|US dollar index||89.8||0.3|
|10 Year Govt Bond Yield||2.31%|
|Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA||102.625|
|Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA||103.68|
|30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage||3.98|
Stocks are flat as markets await Donald Trump’s tax plan. Bonds and MBS are down small.
Trump is expected to unveil his plan for a 15% corporate tax rate today. This rate is a negotiation posture and it will almost certainly increase to 20% or higher. Trump is not only negotiating with Democrats, he is also negotiating with Paul Ryan, who wants to implement a border adjustment tax which will offset the revenue lost from the tax cut. If the tax cut is not revenue-neutral, it will need 60 votes in the Senate, which will doom it. The other option, which would be a temporary reduction in the rate, would probably not influence corporate decision making, especially if it was only for a few years.
Note that our current tax rate of 35% is the highest in the world, and our competitors are in the mid 20s. Germany has been the biggest tax cutter, taking its rate from 42% to 16% over the past 16 years. Does the Laffer Curve apply to corporate taxes? The Laffer Curve (pictured below) basically showed that tax receipts don’t increase monotonically as the rate increases – it is a curve. When taxes are 0% or 100% the government will raise nothing. In between those numbers there is an optimal point. The debate in Washington has been over which side of that point we are on. The curve for corporations is influenced not only by tax policy influencing corporate incentives, it is also influenced by competition from other jurisdictions. The reason why Corporate America has trillions stashed overseas is testament to this. Outsized corporate taxes compared to our competitors incentivizes corporations to maximize overseas income and minimize domestic income. This amounts to a subsidy to foreign governments. While the CBO (who will score the proposal) poo-poos the idea of dynamic scoring, in this case it is probably appropriate, even if you discount the effect on economic growth, simply because it removes this perverse incentive.
Will the potential tax cut breathe new life into the Trump reflation trade? A revenue-neutral tax reform will probably not be massively stimulative (it can’t be, by definition) however removing these perverse incentives will certainly help. If Trump can get some foreign tax repatriation deal, that will help. The left will probably balk if there are no strings attached to it, as they fear it will only go to dividends and buybacks. However, there could be a way to convince them to go along, if some of the savings are applied to things like increasing payroll, increasing training, etc. Infrastructure spending is also going to be a hard sell, both to Democrats, who despise the privatization of infrastructure, and the Freedom Caucus, who despises government spending in general.
Punch line: The Trump reflation trade is probably going to be based on revenue-neutral tax reform and some sort of stripped-down infrastructure spending plan (if one even materializes). The single best effect will be regulatory reform, however none of this should really push inflation higher, which is what the Trump reflation trade was all about in the first place.
Mortgage Applications increased 2.7% last week as purchases fell 1% and refis rose 7%. The average 30 year rate fell 6 basis points. Note last week was a holiday-shortened week, which probably affected the purchase number.
Republicans have floated a bill that funds the government through the rest of the fiscal year without funding the wall. Funding for the wall has been a sticking point and Democrats have vowed to shut down the government over it.
Fannie Mae is rolling out new products designed to help borrowers with student loan debt. This includes cash-out refis that allow a borrower to consolidate student loan debt into a mortgage, Other measures will allow borrowers to exclude debt paid by others, and another will allow lenders to accept student loan information on credit reports. Given the high home price appreciation we have been seeing, the first time homebuyer needs all the help it can get.