Goin’ Down: UST 10Y-2Y Curve Flattens To 65 BPS As Real Weekly Wage Growth Declines To 0.4% Growth YoY

As Bruce Springsteen sang,  “We’re goin’ down!” At least the US Treasury curve contines to flatten and real weekly earnings growth YoY continues to decline.

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With declining real wage growth, many Americans will have to switch from Heineken to Pabst Blue Ribbon!

But enough of this dire economic news. How about we listen to one of The Boss’ more upbeat tunes, “Sherry Darling”?

Your Mamma’s yappin’ in the back seat
Tell her to push over and move them big feet
Every Monday morning I gotta drive her down to the unemployment agency
Well this morning I ain’t fighting tell her I give up
Tell her she wins if she’ll just shut up
But it’s the last time that she’s gonna be ridin’ with me.

Oh wait. That song is depressing too!!

 

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Trapped! Dodd-Frank And The Demise Of Bank Real Estate Lending

Nothing has been the same since the financial crisis and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into federal law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Whether you like more regulation or not, Dodd-Frank and the CFPB have had a chilling effect on the mortgage market. Note that before The Great Recession, real estate loan growth at commercial banks YoY regularly exceeded M2 Money Stock growth YoY. Not so starting in late 2008. With the exception of a brief respite in 2016, M2 Money Stock growth YoY has exceeded Real Estate Loan growth YoY.

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An alternative explanation of the slowdown in Real Estate Lending YoY since 2008 is the growth of excess reserves of depository institutions.

To deal with the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve pumped large amounts of reserves into the banking system and introduced new programs that altered the terms of the trade-off banks make when deciding their level of excess reserves. In short, the marginal benefit of holding additional reserves has increased, whereas the marginal cost has decreased. As a result of these new Federal Reserve policies, holding reserves is now much more attractive to banks. It is more attractive because the cost of holding excess reserves—in the form of forgone interest—is significantly lower than it was before the crisis.

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So, the US still has excess reserves trapped in the Federal Reserve system. Between excess regulatory burden (Dodd-Frank, CFPB) and slow wage growth, we have a problem with the banking industry. It is not generating sufficient lending growth to stimulate the economy.

Will The Federal Reserve raise the interest rate on excess deposits that will encourage commercial banks to jump back into the residential mortgage market? Currently, a number of non-bank lenders are leading the mortgage market, such as Quicken Loans and PennyMac.

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An alternative to the traditional depository institution lending model is represented by Quicken Loans. These loans are NOT kept on Quicken’s balance sheet, but sold to other market plays and can be securitized.

So, we continue to have a mortgage lending hangover thanks to the excesses of the subprime and ALT-A markets of the last decade. It resulted in the predictable regulatory overreach which has discouraged traditional banks from making residential mortgage loans (except Wells Fargo, of course).

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Here is CFPB Director Richard Cordray!

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Initial Jobless Claims Near 44 Year Low! (Too Bad Wage Growth Is Roughly 1/3rd Of 1973 Wage Growth YoY)

US initial jobless claims rose slightly to 239k for the week ending November 4th. But initial jobless claims remain near the 44 year low.

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If we look at the 4 week moving average of initial claims, it too is at a 44 year low.

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Now that is an impressive feat! Now if only earnings growth would return to 1973 levels. Current YoY wage growth is roughly 1/3rd of 1973 wage growth.

 

 

Hey Bartender! U-6 Underemloyment Rate Drops To GWBush Lows of 7.9%, U-3 Lowest Since 2001 (But Wage Growth Declines)

Another jobs Friday and this one has some good news: The U-6 Underemployment Rate* fell to 7.9% in October. The last time the US hit this low level was under President George W Bush in December 2006 before all hell broke look in the housing market.u6back

The U-3 unemployment rate is now at the lowest level since early GW Bush (2001).

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Unfortunately, average hourly earnings YoY tumbled to 2.4% YoY.

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What were the jobs added?  Bartenders and waitstaff! This helps explain the decline in hourly wage earnings.

Oct Jobs by type

Hey Bartender! 

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*U-6 underemployment rate equals the total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.

Home Price Growth Gains Momentum, Over 2X Wage Growth (Seattle Fastest, Washington DC Slowest)

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 6.1% annual gain in August, up from 5.9% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 5.3%, up from 5.2% the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 5.9% year-over-year gain, up from 5.8% the previous month.

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Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Diego reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities. In August, Seattle led the way with a 13.2% year-over-year price increase, followed by Las Vegas with an 8.6% increase, and San Diego with a 7.8% increase. Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending August 2017 versus the year ending July 2017.

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And yes, Washington DC is once again the slowest growing metropolitan area in the USA in terms of home price growth.

Just like during the infamous housing bubble of the late 1990s and 2000s, home price growth (6.07% YoY) is over 2X wage growth (2.41% YoY).

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The rapid rise in home prices relative to wage growth followed a flurry of banking deregulation starting in 1992 and the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton.

  • Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-550, 106 STAT. 3672).Established regulatory structure for government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), combated money laundering, and provided regulatory relief to financial institutions.
  • RTC Completion Act (P.L. 103-204, 107 STAT. 2369).Required the RTC to adopt a series of management reforms and to implement provisions designed to improve the agency’s record in providing business opportunities to minorities and women when issuing RTC contracts or selling assets. Expands the existing affordable housing programs of the RTC and the FDIC by broadening the potential affordable housing stock of the two agencies.

    Increased the statute of limitations on RTC civil lawsuits from three years to five, or to the period provided in state law, whichever is longer. Provided final funding for the RTC and established a transition plan for transfer of RTC resources to the FDIC. The RTC’s sunset date is set at Dec. 31, 1995, at which time the FDIC assumed its conservatorship and receivership functions.

  • Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-325, 108 STAT. 2160).Established a Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, a wholly owned government corporation that would provide financial and technical assistance to CDFIs.

    Contains several provisions aimed at curbing the practice of “reverse redlining” in which non-bank lenders target low and moderate income homeowners, minorities and the elderly for home equity loans on abusive terms. Requires the Treasury Department to develop ways to substantially reduce the number of currency transactions filed by financial institutions. Contains provisions aimed at shoring up the National Flood Insurance Program.

  • Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-328, 108 STAT. 2338).Permits adequately capitalized and managed bank holding companies to acquire banks in any state one year after enactment. Concentration limits apply and CRA evaluations by the Federal Reserve are required before acquisitions are approved. Beginning June 1, 1997, allowed interstate mergers between adequately capitalized and managed banks, subject to concentration limits, state laws and CRA evaluations. Extends the statute of limitations to permit the FDIC and RTC to revive lawsuits that had expired under state statutes of limitations.
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-102, 113 STAT 1338).
  • Repeals last vestiges of the Glass Steagall Act of 1933. Modifies portions of the Bank Holding Company Act to allow affiliations between banks and insurance underwriters. While preserving authority of states to regulate insurance, the Act prohibits state actions that have the effect of preventing bank-affiliated firms from selling insurance on an equal basis with other insurance agents. Law creates a new financial holding company under section 4 of the BHCA, authorized to engage in: underwriting and selling insurance and securities, conducting both commercial and merchant banking, investing in and developing real estate and other “complimentary activities.” There are limits on the kinds of non-financial activities these new entities may engage in.

 

Inflation (Core PCE Prices YoY) Remains At 1.3% In September (Personal Savings Rate Falls To -29.4%)

Notice that The Fed doesn’t talk much about inflation anymore since it doesn’t fit the narrative anymore. Just as well since their measure of inflation, Core PCE Prices YoY, remained the same at 1.3%. Well below their 2% target rate.

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It is not surprising that inflation is so low. Look at wage growth and The Fed Funds Target rate!

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And the US personal savings rate fell -29.4% YoY.

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This reminds me of Tom Haverford and Jean-Ralphio not saving a cent at Entertainment 720. with The Federal Reserve pressing their “party button.”

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Is The US Housing Market In A Bubble? Hot, Hot, Hot or Not, Not, Not?

One of the more interesting questions is whether the US housing market is in a bubble or not. The answer is (drum roll) …. it depends.

Consider the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 Metro Home price index as a ratio of US median  family income. As you can see, the US have reached a price-to-income ratio that is higher than the peak of the housing bubble around 2005. So, it looks like the US housing market is in a broad-based bubble.

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But in real terms (extracting inflation), the US housing market is below the housing bubble peak indicating that the US housing market is NOT in a bubble.

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While the San Francisco housing market is feeling hot, hot, hot, the Case-Shiller index for San Francisco home prices as a ratio of median household income is rising but well below the housing bubble peak. Credit the rising income to flourishing tech companies like Apple, Google, Nvidia and many others.

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Even Washington DC home prices (as a ratio of Arlington, Virginia has no evidence of a housing bubble.

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This is not to say that housing prices in San Francisco, Washington DC and other cities are “affordable.”  It is just that most indicators, when adjusted by median income for the area, don’t indicate a house price bubble.

So rising home prices in the US doesn’t mean that home prices are hot, hot, hot.  But it sure feels that way.

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