Morning Report: Richard Cordray resigns 11/16/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2572.0 7.0
Eurostoxx Index 382.0 -1.9
Oil (WTI) 55.4 0.1
US dollar index 87.3 0.0
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.34%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.688
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.87

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

Some economic data this morning: Initial Jobless Claims rose to 249k last week, which is still a remarkably low number. We are starting to see wage inflation at the blue collar level. Manufacturing is still strong in the Northeast, with the Philly Fed index coming in at 22.7. Inflation remains on the low side, although import prices did increase by 0.2% MOM / 2.5% YOY on a weaker dollar. Finally, industrial and manufacturing production came in higher than estimates, while capacity utilization improved to 77% from 76.4%. All of these data point to less slack in the economy.

Homebuilder sentiment bounced back in November, according to the NAHB. The index rose to 70  from 68 in October. The index hit a post-recession peak of 71 in early 2017, and the last time above that level was in late 2005. Builders are happy, bit supply remains low. In fact, inventory is so low in San Jose, days on market is less than two weeks, and prices rose almost 20% to hit a median value of over $1 million.

CFPB Chairman Richard Cordray announced his resignation yesterday and said he will be stepping down at the end of the month. The speculation is that he will challenge John Kasich for governor of Ohio. No word on who might replace him. What’s Angelo Mozillo up to these days?

The House is scheduled to vote on tax reform today, while the Senate continues to work on it. Public support for tax reform remains weak, probably because there hasn’t been a plan yet to actually sell to the public – it remains in such a state of flux nobody knows what it will actually entail. The latest potential provisions include sunsetting the individual tax cuts, removing the Obamacare mandate, and cutting Medicare. While these may or may not be smart things to do, Congress and the WH need to be singing from the same sheet of music, which they aren’t. Meanwhile, opponents have been able to run stories against it largely unopposed. Ironically, tax reform in the Senate will probably hinge on two Republicans who will not be facing re-election again in their lives: John McCain and Jeff Flake. I stand by my initial thoughts on this – that the only thing that has a chance of passing is something small and largely symbolic. Re-doing the corporate tax code should be a bipartisan endeavor with comment periods, a visible public debate, etc.. Not finalizing a plan hours before the vote.

Home equity wealth hit a new high of $13.9 trillion, half a trillion over the 2006 high and double the low at the nadir of the Great Recession. It is important to remember that these are nominal numbers (in other words, not adjusted for inflation). Inflation-adjusted home prices still have yet to recoup their highs, in fact they are still 17% below their peak levels. This is why affordability remains decent in spite of the nominal home price indices hitting new highs. It is also why articles in the financial press warning of a new real estate bubble are complete and utter nonsense.

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