Morning Report: Stirrings of inflation at the wholesale level 12/12/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2666.3 1.8
Eurostoxx Index 390.4 1.4
Oil (WTI) 58.4 0.5
US dollar index 87.3 -0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.39%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.531
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 103.591
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.88

Stocks are up this morning as we begin the FOMC meeting. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Inflation at the wholesale level came in slightly above forecast according to the Producer Price Index. The headline number was 0.4% MOM and 3.1% YOY. Ex-food and energy, it rose 0.3% / 2.4% and ex-food, energy, and trade services it was up 0.4% / 2.4%. This report confirms building inflationary pressures in the system. It won’t have an effect on this Fed meeting, but it is something to watch.

Speaking of inflation, one of the bigger complications for the Fed is the effect of Amazon on price discovery. Amazon (and the Internet in general) allow consumers to compare prices easily, something that was not possible a generation ago. Goldman tried to estimate the effect of the internet on core CPI, and they found it to be about 0.1%. All of the Fed’s inflation models were conceived pre-internet. While price comparison on the web is not the only reason why inflation is low, it is a new factor. Deflation is generally experienced in the wake of asset bubbles – Japan has experienced it for a generation, the US had low inflation from the Depression that lasted until the 60s, and we have had persistently low inflation since the residential real estate bubble burst. Low productivity hasn’t helped either, as productivity growth drives wage inflation.

Small business optimism hit the highest level in 34 years on tax reform according to the NFIB. “We haven’t seen this kind of optimism in 34 years, and we’ve seen it only once in the 44 years that NFIB has been conducting this research,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Small business owners are exuberant about the economy, and they are ready to lead the U.S. economy in a period of robust growth.” While small business didn’t add any workers last month, hiring plans increased, and difficulties in finding workers remains a big problem.

CoreLogic reported that delinquency rates in July were the lowest in a decade. The foreclosure inventory rate was 0.7%, down from 0.9% a year ago and is the lowest level since 2007. Delinquency rates are the lowest in the West, while New York has the highest. The Northeast judicial states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut still have a foreclosure inventory to work through. Lower oil prices were beginning to push up DQ rates in places like Alaska and Louisiana.

Congress hopes to pass tax reform by Christmas. The bill is in committee right now, where the House and Senate are trying to reconcile their differences.

Bitcoin mania: People are taking out mortgages to buy bitcoin. This will not end well. That said, can bitcoin double from here? Of course. Can it go to zero? Of course.

%d bloggers like this: