Morning Report: Job openings fall

Vital Statistics:

S&P futures4,164 9.75
Oil (WTI)81.070.65
10 year government bond yield 3.40%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 6.34%

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are down.

Job openings decreased from 10.6 million in January to 9.9 million in February. It looks like openings fell across most business sectors. This is evidence the Fed’s tightening is finally getting some traction on the labor market. The quits rate inched up, however it still lower than late last year. Quits are often a leading indicator for wage increases.

The bond market rallied on the number, with the 10 year yield falling 7 basis points immediately after the report.

Home prices rose marginally in February, according to Black Knight. This was the first increase in 8 months. Black Knight attributes this to the decline in rates in the beginning of February bringing buyers back into the market. That said, inventory remains extremely tight and isn’t improving. Some of the usual suspects – places like Miami – saw increases.

Overall prices rose 0.16% MOM and rose 1.94% YOY. “The unfortunate reality is that the scarce supply of inventory that’s the source of so much market gridlock isn’t getting any better. In fact, seasonally adjusted inventory levels continued to deteriorate in February, marking not only the fifth straight month of such declines, but also the largest inventory deficit we’ve seen since May of last year, with more than 90% of markets seeing such deficits grow in February. New listings – already trending well below pre-pandemic levels for months – ran 27% below those levels in February as potential home sellers continued to shy away from the market. All in, total active for-sale inventory is back to 47% below pre-pandemic levels after having recovered to within 38% of normal levels late last year. Without a significant shift in interest rates, home prices or household income, this is a self-fulfilling dynamic that is quite likely to continue for some time.”

You would think with such low inventory that the homebuilders would step into the breach, but their cancellation rates were pretty elevated in their fourth quarter numbers, and many are in the process of just burning off their backlog.

Private residential construction fell 0.6% month-over-month / 5.7% year-over-year in February. Single family construction was down big: 1.8% MOM and 21.4% YOY. On the other hand multifamily was up big: 1.4% MOM and 22.% YOY

You can see the divergence below. Single family remains the dominant component of housing starts, but it has been in decline while multi has kind of stayed in a range. The construction spending numbers suggest that multi-fam is accelerating.

CoreLogic reported that home prices rose 0.8% MOM and 4.4% YOY in February.

“The divergence in home price changes across the U.S. reflects a tale of two housing markets,” said Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Declines in the West are due to the tech industry slowdown and a severe lack of affordability after decades of undersupply. The consistent gains in the Southeast and South reflect strong job markets, in-migration patterns and relative affordability due to new home construction.”

“But while housing market challenges remain, particularly in light of mortgage rate volatility and the ongoing banking turmoil,” Hepp continued, “pent-up homebuyer demand is responding favorably to lower rates in many markets. This trend holds true even in the West, leading to a solid monthly gain in home prices in February. U.S. home prices rose by 0.8% in February, double the month-over-month increase historically seen and indicating that prices in most markets have already bottomed out.”

Home price appreciation does exhibit a seasonal variation, and it looks like home prices started rising at the beginning of the Spring Selling Season.

42 Responses

  1. Good piece:


  2. George, for you:

    ” Tennessee GOP members move to oust 3 Dems after gun protest

    Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson are accused of “disorderly behavior.”

    By Associated Press
    04/03/2023 11:42 PM EDT ”


    • 34 felonies over accounting for an NDA the wrong way?



      • No matter what he would have classified as he would have been charged. Say he classified as a campaign contribution, they’d say it was personal, or legal. We all know that.


      • If we pretend for a moment to be utterly naive about the purpose of this indictment, and we take the charges seriously and at face value, the thing that I don’t get is the following:

        The charge rests entirely on the notion that Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels represented an illegal campaign contribution. But they also rest on the contention that the payments from Trump to Cohen were in fact reimbursement of Cohen for the payment to Daniels. But those two things can’t both be true. If Trump reimbursed Cohen, then even if we accept the dubious assertion that the payment to Daniels represented a campaign contribution, the “contribution” was ultimately made by Trump, not Cohen. And as the candidate, Trump is not limited by federal law in what he can personally spend on his own campaign, so the payments were not, then, illegal, even if they were a campaign contribution.

        The charge does not cohere logically.


        • doesn’t matter. the fix is in. a leftist judge and jury will convict him regardless of the evidence.


        • Brent:

          doesn’t matter. the fix is in.

          Agreed. That is why I prefaced what I said as I did.


        • It is not logical, but it is the law. If I lent you money in excess of the campaign limit and you paid it back it was an illegal contrib by me and a conspiracy with you if you intended my action in the first place.

