US Home Price Growth “Slows” To 18.81% YoY With Phoenix AZ At 32.2% (Simply Unaffordable!)

Happenings two months ago. The Case-Shiller home price index is out for … November 2021.

The Case-Shiller National home price index “slowed” to 18.81% YoY in November as The Fed continues its monetary stimulypto. Notice that The Fed is easing even when there is limited inventory available. Result? Hideous home price inflation.

Which metro area is growing the fastest, making housing even more unaffordable for renters? Phoenix AZ is growing at a 32.2% YoY clip while Washington DC is the slowest growing metro area at 11.1% YoY. The second faster growing metro area in Tampa FLA.

Phoenix AZ is growing at the fastest rate in the nation as The Fed still has its monetary stimulus at FULL SPEED AHEAD.

Let’s see if Fed Chair Powell decides to raise rates and let the Fed’s balance sheet run-off.

Inflation And Fed Crushing Savers (REAL 3M CD Rate At -6.74%)

The Federal Reserve’s zero-interest rate policies (ZIRP) has The Fed Funds Target Rate at a measly 25 basis points or 0.25%. While this is great for some, it is disastrous for savers. Once we subtract off the inflation rate (CPI YoY), we find that the REAL 90-day Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate is a horrifying -6.74%.

I don’t think that Congress or the Biden Administration really think about how their spending may contribute to inflation and crush savers. Or the American worker who is seeing NEGATIVE real average hourly earnings growth (yes, Biden said that Americans have more money this holiday season … but not if we account for reduced spending power, also known as inflation.

Here is US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen singing “Goodbye Savers.”

Goodbye Savers
Will we ever meet again
Feel sorrow, feel shame
Come tomorrow, feel lots of pain

Freddie Mac Mortgage Rate Rises To 3.12%, REAL Mortgage Rate At -3.689% (REAL Home Price Growth At 14.12% While REAL Wage Growth At -1.94%)

The Freddie Mac 30-year mortgage commitment rate rose to 3.12%. But once we subtract the gut-wrenching inflation rate, the REAL 30-year mortgage rate is -3.689%.

The nominal Freddie Mac 30-year commitment rate rose to 3.12% which is still lower than 3.18% back on April 1, 2021 after surge in rates following Biden’s taking the office of Presidency in January.

Meanwhile, the REAL Case-Shiller National home price index (CS National YoY – CPI YoY) is growing at the fastest rate in history. Great if you already own a home, but lethal if you are renting and want to move to homeownership.

Meanwhile, REAL wage growth is at -1.94% YoY.

Well, Chairman Powell and The Gang failed to raise the Fed Funds Target Rate yet again, but let us know that they will tighten someday soon. The Fed Funds Futures are signalling a rate hike at the June 2022 meeting and another at the November meeting.

While The Fed couldn’t care less about the Taylor Rule, it is still interesting to note just how out of touch The Fed FOMC is with reality. The Taylor Rule indicates that their target rate should be 16.94% rather than the current target rate of 0.25%.

Keeping the target rate unchanged in the face of gut-wrenching inflation is a bold strategy, Cotton.

Let’s see if it pays off.

Psst! US Inflation Is REALLY >11% YoY (Not The Stated 6.9% YoY)

Earlier today I wrote about the horrible November Consumer Price Index (CPI) print of 6.9% YoY.

But that 6.9% YoY is very misleading because of the strange way the Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the largest asset in most households’ expenditures: housing.

The BLS measures inflation in housing using the Shelter measurement. Which was only 3.88% YoY. The problem is that the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index was 19.52% in its last reading. That is quite a discrepancy.

So, if we substitute the Case-Shiller National home price index for the CPI Shelter, we get an inflation rate of greater than 11%.

And with the Zillow Rent for all homes index growing at 11.2%, this feels more like we are being hit over the head with. Or like trying to eat raw oyster stew … when the oyster fight back.

Here is a video of The Federal Reserve and the Biden Administration trying to control inflation.

Powell, Yellen Say They Underestimated Inflation And Supply Snarls (M1 Money Grew At 369% With Rates Near Zero Since COVID And They Didn’t See Inflation Coming???)

The Dream Team (Fed Chair Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen) just can’t believe that inflation struck even after M1 Money Stock increased by 369% from March 2020 to today while interest rates remained near zero.

From The Hill: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday said they underestimated how quickly the U.S. economy would rebound from the COVID-19 recession and strain supply chains.

During a Wednesday hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, the top two U.S. economic policymakers acknowledged that high inflation has risen higher and lingered much longer than they expected.

“We understood demand would be strong,” Powell said. “We didn’t understand [the] significant problems of the supply side.”

Both Yellen and Powell said substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus played a role in stoking the higher demand that fueled inflation, but they called it a challenging side-effect of an otherwise fast recovery.

