Morning Report: Deep subprime auto is big

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2352.5 1.0
Eurostoxx Index 377.2 -0.1
Oil (WTI) 48.6 0.2
US dollar index 90.1  
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.40%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.06
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 103.36
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.11

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

Mortgage Applications fell 0.8% last week as purchases rose 1% and refis fell 3%. Rates collapsed at the end of the week due to the failure of health care reform, so it is probably premature to see if that has affected things. Note that mortgage rates invariably lag moves in the 10-year as lenders wait to see if the changes are for real.

Pending Home Sales increased 5.5% in February, which is 2.6% higher than a year ago, and the second-highest reading since the bubble years (the first was last April). A slight uptick in listings drove the increase. Demand is there, supply is not.

Deep Subprime auto loans (loans to borrowers with sub 550 credit scores) have increased to 1/3 of all auto loan ABS. In 2010, they were just 5%. As you can expect, delinquencies are increasing on these. It is surprising that institutional investors are happy to buy bonds securitized by assets that depreciate like sushi, while securitizing an overcollateralized pool of high quality non-QM loans is like pulling teeth.

If there is anything in Washington that should have bipartisan support, it is finding a solution for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The current situation is untenable, as the government is sweeping all of their profits, which is making them more and more undercapitalized. The Trump Administration has indicated that dealing with the GSEs is a high priority, but they have yet to give any sort of indication of how they think the future housing market should look. The model the MBA supports is to turn them into regulated utilities, with a capped rate of return. The Obama Administration supported nationalizing them, while another plan would get them out of the securitization business and into the mortgage insurance business. There are many stakeholders in this discussion, including the affordable housing types who want to ensure underserved areas can get credit, hedge funds who own the common and preferred shares, as well as lenders and borrowers.

Here is a good backgrounder on how hard tax reform is going to be. Every “loophole” will have a constituency which will defend it to the death. The failure to end Obamacare (at least for now) will have taken the biggest “pay for” off the table. That leaves Republicans with a couple choices: Either pass a 10 year tax cut the way George W Bush did, or do revenue-neutral tax reform like Reagan did.

Institutional Investors are implementing artificial intelligence into the stock picking business. How much do you want to bet that everyone’s algorithms will look pretty much the same and will pick the same stocks?

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