Since Q2 2020, US homeowners have been big winners in terms of home price gains and equity in their homes. Unfortunately, this means that renters are big losers. Once again, The Federal Reserve is benefiting once segment of the population while punishing the other segment.
*Homeownership mortgage source: 2016 American Community Survey.
National Homeowner Equity
In the second quarter of 2021, the average homeowner gained approximately $51,500 in equity during the past year.
California, Washington, and Idaho experienced the largest average equity gains at $116,300, $102,900 and $97,000 respectively. Meanwhile, North Dakota experienced the lowest average equity gain in the second quarter of 2021 at $10,600.
10 Select Metros Change
CoreLogic provides homeowner equity data at the metropolitan level, in this graphic 10 of the largest cities, by housing stock are depicted.
Negative equity has seen a recent decrease across the country. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA, is the least challenged, with Negative Equity Share of all mortgages at 0.6%.
Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV)
The graph represents National Homeowner Equity Distribution across multiple LTV Segments.
Since growing home equity lead to lower default risk (or at least losses to the mortgage holder), we are seeing mortgage delinquencies fall after the Covid surge.
(Bloomberg) — Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in August, suggesting that demand is moderating as lean inventory and high prices squeezed out some buyers.
Contract closings decreased 2% from the prior month to an annualized 5.88 million, in line with economists’ estimates, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed Wednesday. “Clearly the home sales are settling down but above pre-pandemic conditions,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said on a call with reporters.
Lawrence Yun is correct. There was a huge spike in existing home sales (EHS) following the Covid outbreak and the overreaction by The Federal Reserve (aka, when the ain’ts went marching in). Despite continuing stimulus, but EHS has simmered down.
At least the median price of EHS YoY slowed to 12.1% YoY as The Fed slows M2 Money growth.
Inventory remains relatively low compared to historic levels while price zooms with Fed stimulus.
Want home price growth to slow its insane growth? Hold that tiger! That is, The Fed has to start normalizing interest rates.
Building materials copper and PVC (pipes) both surged with The Fed’s Cat 5 hurricane approach to liquidity. Then copper backed-off, but PVC rose when Hurricane IDA struck the gulf coast.
The Fed will announcing their plans (maybe) at 2pm today.
What would it take to knock the U.S. recovery off course and send Federal Reserve policy makers back to the drawing board? Not much — and there are plenty of candidates to deliver the blow.
From one direction: U.S. debt-ceiling deadlock, China property slump or simply an extension of Covid caution could hit growth and jobs — taking the Fed’s proposed taper of bond purchases off autopilot, and pushing its first interest-rate increase back to 2024 or later. From the other: Sustained supply-chain snarl-ups could keep inflation stubbornly high and unmoor inflation expectations — forcing an acceleration of the taper, and an early rate liftoff in 2022.
And if shocks arrive from both directions at once, the upshot could be a combination of weak growth and rapidly rising prices — not as severe as the stagflation of the 1970s — but still leaving Fed Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues with no easy answers.
In the following, we use Bloomberg Economics’ new modeling tool SHOK to explore these scenarios. None of them represents our base case. At a moment of elevated uncertainty, it makes sense to pay more attention to the risks.
Is the U.S. Economy Headed for a Slowdown? Signs of a slowdown in the U.S. economy aren’t hard to find.
August payrolls — just 235,000 new jobs, one-third of the expected number — were a red flag. The delta variant has made consumers cautious again. The University of Michigan’s index of sentiment plunged in August; only six declines since the modern index was launched in 1978 have been bigger.
Add all these pieces together, and a recovery that looked unstoppable just a few weeks ago now appears to be losing steam. At Bloomberg Economics, we have cut our prediction for annualized third-quarter growth to 5%, from above 7% at the start of the quarter. Others have gone lower, with forecasters at some of the big banks anticipating growth closer to 3%. Even if delta subsides, it’s not hard to imagine scenarios where the slide continues.
One of them involves the partisan impasse over raising the U.S. debt ceiling. The U.S. government is expected to reach the limits of its debt-servicing capacity in October. Default, a potentially catastrophic event for the global financial system, still appears an outside possibility. But even without one, recent history shows that dancing around the possibility — triggering a persistent risk-off period in the markets — can have serious consequences. Separately, a government shutdown starting Oct. 1 would hardly be helpful when the recovery is already struggling to find its footing.
In the three weeks around the 2011 debt-ceiling standoff, the S&P 500 index plummeted more than 15% and corporate borrowing costs spiked. Using SHOK we estimate that a repeat performance would shave about 1.5 percentage points off annualized fourth-quarter growth — and ensure a rocky start to 2022.
Global Risks to the Fed’s Plan Not all the risks originate so close to home.
Fears of a China housing crash have long haunted global markets. Now, President Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” agenda has turned that into a real possibility.
