Morning Report: The Bernank is sanguine on China 5/27/15

Markets are flattish as Greek talks plod along in a directionless fashion. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Mortgage Applications fell for the fifth week in a row, according to the MBA. Rates rose last week so that isn’t a surprise. Purchases were up 1.2% while refis fell 3.9%.

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers reported this morning with EPS of 37 cents a share better than the Street estimate of 35 cents, however it looks like the beat was due to a lower-than-expected tax rate. Revenues were light as deliveries declined 1% in dollars and 2% in units. Net signed contracts rose 25% in dollars and average selling prices for net signed contracts increased 13% to $826,000. California demand is “very strong” as well as Texas and NYC. The rental business continues to grow. Overall, the high end of the market continues to perform very well.

Was Elmer Fudd correct about adjustable rate mortgages? Seemed ill advised at the time, right ahead of a rate hike – seriously, with perfect clairvoyance he told people to take out ARMs before rates went up. Well, it required a bursting of the real estate bubble to make it work out. That said, if people move often, ARMs may in fact make sense.

The Bernank doesn’t think China will have a hard landing. Given their real estate bubble, and the fact that their stock market has doubled over the past year, I find that wildly optimistic. It seems like countries that experience decades of fast growth tend to have hard landings (the US in the Great Depression, Japan now). Bull markets are a natural breeding ground for dumb debt-financed investments. Maybe the government wonks that run China’s economy can manage it through heavy-handed intervention in the markets, but it hasn’t been done before.

The Feds are on the trail of massive corruption at FIFA. You mean to tell me there might be some jiggery-pokery going on in soccer?

Venezuela has found a solution to its toilet paper shortage. Make the Bolivar note worth less than toilet paper.

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