Morning Report: Pending Home Sales fall

Vital Statistics:

 

  Last Change
S&P futures 3720 -4.3
Oil (WTI) 47.92 -0.44
10 year government bond yield   0.92%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   2.78%

Stocks are flattish as we end out 2020. Bonds and MBS are flat as well.

 

Pending Home Sales fell 2.6% in November, according to NAR. Year-over-year contract signings were up.

“The latest monthly decline is largely due to the shortage of inventory and fast-rising home prices,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It is important to keep in mind that the current sales and prices are far stronger than a year ago.”

“The market is incredibly swift this winter with the listed homes going under contract on average at less than a month due to a backlog of buyers wanting to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates,” Yun said.

 

For 2021, NAR predicts existing home sales will rise 10% and new home sales will rise 20%. The mortgage rate will rise slightly from 2.7% to 3%.

 

Initial Jobless Claims fell to 787k last week.

 

Other than that, have a Happy New Year and see you on the other side.

56 Responses

  1. Interesting graphic, Brent.

    Somewhat arbitrary placement of states – Delaware in the south and not the northeast, Texas and Oklahoma in the south and not the west, etc.

    I assume there are Texas statewide stats, and that they are high end for this graph, and that they influence the regional read-out because I suspect Texas continues to have the greatest in migration of any state. I may be overestimating the weight of the Texas effect, but after all, I am a Texan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True.

      I have heard the argument that Ohio belongs in the East and not the Midwest. It is probably more like PA than, say Iowa.

      Like

    • The problem with this analysis, IMO, is that a mask mandate doesn’t mean that people actually comply with the mandate. They would need to track the spread of the virus in situations where masks are 100% required (grocery stores and hospitals for example) and then compare it to private homes and gatherings when it isn’t followed. We have very unreliable contact tracing in this country unfortunately.

      I read most of that but didn’t see that kind of comparison. Why do doctors and nurses wear masks in hospitals if they’re not effective? They would also need to factor in the amount of community spread as a measure I think. I’m no scientist but this piece just doesn’t seem very scientific to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lms:

        The problem with this analysis, IMO, is that a mask mandate doesn’t mean that people actually comply with the mandate.

        He talked about that objection.

        Another objection: “Well maybe people aren’t really wearing masks!” We have you covered there. Here’s an interactive tool allowing you to drill down on county-level covid cases mapped to a NYTimes survey on how people are wearing masks.

        Why do doctors and nurses wear masks in hospitals if they’re not effective?

        Effective at what, protecting themselves from their patients or protecting their patients from themselves? If you are talking about doctors and nurses on COVID wards, it is self-evident that they are wearing them to protect themselves, not the patients who are already infected with COVID. (BTW, do hospitals mandate that covid patients wear masks? If not why not?) This is the precise opposite of the logic behind mask mandates, which insists that they must be worn to protect other people from you, not vice-versa. And generally speaking I believe that doctors and nurses are wearing entirely different types of masks than those mandated for the general public.

        If you believe that a mask is going to protect you from covid, then by all means wear one. And if you are correct, then you should have no worries about what anyone else does.

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        • Scott

          allowing you to drill down on county-level covid cases mapped to a NYTimes survey on how people are wearing masks.

          I did see that but I’m not sure a survey conveys much of anything to be honest. I did think it was interesting they used a NYTimes piece as some kind of verification.

          Regarding masks………..are you saying masks don’t work at all, they only work to protect oneself, they work to protect oneself but not others or vice versa……….not sure what your stand is?

          It seems to me that masks work both ways, protecting others and protecting ourselves. Doctors et al wear masks in operating rooms to protect their patients and they wear them in Covid units to protect themselves. I don’t really see a good argument here against the viability of masks.

          I wear a mask for both, but maybe I’m misguided. I’ve been exposed several times but wearing a mask, or possibly just the luck of the draw, kept me from getting it…………who knows?

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        • I’m so old I remember when we were told by Fauci et al that wearing a mask actually increased our risk of infection.

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        • But that was an intentional lie to prevent a mask shortage. Not an actual “expert opinion”. It was just something the public couldn’t be trusted to have accurate information about.