Regulators are cracking down on abuses that inflated property values, and tight controls on lending have helped push prices and new construction sharply down. That’s left Evergrande, one of the nation’s biggest developers, on the cusp of a default. The consequences of a wider slump could be severe, because real estate drives demand for everything from steel and concrete to furniture and home electronics — contributing as much as 29% of China’s GDP, all told.
It wouldn’t take a sub-prime style meltdown to send shockwaves around the world and move the dial for the U.S. China’s economy is currently forecast to enter 2022 with growth at around 5%. A property slump could take that down to 3%, triggering a blow to trade partners, a drop in oil and metal prices, and a risk-off moment in global markets. In that scenario, the U.S. would limp into 2022 with the recovery marked down and inflation back below the 2% target.
When Is Jerome Powell Likely to Raise Rates? Powell has set out the FOMC’s criteria for rates liftoff: maximum employment, and inflation that hits and is set to exceed the 2% target for some time. A blow to employment and demand from a debt-ceiling standoff or China shock might mean those criteria are not met. Rate hikes could be kicked into the long grass, with expectations moving from 2023 out to 2024 or beyond. The test for tapering is less stringent, and a start at the end of this year appears close to baked in. Even so, if the recovery stumbles the Fed might have to make a course correction, introducing discretion into a process that markets expect to run on autopilot.
In 2015, the stock-market and currency slump in China — and the sustained shift to global risk-off sentiment that triggered — was enough to delay the start and slow the pace of the U.S. tightening cycle. In 2021, the Fed might not have that luxury.
China’s residential property slowdown deepened last month, signaling that regulatory tightening and an escalating crisis at the country’s most indebted developer are hurting buyer sentiment.
Supply-chain breakdowns — from port closures to shortages of semiconductors and lumber — have been one of the main factors pushing U.S. inflation above 5% this summer. That’s enabled Powell to label the price jumps as “transitory” and soothe fears of an upward spiral. The lower CPI reading for August provides some support for that thesis.
It wouldn’t take much, though, for further supply shocks to keep inflation uncomfortably high. From home electronics to textiles, American consumers load their shopping carts with goods that are made in Asia and delivered via supply chains that crisscross the continent. When the inflation rate for used cars in the U.S. hit 45% this year, driven by semiconductor shortages that threw assembly lines into disarray, it illustrated what can happen when those fragile linkages break down.
All of this adds to the risk of further “transitory” shocks to inflation. One early-warning signal: according to press reports, semiconductor giant TSMC has announced plans for price hikes of as much as 20% next year.
The effects of pandemic-induced supply-chain disruptions are still rippling through businesses and households, reflected in higher prices for goods, delays in receiving them and flat-out shortages.
For the Fed, inflation running hot into 2022 would be troubling on its own, and worse if it triggers a shift in inflationary psychology. If businesses start to feel comfortable setting prices higher, and workers start demanding higher wages to compensate, the risk is a situation reminiscent of the wage-price spirals of the 1970s — when it took a recession engineered by the Volcker Fed to squeeze inflation expectations out of the system.
Unmoored inflation expectations would very likely trigger an early and aggressive response from the Fed: an accelerated taper, and a rate hike in 2022.
A no-win scenario would be if the two blows — to output and jobs, and to supply chains and prices — landed at the same time, leaving Fed officials in a quandary. Ease policy to support growth and they would add fuel to the inflationary fire. Tighten to bring prices under control, and they would exacerbate the drag on the recovery, throwing more Americans out of work.
Agreement in Congress, or decision by the Democrats to go it alone, could remove the default risk. China has in the past proved skillful at shifting gears to avoid a housing crash. Vaccination rates in Asia are rising. The latest U.S. data — inflation slowed and retail sales rose — have been encouraging.
The unorthodox monetary stimulus from The Federal Reserve and stimulypto-level spending by the Federal government has resulted in a surge in US housing starts. But that thrill may be gone if the stimulypto is removed.
(Bloomberg) -By Olivia Rockeman- U.S. housing starts rose by more than expected in August, suggesting that the supply and labor constraints that have been holding back construction eased in the month.
Residential starts rose 3.9% last month to a 1.62 million annualized rate after an upwardly revised July print, according to government data released Tuesday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a 1.55 million pace.
Building permits, meanwhile, increased 6% in August, the biggest gain since January, reflecting a sizable jump in multi-family units. Permit applications for single-family homes also edged higher.
The data suggest that builders are making some construction headway despite limited availability of land, labor and materials, which has slowed residential starts from a 15-year high in March. Despite the bottlenecks, housing starts remain mostly above pre-pandemic levels, which is expected keep construction activity elevated for some time.
1-unit (single family detached) starts got a tremendous jolt from The Fed’s monetary stimulus and Federal governments fiscal stimulus. But government stimulus wears out.
Given the high cost of housing in the USA, particularly in coastal metro areas, we see home price growth raging at over 4 times hourly earnings growth.
