Morning Report: The CFPB has two directors 11/27/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2601.0 0.0
Eurostoxx Index 385.7 -1.0
Oil (WTI) 58.3 -0.7
US dollar index 86.2 -0.2
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.33%
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 after the US comes back from a long weekend. Bonds and MBS are up.

Retailers are rallying this morning on expectations of a strong holiday shopping season. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is pushing $10,000.

New Home Sales rose 6.2% MOM and almost 19% YOY, according to Census and HUD. The median sales price was $313k, while the average was $400k. Inventory is at 4.9 months’ worth.

We have a good amount of data this week, although the jobs report will not be released this Friday. We get new home sales today, house prices tomorrow, GDP on Wednesday, Personal Incomes / Spending on Thursday, and the ISM data on Friday. Janet Yellen will also speak on Wednesday.

Richard Cordray resigned from the CFPB last week and Donald Trump nominated Mick Mulvaney to lead the Bureau. Outgoing Director Cordray nominated Obama appointee Leandra English (a career civil servant in the Elizabeth Warren mold) to replace himself and the agency is suing the Trump Administration to prevent him from nominating Mulvaney. So, for the moment, the agency has two directors.

While there is partisan rancor over who will lead the CFPB, Trump’s nominee to lead the Fed, Jerome Powell, expects to have a smooth path to confirmation.

Tax reform will be front and center this week as the Senate hopes to vote this Thursday. If the Senate passes a bill, the House and the Senate will need to come to an agreement between their respective bills. Trump hopes to sign something by the end of the year.

Who would be the biggest losers in the tax bill? The very rich in Greenwich, CT and Manhattan. This is the last thing Connecticut needs – their entire state is largely financed by the rich in Fairfield County. Goldman Sachs estimates that NYC could lose 4% of their top earners. The most likely beneficiary? Florida. The rarefied air of the Northeast luxury market will take a hit (it was already moribund before people were talking about eliminating the state and local tax rate), although inventory is so tight it probably won’t affect the lower price points.

The NAR has released a study claiming that tax reform will hit real estate prices overall by 10%. The fear is that it will discourage homebuilding which will sap the economy of strength. It is true that economic growth has been tepid over the past decade as homebuilding contracted, but will the changes in the tax code matter all that much? I am skeptical that lowering the MID cap from $1 million to $500k will matter all that much, given the median home price in the US is under $250k. The median income in the US is under $60k as well and most people will be better off just taking the increased standardized deduction. So while they may “lose the mortgage interest deduction” it is a moot point – the increased standard deduction replaces it. But yes, I would expect to see some sort of effect at the top 10% of the market, but that should be about it. As far as homebuilding, I think the builders will shift their focus from luxury to starter homes, where the demand is. As a matter of policy, if you wanted to get rid of the mortgage interest deduction when it causes the least amount of economic pain, you would do it when the economy is expanding and interest rates are low. Interest as a percent of your mortgage payment is the lowest in 50 years.

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