US Pending Home Sales Decline For 13th Straight Month, Down -34.3% YoY As Fed Tightens (UMich Housing Sentiment At 44, Well Below 100)

The US housing market continues to struggle as The Federal Reserve continues to fight inflation. Today’s pending home sales are another nail in housing casket.

Pending home sales declined -34.4% year-over-year (YoY) as M2 Money growth went negative (-1.3% YoY).

At least UMich buying conditions for housing increased … to 44, well below 100.

Good News, Bad News! US New Home Sales Rise 2.3% In December, But DOWN -23% YoY (Median Price UP 7.8% YoY While M2 Money Growth Goes Negative)

The December new home sales report is good news and bad news.

The good news? US new home sales rose by 2.3% in December from November to 616k units sold SAAR. That is the good news.

The bad news? Since December of 2021, new home sales fell -23% year-over-year (YoY).

The median price of new home sales rose 7.8% YoY, but the trend as The Fed withdraws monetary stimulus (orange line) is not good.

Perhaps there is a communications breakdown between the Biden Administration and The Federal Reserve.

Is That All There Is? US GDP Expands At Only 2.9% Pace While Slowdown Signs Mount (Like M2 Money Slowing To -1.31% YoY And PCE Growth Less Than Forecast)

Today’s GDP report from the BEA reminds me of the Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?” Between the massive Fed monetary stimulus since late 2008 (and particularly since Covid in 2020) and all the Federal spending (Covid relief, Inflation reduction, Omnipork spending bill, etc.), US real GDP rose by only 2.9% in Q4 from Q3.

But signs of slowing underlying demand mounted as the steepest interest-rate hikes in decades threaten growth this year.

Gross domestic product increased at a 2.9% annualized rate in final three months of 2022 after a 3.2% gain in the third quarter, the Commerce Department’s initial estimate showed Thursday. 

Personal consumption, the biggest part of the economy, climbed at a below-forecast 2.1% pace (forecast was for 2.9%). Again,

The report also showed some signs of stress for American consumers whose wages have failed to keep up with inflation and continued to encourage them to draw down savings accumulated from government pandemic-relief programs. The burden of elevated prices and higher borrowing costs is mounting, pointing to a tenuous outlook for the economy.

A key gauge of underlying demand that strips out the trade and inventories components — inflation-adjusted final sales to domestic purchasers — rose an annualized 0.8% in the fourth quarter after a 1.5% gain.

Core PCE growth grew at 3.9%, but is slowing already as M2 Money growth dies.

Stock-index futures and Treasury yields remained higher and the dollar was little changed after the GDP report and better-than-expected weekly jobless claims. Applications for unemployment insurance dropped to 186,000 last week, the lowest since April.

Recent data show cracks are developing more broadly. Retail and motor vehicle sales data showed households are starting to retrench, the housing market continues to weaken and some businesses are reconsidering capital spending plans. 

As the Federal Reserve continues to hike interest rates to ensure inflation is extinguished, housing and manufacturing have deteriorated quickly while industries including banking and technology are carrying out mass layoffs.

The GDP report showed the personal consumption expenditures price index, a key inflation metric for the Fed, rose at an annualized 3.2% rate in the fourth quarter, down from a 4.3% pace in the prior three months. The core index that excludes food and energy climbed at a 3.9% rate compared with 4.7% paces in the prior two quarters. Monthly data for December will be released Friday.

The moderation in price pressures is consistent with forecasts that the Fed will further scale back its tightening campaign next week, when it’s expected to raise rates by 25 basis points. Policymakers boosted the benchmark rate by 50 points in December after 75 basis-point hikes at their previous four meetings.

The world’s largest economy expanded 2.1% last year. In 2021, when demand snapped back from pandemic-related shutdowns, the economy grew 5.9% — the best performance since 1984.

The GDP data showed services spending increased at 2.6% annualized rate in the October-December period, the slowest since last year’s first quarter. Outlays on goods rose at a 1.1% pace, the first advance since 2021.

Business investment slowed sharply after a third-quarter surge. Spending on equipment declined an annualized 3.7%, the most since the second quarter of 2020. Outlays for structures rose at a 0.4% pace.

Let’s hope the BEA isn’t padding the numbers like the BLS was caught doing in the first half of 2022.

Lastly, US Real GDP growth YoY FELL to only 0.95925% as M2 Money growth disappears.

MBA Purchase Applications Drop -.58% Since Last Week, Refi Apps Rise 3.15% WoW As Mortgage Rates Declined 3rd Straight Week (Purchase Apps Down -39% Since Same Week Last Year, Refi Apps Down 77%)

Falling mortgage rates are having a predictible effect on mortgage refinancing applications, but not so much for mortgage purchase applications.

