Morning Report: Incomes and spending rise 3/31/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2362.3 -2.3
Eurostoxx Index 380.3 -0.2
Oil (WTI) 50.3 -0.1
US dollar index 90.5
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.42%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.06
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 103.36
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.13

Stocks are lower this morning as investors take some profits after a good quarter. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Personal Incomes rose 0.4% MOM while consumer spending rose 0.2%. The savings rate increased 0.2% to 5.6%. The PCE Index (the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation) rose 2.1% YOY, while the core index, which strips out some volatile commodity prices rose 1.8%.

The Chicago PMI Index rose slightly in March as new orders rose and employment fell.

Consumer sentiment retreated slightly in March, according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey. Note that the spread between the “soft” economic data (like sentiment indices) and the “hard” economic data (like actual spending numbers) has never been higher. This is probably being driven by expectations of regulatory relief.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan is worried about Washington and the effect policy will have on consumer spending. The fear is that any sort of protectionism via a cross-border tax or policies that could increase health care inflation would crimp spending, especially for older folks. Of course there is a demographic effect happening as well – older people tend to spend less. Their kids are still just starting out, but they will hit their peak spending years soon enough. And before everyone starts wringing their hands over the savings rate, it is still pretty low by historical standards:

Want a good statistic to demonstrate how tight the housing market is? 57% of all realtors have been involved in a sale with at least 10 offers on a single property in the past year. In fact, only 2% have not experienced a bidding war in the last year. We are starting to see home sales contingent on the seller finding a place to buy.  This is part of the problem for the first time homebuyer: The move-up buyer can’t find (or afford) a better place so they are staying put.

William Dudley of the NY Fed prefers the Fed go slowly in reducing the size of its balance sheet. So far, the consensus is that the Fed will just let maturing bonds roll off and not re-invest those proceeds back into the market. Dudley wants to be even more cautious than that, and taper the re-investment, which would mean they would start by reinvesting only half of maturing proceeds back into the market, and then stop altogether later. Regardless of how the Fed handles it, any sort of balance sheet change should have a minimal effect on MBS spreads. If QE had a de minimus effect on spreads then ending the reinvestment policy should have little to no effect. Note Dudley is also concerned about the effect this will have on long term rates, which could restrict credit.

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