Morning Report: Steve Mnuchin on regulation and the GSEs 12/1/16

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2201.2 3.0
Eurostoxx Index 341.0 -1.0
Oil (WTI) 50.6 1.2
US dollar index 91.7 -0.3
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.41%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.14

Stocks are flat this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are down small.

OPEC agreed to production cuts yesterday, which has sent the price of WTI over $50 a barrel.

Further evidence of strength in the labor market: announced job cuts fell to 27,000 last month, which is the lowest in a year. This is a 13% drop YOY. The retail sector had the biggest number of job cuts, largely due to the bankruptcy of American Apparel. Job cuts in the financial sector continue, however cuts in the energy sector are tapering off.

Initial Jobless Claims ticked up to 268k from 253k last week.

Manufacturing improved in November, as the ISM Manufacturing PMI increased from 52.3 to 53.2. Separately, the Markit PMI Manufacturing index ticked up to 54.1 from 53.9.

Construction Spending rose 0.5% last month and is up 3.2% YOY. Residential Construction was up 1.8% and is up 4.6% YOY.

Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should exit government control, which puts him at odds with several Republicans like Jeb Hensarling who want to see the GSEs wound down. “We will make sure that when they are restructured, they are absolutely safe and don’t get taken over again. But we’ve got to get them out of government control,” Mnuchin said on an interview with Fox News. What “exit government control” actually means is an open question, however he believes that Fannie Mae is crowding out private lending. Getting private lending back into the mortgage market has been a priority since the financial crisis since 96% of all new origination still goes Fannie, Freddie, or Ginnie. I would also wager that the biggest ultimate lender to the mortgage market is the Fed, via their QE holdings of MBS. So the US mortgage market is for all intents and purposes nationalized at this point. Fannie Mae stock was up 46% on the statements. One big issue for privatizing Fannie and Fred: At the moment, all of their profits go to the government. By 2018, they will probably have no equity left, which isn’t good news for common stockholders.

Donald Trump also tapped a Quicken executive to the HUD transition team. He also named Jimmy Kemp, son of former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, to the team as well. In many ways, these nominations signal a detente between the government and the financial sector, which should help tremendously with the goal of bringing private capital back into the mortgage market.

Separately, Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross were interviewed on CNBC, where they laid out more of their regulatory philosophy. Mnuchin said that Dodd-Frank was too complicated and the goal of financial regulation is to get banks to lend again. He cited regulatory uncertainty as a major impediment to lending. Wilbur Ross quipped that small banks have more compliance people than lending officers. Both said that lending is the engine of growth for the economy.

Liberals are screaming “hypocrisy” about Trump’s nominees, especially in the financial sector, but it is clear that having public interest attorneys running things has the system tied in knots.

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