Morning Report: FOMC meeting begins 3/20/18

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P futures 2725.25 3
Eurostoxx index 375.23 1.54
Oil (WTI) 62.97 0.91
10 Year Government Bond Yield 2.88%
30 Year fixed rate mortgage 4.43%

Stocks are higher this morning after yesterday’s bloodbath in tech. Bonds and MBS are down small.

Current funding for the government is set to expire on Friday, and Congress is still working on a plan to keep the lights on. Sticking points include funding for the military, the border wall, and the NY-NJ Hudson River Tunnel. Votes are looking likely for Thursday and Friday, so there isn’t a lot of margin for error. Making matters worse is a major snowstorm which is set to hit the East Coast tomorrow. Washington is set to get 4-8 inches which could shut down government for the day. New York is set to get a foot.

We could see some movements in interest rates over the next couple of days with the FOMC decision tomorrow and the Bank of England decision on Thursday. A 25 basis point hike is more or less assured, but the markets will be focused on the projection materials, particularly the dot plot. This will be Jerome Powell’s first rate hike, so every word in the statement and everything he says in the press conference will be parsed even more closely that usual.

The government is mulling a change in the bankruptcy laws that would allow more students to reduce or eliminate student loan debt in bankruptcy. High levels of student loan debt are one reason why the first time homebuyer has been missing in action in this housing recovery. As of now, tax debt and student loan debt are more or less permanent – bankruptcy doesn’t eliminate them. Student loan servicers are required by Department of Education regulations to oppose bankruptcies, even if they know there is little chance of recovery. The servicers realize this is often throwing good money after bad.

Freddie Mac crunched the numbers on how rising interest rates affect the housing market and the mortgage industry. Since 1990, increases in interest rates have dropped home sales by 5%, cut housing starts by 11% and cut mortgage origination by 30%. Of course the rate hikes since 1990 were in the context of a secular bull market in bonds that started around 1981 and ended around 2016 or so. In other words, these rate hikes were short-lived. This time around, that probably isn’t happening. That said, starts are so depressed relative to demand to begin with that we probably won’t see an 11% drop. Unless inflation picks up massively, the Fed will continue to go slow and will be loath to knock the economy back into a recession.

18 Responses

  1. No one beats the Kossacks for headlines.

    https://m.dailykos.com/stories/1750459

    I’ll put them up agin’ Prison Planet any day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The modern world has done nothing to make people less superstitious. That article is nothing but superstition cloaked in reportage’s clothing.

      It’s bullshit but it’s quasi-religious true-believer bullshit. No wonder they go all in on global warming.

      Like

  2. I’m curious if there’s still an activ FISA survellienc on Carter Page.

    Like

  3. The PL meltdown over Facebook is a sight to behold. The conventional wisdom there is Zuckerberg is about to flee the country to avoid being put on trial for treason.

    They’ve all lost their minds.

    Liked by 2 people

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