The Fed Helped Create Housing Bubble I And Then Helped Create Housing Bubble II: The Sequel (Case Study Of Phoenix AZ Home Price Bubble)

Phil Hall of Benzinga wrote a series of excellent articles in four parts for MortgageOrb (although “The Orb” has removed his name). Here are the links to his stories.

https://mortgageorb.com/the-fall-and-rise-of-the-housing-market-part-one

https://mortgageorb.com/the-fall-and-rise-of-the-housing-market-part-two

https://mortgageorb.com/the-fall-and-rise-of-the-housing-market-part-three

https://mortgageorb.com/the-fall-and-rise-of-the-housing-market-part-four

After re-reading these excellent articles on the housing bubble and crash, I thought I would take the opportunity to present a few charts to highlight the housing bubble, pre-crash and post-crash.

Here is a graph of Phoenix AZ home prices. Note the bubble that peaked in mid 2006. The Phoenix bubble correlates with the large volume of sub-620 FICO lending and Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) lending. Bear in mind, many of the ARMs prior to 2010 were NINJA (no income, no job) ARM loans.

What happened? Serious delinquenices at the national levels spiked as The Great Recession set in and unemployment spiked.

Since the housing bubble burst and surge in serious mortgage delinquencies, The Federal Reserve entered the economy with a vengeance. And have never left, and increased their drowning of markets with liquidity.

The Fed whip-sawing of interest rates in response to the 2001 recession was certainly a problem. They dropped The Fed Funds Target rate like a rock, then homebuilding went wild nationally and home prices soared thanks to Alt-A (NINJA) and ARM lending. But now The Fed is dominating markets like a gigantic T-Rex.

Oddly, then Fed Chair Ben Bernanke never saw the bubble coming. Or the burst.

Speaking of pizza, Donato’s from Columbus Ohio is my favorite. Founder’s Favorite is my favorite, but they do offer the dreaded Hawaiian pizza (ham, pineapple, almonds and … cinnamon?)

Bleech!

US Homeowner Equity Surged +29.3% YoY (California The Biggest Gainer) Thanks Mostly To Federal Reserve

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.

Homeowner Equity Q2 2021

CoreLogic analysis shows U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all properties*) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $2.9 trillion since the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 29.3% year over year.

*Homeownership mortgage source: 2016 American Community Survey.

Figure 1 National Homeowner Equity YOY Change

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.

Figure 4 National Homeowner Equity Average Equity Gain

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%.

Figure 5 National Homeowner Equity

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV)

The graph represents National Homeowner Equity Distribution across multiple LTV Segments.

Figure 6 National Homeowner Equity Loan-to-Value Ratio

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.

Of the top ten cities, Chicago leads in negative equity.

Maybe Fed Chair Jerome Powell is trying to soothe us, like Sam and Dave.

Hold That Tiger! US Existing Home Sales Decline As Prices Soar Thanks To Limited Inventory And Fed Stimulus

I certainly hope The Federal Reserve starts normalizing interest rates. Hold that Fed tiger!

(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.

U.S. Housing Starts Rose by More Than Forecast in August (Home Price Growth >4x Hourly Earnings Growth) Will The Thrill Be Gone When Stimulus Is Remove?

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.

Is the thrill gone from owning a single-family detached home?

Urkel Economy! US Consumer Confidence Lowest In Decades Thanks To Rising Prices (Home Buying Conditions Fall To 60)

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?”

Covid Blues! 1.6 Million Loans Remain In Forbearance With FHA/VA Leading (Fannie Mae Reports $7.2 Billion In Net Income In Q2 Report)

The Covid epidemic hit the single-family mortgage market hard in early 2020, leading mortgage lenders and servicers to offer FORBEARANCE to borrowers who were having trouble making their mortgage payments due to loss of hours or a loss of job.

Black Knight offers an excellent summary of the forbearance data.

The good news? Active forbearance plans are much lower today than at their peak after the Covid epidemic struck in early 2020 with active forbearance plans peaking in May 2020.

Forbearance plans are due to expire in

What is forbearance, you ask? Forbearance is when a mortgage servicer or lender allows a borrower to temporarily pay their mortgage at a lower payment or pause paying your mortgage. The borrower will have to pay the payment reduction or the paused payments back later.

Despite forbearance, Fannie Mae still reported $7.2 billion in net income in Q2 2021. Notice the difference between single-family SDQ and the SDQ rate without forbearance. Freddie Mac reported $3.7 billion in Q2 2021 net income.

Here is a look at Fannie Mae’s net income over the past year and SDQ rates.

Under the existing seller/servicer eligibility requirements, the Agency SDQ Rate is defined as 100 multiplied by (the UPB of mortgage loans 90 days or more delinquent or in foreclosure for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae/Total UPB of mortgage loans serviced for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae). Beginning with the financial quarter ending Jun. 30, 2020, the Agency SDQ Rate will include an adjustment for mortgage loans in a COVID-19-related forbearance plan that are 90 days or more delinquent and were current at the inception of the COVID-19-related forbearance plan. The UPB of such mortgage loans shall be multiplied by .30 and added to the UPB for SDQ mortgage loans for the purposes of determining the numerator in the calculation of the Agency SDQ Rate.

August US Inflation At 5.3% YoY, Real Avg Hourly Earnings At -0.9% (Gasoline Up 42.7% YoY, Used Cars And Trucks Up 31.9% YoY, Home Prices Up 18.6% YoY)

US inflation remained about the same in August as it was in July. CPI YoY fell ever so slightly from 5.4% in July to 5.3% in August. Real hourly earnings remain negative.

The source of consumer inflation? Gasoline prices rose 42.7% YoY while used cars and trucks rose 31.9% YoY.

