Morning Report: Banks pan the SBA loan program

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2517 4.4
Oil (WTI) 28.56 3.29
10 year government bond yield 0.59%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.5%

 

Stocks are flattish after the jobs report. Bonds and MBS are flat as well.

 

Jobs report data dump:

  • Nonfarm payrolls down 710,000
  • Unemployment rate 4.4%
  • Labor force participation rate 62.7%
  • Average hourly earnings up 3.1%

Job losses were concentrated in the service sector, with leisure and hospitality losing 459k jobs. Health care lost 61k jobs (mainly support people) and construction was down as well. FWIW, the 710k number is probably not representative of what is really going on – it will be the cumulative weekly initial jobless claims, which are at something like 10 million.

 

The government is supposed to launch its SBA loan program next week. Apparently many banks will be sitting out. The biggest concern will be reps and warrants, especially when it comes to preventing fraud. The banking system remembers well when the Obama Administration used the False Claims Act to extract massive penalties with FHA lending. Many of those banks, like JPM, never returned to the sector. Also, the requirements to prevent terrorist financing and money laundering, which under the best circumstances takes weeks to do. Finally, the rate the banks will be forced to charge will be too low and will cost them money. But there will have to be reps and warrants relief to get banks to participate. They remember what happened in 2009 and 2010 too well.

 

All of the Fed’s buying has driven its balance sheet up to 5.86 trillion in assets. Before 2008, it was about $800 billion.

 

While most of us are focused on what COVID-19 is doing to the residential market, the commercial market is even worse. The CMBS market is completely frozen. Multifamily, retail, office tenants etc are simply not paying rent right now, and that is going to cascade onto the balance sheets of the banks.

 

There had been talk of a Fed facility to allow servicers to borrow to make advances to bondholders. It looks like that isn’t going to happen, at least not yet. Treasury wants to get a read on how many borrowers actually take advantage of the program. The problem is that if you tell someone that they can skip the next few payments on their mortgage, with no hit to their credit rating, no penalties, and the missed payments will just get tacked on to the end of the mortgage, who isn’t going to take advantage of it? A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

 

Moody’s has downgraded the non-bank mortgage sector from “stable” to “negative” as the financial markets seize up. We have seen the big non-agency mortgage REITs like New Rez, Two Harbors, and Redwood make distressed asset sales in order to meet margin calls.

Morning Report: Strong wage growth in December

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2480 32.75
Eurostoxx index 338.85 4.35
Oil (WTI) 48.05 0.95
10 year government bond yield 2.61%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.43%

 

Stocks are higher on no real news. Bonds and MBS are down.

 

Jobs report data dump:

  • Nonfarm payrolls up 312k, street expectation 177k
  • Average hourly earnings up 0.4% MOM / 3.2% YOY, street expectation 0.3% / 3.1%
  • Labor force participation rate 63.1%, November 62.9%
  • Unemployment rate 3.9%, street expectation 3.7%

Overall a strong report. The uptick in the unemployment rate was a surprise, but is still below 4% and the labor force increased by quite a bit. Wages are increasing smartly, rising 3.2%. Those in the press (and DC) hoping for recessionary data will be disappointed with this report.

 

Yesterday, we touched 2.57% on the 10 year bond yield. If you were hoping to see that reflected in mortgage rates, you were probably disappointed. MBS are lagging the move in Treasuries (as usual).

 

The action in the Fed funds futures is truly astounding. There has been a complete sea-change in market perception over the past month. Look at the January 2020 futures (a year from now). Implied probability of another hike in 2019? Zero. Chance of a rate cut? Better than 50/50. Note the implied probabilities a month ago versus today. The market is saying the Fed overshot.

 

fed fund futures dec 2019

 

Compare that to the dot plot from the December meeting which suggests another 50 basis points of hikes:

 

dot plot

 

This is an astounding change in sentiment in just a month. It is certainly possible that the Fed Funds futures have it wrong, but it is clear the market and the Fed aren’t seeing the future even remotely the same.

 

Chinese demand is collapsing, as evidenced by falling consumption tax receipts. People have known that China has a real estate bubble and a shaky banking system for a while, but bubbles generally go on for longer than anyone ever expects. With the Chinese pulling out of the hot US markets, we are seeing a decline in places like Manhattan, where the median apartment price fell below $1 million for the first time in 3 years. There is a 16 month supply of luxury apartments in Manhattan, compared to an overall 4.5 month supply of existing homes for sale in the US. 6.5 month’s worth is generally considered a balanced market. The same thing is happening in the hot West Coast markets.

 

Kathy Kraninger, the new head of the CFPB sent an email to staffers saying that the agency will “continue to vigorously enforce the law,” but keep in mind “costs and benefits” and “maintain an open mind, without presumption of guilt.” So, she sounds like a continuation of the Mick Mulvaney approach and not a return to the Cordray “regulation by enforcement” model.

 

Mr Cooper bought IBM’s $48 billion servicing portfolio.