Morning Report: What will be the shape of the recovery?

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Last Change
S&P futures 2900 -23.1
Oil (WTI) 24.79 0.29
10 year government bond yield 0.67%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.36%


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


About 80% of renters made a full or partial May payment as of May 6, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Tracker.  “Despite the fact that over twenty million people lost their jobs in April, for the second month in a row, we are seeing evidence that apartment renters who can pay rent are stepping up and doing so,” said Doug Bibby, NMHC President. “We expect May to largely mirror April, when the payment rate increased throughout the month as financial assistance worked its way to people’s bank accounts.” Meanwhile, New York extended its eviction moratorium until August. Note that rent strikes are a thing now.


Matt Taibbi discusses the mortgage servicers. The balloon payment issue is a hot button one for the left, and they are sounding the alarm. Basically Taibbi interviewed all the usual consumer advocate types on the left – guys like Richard Cordray, analysts at liberal think tanks and advocacy groups, and take the servicers to task for not having 4 months of advances laying around.

Should the Fed open its war chest and create a “liquidity facility” to help mortgage servicers? It seemed like the obvious move — this really was a problem caused by a bailout that encouraged even people who didn’t need forbearance to accept it — but how could this be done in a way that didn’t put homeowners at more risk?

“This is the script of a heist flick, where homeowners get screwed in the end while servicers get the money,” says Carter Dougherty of Americans for Financial Reform. “If you combine money for servicers with strong consumer protections and a vigorous regulator, then the film could have a happy ending. But I’m not holding my breath.”

That said, this unfortunately IS what the industry is up against, and a good indicator of how the regulators (at least on the left) view the industry. It is why getting some sort of liquidity facility for the servicers might be harder than it looks. Which is pretty sad when the Fed is considering buying corporate junk bonds to stabilize the economy.


More economic forecasters are predicting a “swoosh” style recovery. “This is not going to be a quick recovery,” said Mark Schneider, chief executive officer of Nestlé SA, the world’s biggest packaged foods maker, recently. “This is going to be a several-quarter, if not several-year kind of process.”


For what its worth, I am somewhat skeptical of the long, drawn out recovery argument. Most recessions in the past started for a reason – a long expansion encouraged a buildup of inventory, or asset bubbles. Once the economy slows down the problems that have been building become apparent. That isn’t what happened this time around. We didn’t have a slowdown driven by organic issues in the economy. We had a government-engineered crash. Sure, there were pockets of the economy like retail which were weak to begin with, but for the most part the economy was super healthy going into the COVID Crisis. I think comparing this to the Great Depression or the Great Recession has to be done carefully. Both were driven by rotten timbers in the economy that finally collapsed. That wasn’t the case this time around, and I think that argues for a V-shaped recovery.

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