Morning Report: Existing home sales rise

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S&P futures 3315 -4.25
Oil (WTI) 55.58 -0.64
10 year government bond yield 1.74%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.84%


Stocks are lower on overseas market weakness. Bonds and MBS are up after the European Central Bank left rates unchanged.


Existing home sales rose 3.6% in December, according to NAR. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million was up 11% from a year ago. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said home sales fluctuated a great deal last year. “I view 2019 as a neutral year for housing in terms of sales,” Yun said. “Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren’t as fortunate. Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected the most.” The median home price came in at $274,500, up 7.8% from a year ago. Total housing inventory sat at 1.4 million units, down 14.5% from November and about 8% from a year ago. At current levels, this represents about 3 months worth of inventory.


NAR is optimistic about 2020: “NAR is expecting 2020 to be a great year for housing,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, California. “Our leadership team is hard at work to secure policies that will keep our housing market moving in the right direction, like promoting infrastructure reform, strengthening fair housing protections and ensuring mortgage capital remains available to responsible, mortgage-ready Americans.”


ATTOM data solutions said home sellers realized a price gain of $65,500 on the typical home sale, which represents a 34% return on investment. “The nation’s housing boom kept roaring along in 2019 as prices hit a new record, returning ever-higher profits to home sellers and posing ever-greater challenges for buyers seeking bargains. In short, it was a great year to be a seller,” ATTOM Chief Product Officer Todd Teta said. “But there were signs that the market was losing some steam last year, as profits and profit margins increased at the slowest pace since 2011. While low mortgage rates are propping up prices, the declining progress suggests some uncertainty going into the 2020 buying season.”



63 Responses

    • While I think DJT is guilty of what he has been charged with regarding attempting to get a personal political favor out of the Ukrainian regime, I just think it shouldn’t lead to Removal. It is worthy of airing and should have been met with bipartisan censure.

      Compared with three Admins lying about AFG, and what we now know about the lead up to the Second Iraq war I so blindly supported, and the whole Gulf of Tonkin BS this was relatively small change.

      Thus I thought the perfect defense would have been “he did it but he won’t do it again.”

      I really despise the defense that the POTUS cannot be guilty of any wrongdoing here because of the Unitary Executive theory.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “While I think DJT is guilty of what he has been charged with regarding attempting to get a personal political favor out of the Ukrainian regime, I just think it shouldn’t lead to Removal. It is worthy of airing and should have been met with bipartisan censure.”

        Agreed. It’s too close to the line of criminalizing politics.

        I think he should have been impeached over firing Comey to interfere with the FBI investigation of possible Russian interference with the election, which clearly could have encompassed Trump himself.

        That’s about as clear of a case of obstruction of justice that I can think of.


        • Impeachment in general sounds like a good idea–and certainly was in the era of no presidential term limits. The problem is, it rarely seems to result in removal even in lesser offices and if it ever works on a president, I see many, many impeachments in the future–even if, yes, Trump should probably be impeached.


      • The issue i have is that investigating Biden may have been helpful politically to Trump.

        But it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Biden’s kid DID have a no-show job. Biden DID brag on camera about getting a prosecutor fired. The whole thing DID seem off, and asking what was going on is a legitimate question.

        Do you think that we would be having this conversation if Hunter Biden didn’t have a no-show job and Biden didn’t say that on camera?


        • Bent:

          Do you think that we would be having this conversation if Hunter Biden didn’t have a no-show job and Biden didn’t say that on camera?

          Or, alternatively, if it was Trump Jr who had a no show job and Obama (or literally any other Dem) had asked for an investigation into it?


        • Don’t forget, the Ukrainian ambassador wrote an oped against Trump that appeared in WAPO a couple of days before the election


    • They seemed to be convinced voters are watching the trial and becoming enraged at Republicans for not doing whatever the Democrats want. And they are demanding a “fair trial”–which again, appears to be defined as doing whatever the Democrats want. As if this would ever be any different if a Republican congress impeached a sitting Democratic president and then sent it over to a Democrat controlled Senate.

      Given the Clinton impeachment, I kind of have a hard time thinking that the Republicans are going to pay a political price for being dismissive of impeachment.


  1. It’s telling how offended Vox gets when there’s an attempt to crack down on people gaming the immigration system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • because they can’t get past the disproportionate effect on women. they see misogyny and then stop thinking.


    • The Trump Admin has balls. I can’t see any other administration trying to make this happen, when the optics are “Trump to persecute pregnant mothers who want a better life for their children”. I can’t see any other politician having that kind of disinterest in the opinion of the media and elitists everywhere.


    • There’s an easy solution. Get rid of birthright citizenship!


    • “People will die because of this,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, told Vox.

      Then get rid of birthright citizenship so it’s not a problem. It’s absurd that if a woman is coming here only to get better healthcare than they can in their home country that their child automatically becomes a citizen.


  2. Good piece on how the 17th Amendment providing for the direct election of Senators impacted the Senate’s suitability to try impeachment cases.

