Morning Report: Omicron fears hits markets

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change
S&P futures 4,621 -222228.2
Oil (WTI) 67.68 -2.48
10 year government bond yield   1.43%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   3.30%

Stocks are lower this morning on COVID fears. Bonds and MBS are up.


Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak in front of the Senate Banking Committee this morning. Here are his prepared remarks. One sentence caught the market’s attention: “The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation. Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people’s willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.” The market took this as bullish for bonds, which is why rates fell late yesterday.

The Fed Funds futures are getting a little more dovish compared to a week ago. The central tendency is now looking at 50 bps in hikes next year versus 75 a week ago.


Home prices rose 18.5% in the third quarter, according to the FHFA. This number will supposedly determine the new conforming limits for next year. I am hearing conflicting interpretations however. If you divide the Q321 index level by the Q320 index level, you get a 18.05% increase. This would put the new conforming loan limits at $647,200. If they use the headline number, then it would come in at $649,700. We should get the official numbers in a day or two.

“House price appreciation reached its highest historical level in the quarterly series,” said William Doerner, Ph.D., Supervisory Economist in FHFA’s Division of Research and Statistics. “Compared to a year ago, annual gains have increased in every state and metro area. Real estate prices have risen exceptionally fast, but market momentum peaked in July as month-over month gains have moderated.”

Separately, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 19.5%.


Consumer confidence slipped in November, according to the Conference Board. “Consumer confidence moderated in November, following a gain in October,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations about short-term growth prospects ticked up, but job and income prospects ticked down. Concerns about rising prices—and, to a lesser degree, the Delta variant—were the primary drivers of the slight decline in confidence. Meanwhile, the proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances over the next six months decreased. The Conference Board expects this to be a good holiday season for retailers and confidence levels suggest the economic expansion will continue into early 2022. However, both confidence and spending will likely face headwinds from rising prices and a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the coming months.”


The pipeline for MSR sales is heavy, with a bunch of sellers trying to ring the register as servicing valuations improve ahead of an expected increase in rates. Both Rocket and United Wholesale made big bulk sales of servicing in the third quarter.

If the Omicron variant of COVID causes rates to fall, it will be good news for refis, but it will be awful for servicing valuations. We have seen this movie before: People pile into servicing ahead of an expected increase in rates, and then something like Brexit, COVID or Omicron causes rates to fall, not rise. Falling rates are bad for MSR valuations, it causes a double-whammy of lower modeled values and writedowns as MSRs are refinanced away.



23 Responses


    Reading that piece from Waldman and all I can hear is this song going through my head:


    • It will be fun to read Paul and Greg when Rs take the House and immediately initiate impeachment proceedings.


    • Well, he knows his audience, I guess. Questionable accuracy and conclusions however, and zero awareness that these are tactics both sides employ—especially judicial injunctions. It’s just bad when the GOP does it because they are preventing objectively good things from happening.

      Also like that he thinks inflation will just fade. That’s optimistic and I don’t think generally consistent with economic predictions as to what happen when you flood the economy with freshly printed money.


  2. No more unflattering pictures of Democrats on Twitter.


  3. The other half of the media is a right-wing messaging apparatus that makes no effort to follow traditional journalistic norms.

    I came across this today and was fascinated by it, particularly the above part. In Chait’s view literally half the media is right wing messaging. In what world is Fox News and talk radio half the media? Does he actually believe it?


    • Again, projection. Nobody projects like the left.

      But yes, they think Newsmax has the same institutional heft as CNN or the New York Times.


      • I don’t feel like that’s a comparison they really make. NYT and WaPo and the Atlantic and the New Yorker and NPR are just objective purveyors of news and normal opinions that don’t brainwash people or shape narratives—in a sense they are kind of like the encyclopedia while Fox and Newsmax are more like Mien Kampf. Which is why folks on the left often refer to the right wing bullshit machine as if they have no equivalent and are basically at the mercy of Fox, Newsmax and a bunch of right wing YouTubers.

        That they have such a huge, organic propaganda operation that stretches from Twitter to Google to NYT to CNN to CBS to all of Hollywood to Netflix to a hundred other things is completely invisible to them. Most of them. So they just literally think there is NOTHING on their side that is the equivalent of Fox and Ben Shapiro and Tim Pool and the NYPost.

        They are so immersed in their propaganda organism that it is literally invisible to them.


    • His point on the “half” part is that Fox dominates all of the shows.

      Again, that is because a gazillion outlets compete for the left, while the right has one or two.

      Again, I think the left completely misses how red-pilled the right got after the Trump years. And that genie ain’t going back into the bottle, no matter how hard tools like Chiat sniff that left doesn’t do propaganda.


      • That. and a lot of lefty media reports on what Fox doing.
        Today’s post has one of its favorite stories: “someone at Fox said something we don’t like”.


    • That part is kind of accurate if you measure by audience. If you measure by actual media, TV channels, and ink spilled its completely wrong.

      But in terms of audience engagement it’s a reasonable assertion. Which should tell them something but won’t.


  4. Inadvertently revealing tweet.


    • And Waukesha has been memory-holed by this point.


      • Except on the right—and people notice. I’ve argued before with each of these things it’s just .01% of folks who wake up or get red-pilled by this stuff but the media does the left no favors with such obvious cram-downs on stories because they don’t conform to the narrative.


    • Inadvertent because they can’t connect those dots. It doesn’t click that what he says means that the left has monolithic control of all cable news aside from Fox. Even though there are lots of ratings to be grabbed from the Smollet story.


  5. Is anyone else completely perplexed by the fact that Jussie Smollet has actually gone to trial? How did he not negotiate a plea?


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