage applications are 60% lower than the same week last year.

The Refinance Index increased 34 percent from the previous week and was 81 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 25 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 32 percent compared with the previous week and was 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

Here are the stats.

One lender in particular, Wells Fargo, smells blood in the economic waters, and has cut back mortgage originations.

Just remember, mortgage applications generally rise in the first part of the year until May, then start slowing until the last week of the year. This is called seasonality. But despite the fast growth this year, purchase applications are still down -35% compared to last year at this time.

Trouble In Potomac City! US Treasury 10Y-2Y Yield Curve Now Inverted For 135 Straight Days, Real Wage Growth Now Negative For 21 Straight Months

We got trouble in Potomac City! No, I’m not talking about the numerous Top Secret documents that Biden carelessly left in his garage in Delaware and the UPenn Biden Center. And they found more over the weekend. I’m talking about the US Treasury 10Y-2Y yield curve being inverted for 135 straight days. And thanks to inflation, REAL wage growth has been negative for 21 straight months.

All this is happening while M2 Money growth (green line) stalls to 0% YoY.

Swaps 5Y are rising as The Fed withdraws monetary stimulus.

US Default? Since 2008, Net Interest Costs UP 192%, Social Security And Health Entitlements UP 140%, Nondefense Discretionary Spending UP 76% Based On 2032 Federal Budget

Newly-minted US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces a daunting task: trying to avoid a US debt default. As I have discussed many times before, nothing has been the same since the US housing bubble and near-collapse of the banking system that produced an expensive bailout of seemingly all financial institutions. After 2008, Federal spending has gone out of control. The budgetary hawks (or pigeons) in the US House of Representatives (with Pelosi, Boehner, Ryan then Pelosi again) went on Federal spending sprees of epic proportions.

The Manhattan Institute has a nice chart showing the explosion in the Federal budget since 2008. Of particular note, interest payments on the Federal debt has increased by a staggering 192%. On the non-interest spending front, Social Security and Health Entitlements have increased by 140% while Nondefense Discretionary Spending has increased 76%.

The massive increase in Federal debt interest is due to both increased Federal spending and rising interest rates thanks to The Federal Reserve raising rates to fight inflation.

But what will McCarthy and House Republicans recommend cuts in? Tighter restrictions on who qualifies for Social Security and particularly Social Security Disability payments?

The odd factoid is that Defense and Wars budget is up less than 1% from 2008 to 2032. So, Ukraine military aid is coming from somewhere, but not from the Defense budget. Is Ukraine another entitlement program?

Rest assured that after debate, the House will pass a budget and, provided that virtually nothing was cut, the Senate will gleefully agree to more spending and “Top Secret Documents” Biden will sign it.

After he parks his gorgeous Corvette Sting Ray, that is.

The Great Dislocation! M2 Money Growth Crashes To 0% As M2 Velocity Near Lowest In History (21 Straight Months Of Negative Weekly Earnings Growth)

The 2020 Covid outbreak and the resulting government shutdowns and school closures begat a Washington DC spending spree and Federal Reserve monetary stimulus barrage unlike anything other time in history. Congress and Administrations love to spend other people’s money, but as Rahm Emanuel once said “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” And wow, did they ever binge spend and expand the M2 Money supply. I call it “The Great Dislocation” of the economy and we never recovered from it.

Or as Ray Wylie Hubbard sang, “Drinking with my low life companions, dancin’ with a woman who is not my wife.” This should be the theme song for Washington DC and their manic spending.

But after the massive spending splurges and Fed monetary stimultypto, The Fed finally started withdrawing “the punch bowl” to combat inflation. M2 Money growth year-over-year (YoY) is now 0%. And with inflation, US average weekly earnings growth YoY turned negativc and has been negative for 21 straight months.

After the spending explosion under Pelosi/Schumer and Powell’s monetary, M2 Money velocity (GDP/M2 Money) crashed to it lowest level in history. So now we have depressed money velocity and no M2 money growth. And the US still has 21 straight months of negative weekly earnings growth.

But former Fed Chair and current Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen is pleased that inflation is FINALLY slowing which Yellen attributes to relaxing supply chains. Or is it declining M2 Money growth, Janet?

Now that the Federal government’s spending spree and The Fed’s monetary stimulypto dislocated the US economy, we are headed for a recession with no ammunition left in The Fed’s arsenal.

After all. The Federal Reserve has been destroying consumer purchasing power since 1913. And we may be at the end of The Fed’s monetary rope.

Even worse, we have Joe Biden as President, who curiously has been found to have classified documents in his possession from when he was Vice President, at least, at two locations (his Wilmington DL home that his son Hunter had access to and the now infamous Penn Biden Center in Washington DC). Even worse, Biden seems to be talking to dead world leaders like Germany’s Schmidt and France’s Mitterand.

Knowing Biden’s penchant for blatant lying and carelessness, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a stack of classified documents on the table during his meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Let’s hope Biden isn’t saying that he is talking to late Robert Kennedy, the former US Attorney General.

Fed Fireball! Newly Listed Homes Decline -21% YoY In December (Worst Decline In 6 Years) As Fed Tightens Monetary Noose

As The Federal Reserves attempts to combat inflation, the withdrawal of monetary stimulus is creating problems in the housing market. For one, as mortgage rates have risen, newly listed homes declined -21% YoY in December.

And yes, the 2022 vintage is the worst in 6 years as The Fed counterattacks inflation. And mortgage rates rose to over 7% before calming down to around 6.50%.

Magic? US Inflation Cools To -0.1% In December, 6.5% Year-over-Year YoY (REAL Weekly Earnings NEGATIVE For The 21st Straight Month At -3.1% YoY)

I don’t think this is a record that Biden can run on for re-election: 21 straight months of NEGATIVE REAL WAGE GRWOTH. Fortunately for Fed Chair Jay Powell, he is not an elected official.

The December inflation report still shows elevated inflation in the US, but only -0.1% since November (MoM), but still high compared to last year (6.5% YoY). That is still over 3x The Fed’s target inflation rate of 2%.

While headline inflation fell to 0.1% MoM, CORE inflation (removing food and energy) rose again 0.3% MoM and 5.7% YoY.

What exactly went up in price in December? Food and energy were all over 10% YoY growth.

At 6.50% YoY headline inflation, the Taylor Rule suggests a Fed Funds Target rate of … 13.13%. Well, I guess that Powell will say there is more rate hikes to be done.

As if The Fed follows any sensible rule. Instead, The Fed relies on magic tricks.