US Existing Home Sales Plunge 17.8% In April, Worst Since 2010 (Lower-end Housing Hit The Worst)

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), US existing home sales in April plunged 17.8% from March, the largest drop since 2010.

Existing homes sales MoM is the white line, the Mortgage Bankers Association 30-year rate is the blue line.

Given how unemployment is differentially hurting lower-wage workers, it is not surprising that existing home sales in the $0-$100,000 range fell 33% in April.

While $500k-$750k home sales fell by “only” 12.2%.

Existing home sales inventory remains low while median home price of existing home sales rose 2% from March to April.

US GDP Forecast To Decline -34.9% QoQ (S&P 500 Sez “Meh”)

Now ain’t this a kick in the head. The Covid-19 and the government shutdown response is leading to a crushing decline in US GDP for Q2 2020 of … -34.9% QoQ.

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The recent dismal wholesale trade report sent forecast Q2 GDP down -34.9% QoQ.

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The reaction to the declining US GDP? Meh.

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The good news? NMHC rent payment tracker finds 80.2% of apartment households paid rent as of May 6.

Alarm! US Personal Spending Tanks -7.5% MoM In March (Durable Spending Tanks 15.1% MoM)

Alarm! 

US personal spending tanked -7.5% MoM, exceeded only by durable goods spending that tanked -15.1% MoM in March.

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Personal income dropped by “only” -2% MoM.

An additional 3.8 million filed for jobless claims.

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Pending home sales tanked -14.5% YoY for March.

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Alarm!

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Oyster Stew! WTI Crude Spot Rises 21%, US Jobless Claims Up 4.43 Million (But Slowing), New Home Sales Decline -15.4% MoM In March

I feel like we are in the Three Stooges film “Oyster Stew.” Every time we look for good news, more bad news come out.

But here is some good news.

WTI Crude oil is up 21.26% this morning .. to $16.71 a barrel (still low).

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And while US jobless claims rose 4.43 million the past week, the US is several weeks past the peak. (Knock on wood).

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But back to crude. Saudi oil is still negative for heavy and medium crudes to the USA.

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Now for the oyster eating the cracker.

US new home sales fell -15.4% MoM in March.

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As I said, oyster stew.

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WTI Cushing Oil Plunges Below $11, Hotel Occupancy Rate Declines 69.8% YoY To 21% (All Time Record Lows)

My Corona!

The lack of demand for oil (and incredible supply build-ups) had led to WTI Crude oil to fall below … $11!

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WTI Crude (Cushing, OKLA) is now at an all-time low.

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Crude oil prices in the Middle East are … negative?

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On the hotel front (government lockdowns are pretty bad for travel and hotels!), in comparison with the week of 7-13 April 2019, the industry recorded the following:

Occupancy: -69.8% to 21.0%
• Average daily rate (ADR): -45.6% to US$74.18
• Revenue per available room (RevPAR): -83.6% to US$15.61

What I like about the government shutdown of the US economy? NOTHING!

Even Jack Torrance can’t get a drink from Lloyd in the shutdown.

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US Banks Brace For Surge In Loan Losses (S&P 500 Bank / S&P 500 Index Back To Early 2009 Levels)

Here we go again?

With the economic shutdown thanks to the Wuhan virus, the Big Banks are in the US are preparing to be over, under, sideways, down.

(Financial Times) — Loan loss charges at six big American banks reached a total of $25.4bn in the first quarter. This marks a 350 per cent surge in collective provisions across Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley versus a year earlier, as charges soared to levels not seen since the financial crisis.

The change illustrates how banks are ramping up reserves to deal with anticipated loan problems among their clients, as top economists warn that the world economy has already fallen into recession. 

The provisions are additions to reserves so banks have enough in their rainy day fund to cover future losses.

Since the start of the year, US banks have been operating under a new accounting standard, dubbed “current expected credit losses”. It has changed how they calculate loan loss provisions, making it hard to compare the most recent charges with past performance. 

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Previously banks had to ensure reserves were enough to cover ‘incurred losses’, which meant they made provisions for loan losses only when customers actually missed payments.

Under the new accounting standard, banks have to make provisions based on a loan’s lifetime value. In practice, this amounts to predicting the future — a difficult task at the best of times, and nigh on impossible in the current environment, which bank executives describe as the most uncertain they have ever seen. 

It is little wonder that the S&P 500 banks index as a percentage of the S&P 500 index is back near its lowest level since early 2009.

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Despite The Fed’s massive intervention in the financial markets starting in late 2007,  but continues in force.

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The Fed couldn’t get the S&P Bank index / S&P index back to early 2007 levels with massive stimulus?

Fed Chairs Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell pose for recent Fed Chairs painting.

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The Fed’s Bigger Boat! Is The Fed’s Cure Worse Than the Covid-19 Virus?

Apparently, The Federal Reserve and US Treasury think they need a bigger boat!

