|US dollar index||91.1||-1.0|
|10 Year Govt Bond Yield||2.31%|
|Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA||103|
|Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA||104|
|30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage||4.08|
Stocks are lower this morning on Theresa May comments about Brexit. Bonds and MBS are up.
The World Economic Forum in Davos is going on this week. There may be a slight chance of market-moving data, but it is unlikely. The big subject is undoubtedly the wave of populism and anti-corporate / anti-government / anti-globalization going on throughout the world.
Corporate America seems to have read the tea leaves as well. GM just put out a headline saying they will invest $1 billion in US manufacturing operations and create 7,000 jobs. Walmart is getting into the action too. Even foreign companies are getting into the act. Of course some companies may be publicizing old plans to get the benefit of some good PR, the fact remains that big job cutting announcements are going to be out of style for a while. Don’t forget, the job market IS getting tighter, and (hopefully) the mindset of Corporate America is shifting from cost control to revenue growth.
Manufacturing in New York State slipped slightly last month according to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey. Growth is modest, however employment is still depressed.
James Bullard believes that the Fed can begin to think about shrinking its balance sheet as rates since rates are higher now than where they were. This would probably happen by not re-investing maturing assets. At the margin, this will translate into higher mortgage rates since TBAs will lose a natural buyer.
Strategist Komal-Sri Kumar is skeptical of the Fed’s forecast for interest rate hikes. His point is that the Fed cannot really raise rates in a vacuum, when all of the other central banks are going in the opposite direction. His call is for one hike this year. I am skeptical of a big fiscal stimulus out of Washington this year because Democrats will be united in opposition, and Republicans aren’t going to stick their necks out politically for a President they never wanted and don’t trust. The minutes from the Fed said explicitly that the forecast is based on expected fiscal stimulus. Note that many Fed officials are beginning to sour on the idea of additional fiscal stimulus.
In addition, if Trump manages to impose some additional tariffs (which IMO is a political non-starter) that will weaken the economy, and probably put the Fed on hold. Separately, Donald Trump just turned decades of US policy towards the dollar on its head, saying that the US currency is too strong. At the end of the day, presidents don’t really have all that much control over the economy.
Despite all the uncertainty about the government and the Fed, economic optimism remains just off a nine-year high.
The baby boomers drove housing construction through the 1970s and 1980s, yet their offspring (an even bigger generation) are not buying homes the way their parents did. What gives? Millennials earn 20% less (inflation adjusted) than their parents did at the same age. Not only that, but the consumer price inflation index deemphasizes /ignores things like college education which has going up multiples of the CPI. When you look at wealth, the numbers are even worse. That said, in 1989, mortgage rates were 10% and the principal and interest payment for a loan on the median house was 27% of median income versus around 21% today.