Morning Report: Housing starts improve 11/17/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2584.5 -0.5
Eurostoxx Index 384.3 -0.6
Oil (WTI) 56.0 0.9
US dollar index 87.3 -0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.37%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.651
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 103.494
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.9

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

Housing starts came in just shy of 1.3 million, the highest print in a year. This is up 14% from last month, but down 3% from a year ago. Building Permits came in at 1.3 million as well. Both numbers were driven by a big jump in multi-family, while single-fam continues to gradually move higher. We are still below historical numbers: From the late 50s through 2002, starts averaged 1.5 million a year. When you factor in population growth, that average is way too low for today. We probably should be pushing 2MM a year in order to keep up with population growth and to fix the inventory problem.

The House passed tax reform yesterday, and now all eyes turn to the Senate, where the latest bill made it out of Committee and is scheduled for a vote after the Thanksgiving holiday. Then begins the hard work of reconciling the House and Senate versions. The Senate bill has some high profile opposition, which makes passage difficult. This is still a very fluid situation.

Donald Trump will nominate OMB Chairman Mick Mulvaney to be the interim head of the CFPB. Mulvaney is a reliable conservative, who has a healthy skepticism of government regulation. He is expected to name another Chairman or Committee to run it, while he maintains his focus on OMB. Names mooted for the role include George Mason University professor Todd Zwyicki and ex-Congressman Neugebauer.

A study concludes that homeownership doesn’t increase wealth as much as renting and investing the savings in the stock market. The critical part of the argument is investing the savings in the stock market. I haven’t read the study, but I wonder if they are using absolute house prices instead of what you actually put up. If the house appreciates 5% a year, and you only put down 20%, what is the best number for determining your return? The it amount of the house or the amount you actually put up? Is the proper return 5% / 100% or is it 5% / 20% (or 25%)?

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