(Bloomberg) — The economic debate of the day centers on whether the cure of an economic shutdown is worse than the disease of the virus.  Similarly, we need to ask if the cure of the Federal Reserve getting so deeply into corporate bonds, asset-backed securities, commercial paper, and exchange-traded funds is worse than the disease seizing financial markets. 

In just these past few weeks, the Fed has cut rates by 150 basis points to near zero and run through its entire 2008 crisis handbook. That wasn’t enough to calm markets, though — so the central bank also announced $1 trillion a day in repurchase agreements and unlimited quantitative easing, which includes a hard-to-understand $625 billion of bond buying a week going forward. At this rate, the Fed will own two-thirds of the Treasury market in a year.

But it’s the alphabet soup of new programs that deserve special consideration, as they could have profound long-term consequences for the functioning of the Fed and the allocation of capital in financial markets. Specifically, these are:

CPFF (Commercial Paper Funding Facility) – buying commercial paper from the issuer.

PMCCF (Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility) – buying corporate bonds from the issuer.

TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility) – funding backstop for asset-backed securities.

SMCCF (Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility) – buying corporate bonds and bond ETFs in the secondary market.

MSBLP (Main Street Business Lending Program) – Details are to come, but it will lend to eligible small and medium-size businesses, complementing efforts by the Small Business Association.

To put it bluntly, the Fed isn’t allowed to do any of this. The central bank is only allowed to purchase or lend against securities that have government guarantee. This includes Treasury securities, agency mortgage-backed securities and the debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. An argument can be made that can also include municipal securities, but nothing in the laundry list above.

So how can they do this? The Fed will finance a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for each acronym to conduct these operations. The Treasury, using the Exchange Stabilization Fund, will make an equity investment in each SPV and be in a “first loss” position.

What does this mean? In essence, the Treasury, not the Fed, is buying all these securities and backstopping of loans; the Fed is acting as banker and providing financing. The Fed hired BlackRock Inc. to purchase these securities and handle the administration of the SPVs on behalf of the owner, the Treasury.

In other words, the federal government is nationalizing large swaths of the financial markets. The Fed is providing the money to do it. BlackRock will be doing the trades.

Here is part of the mayhem The Fed/Treasury are trying to mitigate. The CitiMortgage Alternative Loan Trust 2007-A4 asset-backed security.

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Yes, the US Treasury curve is now below 0.75% from 10 years in, including negative yields on most Treasury bills.

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The US Treasury actives curve and On/off the run curves are under 1% at 15 years and in.

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Welcome to Amity Island, in a shutdown over the Corona-19 virus.

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Dow Finishes Worst Week Since 2008 (Dow Down 913 On Friday) As LOIS Spread Erupts [What Can The Fed Do?]

How far will Central Banks go to save the economy (or banks)? The Fed Funds target rate is back to Bernanke (BtoB?) in late 2008.  And The Fed’s balance sheet keeps rising (after a momentary respite).

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But it seems that all the stimulus (Federal government and Federal Reserve) is having trouble saving the market.

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The S&P 500 hasn’t done so well either with today’s drop falling below the lowest P/E band.

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US Treasuries rose again today and 10-year Treasury yields dropped almost 30 basis points.

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And the spread between the 3 month Libor rate and the NY Fed’s Secured Overnight Finance rate is going up … and up.

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Treasury Repo collateral … again?

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They will do it on Fed Time!

LOIS (LIBOR-Overnight Indexed Swap) Spread Spikes As Fed Adds $4.5 Trillion To Its Balance Sheet

Historically, when the spread between LIBOR and the safer OIS (overnight indexed swap)  widened, it meant that banks were having trouble borrowing and was a warning of danger for the economy. And the LOIS spread is widening!

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The Federal Reserve has reversed course on its balance sheet unwind, but the reversal  started in September of 2019, well ahead of the known corona-virus outbreak in Wuhan China. In fact, The Fed has added $4.5 trillion in recent weeks.

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Apparently at the December 11, 2019, the Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) only saw Fed Funds target rate increases coming.

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Treasury Repo collateral has spiked recently.

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And we are seeing both short and long rates crashing (but the short rates are crashing faster than long rates,

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leading to a steepening of the Treasury yield curve.

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Treasury volatility is on the rise again.

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The coronavirus is NOT a good thing.

Yes, coronavirus fears are sweeping the globe.

But The Fed drives me crazy!

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Vanilla (Swap) Sky! FRA-OIS Spread Highest Since Q1 2009 (Dow Up Almost 10%)

The spread between forward rate agreements (FRA) and overnight indexed swaps (OIS) just spiked to the highest level since Q1 2009.

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A vanilla interest rate swap is an agreement between two counter-parties to exchange cashflows (fixed vs floating) in the same currency.  This agreement is often used by counterparties to change their fixed cashflows to floating or vice versa.

The payments are made during the life of the swap in the frequency that is pre-established by the counter-parties.

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Here is Tom Cruise wearing his Coronavirus mask from Vanilla Sky.

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Good news! The stock market is up almost 10%, the exact opposite of yesterday.

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