Morning Report – a tale of two real estate indices 5/27/14

Vital Statistics:

 

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1904.4 7.5 0.40%
Eurostoxx Index 3241.0 0.6 0.02%
Oil (WTI) 104.3 0.0 -0.04%
LIBOR 0.23 0.001 0.22%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 80.33 -0.065 -0.08%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.54% 0.01%  
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 106.4 0.0  
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 105.5 0.0  
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.16    

 

Markets are higher this morning after some good economic data. Bonds are surprisingly up. 
 
Durable Goods orders rose .8% in April and March was revised upward from 2.6% to 3.6%. The Street was looking for a drop of .7%. That said, ex-defense orders were down .8%. Ex-transportation, durable goods orders were up .1%. 
 
In other data, the Markit Purchasing Managers Index came in at 58.6, a strong number. Consumer Confidence rose to 83 in May, and the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index was flat at 7. I think we got more economic data this morning than we got all of last week.
 
We have a couple of real estate indices this morning as well. The first is the FHFA Home Price Index, which rose .7% in March. According to FHFA, prices are back to July 2015 levels and we are within about 6% of the previous peak. We have a tremendous dispersion of strength between regions, where the Pacific division is up 18% over the past 5 years, while New England is down a couple of percent. 
 

 

 
 
The Case-Shiller index rose 1.24% for March. Prices are back to mid-2004 levels, according to the index, and are still about 20% off their peak in 2006.
 

 

So, according to FHFA, we are within 6% of the peak and prices are at mid 2005 levels and according to Case-Shiller, we are within 20% of the peak and prices are at mid 2004 levels. Who is right? The answer is both. Case-Shiller is a broad-based index, while FHFA is narrower. The FHFA index only looks at homes with a conforming mortgage, which means it excludes jumbos and cash sales, which have been historically distressed properties, although that is changing.

 

 

Mohammed El-Arian weighs in on what is going on in the bond market. Speculators are net short Treasuries in a big way, and pension funds are redeploying stock market gains into the bond market. That makes for a tight market. You could almost feel the stops getting triggered a couple of weeks ago when we broke out of our 2.6% – 2.8% trading range:

 

 

 

Always-thoughtful Gary Shilling talks about how a financial crisis in China could be the catalyst for a massive “risk-off” trade, which would mean the rally in bonds could last longer than people think. Note that mortgage REITs (one of the biggest investors in mortgage backed securities) are leaning that way.

42 Responses

  1. Erm. . . frist!

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  2. Plame 2?

    Fucking Scooter Goddamn Libby!

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    • jnc (from the link):

      And for the folks who saw Casey’s Bentley that day, it could be seen as the latest example of how the one percent have 100 percent access to whatever they want.

      It could be seen that way, I suppose, but not by any clear thinking person. In 2013 there were 122 million tax returns filed with the IRS. One percent of 122 million is 1.22 million. Who in their right mind thinks that 1.22 million people have access to the House parking lot, much less “to whatever they want”?

      The number of people with the kind of power/access that is regularly attributed to the “one percent” is in fact a tiny fraction of the 1%. Money may be a necessary characteristic to gaining access to power in DC, but it is hardly a sufficient one. In fact I would bet that being even a modestly paid Washington insider gives one far more access to becoming a future 1%-er than being a 1%-er gives to access to Washington insiders. It’s well past time to put the mindless cliches about the 1% out to pasture.

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  3. Capehart gives Sargent a run for his money for the award of biggest partisan hack…

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  4. This was the line that caught my attention for irony.

    “As the driver of a Porsche, I’m the last person to tut-tut Casey’s automobile choice.”

    The entire piece is an exercise in tut-tuting his automobile and parking choices.

    It’s always amusing when one Washington insider lectures another in print about overly ostentatious displays of wealth and access.

    Almost as funny when some students at an Ivy league school chooses to lecture other students at the same school about privilege.

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  5. Krugman weeps at Brent’s swipe.