          You could look that up for yourself.

          Now, if the jury believes that Cohen lied and did this on his own, and Trump reimbursed him later out of kindness, that works for Trump. Beats the prima facie case because no intent. It is not at all impossible for a jury to come out this way as Cohen is easily proven to be a serial liar. But there may be emails, etc.

          In a series of early morning tweets on May 3, 2018, Trump acknowledged that he reimbursed his personal attorney for the $130,000 payment that was made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
          He did not admit he was in on a plan to do this in advance of Cohen’s payments. So the defense hinges on believing Cohen that Cohen’s plea proffer in August 2018, was wildly exaggerated as to Trump’s involvement.

          Cohen did not name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate” to influence the election.

          The amounts and the dates all lined up with the $130,000 paid to Daniels and the $150,000 that went to Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal to buy their silence in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Both women claimed to have had affairs with Trump, which he denied.
          Cohen answered questions from a federal judge; said one payment was “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” and the other was made “under direction of the same candidate.”

          Believe Cohen and there is a case because you can then believe Trump intended to aid in concealing Cohen’s crime, and that fits the statute. Doesn’t matter that it was a federal crime.

          I wouldn’t expect most juries to convict on Cohen’s allegations, alone.

          Joe, the SoL did not need to be bootstrapped, it turns out. The charges are all from 2017 when Trump held public office. All limitations on him are extended to five years after leaving public office under NY law.


        • Mark:

          It is not logical, but it is the law.

          Another indication – if it wasn’t already obvious – that the prosecution is political: Ignoring common sense and logic in order to get the guy.

          Doesn’t matter that it was a federal crime.

          Lots of other legal analysts seem to suggest it might matter. (In fact, the indictment doesn’t even specify the crime that was supposed to have been hidden by Trump’s payments, so we don’t even know for sure if it is federal or state…perhaps Bragg is still scanning the books looking for the best fit!)

          All limitations on him are extended to five years after leaving public office under NY law.

          Where are you seeing that? I can’t find any other legal analysis of the indictment making that point. The only proposed means of extending the SOL that I have seen have been 1) Cuomo’s executive order stopping the clock on all SOL’s during to covid and 2) the fact that Trump has been out of state.

          I wouldn’t expect most juries to convict on Cohen’s allegations, alone.

          Most juries wouldn’t even have a chance to. Would you really expect these charges to have been brought against anyone other than Trump?


        • I was just reading the statutes:

          § 175.10 Falsifying business records in the first degree.

          A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree
          when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second
          degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit
          another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.

          Falsifying business records in the first degree is a class E felony.

          30.10 Timeliness of prosecutions;  periods of limitation

          (b) A prosecution for any offense involving misconduct in public office by a public servant including, without limitation, an offense defined in article four hundred ninety-six of the penal law, may be commenced against a public servant, or any other person acting in concert with such public servant at any time during such public servant’s service in such office or within five years after the termination of such service;  provided however, that in no event shall the period of limitation be extended by more than five years beyond the period otherwise applicable under subdivision two of this section.

          Prosecutor would argue that payments made in 2017 were misconduct by Trump while he was in office.

          There may be case law in NY that limits the misconduct issue to one directly related to the duties of the office – IDK -that could make a difference.

          There are many possible defensive issues, I was only looking at the prima facie case.

          For example a jury could easily believe that Cohen’s testimony that Trump was in on it from the beginning for election reasons rather than for Melania reasons was completely Cohen’s idea how to get his sentenced reduced.


        • My strongest criticism of this prosecution is that if were he not a high profile target the prosecutor would have charged misdemeanors, which I think are common charges under the NY statute, as NYC DAs like to say they are maintaining public trust in the “financial capital”. The prosecutor had more than one way around limitations, btw, even on the 2 year statute. To charge a felony he had to rely on the whole Michael Cohen prosecution.

          I won’t be surprised at any outcome, but one that would not at all be amazing would be a misdemeanor conviction or bargain. Pfft.


        • My strongest criticism of this prosecution is that if were he not a high profile target the prosecutor would have charged misdemeanors,

          So you agree with everyone else, political prosecution.


        • “My strongest criticism of this prosecution is that if were he not a high profile target the prosecutor would have charged misdemeanors”

          I don’t think he would have been charged at all for this if he wasn’t high profile.


        • jnc:

          I don’t think he would have been charged at all for this if he wasn’t high profile.

          Agreed. I put the chances at zero, if his name wasn’t Trump.


