Financial markets are anticipating what Mester is saying: rapidly rising interest rates. But as you can see from the following chart, gasoline prices (orange line) are driving rising US prices. So it is doubtful that monetary tightening will slow price increases. But Mester and company can only control monetary stimulus.
Mortgage rates have soared as The Fed attempts to crush inflation. And mortgage purchase applications fell -21% WoW in the most recent Mortgage Bankers Association survey.
The Refinance Index increased 2 percent from the previous week and was 80 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 21 percent compared with the previous week and was 24 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
It almost seems like Mester is following the Taylor Rule (not really). But using CPI YoY, the Taylor Rule is saying that The Fed Funds Target Rate should be … 22.10%. It is only 1.75% after years of excessive stimulus following the banking crisis of 2008/2009. And Yellen who seemingly never met a rate hike that she liked.
If we use core PCE as our measure of inflation, the Taylor Rule is still high at 13.25%, a whopping 11.50 spread over the current target rate.
Mortgage applications decreased 6.5 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending June 3, 2022. This week’s results include an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.
The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 7 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 18 percent compared with the previous week and was 21 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
The Refinance Index decreased 6 percent from the previous week and was 75 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
In related news (debt), consumer debt is rising at 7.5% YoY while the personal savings rate plunged to 4.4% in May as consumers borrow more and save less to cope with inflation.
Here is my version of their chart since 2000 where you can seen the seismic shift in the balance sheet (toxic green slime line), particularly with The Fed’s response to Covid. The Fed is signaling a tightening in monetary policy to help reduce inflation (blue line).
But notice that M2 Money Velocity (GDP/M2) is now near the all-time low along with consumer purchasing power.
How BIG is The Fed’s balance sheet? Try more that a third of size of US GDP.
And as The Fed signals its inflation-fighting intentions, mortgage rates have shot up to 5.51%, the highest mortgage rate since June 2009.
Heartaches in heartaches. US GDP growth for Q2 has stumbled to 0.446% as The Fed is launching quantitative tightening (QT) to fight the inflation that they caused in the first place.
According to the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow real-time GDP tracker, US GDP growth has stumbled to a meager 0.446%. Despite the massive stimulus from The Federal Reserve and Washington DC’s massive fiscal stimulus.
US 30-year mortgage rates are up 100 basis points and climbing since January 4, 2021. Most of the increase has occurred since the turn of the year into 2022. According to the Bankrate 30-year mortgage rate index, the 30-year rate is up 57 basis points just since December 31, 2021 as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rises.
Bear in mind that the REAL 30-year mortgage rate is now -3.2%. Get it while you can!!
Given today’s surprise jobs report, The Fed now has a green light to raise rates.
The banner headline is … US existing home sales declined 4.6% MoM in December. But that isn’t the interesting news. The interesting news is the mystery of the missing housing inventory. While various pundits told us that inventory would be returning … it isn’t. And the median price of existing home sales is up 14.85% YoY with insane Fed stimulus still in play.
That was December. What will January bring with rising mortgage rates? Freddie Mac’s 30-year commitment rate rose to 3.56% today.
When will housing inventory for sale start to increase? Probably about the same time The Fed ACTUALLY starts raising interest rates and paring back on the monetary stimulus.
How about real estate investment trusts? The NAREIT all-equity index rose by 35.6% YoY while inflation rose at 6.8%. The S&P 500 index rose 28.9% YoY.
Of course, the NAREIT all-equity index has a beta of 1.276.
How about the NCREIF All-property commercial real estate index? For Q3, the NCREIF property index rose by 5.22%, less than the most recent inflation reading of 6.8%.
So for the past year, housing has beaten the pants-off inflation, REITs have earned a higher return than inflation, and the NCREIF index seems to be rising slower than inflation (but with its lag problems, I anxiously await the Q4 numbers which should be higher.
The inventory of existing homes for sale in the US is extremely low. The lack of available inventory to buy is helping drive home prices through the roof.
Available inventory for purchase peaked back in the 2007-2008 period during the dreaded housing bubble in the US. But inventory for sale has declined ever since. Why?
I think it has something to do with the aging of the US population. Look at this chart of Existing Home Sales Inventory against the growth 65+ years old.
Perhaps households 65+ are resisting moving to states like Florida and Arizona as they had in the past, leaving them stationary in their dwelling.
Another reason for the bewildering lack of inventory is the growth of the HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) that allows elderly households to drain the equity in their home rather than have to sell to utilize it. But HECMs have not taken-off sufficiently to explain the mystery of the missing inventory.
So we know that housing inventory is very low and we know that the number of Americans 65 and over is increasing. But we do not know the reason for the decline in inventory.