    “This Is Not the Senate the Framers Imagined

    The Constitution originally provided for the selection of senators by state legislatures, but the Seventeenth Amendment changed that, and with it, the Senate itself.

    January 21, 2020
    Jane Chong
    Former law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They’re fucking officers! Does Bloomberg not realize the percentage of enlisted veterans versus officers?

    It will serve to drive people to Trump.


  4. Thought this story was interesting, and a good indication of what the future portends for an increasingly politicized – and hence less respected – judiciary.

    An immigration board has basically given its middle finger to an appeals court, which apparently thinks that whether to grant immigration visas is a decision that belongs to the courts and not immigration boards. The appeals court did not take it well, but I thought this was notable:

    “What happened next beggars belief,” the appeals court said. “The Board of Immigration Appeals wrote, on the basis of a footnote in a letter the Attorney General issued after our opinion, that our decision is incorrect.”

    Imagine that…someone dares to suggest that the court could be wrong! All I can say is, get used to it, judges, you reap what you sow. Respect for and the honoring of judicial decisions derives from the belief that judges are, or at least are trying to be, neutral arbiters of the written law. With the rise of the imperial judiciary in which judges blatantly ignore the written law and use their position to pursue policy goals, that belief is no longer justified. This will – and should – produce a lot more of Andrew Jackson’s (perhaps apocryphal) reaction to the court: They’ve made their decision, now let them enforce it.


  5. Goldman gets more and more woke.

    Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Solomon issued the latest ultimatum Thursday from Davos. Wall Street’s biggest underwriter of initial public offerings in the U.S. will no longer take a company public in the U.S. and Europe if it lacks a director who is either female or diverse.

    This is the very definition of virtue signalling. Note the qualifier “the US and Europe”. Goldmine Sachs will not, of course, be implementing this policy in places – ie Asia/the Middle East/South America – where sex and race discrimination are actually real, and where such a stance might actually jeopardize their profits. Pathetic.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If you aren’t on board with the trans agenda, progressives don’t want your vote:


    • It was a good read, but the author destroys his own credibility early on with this nonsense:

      Democrats happen to believe in facts and institutions

      One word: Trans


  7. Maureen Dowd is pretty spot on about the politics of impeachment:


    • If Hunter Biden never had the job at Burisma, and if Joe Biden had never bragged on camera about getting a Ukranian prosecutor fired, would this whole kerfuffle even exist?

      Would Trump had gone to some other country to get dirt on Biden?

      Maybe getting dirt on Biden was advantageous politically, but if Biden didn’t put himself in the position of looking like Pig Pen from Peanuts, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.


    • Ds will be lucky for Rs not to allow witnesses. Then they can spring Bolton, etc., as October surprises. Because by then all effects of this trial will have been forgotten.

      I honestly do not understand how Sanders could appeal to enough voters to be taken seriously. Also, Trump, of course.

      I get the feeling that once people choose sides they are reluctant to re-examine their choices in the face of new information. That doesn’t seem like a survival trait, at all.


      • It may not be much of a surprise since apparently the book has already leaked:


      • Mark:

        I get the feeling that once people choose sides they are reluctant to re-examine their choices in the face of new information.

        Agreed. Witness the Never-Trumpers.


        • Do you think there is some “new information” that shows Trump to be other than what he was in his previous life?


        • Mark:

          Do you think there is some “new information” that shows Trump to be other than what he was in his previous life?

          Yes. In his previous life he struck me as, politically, a fairly typical New York liberal, part of the whole northeastern political establishment, while as president he seems to have largely shunned that and has been much more aggressive in pursuing long-standing conservative policy goals than I ever anticipated.

          A great example is his approach to court appointments, which has been a great surprise to me. But there are several others that one would expect conservatives to embrace: roll-back of many Obama-era regulations/executive orders (eg with regard to Title IX, Obamacare); he’s been a surprisingly vocal and active opponent of abortion and funding of Planned Parenthood (witness his recent and unprecedented appearance at the March for Life); moving the US embassy to Jerusalem; rejection of the Iran deal. There are many more.

          It seems to me that, if one ignores all the bluster and twitter trolling and media hyperventilating, there is quite a lot of new information from a policy point of view for conservatives/Republicans and even moderate independents to be pleasantly surprised about so far. But Never-Trumpers are blind to it. All they see is Orange Man Bad.


        • Are there people living with the illusion that Trump is not a flawed person?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Do you think there is some “new information” that shows Trump to be other than what he was in his previous life?

          I don’t know if the new information matters to NeverTrumpers. Obviously, Democrats and progressives would never like Trump, no matter what. But I think a lot of modern national politics is image–and for a lot of conservative intellectuals Trump’s Twittering and way of speaking and belligerence and tendency to hyperbole and fast-and-loose with facts is just unforgivable. It doesn’t matter what he accomplishes via policy.

          But also Trump does not appear to subscribe to the New American Century, so all sorts of Kristol-style neocons are going to hate him, no matter what. Not that Trump will actually make much progress in ending our endless wars.