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  6. From Troll’s piece:

    “What Silicon Valley is learning is that even though money talks in Washington, it’s incredibly difficult to shout down the din of status quo bias. In other words, if you want to make change happen in congress you’re probably going to lose — no matter how much you spend.”

    This of course argues against any limitations on political spending, less the status quo bias that is referenced goes from being “incredibly difficult” to overcome and instead becomes impossible to overcome.

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  7. Unintentionally proving the “free stuff” argument:

    http://www.vox.com/2014/5/27/5754244/when-medicaid-has-premiums-enrollees-drop-out

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  8. J, that’s funny!

    And racist!

    Still, < SP!

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  9. “Nova, looks like your car was spotted at the House parking lot.

    Ha! I interned at BIPAC!

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  10. QB & Mark, what’s your assessment of whether or not this will get dismissed out of hand?

    “Farmers Insurance filed class action lawsuit last month against nearly 200 communities in the Chicago area for failing to prepare for flooding. The suits argue towns should have known climate change would produce more flooding.”

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0517/Climate-change-lawsuits-filed-against-some-200-US-communities

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/climate-change-insurance-game-052714

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    • jnc:

      The suits argue towns should have known climate change would produce more flooding.

      Shouldn’t the insurance company have known what the towns were (or weren’t) doing and priced its product appropriately?

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      • QB and JNC, I have not read the petitions but I suspect the municipalities sued explicitly assumed responsibility for functioning drainage and sewage systems and water supplies. When insured businesses/homeowners suffered damage due to the incapacity of the these systems the insurers paid up and sued the munis for failing to provide the services. If the munis in question would allow citizen recovery because they do not claim sovereign immunity from damage claims due to a failure to provide services the cases are merely subrogation matters.

        But most munis do claim sovereign immunity. I think sovereign immunity will trump these cases.

        More sheer speculation. Suppose there is limited sovereign immunity in a particular case. Suppose there is immunity from merely negligent acts or omissions but not from intentional or wilful and wanton disregard of duty. Suppose a judge in that case lets a jury decide “wilful and wanton.” What then? You realize I am making this up like a law school quiz.

        Scott, the muni’s liability insurer should be assessing risk as you suggest, but the property owner’s company would probably not investigate the adequacy of city planning before the first “event”. They have no bargaining position directly with the muni. This may all change, however, and all insurance rates everywhere will go sky high as the carriers say “we cannot force cities to improve drainage, etc., so we are now pricing in the risk”. Perhaps even summarily dismissed cases will serve as bargaining chips for carriers with state regulators. Perhaps that is the strategy.

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        • Mark, I agree with those tentative thoughts. It has to be a subrogation theory. But the climate/causation theory behind it seems far-fetched (Daubert fodder) regardless of one’s views on AGW. But then crazy lawsuits don’t always get dismissed, and Illinois has some adventurous courts, in it was filed there.

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        • Yep, QB. And we can take the far fetched a step further, if we suggest “Act of God” as either a defense or a liability insurance exclusion.

          This has got to be bargaining chip stuff for subsequent dealing with state regulators [I: “We have to pull out of your state because the munis won’t take into account rising water.” State: “What can we do to keep you from pulling out?” I: “Let us raise rates to meet the increased risks.” State: “We don’t have a history to support this.” I: “We have all this science we laid out in the courts but the cities claimed immunity. See? Our job of predicting must take this new future into account.” State: “OK. You can raise rates, but we have to review this each year.” I: “Sure. Thanks.”

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  11. I love that it’s Chicago.

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  12. Worth a note.

    “Trucks Are Saving the American Economy
    Higher transportation expenditures account for more than half of all new household spending in the last year. But car sales are declining. Thank you, American trucks.

    Derek Thompson May 27 2014, 12:10 PM”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/us-spending-is-risingand-its-almost-all-because-of-cars/371627/

    When green initiatives & Keynesian policy collide:

    “But maybe we shouldn’t root for Americans to switch over to trains and buses too quickly. More than half of new spending in the last year came from a transportation category that might be shrinking if it weren’t for new and used trucks, the gas required to power them, and the insurance and repairs required to support them. “

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  13. Nice VDH piece on why Obama’s popularity won’t fall to Nixon/Bush levels.

    http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/lord-obama/?singlepage=true

    I’d love to get Mich and Lms’ take on it.

