|US dollar index||91.0||-0.2|
|10 Year Govt Bond Yield||2.43%|
|Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA||102.1|
|Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA||103.2|
|30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage||4.06|
Stocks are flat this morning after the producer price index comes in a little hotter than expected. Bonds and MBS are flat.
As expected, Steve Mnuchin was confirmed by the Senate to be the new Treasury Secretary.
The Producer Price Index (which measures inflation at the wholesale level) came in at 0.6% in January, higher than the 0.3% consensus estimate. On a year-over-year basis, it is up 1.6%. The core rate, which strips out the volatile energy and food components, was up 0.2% and is up 1.6% YOY. Inflation remains under control, and won’t really accelerate until we see wage growth.
Despite the early missteps of the Trump administration, small business remains optimistic about the future, according to the NFIB. Small business added on average .15 workers in January, the highest reading in two years, and historically a very high number. 53% reported trying to hire workers and 47% were unable to find qualified candidates.
Janet Yellen begins her two-day Humphrey-Hawkins testimony to Congress. There probably won’t be much in the way of market-moving headlines, as I suspect the focus will be on deregulation and changes to Dodd-Frank. Any references to monetary policy should pretty much echo the Feb 1 FOMC statement.
PIMCO is warning investors to be prepared if the Fed makes a mistake by tightening too fast. Historically central banks have moved a little too quickly trying to bring back rates from the zero bound (or close to it). In fact, the Bank of Japan has tried twice since their 1989 crash to get off the zero bound and has had to reverse course each time. The markets are currently forecasting a 30% chance of a Fed hike at their March meeting. The risk isn’t so much that the current board of governors will move to fast – it is that Trump nominates hawks. That said, no politician likes a hawkish central bank except on the campaign trail, so that fear could be overblown.
Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker (nonvoting) said the markets are underestimating the pace of Fed rate hikes this year. “”Rates need to rise more briskly than markets now seem to expect. The elevated uncertainty now surrounding fiscal policy, particularly the potential for substantial fiscal stimulus, suggests that our next increase should come sooner rather than later in order to reduce the risks associated with having to raise rates more rapidly later on.” The way things are looking in DC, it seems pretty unlikely we are going to see any sort of cooperation on anything, least of all a tax cut.
It bears repeating that interest rate cycles are long. Coming out of the Great Depression, long term Treasury rates stayed below 3% from 1934 to 1956. Below is a chart going back almost 100 years. Long term rates are pretty much around the levels we saw in the 1940s. Note the uptick in interest rates around 1932. That was the Fed tightening that pushed the economy over the edge during the Great Depression. The Fed didn’t make the same mistake this time around, which is probably the biggest reason why the Great Recession didn’t become the Great Depression II. Ironically, it took Ben Bernanke to officially admit that the Fed screwed up in the 30s.
Completed foreclosures fell 40% year-over-year in December to 21,000. The foreclosure inventory is down 30%. The seriously delinquent rate is 2,6%, which is the lowest since June 2007. Foreclosures remain concentrated in the judicial states of NY and NJ. The rest of the country has pretty much worked through their foreclosure inventory.
Real estate agents are optimistic for 2017, according to NAR. Changes in the FHA rules for condos is helping.
Regulators put the kibosh on a strategy by JP Morgan and Redwood to help ease the path for private label securitizations. The idea was for JP Morgan to create a junior structure which contained the riskiest mortgages, sell off that piece to Redwood, and to retain the senior tranches. The hope was that this would reduce the amount of capital JPM would be required to keep against the mortgages. The OCC rejected the deal.