Shelter rose 2.8% YoY. That is odd since the Case-Shiller national price index is growing at a torrid 18.61% YoY pace and the Zillow Rent Index YoY has recovered to a sizzling 9.24% YoY pace.

The YoY heatmap of inflation.

However, with the exception of home prices and rent, we are seeing a slowing of used car, foodstuffs and regular gas prices over the summer.

Yikes! Time to trim The Fed’s asset purchases!!

Taper Vapor! Only 235,000 Jobs Added Versus Expectations Of 733,000 (Hopes Of Fed Taper Go Up In Smoke) Silver, Bitcoin, Ethereum Rise

Well, after the dismal ADP print we knew that the August jobs numbers would be worse than imaginable. And they were!

A big miss on the topline job creation number — the establishment survey suggested only 235,000 jobs were created in August, versus expectations for 733,000 — has undercut what little chance there was left of a Fed announcement on tapering later this month. It should make for a very interesting debate among policy makers about forward momentum in the labor market.

The shocker was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which created zero new jobs on net in August after figures of around 400,000 in each of the previous two months. There was a dip in hiring in other service sectors too, but nowhere near as significant. That could perhaps be due to some early impact from the spread of the delta variant in recent weeks.

On the household survey, the numbers looked better. According to those figures, the unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, in line with estimates, thanks to a 509,000 increase in reported employment. That also propelled the prime working-age employment to population ratio to 78%, from 77.8% in July.

Disparities narrowed in August as well, according to prime working-age EPOP ratios by race and ethnicity. Prime working-age Black EPOP, in particular, jumped to 73% from 72.2% the month before — outpacing the rest.

Equity futures pared a modest gain after the release, with contracts on the S&P 500 Index flat as of 9:09 a.m. in New York. With wages climbing, Treasury yields rose, with those on 10-year notes rising 4 basis points to 1.33%. The Bloomberg Dollar Index was down 0.3%.

The unemployment rate dropped which a misleading headline. That simply means that more people dropped out of the labor force than were unemployed. Not a good way to lower the unemployment rate.

Alternative investments silver, Bitcoin and Ethereum rose on the lousy jobs report as the US Dollar dropped.

The good news? US Average Hourly Earnings All Employees Total Private YoY rose to 4.28%! The bad news? US home prices are rising at a 18.61% pace.

The bad news? Black unemployment rose to 8.8% in August while white unemployment fell to 4.5%. This represents a widening of the employment gap that is higher in August than pre-Covid.

There are still over 100 million NOT in the labor force, higher than pre-Covid.

So, The Fed’s plans to begin tapering have gone up in smoke.

Case-Shiller 20 Metro Home Price Index Breaches 19.1% YoY As Phoenix AZ Leads The Way At 29.3%! (Is Powell The God Of Hellfire?)

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is The God of Hellfire! Or least home prices.

The Case-Shiller 20 metro home price index grew at 19.1% YoY even as The Federal Reserve has “slowed” M2 Money growth to 13% YoY.

Home prices are now growing at 4.75x hourly earnings growth. And existing home sales inventory remains low by historic standards.

All of the Case-Shiller metro areas were above 13% with Phoenix, AZ leading at 29.3% YoY. The slowest growing metro area is Chicago, IL at 13.3%.

The FHFA’s house price growth hit 17.38% YoY in June. Mortgage rates being low and Fed’s Balance Sheet and The Fed’s System Open Market Holdings sky-high.

Are Fed Chair Jerome Powell and The Fed Board of Governors the Gods of Hellfire?

Fed’s Snakejuice And Winners/Losers From T-Curve Flatterning (Winners: Real Estate, Financials, Information Tech, Losers: Industrials, Retail, Metals And Mining)

At the annual Jackson Hole (aka, J-Hole) Economic Symposium, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that the Fed is in no hurry to either taper asset purchases immediately or aggressively. Additionally he made crystal clear that even when the Fed does eventually start tapering asset purchases (likely November or December), it should not be taken as signaling interest rate hikes will follow on some preset course. Indeed, Fed Chairman Powell continues to claim that inflation is transitory. Finally, he said that part of the mandate (employment) is still far from being achieved. So, expect more SNAKE JUICE.

The shape of the yield curve has been highly influential recently in relative performance trends between various areas of the market. From last summer through May of this year, the steepening of the yield curve coincided with healthy outperformance of cyclical stocks. Since May, the flattening of the curve has coincided with more defensive (or at least high quality) leadership out of the tech and health care sectors. The logic goes, therefore, that a re-steepening of the curve should coincide with a shift back to cyclicals. Indeed, that shift may be in the early innings.

Let’s take a look at the US Treasury 10Y-2Y curve slope over the past twelve months against the Citi Economic Surprise Index for the US. You can see curve fatigue starting in April 2021 as the Citi Economic Surprise Index turns negative.

The the more cyclical and smaller skewed S&P 500 equal weight index has started to outperform the S&P 500 again, right on queue with the yield curve re-steepening.

Industrial stocks are under-performing the broader S&P 500 index as the curve flattens.

Real estate stocks? They are outperforming the broader S&P 500 index.

Mining stocks like gold mines? They are underperforming the broader S&P 500 index.

Financial stocks? Not surprisingly, The Fed’s dovish behavior is causing financial stocks to outperform the broader S&P index.

Likewise, information technology stocks are outperforming the broader S&P 500 index.

So, by Powell delaying any balance sheet slowdown and rate increases, we have clear winners (real estate, financials, information tech) and clear losers on a relative basis (industrials, retail, metals and mining).

Pure snake juice.

The Others! Due to volatility differences, I wouldn’t over-interpret this chart. But Bitcoin as a ratio of the S&P 500 index is “kicking ass!” Gold and housing as a ratio of the S&P 500 index seemingly can’t keep up with the S&P 500 index.