Seriously? The Fed and the Federal government dumped trillions of dollars into an economic system and didn’t think there would be negative consequences??

Look at the surge in M1 Money Stock at the same time asset-backed commercial paper rates are 0.08%. That is, about 1/3rd The Fed Funds Target rate (upper bound). None of this concerned The Dream Team?

An example of what The Dream Team didn’t see happening was the explosion of home prices. Home price growth was about 4% YoY prior to COVID, and is now 19.51% YoY.

Now we have the US Treasury Actives curve inverting like the US Dollar Swaps curve after 20 years.

Here is a composite photo of Jay Powell and Janet Yellen (to save space). Here is a video of Powell/Yellen composite trying to control inflation.

US Home Prices “Slow” To +19.51% YoY In September (Phoenix AZ Sizzles At +33.1%, Chicago Slowest At 11.8%)

When I told Benzinga’s Phil Hall in an interview a while back that I thought US home price growth would slow, I didn’t consider the never-ending COVID epidemic (now with the Omicron Variant taking the stage. But at least the CoreLogic Case-Shiller National home price index (HPI) “slowed” in September from +19.84% to +19.51%.

Once again, low available inventory of houses for sale coupled with outlandish Fed stimulus has resulted in a housing crisis where home price growth (+19.51%) exceeds hourly wage growth (+5.76%) by almost 4x.

Where are all the home prices above 10% YoY? Every one of the 20 metro areas covered by Case-Shiller. Phoenix AZ leads at +33.1%. Chicago IL is the “slowest” at 11.8%.

Although Columbus OH is the growth hub of the state, Case-Shiller only reports Cleveland. So here is Columbus’s all-transactions home price growth for Q3: +16.2% YoY placing Columbus at the top of the midwest metro areas of Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Cleveland.

With the latest Omicron Variation (sounds like a Star Trek TV show episode), I will bet that The Fed will stay a little longer and keep rates low, leading to home price growth (with limited available inventory) to continue to grow at double digit speeds.

The Fed is printing SOOOO much money that the dollar should have a double eagle on it.

Fear? The Omicron Variant Isn’t Scaring Treasury Investors (Treasury And US Dollar Swaps Curves Calm After Friday’s Flattening)

The latest scare hitting financial markets is the Omicron Variant (or Oh! Macron! Variant in France). While it caused an initial decline in global equity markets {Dow fell 900 points on early reports on Omicron), the Treasury market has been relatively unscathed.

For example, the US Treasury Actives curve dropped last Friday (the orange line represents the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), while the remaining three lines represent last Friday, Monday and Tuesdays (today). In other words, the US Treasury Actives curve has been quiet so far this week after Friday’s flattening.

The US Dollar Swaps curve shows the same dynamics. The dark blue line is last Wednesday, while the remaining lines are last Friday, this Monday and today. Not a lot happening after the initial Omicron fear factor was priced in.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell believes that the omicron variant of Covid-19 and a recent uptick in coronavirus cases pose a threat to the U.S. economy and muddle an already-uncertain inflation outlook.

“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation,” Powell said in remarks he plans to deliver to Senate lawmakers on Tuesday. “Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people’s willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.”

Do I detect FEAR in Powell’s voice? The odds of rate increases for next year just fell to one rate increase at the September 2022 meeting.

On the equity side, it seems to be all about whether The Fed will withdraw its support. Back in early 2018, then Fed Chair Janet Yellen and the FOMC started to shrink the Fed balance sheet (green line). This resulted in the “Smart Money Index” declining. The S&P 500 index received a jolt with the Fed stimulus around the COVID outbreak and have taken off like a jackrabbit. Despite the Smart Money Flow index being lower than in 2017.

The VIX and VVIX are elevated showing fear in the equity markets. But much less than when COVID broke out in March 2020. Each spike in VVIX (or the volatility of VIX) is likely when Dr. Anthony Fauci opened his mouth.

So, is Omicron the “planet killer” or just another mild flu-like outbreak? The data is pointing towards the latter, but FEAR may cause it to be a bigger deal than is warranted.

Securitization Frenzy! Wall Street Repackaging Of Loans, Franchise Agreements, Royalties Surging As Alarm Sounds For Commercial Retail

Alarm!

I remember the surge in securitization of loans, receivables, etc during the housing bubble of the mid-to-late 2000s. Today seems like 2007 all over again.

(Bloomberg) — Bankers are repackaging everything from fast food franchises to fitness-center fees into bonds at the fastest clip since the global financial crisis as investors chase yield and inflation protection.

This year’s sales of U.S. asset-backed securities have already surpassed $300 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg — and more is expected by year-end. Post-crisis issuance records have also been set in private-label commercial mortgage bonds and collateralized loan obligations, which are also seen accelerating.

