|US dollar index||88.4||0.1|
|10 Year Govt Bond Yield||1.79%|
|Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA||103.3|
|Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA||104.2|
|30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage||3.54|
Stocks are down again after getting roughed up yesterday. Bonds and MBS are down as well.
Mortgage applications fell 6% last week as purchases fell 3% and refis fell 8%.
Job openings decreased by 400k to 5.4 million in August, according to the BLS. The quits rate (which is probably the best indicator for strength in the labor market) was steady at 2.1%. I wonder if we are seeing employers begin to hire the long-term unemployed, which would account for the drop in openings and the flat quits rate. The labor force participation rate is beginning to pick itself off the floor, as we saw in the latest jobs data.
We will get the FOMC minutes from the September meeting at 2:00 pm EST today. Be aware of possible market movement around then, especially if the minutes turn out to be a bit more dovish than expected. On Sunday, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said that September’s decision to wait on hiking rates was a “close call.” The minutes will hopefully shed further light on that statement.
The biggest problem with QE is what to do with all of these assets that now sit on the Fed’s balance sheet. The Fed can’t sell the Treasuries it bought without withdrawing liquidity from the system. That would be contractionary, and the economy (or at least the financial system) might be too fragile to handle it. That would be the case even if the Fed just lets it run off by not re-investing maturing proceeds. There is now a school of thought that the Fed’s balance sheet should simply remain the size it is now, and we shouldn’t return to pre-bubble levels. The thinking is that governments should simply consolidate the Fed’s assets onto its own balance sheet. (called “permanent monetization”) Given that central banks are ultimately owned by the government, its Treasuries would effectively “cancel out” the debt issued by the government. This is why looking at the debt to GDP ratio is somewhat misleading: about a quarter of our debt is owned by the central bank. It is like taking out a loan and leaving the money in your savings account. In nominal terms, your debt is up, but your net worth is unchanged. One thing is for sure: none of this is in the econ textbooks. We are all making it up as we go along.
A Federal Appeals court ruled yesterday that the CFPB’s structure is unconstitutional. The director of the CFPB is appointed for a 5 year term, and can only be fired for cause by the President. The court found that this structure puts too much power in the hands of one person, and is more or less unaccountable. Rob Chrisman takes a look at what is going on.
A study from the Urban Institute forecasts that the homeownership rate will continue to decline. The question ultimately rests on whether the Millennials are going to follow a different path than previous generations, or are they simply late bloomers who will eventually marry, have kids, and want a place in the suburbs. Note that the homeownership rate started going vertical in 1994, with the Clinton Administration’s policies to encourage homeownership, as a tool for social engineering. Post-crisis, the rates has returned to its previously undisturbed rate.