Markets are lower this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are down.
Real Average weekly earnings increased 1.2% in January.
Inflation at the consumer level was flat month-over-month and up 0.3% YOY. Ex food and energy, it was up 2.2%, which is the highest level since June of 2012. This would indicate the Fed is actually getting there as far as its inflation target. That said, the Fed prefers to use the Personal Consumption Expenditure index, which is still below their target.
Chart: YOY inflation, ex-food and energy:
Good explanation of why the markets and the price of oil have become positively correlated. Old timers might remember back when an increasing oil price was a bad thing. Punch line: the banks have a lot of exposure to the energy patch and are lugging debt that made sense at $60 a barrel, but not at $30. That said, energy companies have issued $5 billion in equity secondary offerings this year, which is a surprise. The appetite is there, at least for some investors.
The thinking behind negative interest rates, explained. European economists give their take on it. Basically they work well in smaller. open economies as a lever to manipulate foreign exchange rates, but they aren’t all that effective for larger economies which are trying to boost inflation and growth. In other words, they might work for Denmark, but probably won’t do much good here. Japan recently went negative, so that will be a good test of that theory.
Housing affordability is getting a little better as rates fall. Unsurprisingly, the Rust Belt and the Northeast are the most affordable, while California remains the worst. Note San Francisco is proposing transfer taxes for luxury properties in order to address affordability. Between rich tech workers and Chinese investors, property prices in San Francisco are sky-high.
There is legislation afoot to eliminate the caps on VA loans, which will make them much more popular in high cost areas. Basically it will become a no money down jumbo. It has passed the House, and the prospects are good in the Senate and the WH.