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  14. Can I hope they both lose?

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  15. Scott, clearly they can get in on the blame shifting game as well.

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  16. The Farmers lawsuit sounds preposterous based on the quoted description. Unless there is more to it, I wouldn’t expect it to survive very long. It’s actually amazing that Farmers would file it.

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  17. The Baggers just won a couple in Texas. Guess obit was preemie.

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  18. Oh for goodness sake, this isn’t going to end well!

    http://www.bbc.com/news/health-27586149

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  19. I’d love to get Mich and Lms’ take on it.

    McWing, I read as much of that link as I could take and all I can say is that some of the controversy is fabricated and some inconsequential, what remains has hurt him in a lot of liberal’s eyes, hence his sinking numbers. I don’t think he is immune to criticism or that only the very rich and very poor vote for Democrats, or voted for Obama. I think there were a lot of assumptions made in that piece based upon the author’s biases.

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  20. Scott

    I’ve never seen any evidence that “forcing” people to lose weight works in any fashion but short term, and believe it or not, (contrary to what many of you think my politics are) I don’t think it’s something the government should force in the first place. I think there are methods to increase awareness of the health effects of obesity and encourage people to get healthy, but this sounds a little like “fat camp” to me.

    From everything I know, dieting generally leads to even more weight gain in the long run. People who want to change their lifestyle and look and feel better have a better shot by simply making healthier choices. But, and it’s a big but (excuse the pun), they have to want it themselves.

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    • lms:

      I’ve never seen any evidence that “forcing” people to lose weight works in any fashion but short term, and believe it or not, (contrary to what many of you think my politics are) I don’t think it’s something the government should force in the first place.

      I agree, but this is the inevitable result of the system for which you advocate, ie single payer. If unhealthy lifestyles create health problems, and health problems cost money, and the government is paying that money, then taxpayers have an interest in preventing unhealthy lifestyles.

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  21. The missed point in this piece is breathtaking.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117911/gop-veterans-health-care-outrage-doesnt-apply-uninsured-people

    Conservatives using the VA scandal to ignite an ideological crusade against public benefits

    Crusade against Public Benefits or government run services?

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  22. Yes Scott, I knew you’d say that, but I don’t necessarily agree that one always leads to another. Whether it’s the government or the insurance industry picking winners and losers, it’s just business as usual. I happen to think there are better ways of encouraging healthy living than attempting to use “force”.

    The insurance industry charges smokers more for a policy and so do medicare supplementals. But hasn’t everyone here always said that smokers actually cost less in the long run because they die earlier? Apparently obesity shortens longevity by about 10 years as well. There’s a discrepancy in long term thinking in both the Brit’s idea and the insurance industry’s. To me the government acts just like any other big corporation that ignores all the facts and pursues policies for the wrong reasons.

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    • lms:

      Whether it’s the government or the insurance industry picking winners and losers, it’s just business as usual.

      That makes no sense to me at all. Insurance companies don’t “pick” winners and losers. They charge a fee for a service. Individuals are either willing/able to pay for it or not. The government as a single payer, however, is picking winners and losers in that the very purpose of government as single payer is to immunize people from the costs of the service they are demanding, and to allocate those costs in a way unrelated to the person getting/demanding the service.

      I happen to think there are better ways of encouraging healthy living than attempting to use “force”.

      Perhaps, but the only tool that the government possesses that would recommend government involvement in anything is the ability to use force. To say you want the government to accomplish X is, necessarily, to say that you want force to be used in one way or another.

      The insurance industry charges smokers more for a policy and so do medicare supplementals. But hasn’t everyone here always said that smokers actually cost less in the long run because they die earlier? Apparently obesity shortens longevity by about 10 years as well.