As a result, we are seeing a burst of 5+ unit (multifamily) housing starts. Note the burst of 5+ housing starts prior to Covid striking in early 2020.
Permits for 1-unit housing are up only slightly but 5+ unit permits are up 19.7%.
Remember, the withdrawal of fiscal stimulus will lead to a big fiscal cliff.
(Bloomberg) — The S&P 500 Index extended its decline past 2% Monday afternoon amid growing investor jitters about China’s real estate crackdown potentially sparking a financial contagion. And the Hang Seng fell 3.30% overnight.
The benchmark gauge was down 2.1% as of 12:08 p.m. in New York. All of the 11 major industry groups declined, with the energy, financials and materials sectors leading the losses. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index slumped 2.4%, while the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 1.9%.
By 2:33pm, the Dow is down 2.55%, NASDAQ down 3.15%.
Volatility also soared, with the Cboe Volatility Index — often called Wall Street’s “fear index” — jumping as much as 29% to 26.75, the highest level in over four months.
“While the Evergrande situation is front and center, the reality is, stock market valuations are overstretched and the market has enjoyed too long of a break from volatility and Monday’s stock market declines are not surprising,” said David Bahnsen, chief investment officer at the Bahnsen Group, a wealth management firm.
As Evergrande bonds continue to tank.
Meanwhile, most commodity prices are falling … except for UK Natural Gas Futures which are up 16.5%!
Kind of a drag … when Federal government stimulus fades just as The Fed tries to decide on slowing its balance sheet expansion.
(Bloomberg) — In the coming Year of the Taper, it’s the fiscal version that will really bite.
The chatter in U.S. financial markets is all about the Federal Reserve’s yet-to-be-announced reduction of its bond purchases. That’s obscuring something important: the already-under-way cutback of the federal government’s budgetary support — which is likely to have a much bigger impact on economic growth next year.
The U.S. expansion looks set to slow sharply in the second half of 2022 as measures that propped up the economy during the pandemic — from stimulus checks for households to no-cost financing for small companies — fade from view.
That will be the case even if President Joe Biden manages to win Congressional approval for the bulk of his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better agenda. The spending will stretch over years, with limited impact in 2022. It will also be at least partly paid for by tax increases that slow the economy down rather than speed it up.
And then the is Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen renewing her call for Congress to raise or suspend the U.S. debt ceiling, saying the government will otherwise run out of money to pay its bills sometime in October.
We can see the CDS market reacting … slightly … to Yellen’s concerns.
But next to Argentina’s CDS, the US looks positively tame.
And there is a little disturbance in the Fed Funds Futures volatility.
Then we have the volatility cube showing The Fed’s rate suppression at the short end and expected volatility in the future.
And there we have The Fed’s temporary repo facility hitting an all-time high.
This is the Steve Urkel economy where The Federal Reserve and Federal government screw everything up with their policies (or follicies) and say “Whoops! Did I do that?”
(Bloomberg) — U.S. consumer sentiment rose slightly in early September but remained close to a near-decade low, while buying conditions deteriorated to their worst since 1980 because of high prices.
The University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index edged up to 71 from 70.3 in August, data released Friday showed. The figure trailed the median estimate of 72 in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Buying conditions for household durables, homes and motor vehicles all fell to the lowest in decades. The report said the declines were due to complaints about high prices. Consumers expect inflation to rise 4.7% over the coming year, matching the highest since 2008.
September’s UMich Buying Conditions for Houses fell to 60 … thanks to superheated house prices.
I can just picture Fed Chair Jerome Powell channeling Steve Urkel and saying “Whoops!! Did I do that?”
Since the Covid outbreak in early 2020, The Federal Reserve lowered their target rate and super-spiked their balance sheet. Helping to lower bank deposit rates to near zero.
But despite near zero bank deposit rates, we seeing bank deposits are larger than bank credit such as commercial and industrial loans, residential mortgages loans, car loans, etc. Normally, bank credit EXCEEDS bank deposits.
The problem? One of them is negative growth in commercial and industrial lending. It declined 13.5% YoY in August. Of course, The Federal government extended emergency business loans that were counted as C&I loans, hence the spike in C&I loan growth in May 2020. But now we are seeing a real slowdown in C&I lending.
Residential lending is down 2.1% YoY as of September 10 (for August).
Commercial real estate lending? At least it is growing at a 2.9% YoY pace for August.
Credit cards and other revolving plans increase steadily since 2014 and then declined after the Fauci Flu struck. But credit cards and revolving credit has started to rise again.
The Fed’s massive overreaction to Covid caused a storm surge in C&I lending that has subsided. But other bank lending has slowed as well.
Lots of bank assets with nowhere to go.
No wonder M2 Money Velocity (GDP/M2 Money) is at historic lows.
Remember, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is up for reappointment and President Biden must make a decision on his reappointment.