Morning Report – Good Housing Starts numbers 8/19/14

Markets are higher this morning after housing starts hit the highest level in eight months and inflation at the consumer level remains muted. Bonds and MBS are up.

Housing starts in July were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million, which is 15.7% above June and almost 22% above last year. Building Permits were 1.05 million, up 8.1% month-over-month and up 7.7% year-over-year. Multi-fam drove the increase, although single fam did increase as well. Multi-fam starts are notoriously volatile. We saw big increases in the Northeast, while the Midwest was flat. The South and West were up slightly. Can’t complain about the number, which was the highest in eight months. Still, “normalcy” is around 1.5 million units per year, which goes to show how depressed housing still is. We probably will not hit historical numbers until the first time homebuyer returns.

The Consumer Price Index rose .1% in July, which is up 2% year over year. Ex food and energy, it rose 1.9% year over year. This cheered the bond market.

The Despot reported earnings that beat estimates, with comp store sales up 5.8%. People are starting to spend money on home improvement. The stock is up about 4 bucks this morning.

What will the world’s finance chiefs be talking about this week at Jackson Hole? First, don’t look for any market-moving statements, but there is always the possibility. Second, the labor market and the issue of the economy’s speed limit. Is it possible to have unemployment continue to fall without increasing the labor force participation rate? Are the long-term unemployed now permanently unemployed? If so, the amount of improvement we can expect to see without causing inflation is limited. FWIW, the most dangerous words in economics and financial markets are “this time is different.” I am more sanguine than most.

Is the lock-in effect going to matter as rates rise? In other words, as rates rise, home buyers will experience an increase in their mortgage rates, which could prevent people from moving. If so, will this be a drag on mortgage production? Zillow convened a panel of experts who believe this effect will probably be muted. Unless we suddenly get a bout of hyperinflation, rates are probably moving up to 5% or so over the next few years. This is probably a gradual enough increase that it won’t affect things too much.

10 Responses

  1. Like

  2. Our betters.


  3. Brent, how do the job creation numbers which George noted affect the regional housing markets? Are a disproportionate number of starts in TX?


  4. Mark, good question. Census breaks it down into Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Not sure where to get state by state data.


  5. Didn’t realize this anniversary was today

    “Caesar Augustus died 2000 years ago. Here’s why he was one of history’s greatest leaders.

    Updated by Timothy B. Lee on August 19, 2014, 2:10 p.m. ET ”


  6. “Uber Picks David Plouffe, Obama’s Former Campaign Manager, to Wage Its Regulatory Battles

    AUG. 19, 2014”


  7. Heh.


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