“Solar, consumer loans, container lease and whole business transactions to some degree all offer attractive yields and spreads,” said Dave Goodson, head of securitized credit at Voya Investment Management. “These so-called esoteric sectors remain well supported with plenty of money to invest.” 

On Monday, Self Esteem Brands, a franchiser of businesses including its flagship gyms Anytime Fitness, priced a $505 million ABS that was backed by franchise agreements, royalties and fees. In whole business securitizations like these, companies mortgage virtually all their assets.

Last month, fried chicken restaurant chain Church’s Chicken sold a $250 million securitization backed by franchise and royalty collateral. Golden Pear Funding recently securitized litigation fees related to financial settlements on everything from personal injury cases to wrongful convictions. And Oasis Financial priced a similar deal linked to payments on medical liens.

Then we have this headline that will send chills through the CMBS market for retail space, particularly at a time when commercial real estate (particularly RETAIL) are trying to recover from COVID lockdowns and the growth of online shopping.

“Retailers Sound Alarm on Organized Theft as States Warn of Rise”

Retailers say shoplifting is getting more brazen in the U.S.: A California Nordstrom store was recently hit by a flash mob of more than 80 people who made off with designer goods, while more than a dozen people pilfered from a Louis Vuitton location in a suburb of Chicago. 

On Tuesday, the impact of shoplifting reached Wall Street, with Best Buy Co. shares plunging after the electronics retailer said widespread theft contributed to a decrease in one gauge of profitability. Last month, Walgreens said it would close five San Francisco stores after theft rates there spiked.

Seemingly, no one learns from history. Or as the zen master Yogi Berra once said “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

Or “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

Bernie’s & Biden’s Build Back Better Bill Balloons To $5 TRILLION From $2.4 TRILLION (More Than Biden’s Quote Of $0)

To quote Gomer Pyle USMC, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

The humongous spending bill awaiting Joe Manchin to sign off on it will cost almost double what the CBO said it would. Why? Because spending programs in Washington DC never get cancelled, they only grow.

The Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the true cost of Build Back Better is $4.91 TRILLION, up from the stated $2.39 TRILLION. Once they assumed that the programs don’t sunset and get extended.

According to their analysis,

“We estimate the House Build Back Better Act includes roughly $2.4 trillion of spending and tax cuts along with roughly $2.2 trillion of offsets.However, the bill relies on a number of sunsets and expirations to keep the official cost down. If the plan’s temporary policies were made permanent, we find the cost would increase by as much as $2.5 trillion.As a result, the gross cost of the bill would more than double from $2.4 trillion to $4.9 trillion.

The Build Back Better Act relies on a number of arbitrary sunsets and expirations to lower the official cost of the bill. These include extending the American Rescue Plan’s Child Tax Credit (CTC) increase and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion for a year, setting universal pre-K and child care subsidies to expire after six years, making the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansions available through 2025, delaying the requirement that businesses amortize research and experimentation (R&E) costs until 2026, and setting several other provisions – from targeted tax credits to school lunch programs – to expire prematurely.

Excluding changes to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, we estimate the Build Back Better Act would cost $2.1 trillion as written. We estimate making all of these temporary policies permanent would cost roughly $2.2 trillion, more than doubling the gross cost of the bill to $4.3 trillion through 2031.”

When asked about the Center for a Responsible Budget saying the bill could be twice as expensive, Manchin replies “it’s concerning. Sure. It’s concerning.”

Surprise, surprise, surprise! And it is certainly more expensive than the estimate Biden gave: $0.

The Fed’s Gilded Age: A Tale of Today’s Housing Market (REAL Home Prices Rising At 14.6% YoY As REAL Hourly Earnings Fall (-0.41% YoY)

Welcome to The Fed’s Gilded Age … for housing! The gilded age refers to the thin-veneer of gold covering up problems in the late 1800s.

Today’s gilded age is largely fueled by The Federal Reserve’s uber-easy monetary policies combined with absurd Federal government policies. The result? Thanks to inflation, REAL home prices are growing at 14.6% YoY while REAL hourly earnings are declining (-0.41% YoY).

Redfin predicts a more balanced housing market in 2022. Part of their rationale is that they predict mortgage rates will rise to 3.6%. This growth in the mortgage rate is predicted to slow home price growth to 3.2% from double digit growth currently.

While this scenario is plausible, it will require a change in direction of the 10-year Treasury yield which has been declining since 1981. 5.39% YoY inflation may encourage The Fed to raise rates.

Today’s REAL 30-year mortgage rate is -3.08% while the REAL 10-year Treasury yield is -4.67%. It will require a reduction in inflation AND an increase in the nominal rate to get to 3.6%.

With the Freddie Mac 30-year survey rate at 3.10, will a 50 basis point increase in mortgage rates send the market crashing? Not likely.

After all, the US economy is under the thumb of The Federal Reserve.