Morning Report: Big jump in home prices

Vital Statistics:

 LastChange
S&P futures4,396-36.2
Oil (WTI)75.780.29
10 year government bond yield 1.54%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.18%

Stocks are lower this morning as investors fret about energy costs. Bonds and MBS are down.

Loans in forbearance fell under 3% last week, according to the MBA. They estimate that 1.5 million borrowers are still in forbearance. Fannie and Freddie loans decreased by 3%, while Ginnies rose.

Home prices rose 19.2% YOY in July, according to the FHFA House Price Index. “Record appreciation rates for the U.S. continued in July,” said Dr. Lynn Fisher, FHFA’s Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics. “Although the monthly pace of increase slowed in most Census Divisions in July, four areas experienced year over year growth rates in excess of 20 percent and all saw annual gains in excess of 15 percent.”

With 19% appreciation, we could be looking at new conforming limits for 1 unit properties in the mid 600k next year.

Separately, the Case-Shiller Index rose close to 20%. Get a load of these numbers: Phoenix up 32%. San Diego up 28%. S&P thinks that this could simply be a case of current transactions “borrowing” from future transactions, which would imply a pricing slowdown going forward.

“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by a reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes. July’s data are consistent with this hypothesis. This demand surge may simply represent an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred anyway over the next several years. Alternatively, there may have been a secular change in locational preferences, leading to a permanent shift in the demand curve for housing. More time and data will be required to analyze this question.”

I wonder how much the Evergrande situation in China (and its bursting real estate bubble) will have fallout for the big West Coast cities like Vancouver and San Francisco. When you have this sort of financial crisis, you never sell what you want to, you sell what you can.

Lael Brainard discussed the economy and the Fed’s thinking. I have to say this statement puzzled me: “Many forecasters have downgraded consumer spending in the second half of the year, as Delta has limited the acceleration in services spending that had been anticipated to help offset the drag on activity from fiscal support shifting from being a tailwind to a headwind.” Congress is working on a $3.5 trillion spending package. I know a trillion doesn’t mean what it used to, but characterizing that as a “headwind” seems odd.

That said, I can see where this is going. I expect the chattering classes will soon exhume the term “austerity” which is about the most loaded economic term out there. “Austerity” officially means a decline in stimulus, however it is often conflated with contractionary fiscal policy. If the US runs a $1 trillion deficit and the deficit narrows to $900 billion in the following year, that is officially “austerity.” That doesn’t mean the government is tightening. It doesn’t mean the government is trying to slow the economy. Deficit spending is still highly stimulative to the economy and is still a “tailwind.” Austerity is Newspeak for “the government isn’t spending enough on my priorities.”

Author: Brent Nyitray

In the physical sciences, knowledge is cumulative. In the financial markets, it is cyclical

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