Morning Report: Construction Spending Falls 11/2/16

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2102.0 -2.0
Eurostoxx Index 333.6 -2.0
Oil (WTI) 46.0 -0.6
US dollar index 88.6 0.0
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.82%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.3
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.2
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.62

Stocks are mixed ahead of the FOMC decision today. Bonds and MBS are up.

At 2:00 pm we will get the FOMC rate decision. Given the sensitivity around the election, I would imagine the Fed wants to be as far in the background as possible. I would be looking for a statement that is pretty much identical to the Sep statement.

Mortgage Applications fell 1.2% last week as purchases fell 0.4% and refis fell 2%. The 30 year fixed rate mortgage increased 4 basis points.

The ADP jobs report is forecasting a lousy jobs report on Friday. Payrolls increased 147k versus the 170k expectation. The Street is looking for 178k jobs to be reported on Friday.

The Atlanta Fed has lowered its forecast for Q4 GDP to 2.3%. They were previously looking for 2.7%. They are looking for softer consumer spending and business investment.

Construction spending fell 0.4% MOM and 0.2% YOY in September. Total construction spending was $1.15 trillion. Private construction fell 0.2% while public construction fell 0.9%. Residential construction was the bright spot however, as it increased 0.4%. Construction spending as a percent of GDP is still rather depressed compared to historical numbers. Yet another example of how housing continues to punch below its weight.

construction-spending

One thing that has been a partisan bone of contention has been public construction. The Obama administration has been pounding the table that we need to spend money on public construction in order to “rebuild our crumbling infrastructure” and put people to work in order to stimulate the economy. Let’s set aside the argument over whether there is a multiplier effect for government stimulus plans (there isn’t). Have we been spending on public construction (infrastructure)? Ultimately, it looks like there is merit to the argument that we have let things slide. Aside from the early Obama administration stimulus bump, it is sliding to new lows as a percentage of GDP. Note that both Hillary and Trump are in favor of a big push for public works spending. Note however that private construction is over 3x the amount of public construction. So if you want the economy to really grow, the juice is in private construction, not public construction. Unfortunately, the lack of private construction is simply not on the radar in Washington. Politicians and regulators should be asking themselves whether they are an impediment to private construction spending. The answer to that question will undoubtedly fall along partisan lines.

public-construction-of-gdp

Banks are no longer the biggest mortgage lenders in the US. Nonbanks like PennyMac and Quicken are making the loans that banks no longer want to make. We have seen the banks back away from FHA loans after being slugged too many times by the regulators. “It’s becoming the perfect storm—when you punish banks, [they] don’t lend out money,” said Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. “Banks are becoming utilities that are unable or unwilling to play with risk.” Of course that is exactly the vision of the Elizabeth Warrens of the world: to turn banks into public utilities that earn a nominal rate of return and are effectively controlled by the government. The biggest worry is that if times get tough, nonbanks have less access to capital than banks which could severely restrict credit.

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