        • I have looked at a survey of about the last 50 felony indictments under this statute and they date back to 2010. Three are familiar – Manafort, Weisselberg,and The Trump Organization, found guilty in December 2022.

          Most of them involve big bucks. But here is one that seems even dinkier than the current case; it’s a petty theft matter and look how the falsified records were defined by the circumstances.

          951 N.Y.S.2d 810

          2012 NY Slip Op 6706

          THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent, v. MARIA F. RAMIREZ, Appellant.

          Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Fourth Department.

          October 5, 2012.

          It is hereby ordered that the judgment so appealed from is unanimously affirmed.

          Memorandum: Defendant appeals from a judgment convicting her upon a jury verdict of falsifying business records in the first degree (Penal Law § 175.10), criminal mischief in the fourth degree (§ 145.00), and petit larceny (§ 155.25). We reject defendant’s contention that the evidence adduced at trial is legally insufficient to support the conviction of falsifying business records (see generally People v Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495 [1987]). Viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see People v Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620, 621 [1983]), the evidence established that defendant knowingly returned unpurchased merchandise at a Lord & Taylor store in exchange for store credit. Defendant then used the fraudulently obtained store credit to purchase several other items of merchandise before she left the store. Thus, the People established that defendant “cause[d] a false entry in the business records of an enterprise” (§ 175.05 [1]), i.e., that she returned merchandise that she had not in fact purchased, and that she thereby “inten[ded] … to aid or conceal [her] commission” of the crime of petit larceny (§ 175.10; see People v Weaver, 89 A.D.3d 1477, 1478 [2011]; People
          [99 A.D.3d 1242]
          v Hopkins, 28 A.D.3d 1244, 1244 [2006], lv denied 7 N.Y.3d 790 [2006]).

          We reject defendant’s further contention that the first count of the indictment, charging her with falsifying business records in the first degree, was rendered duplicitous by the evidence at trial and that it is unclear whether the jury reached a unanimous verdict concerning that count. The summations of the prosecutor and defense counsel made it clear that defendant’s return of merchandise she had not purchased, i.e., the “no receipt” transaction, was the sole cash register transaction that related to the count charging her with falsifying business records. Thus, there is an adequate basis in the record to connect that count of the indictment to a particular cash register transaction, and there is no danger that different jurors convicted defendant based on different cash register transactions involving defendant on the day in question (see People v Mathis, 8 A.D.3d 966, 967-968 [2004], lv denied 3 N.Y.3d 709 [2004]; People v Drayton, 198 A.D.2d 770, 770 [1993]). Finally, defendant contends that prosecutorial misconduct on summation requires reversal. We reject that contention. “[A]ny improprieties [in the prosecutor’s summation] were not so pervasive or egregious as to deprive defendant of a fair trial” (People v Cox, 21 A.D.3d 1361, 1364 [2005], lv denied 6 N.Y.3d 753 [2005] [internal quotation marks omitted]).

          Compared with the Wall Street cases involving falsified records to cover hundreds of thousands and more this case of glorified shoplifting sort of stands out.

          Thought you would enjoy.


        • I would wager that it was a classic case of overcharging in an attempt to force a plea, which the defendant resisted, and thus got screwed when it went to trial.


  3. Mark:

    It appears that the indictment is exactly as speculated and expected. That is, he is bootstrapping in order to get around the SOL, and he has clearly overcharged, spinning a single act into a 34 count indictment. Are still unsure that this is an obviously political indictment?


  4. Lol!

    There are no more rules.


    • Hahah…it’s trivial only in relation to the overall “wickedness of Trump”. These people are complete caricatures.


  5. The NYT writes an article tying the Stormy Daniels payments to the history of “suppressed” October surprises that could have, but didn’t, alter a presidential election. Among this history, it does not include the suppression of the Biden laptop story.


  6. I just listened to Bragg’s press conference yesterday. He was asked specifically what other crime the alleged false book entries were supposedly meant to cover up. He would not ( could not?) specify, but he did vaguely claim that NY State election law “makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means.” That is complete double talk. The question is, what were those “unlawful means”?

    Also, Bragg vaguely alluded to violation of tax laws. But the falsifying records charge claims that Trump recorded the payments as payment for legal services when in fact they were re-payment of the hush-money. Which means that, as recorded, it created an income tax event for Cohen when, in fact, there should have been no income tax owed. Is it really a crime in New York to overstate one’s income resulting in too much tax paid?


  7. Reading the various sites this morning, it’s starting to look like buyers remorse is setting in on the NY indictment.


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