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        • lms:

          are you saying masks don’t work at all, they only work to protect oneself, they work to protect oneself but not others or vice versa

          I’m saying that according to the numbers in that analysis, mask mandates don’t appear to have any impact on preventing deaths. Beyond that, in response to your question, I am saying that general public mask mandates can’t be justified based on protocols in a Covid ward of a hospital. Doctors and nurses treating Covid patients wear different types of masks than those mandated for the general public, and they wear them for the exact opposite purpose that general public mask mandates are (at least ostensibly) in place to accomplish.

          I do find it interesting, though, that people known to be infectious do not have to wear a mask in a hospital, but people who we have no reason whatsoever to suspect of having Covid do have to wear a mask in a grocery store and, in some places, even just walking down the street. Odd, that.

          Here’s a question: If masks are truly effective at protecting other people from an infected mask wearer, why are people who test positive required to quarantine themselves altogether rather than simply required to wear a mask if they want to go out and about?

          Like

        • McWing, I actually remember that too. I don’t think there was a uniform message at the beginning of this from the WH, the CDC, the scientists, or anyone really. I do think we evolved to at least recognizing that wearing a mask, social distancing and sanitizing our hands when we’re in public may help contain the spread………..but what do I know really? That’s what I’m doing to protect Walter primarily. So far so good, even though I’m dying to get on an airplane and head to CO.

          I’ll be first in line to get the vaccine when it’s my turn, and can’t wait to ditch the mask, the sanitizer and the social distancing. We hate all of it!

          Like

        • lms:

          I’ll be first in line to get the vaccine when it’s my turn, and can’t wait to ditch the mask, the sanitizer and the social distancing.

          Th logic behind masks is such that we will never be able to ditch them, even with a vaccine. Apart from the fact that a vaccine will never be 100% effective, and so some people will still be in danger of catching and dying from Covid, we know that tens of thousand of people already die from other contagious diseases every year, most notably the flu. Shouldn’t we keep mask mandates in place in perpetuity to protect people from these other diseases? If not, why not?

          Like

        • Scott

          Th logic behind masks is such that we will never be able to ditch them, even with a vaccine.

          I don’t believe this for a single minute. No one likes to wear a mask if they don’t have to. Hopefully the herd immunity you promoted by just letting it rip will be realized with vaccines.

          Apart from the fact that a vaccine will never be 100% effective, and so some people will still be in danger of catching and dying from Covid, we know that tens of thousand of people already die from other contagious diseases every year, most notably the flu. Shouldn’t we keep mask mandates in place in perpetuity to protect people from these other diseases? If not, why not?

          I think you’ve missed the point that this is both more contagious and more deadly than the flu. Once there is a viable vaccine then we can all take our chances by taking it or not but the goal is to reach herd immunity so the spread slows and doesn’t overwhelm the health care system.

          When was the last time the flu did that………..2018 right?

          Like

        • I think you’ve missed the point that this is both more contagious and more deadly than the flu.

          If I’m not mistaken, this isn’t true for folks under 30, almost the reverse for 20 and under … so I’m not sure why masks are appropriate for COVID in populations at lower risk of fatality from COVID than the flu, unless the argument is strictly one of contagiousness.

          Given the high risk people are basically those in hospitals and and nursing homes, the thing I have a hard time seeing changing is lockdowns for nursing homes and hospitals. But we shall see.

          I suspect mask wearing is with us for the long term for a variety of reasons (if it helps with COVID, it can help with other communicable diseases, including the flu which may only be 1/3rd as deadly over all but represents a greater risk for the young than COVID, as I understand). But I imagine a lot of people will just get tired of the mask wearing and stop, noting vaccination rates or a drop in positive tests as a rationale.

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        • lms:

          No one likes to wear a mask if they don’t have to.

          I think you are wrong about that. I think there are a lot of people who very much like to proudly proclaim their own virtue by making a public show of masking up. It has basically become a religious symbol to a lot of people.

          I think you’ve missed the point that this is both more contagious and more deadly than the flu.

          So when it comes to the flu, you are in favour of “just letting it rip”?

          Once there is a viable vaccine then we can all take our chances by taking it or not…

          Would you care to bet on whether there will be vaccine mandates?

          …the goal is to reach herd immunity so the spread slows and doesn’t overwhelm the health care system.

          I think you are mistaken if you honestly think that this has been the driving force of the mask cult. The messaging has been all about saving grandma, not preserving hospital beds.

