Morning Report: Jerome Powell says rates are going nowhere for a while.

Vital Statistics:


  Last Change
S&P futures 3770 -21.3
Oil (WTI) 52.74 -0.74
10 year government bond yield   1.10%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   2.88%

Stocks are lower this morning as we kick off earnings season. Bonds and MBS are up.


Retail Sales dropped 0.7% in December. This was well below expectations. Ex-gasoline and autos, sales fell 2.1%. This shows the economy is moving in the wrong direction, and I suspect we will see economists take down their estimates for fourth quarter US GDP growth. Separately, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index fell in January.


Industrial Production rose 1.6% while manufacturing production rose 0.9%. Capacity Utilization rose to 74.5%. We still have a lot of wood to chop to get back to pre-COVID levels here as well.


Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that “now is not the time” to discuss tapering bond purchases. “Now is not the time to be talking about exit,” from the $120 billion in government securities the Fed is buying each month, Powell said in a web symposium with Princeton University. “A lesson of the Global Financial Crisis is be careful not to exit too early, and by the way try not to talk about exit all the time…because the markets are listening.” ”The economy is far from our goals…and we are strongly committed…to using our monetary policy tools until the job is well and truly done.” He went on further to say that the goal is to get the labor economy back to where it was pre-pandemic. The focus for that will be on lower-wage employment and wage growth.

Bottom line: mortgage rates are probably not going to get away from us for a while. A easy non-legislative way to put money in people’s pockets is to allow them to refinance their mortgage at a lower rate. With 32 million borrowers out there able to save 75 basis points on their rate, it will take years to do all of those loans, given industry capacity constraints. Powell knows this, and unless inflation magically appears from out of the blue, rates are staying low.


The FHFA will not leave conservatorship in the near term. There was talk of the Trump Administration letting them go, but that was always a long shot. FWIW, I do not see the Biden Administration releasing them either – if anything I could see them reinstituting the profit sweep and getting a whole slew of new affordable housing mandates.



54 Responses

  1. i’ve got 10 years left on my loan.
    but i’m tempted to refi it into a lower monthly and buy another property.
    but, if you think rates are staying put for a while, i suppose i can wait another year.
    i’ve got a HELOC that closed right before those up a vanished, so i’d hesitate get rid of that.


    • I think rates are going nowhere, certainly not for a year.

      One thing to consider is that if you refi now, and find a property you like better, you will have to buy it as an investment property and rates are much higher. If you refi your current property as a primary, you can’t just switch over to a primary in your rate.

      Refinancing now could complicate things later on..


    • “before those up a vanished”

      I’ve started getting pre-approved solicitations for those again.


  2. With a Democratic congress and Biden in the White House, I reckon that this kind of racist insanity could actually happen.


    • I feel like reparations will come in the form of programs and grants rather than direct payments—thus claiming they are doing reparations while funneling money into pet projects, to friends, or buying future payoffs for themselves. These kind of “reparations” could be done again and again to excuse creating new debt-based piggy banks for whatever.

      Qualifying for direct payments would become a mess. A large portion of the country—way more than 13%—will have some percentage of black African DNA even if another race by appearance. They get money or not? If it’s based on appearance, then do the non-trivial number of blacks without any provable ancestors who were American slaves qualify? Then what about Chinese slaves? Native American slaves? Other effective slaves created under the auspices of punishment for crimes? Indenture servants?

      No one will be happy with a direct payment system, IMO. And politicians demanding it are probably thinking of programs to loot cash from, anyway.


      • Also, there are a non-trivial amount of wealthy African-Americans and upper-middle-class African-Americans? Do they qualify for reparations, too?

        If the house switches sides in 2022, they aren’t going to get reparations through in time with the amount of debate it would take. Unless it’s just pork called “reparations” and nobody reads the bill anyway.


    • Well, the states are getting their bailouts so why not? I say give the entirety of California, New York and Georgia. That seems fair. It’s theirs to do as they wish, from the first Arby’s to the last city zoo.


  3. I will bet against reparations for descendants of slaves. My crystal ball is only good for two years, however.

    As for Native Americans? With Gorsuch reading the painfully expensive language of the treaties literally, a lot of tax money at both state and fed level or a lot of federal land may change hands.

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, Gorsuch is probably correct, and previous Justices, restrainists, activists, minimalists, living constitutionalists, textualists, and diviners of original intent, have all ducked this one for 125 years.


  4. “Melanin endows blacks with greater mental, physical, and spiritual abilities — something which cannot be measured by Eurocentric standards.”Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, Kristen Clarke, 1994

    I guess installing actual racists in the DOJ is a small price to pay for getting rid of Trump’s boorishness. Priorities, right?