      Again, you can’t compare the insurance industry to the government in this respect. The cost/benefit analysis for an insurance company involves only 2 things…expected premiums received and expected healthcare costs paid out. For the government the cost/benefit analysis is entirely different. It involves many unrelated benefits and costs that are effected by the health of an individual, for example expected tax receipts over a lifetime and expected Social Security costs over that same lifetime. For an insurance company it is clear…smoking and obesity increases costs, and therefore should be discouraged via pricing differentiation. For a government that is also acting as a single payer, the situation is far less clear. Perhaps smoking and obesity actually reduce the government’s net costs, in which case from a cost/benefit point of view perhaps the government should be encouraging, rather than discouraging, those lifestyle choices.

      To me the government acts just like any other big corporation that ignores all the facts and pursues policies for the wrong reasons.

      All evidence suggests that actually government acts exactly unlike private businesses. Private businesses are generally pursuing policy for the reason of making money. Governments have no such motivation (although individuals within government may well be pursuing private monetary gain), and so routinely make policy decisions where the costs far outweigh the benefits.

      My sense is that you have some idealized vision of what should happen, and since it cannot be achieved either by private business nor by government, you write them both off as being the same. I think nothing could be further from the truth.

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  23. Scott

    That makes no sense to me at all. Insurance companies don’t “pick” winners and losers. They charge a fee for a service. Individuals are either willing/able to pay for it or not.

    This is where no one here or at the PL ever understood my point, or perhaps believed it to be true. In my own family, I know or knew, of two people who were both willing and able to pay for it but were kept out, or even tossed out, of the market. And there were thousands just like them.

    but the only tool that the government possesses that would recommend government involvement in anything is the ability to use force.

    Not exactly, there’s education and also a system of rewards that could be used.

    Perhaps smoking and obesity actually reduce the government’s net costs, in which case from a cost/benefit point of view perhaps the government should be encouraging, rather than discouraging, those lifestyle choices.

    Or perhaps they should use a little more long term thinking and need a reality check about what does and doesn’t work.

    My sense is that you have some idealized vision of what should happen

    No, I was only comparing them in this case, the Brit’s government trying to control the cost of obesity by trying to figure out a way to change their behavior. The insurance industry does the same thing with smokers. Actually they do it better by simply charging them more. It may not be a very good comparison but it’s the only one I could think of. Either way, smokers and over weight people are being punished for their behavior.

    In my opinion, if the insurance industry hadn’t screwed the pooch by eliminating so much risk, we wouldn’t have needed government intervention in the first place. Unfortunately, government ends up being the last resort in the case of health care………too bad I suppose considering the way it’s turned out.

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    • lms:

      In my own family, I know or knew, of two people who were both willing and able to pay for it but were kept out, or even tossed out, of the market.

      My understanding, even prior to O-care, is that there were strict state and federal regulations about when and how an insurance company could cancel a policy. I don’t know all the ins and outs of those you are referring to, but if they had an existing policy that was cancelled once they became sick and started making claims, then I don’t understand how that was allowed to happen, unless there was some allegation of misrepresentation on the original policy. Which insurance carrier was it?

      Not exactly, there’s education and also a system of rewards that could be used.

      I doubt that a lack of education is a significant factor driving obesity/smoking levels. And what kind of “rewards” is the government in a position to offer absent the use of force?

      Either way, smokers and over weight people are being punished for their behavior.

      I don’t think using language like “punished” is useful or appropriate in the context of insurance. Smokers and overweight people have bigger potential health care costs. Therefore they pay higher insurance premiums. It isn’t a “punishment”, but is rather proper risk pricing. (Does the fact that someone who builds their house on the Florida coast pays higher house insurance premiums than someone who builds the same house inland mean that person is being “punished” for living in a place with high hurricane risk?)

      In my opinion, if the insurance industry hadn’t screwed the pooch by eliminating so much risk…

      I don’t know what you mean by “eliminating so much risk”.

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  24. Scott, I’ll have to answer this later……….rough day. I’ll try to check in tomorrow. Didn’t want to leave you hanging.

    Like

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