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        • It was all about hospital beds and flattening the curve at the outset. My objection is that the goal posts keep shifting. It seems the argument is ultimately to make some form of masking permanent … just because.

          That being said it probably does help limit the spread of the flu and the common cold, as well as COVID, but as has been noted it seems to me guidance works better than mandates. And some stuff is just counter-productive for general health—requiring people to work out in masks just means a lot of people who need exercise aren’t going to get it.

          Still … numbers suggest less people died in 2020 than in 2017 and maybe 2018? If true it could suggest this cultural germophobia does prevent certain deaths. Although it might also suggest our reaction to COVID has been way overblown.

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        • FWIW, I agree with you, LMS.

          Like you and your friends, I and mine are always itching to get to a place where we can unmask. Scott’s idea that masks are a political statement must be for people he knows, as it is not for people we know.

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        • Mark:

          Scott’s idea that masks are a political statement must be for people he knows, as it is not for people we know.”

          To be clear, I said it has become an exercise in virtue signalling, not a “political statement”. And I would note that even both you and lms have in the past declared mask wearing to be a matter of courtesy.

          You said: “ We wear masks because we are thoughtful of others, as we know they do not protect us.”

          lms said: “It’s hard for me not to resent people who don’t, or didn’t, have the consideration for the rest of us to wear masks…”

          Like

        • Seems more a cultural thing than a political statement. People are wearing them because it’s required or other people are or they don’t want to get shamed, it seems to me.

          Like

        • Scott

          “It’s hard for me not to resent people who don’t, or didn’t, have the consideration for the rest of us to wear masks…”

          The reason I said this is because most younger people seem to just expect those of us at higher risk to just shelter at home and put the rest of our lives on hold. That might not have been necessary if everyone would have taken mask wearing seriously.

          Hey, I’m a freedom loving girl here but I also think about the rest of the people around me and how I can protect them………..Just me I guess! A mask is a very small temporary inconvenience while we wait for a vaccine and protect others and the health care system………..it’s not forever like you seem to FEAR!

          Like

        • Yep.

          Like

        • it’s not forever like you seem to FEAR!

          But it isn’t about protection it’s about control. It’s the same regarding universal healthcare, healthcare, hell even compassion have nothing to do with it as you know, it’s about power and control over individuals.

          Like

        • Despite billions invested the closest we’ve come is 2 Xanax and The Black Keys.

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        • Covid cures the flu!

          That scourge of mankind has been eliminated!

          Like

        • universal healthcare= it’s about power and control over individuals?

          How so?

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        • Who gets what kind and how much. Also, what people are or are not allowed to do since it impacts their health. It’s not about care it’s about power over the individual, always has been and always will be.

          Like

        • I appreciate the explanation. Thanks. I don’t see Medicare, VA, or ACA that way, but maybe Medicaid.

          Like

        • Medicare makes Medicare recipients slaves to it and very invested it making it cover more, to the detriment of non recipients.

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        • Or it’s just a lot of people sharing the same contrafactual idea that centralized control and supply of a service—like healthcare—is actually a good idea although there’s not a lot of actual objective data to back that up.

          Ultimately there would have to be some sort of mandates preventive care or the people we worry about would still not get the healthcare the experts want, not without coercion.

          And universal healthcare would have the consequences of taking away individual decision making, but making access to healthcare dependent on conforming to various protocols in terms of vaccination, etc.

          But there is no form of universal healthcare that would have as wide and dramatic a benefit as banning sugar consumption. Pretty much all actual data indicates this. But they aren’t going to do that.

          Like

        • lms:

          The reason I said this is because most younger people seem to just expect those of us at higher risk to just shelter at home and put the rest of our lives on hold.

          What are societal lock downs if not an expectation that people at low risk will shelter in place and put the rest of their lives on hold?

          That might not have been necessary if everyone would have taken mask wearing seriously.

          I don’t think it is “necessary” even now, but that aside, what makes you believe that mask wearing is an alternative to lock downs?

          I also think about the rest of the people around me and how I can protect them………..Just me I guess!

          Yes, just you. You are singularly virtuous!

          A mask is a very small temporary inconvenience…

          Only time will tell exactly how “temporary” it is, but in the meantime, care to make a bet on when this “temporary” inconvenience goes away?

          And more importantly, why should it only be temporary? As I already mentioned, tens of thousands of people die every year from other contagious diseases, most notably the flu. If you care about protecting others, why wouldn’t you want people to wear masks to protect them from the flu, too?