      • I get the feeling that once people choose sides they are reluctant to re-examine their choices in the face of new information. That doesn’t seem like a survival trait, at all.

        I think it’s probably a survival trait. Some social organization provides survival benefits, and successful social organization seems to involve hierarchy. And also involves tribal membership. Constantly questioning your chosen leader/tribal loyalty would seem problematic to me.

        There are also any number of things we recognize we shouldn’t be rethinking. New information may indicate that this week it’s better to keep the dishes in a cabinet on the other side of the kitchen, but we don’t constantly change how we organize our lives or offices just because another way of doing it might be better. Often we don’t act or change beliefs even on long known information–and I think that’s because constant updating would ultimately be paralyzing. So make a significant change requires a critical mass of changed opinions, new information, peer pressure, etc to reach a tipping point and then allow the assimilation of new information.

        Heck, even good information that the person accepts as true isn’t always sufficient to prompt change. There are plenty of overweight people who know everything about diet and metabolism we can possibly know, just as there are addicts who know all the mechanisms of consequences of their addiction–but still don’t change. Biologically we have a kind of bias against frequent and constant change, and I guess it’s more of a survival trait than it is an anti-survival trait!


  8. Anyone else watch Picard yet?


    • Anyone else watch Picard yet?

      I am in no hurry to, but my granddaughters have become Trekkies of sorts and it is inevitable that they will insist I watch with them. Is it worth watching, or will I just be accommodating the twins?

      BTW, their favorite series was Enterprise with Scott Bakula. They still don’t understand why the writers killed Trip in the last episode. I have agreed with them each time they have complained about it. They have watched all the original characters’ movies but think the original TV series was “cheesy”.

      We also have watched late 1930s Flash Gordon because I told them [truthfully] that I knew Buster Crabbe. They think Flash Gordon was so cheesy that it must have been designed as comedy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s great. If the first episode is any indication it’s going to be the best one in terms of writing since DS9. It’s going to be one long story, not episodic so it will be more like “prestige TV” series like Breaking Bad and The Americans than previous Star Trek series.

        I highly recommend it.

        You’ll also want to watch the prequel short film “Children of Mars” from the Short Treks series before watching the first episode of Picard.


      • As a OT and NG Trek fan, for me, Picard continues to forget canon–and while there’s always been “why didn’t they just…?” in Star Trek, and most TV, Picard is going to Discovery level egregiousness in terms of “writing with a dart board”. Keeping in mind I was not a big fan of Enterprise either. For me, the pinnacle of Star Trek was probably the first two movies, TMP and WoK.

        I like the idea of Picard in the abstract but there’s too much of the modern reboot/retconn for me. And supposedly this becomes even more egregious. So . . .

        Eh. It’s lasers and spaceships and boom-boom now, and I’m old. Not for me anymore.

        Picard getting harassed by the 24th century Fox News Equivalent seemed really contemporary and dumb. Give me the “Coms and the Yangs” of the original series (which basically contained the idea that the declaration of independence was so universal it would have naturally occurred on completely different worlds).

        Probably more my age than quality of the show.


        • “but there’s too much of the modern reboot/retconn for me.”

          Meaning the tie in with the Abrams movies?


        • Meaning the tie in with the Abrams movies?

          That, but also Picard couldn’t stand being on the vineyard in the one episode in TNG that he went back there, so why is that where he retires? He wouldn’t spend his elder years doing space archeology (something he’s interested in)? Romulans as servants–really? Forget the Mexican-service-worker analogy, that’s just not really Romulans. This deep connection to Data, when Data was more connected to almost everybody else on the ship than he was Picard.

          The phaser gun thing is more super-geek pickiness, but and overloaded phaser (according to TOS) could potentially take out half-of-a-ship. Now some super-advanced phaser rifle just blows Picard across the roof (which ends with him at home, rather than a hospital?) . . . But that could be excused, I guess. Fox News interview where Picard gets all pissy about the Fox News reporter asking why he left Starfleet . . . eh.

          Most of the Data’s daughter story seems to have forgotten Lal.

          And new and deconstructed Federation/Starfleet isn’t super appealing to me.

          Also the beaming in to get Dahj rather than beaming her up and capturing her in stasis, or showing up with something meant to deactivate a human with a positronic brain, and stabbing her boyfriend and then waiting around for her to activate while worrying about her “activating” . . . Doesn’t seem right. It’s weird.

          For the whole conceit to work, we have to accept a basic retconning of the Romulan Empire for reasons. They have space travel. They couldn’t rescue themselves?

          The talk about Maddox seems about right.

          Dunno. It all seems like more NuTrek. We shall see. I do know that would I have seen of Discovery (not enough to really form a good judgement) has looked awful. And arbitrary (start ships have infinite amounts of shuttle craft to send out and fight like TIE fighters and X-Wings? What?)

          It ended with DS9!


  9. Good take from Ross Douthat, that Trump wants to be a pre-Watergate President:

    The referenced piece is worth reading as well:

    Liked by 1 person

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