    • “Price to pay”? I think you’ve got that wrong. Rather, electing Joe Biden was the price the woke paid to get these enlightened anti-racists into positions of power in the government.


  5. So apparently 10,000 National Guardsmen have been deployed to DC in anticipation of Inauguration Day protests, with an additional 5,000 expected to be deployed by Inauguration Day. During the BLM riots in DC over the summer, only 1,600 National Guardsmen were deployed to DC. I suppose the tedious systemic racism narrative will now have to change to claiming that this an obvious indication that racist authorities consider BLM supporters to be less competent rioters than the mostly white Trump supporters expected to protest during the inauguration.


    • Are they sure they want the visual of Biden being surrounded by troops? Don’t totalitarians like that visual?



      • Further interesting observation.


        • Same.


        • That’ll show those goddamn Russians!


        • But the narrative!


        • It’s going to be a busy first day. He has also promised that on his first day in office he will compel high schools and universities to give boys access to the girls bathrooms, locker rooms, and athletic teams.

          You and I may think this is nuts, but, again, who wouldn’t consider this a perfectly acceptable trade-off for keeping Trump from talking to Ukraine about Hunter Biden’s corruption? Priorities, right?


        • Yeah, the country dodged a bullet there. What’s most important though, No More Mean Tweets! The country’s priorities are finally straight!

          And as I’ve always said, males always make better females!


        • I’ll own it.

          Loud and proud.


        • Any number of NeverTrumpers gladly took that deal. NRO, Commentary, The Dispatch, etc—not going to include the Bulwark as it is 100% pro-war leftist.

          Well, here we are! Gonna be interesting few years I imagine.


        • I’m not sure struggling is the word. That everyone who doesn’t conform and obey is by definition a white supremacist seems to have become common wisdom. Which they kind have to go with that narrative, because you can’t really complain about rioting or protests if you’re on the left. I mean, you can, but it works better if you recast the demonstrators as 100% white supremacist insurrectionists.

          I can’t be the only person who thinks the Capitol Hill riot was an awful idea and a stupid thing to do but also finds the coverage of it and consensus opinion to be garbage. These folks weren’t in there to murder all the Democrats s d Pence. 90% of them stayed inside the ropes like they were taking a tour.


        • Obvious observation is obvious. The ruling class is far too distant from the peasants they rule in the modern era.


        • Jonah Goldberg’s latest column was mainly railing against Fox.

          His protests that he cares about conservatism are ringing hollow these days, but I suspect if you want to not get canceled these days you have to play ball with the left.


        • Yeah. I listen to the remnant but he’s clearly drifting leftwards in terms of contemporary culture and policy but his conservatism wakes up when he gets historical.

          He isn’t just playing ball. He has an ideal environment of collegial policy debates where his side is always principled and philosophical and would rather lose every election than be crass or lower-class. He doesn’t like Fox, because it isn’t ringing his phone and does what CNN and MSNBC does. But more conservative-y so he is embarrassed by proxy.

          During the Trump era he manifested a lot of distaste for deplorables and Trump … and I think more of his class status is showing. He really hate Kaley McEnany because she had the temerity to question and combat a hostile press, rather than lay down and take it like Jonah feels the media is entitled to, being a member of the media.


      • The minute they assume power military power is great! More of it, baby!


        • So, we have a situation where the left has an aggressive military stance, and has partnered with the corporate sector.

          There used to be a name for this state of affairs.


    • Nothing had to change or it will just change organically because it’s an endless stream of emotions and feelings about victimhood and facts and context themselves are actually white supremacist constructs (and given how many minorities are white supremacist now, even white supremacy is about when your feelings tell you people are Evil).

      That being said the chatter about the riots is actually coming from leftists groups (by all indications) trying to get Trump supporters and QAnon types to take on the US military. Even QAnon folks are urging people to not show up.

      This whole narrative is fictional, IMO.

      And yet another Capitol Hill instigator has been tagged as Antifa/BLM. Won’t see that on the MSM though.


  6. Thank goodness we have Joe Manchin to protect us from the radical left!


  7. Parler sues Amazon.


  8. Looks like the Post has stopped allowing comments on their articles. Presumably getting ahead of the curve for anticipated changes in Section 230.


    • No more PL comments?


      • For now at least. This is the generic disclaimer at the bottom of each piece in lieu of the comments section.

        “Comments are not available on this story.

        At The Washington Post, we value upholding civil dialogue around the news of the day. We are currently experiencing a high volume of comments and have temporarily reduced the number of stories with comments available in order to maintain our standard of discourse.”


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