          Like

      • I think the point is less that masks don’t or do help (as you note, mask mandates don’t ensure people comply) but that mask mandates don’t help. It might be that informing people but leaving them as the decision makers works better than trying to compel the desired behavior.

        Like

    • Laying the groundwork for vaccine mandates?

      Like

  2. The unmitigated gall and sense of entitlement of Andrew Cuomo is truly something to behold. Despite shutting down the entire state’s economy and making it illegal for many people to earn a living, he has benevolently decided to allow a few thousand people to attend the Buffalo Bills playoff game. One of which, naturally, will be him.

    https://nypost.com/2020/12/30/cuomo-will-be-among-6700-bills-fans-allowed-into-nfl-playoff-game/

    What a complete tool. I mean seriously, how can any normal person have any respect for this asshole?

    Liked by 1 person

    • And the media eats it up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is insane. Stay out of New York.

        Like

        • Fauci caught hell from the ACT UP! people at the time too.

          As did the San Francisco health department when they did things like shut down the gay bath houses.

          Like

      • I wonder why they didn’t do this with AIDS. Weird.

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        • They did. The masks were called “rubbers”.

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        • Mark:

          They did. The masks were called “rubbers”.

          Brent’s link was to a bill that authorizes the governor to “detain” people who have had “contact” with anyone who is “suspected” of having a contagious disease (in addition to detaining people who are known to have the disease). I am not aware of any state that passed such an authorization during the AIDS crisis. Nor am I aware of any state that even mandated the use of condoms. Did any such mandate exist?

          Like

        • Every effort was made to suppress public sharing about how the disease was transmitted and keep the major vectors for transmission open to avoid “unfairly” treating it as a disease of homosexuality.

          Horowitz covers the disinterest in taking any public health measures regarding AIDS in his autobiography.

          Like

        • I did not read Brent’s comment. I could not resist the joke.

          Like

        • I don’t recall any condom mandate but also the first years of the disease, early on, involved a lot arguing against anything that would single out homosexuals, bath houses, anonymous sex, etc. There was a very active argument that not enough was being spent on a cure and not enough attention was being paid, but the primary argument as I recall was about NOT changing risky behaviors—until it was rehabilitated as a disease that equally impacted everyone and then it was okay to start pushing safe sex as a behavioral response.

          Even then I don’t recall any mandates per se. Just guidance and safety PSAs.

          Like

        • Yeah, I did not read Brent’s original comment. So I was joking.

          Like

    • Greenwald sums it up nicely:

      Like

  3. In answer to the questions and comments to me above……..I don’t have any answers. All I know is that we’re doing what we can in our household so that we don’t get the virus. IMO it’s deadlier and more contagious than the flu and I have at least one friend who still may not make it through her infection. She’s in ID. I also believe that masks work in both protecting ourselves and protecting others. The doctors and nurses I listen to believe it as well. Several, not all, of the people we know who have contracted the virus have told me it’s the sickest they’ve ever been.

    I also have a huge amount of sympathy for the businesses who are struggling financially or who have had to close. Our business is nearly dead too. We’re fortunate to have back up money and plans for retiring with or without the business. I understand why businesses defy the closure orders but it’s made Southern California a dangerous place to live TBH, and heaven forbid either one of us needs to be in a hospital ER anytime in the near future.

    I’m not afraid of the seasonal flu, I get a vaccine to protect Walter’s health more than my own and will do the same when it’s my turn for the Covid vaccine. Once I get it and we, as a country, get closer to herd immunity, I’ll relax a little knowing the chances are much less that either of us will get it or spread it. I guess you could say I was a bra burner in the 60’s and I’ll be a mask burner in the 2020’s.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/covid-crisis-grows-many-california-businesses-flout-rules-n1252654

    San Diego County health officials reported a record daily number of virus-related deaths Thursday at 62, and at least four people were found to have a more-transmissible variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, first discovered in the United Kingdom.

    Some hospitals in the region were running out of morgue space as county health officials used refrigerated trailers to store the overflow of bodies.

    In Los Angeles County, where 207 coronavirus-related deaths were reported Friday, many hospitals were overwhelmed, with some using makeshift intensive care units inside gift shops and pediatric wards.

    Like

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