Mortgage applications increased 7.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 20, 2023. This week’s results include an adjustment for the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The Refinance Index increased 3.15 percent from the previous week and was 77 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 39 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

Generally speaking, declining mortgage rates are due to declining 10-year Treasury yields. And 10-year Treasury yields decline as the economy weakens. Of course, M2 Money growth YoY is now 0% as The Fed tightens.

On a humerous note, US Treasury Secretary Janet “The Evil Gnome” Yellen is visiting Africa and lecturing them on prudcnt sovereigh debt management. Seriously. China responded with “Fix the US debt problems before you lecture anyone else.”

Winter Is Coming! Richmond Fed Outlook Declines To -11 As Philly Fed Outlook Down To -8.9 And NY Empire State Outlook Down To -32.9 (US 10Y-3M Yield Curve Inverts To -126.5 Basis Points)

Three regional Fed reports I like to watch are New York’s Empire State Outlook, Philly Fed’s Outlook and Richmond Fed’s outlook. Today, The Richmond Fed released their manufacturing outlook and … it declined to -11.

So the big three are all down (Philly down to -8.9 while NY’s Empire State outlook is down to -32.9.

On the Treasury front, the US 10Y-3M yield curve inverted further (a signal of impending recession) just tanked to -126.462 basis points.

Winter is coming!

US Leading Indicator More Like Bleeding Indicator After 10 Straight Months Of Declines, Down -1% As M2 Money Growth Dies (Mortgage Rate Rises To 6.47%)

The Conference Board’s Leading Indicator should be called The Bleeding Indicator given that the leading index has declined to 10 straight months. This is happening as The Fed tightens monetary policy to combat inflation.

Leading indicators include economic variables that tend to move before changes in the overall economy. These indicators give a sense of the future state of an economy.

How about mortgage rates? Settling in a 6.47%.

The Secret Panel? US Yield Curve Inversion, CDS Default Price, SOFR Signals More Rate Increases Then Rate Cuts

Ah, the start of a new week with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arguing (with a straight face) that there is no room in the Federal budget for cuts. Apparenly, Yellen never read any of the massive, pork-laden spending bills signed by Biden (no one else did in Congress either, nor did Biden).

Let’s start with the US credit default swap (1 year). It remains high at 68.72 (the price of insuring against a US default). And the US Treasury yield curve (10Y-3M)? It remains deeply inverted at -114 basis points this morning signaling an impending US recession.

Then we have SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate). SOFR futures are pricing for the Federal Reserve to hike rates a few more times and to start cutting before the end of this year. The pricing for the 2023 rate path is little changed from a month ago, but this year the market has priced in deeper cuts in 2024, with SOFR now seen below 3% by early 2025 before stabilizing. The implication is that hedging recession and significant rate cuts in 2024 now seems to be fully priced in, yet there’s a risk that the Fed cuts even deeper than the market is factoring in.

We think the market is partially preparing for the risk of even deeper rate cuts than linear instruments are pricing. To see how dramatic those are, we can look at options on SOFR futures and model what’s being priced by the volatility surface.

We are seeing the same story if we look at Fed Funds Futures data. Fed rate hikes until June, then rate cuts to follow.

How did Biden’s lawyers and now the DOJ figure out that Biden has classified documents all over the place? Probably from reading “The Hardy Boys.” Except that Biden didn’t cleverly hide classifed documents. Rather, he carelessly left them lying around at The Penn Biden Center and his home in Wilmington Delaware that he shared with his son, Hunter. And probably on the Amtrak train he would take from Wilmington to Union Station in DC. And probably at Chinatown Garden, a short walk from The White House.

The Great Biden/Pelosi/Schumer Powell (4 Horsemen) Inflation Tax In One Chart (Personal Savings DOWN -64.8%, Consumer Credit UP, Real Weekly Earnings Growth NEGATIVE For 21 Straight Weeks)

I must admit, Joe Biden has a horribly misleading nickname “Middle Class Joe.” Between Biden’s horrible energy policies and Pelosi’s/Schumer’s spending binges, the US middle class and low wage workers have suffered mightely with the inflation tax. Throw in Jerome Powell and The Federal Reserve’s manic money printing and the American middle class has a problem.

US inflation peaked at 9.1% year-over-year (YoY), but has declined to a still painful 7.1% YoY as The Fed removes it aggressive monetary stimulus. But to cope with persistent US inflation, consumers have had to dip into savings and use more credit cards. As a consequence, personal savings plunged -64.8% YoY while consumer credit rose 7.9% YoY.

The other tax on the middle class and low-wage workers is the 21 straight months of negative REAL weekly earnings growth.

On the housing front, REAL home prices are growing at 1.5% YoY while REAL weekly wage growth is still NEGATIVE at -3.13% YoY.

Make no mistake, inflation caused by The Fed and Federal governments spending is a tax on the middle class and low wage workers.

Biden, Pelosi, Schumer and Powell are the 4 Horseman of the Inflation Apocalypse.

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.