Although Friday the 13th has a bad rap for being unlucky, scientists have statistically proven that the day is no unluckier than any other day that a masked murderer hides in your basement, your barn, and the backseat of your broken-down car.  So quit worrying so much about what might happen to you tonight in the dark when you’re scared, alone, and the power goes out. 

As a point of fact, these scientists (the real researcher kind, not the crazy mad kind that inevitably wind up as the antagonists suffering a gruesome defeat at the end of the film) have also hypothesized and successfully concluded that the people who suffer from “bad luck” on any given Friday the 13th are those who ahead of time thought that something untimely was waiting for them.  These self-fulfilling-prophets are also apt to endure catastrophic karma on any other day as well.  So cheer up, buttercup, it’s going to be an amazing weekend!

About the Fed…

They announced today that they taking actions to keep more water in Lake Powell to preserve the Dam’s ability to generate power. Currently, the reservoir is only 33 feet above the “no power zone”. Part of the plan calls for more water to be released from Flaming Gorge, which flows the length of Utah into Lake Powell. This historic action will keep the lights on in the homes of 5.8 million Americans who are the beneficiaries of the electricity produced by the Glen Canyon Dam. Slowing water out of the dam is the second half of the equation. Lake Mead was heard to say, “wait, what”?

You can’t please everyone, ever.  The Bureau of Reclamation deals with it today over the Colorado River; the Open Market Committee gets to deal with it tomorrow over their interest rate decision.  It’s most likely that Feds’ll raise 1/2%, tomorrow at noon our time, but it may be a 3/4% hike.  Like utilizing dams to capture water, harness its power, and release it without wiping out downstream civilizations, the Fed manages a Lake Mead sized balance sheet and controls borrowing costs in attempts regulate the economic greater good of the entire U.S. population. 

It’s tricky.  I wouldn’t want that job.  It’s impossible to be all things to all people.  The Fed has spent the last 14 years damming up their portfolio and amassing 10X the assets they had in 2008, which currently stands at $8.95 trillion.  They have been buying funds of all shapes and sizes to keep the velocity of money moving in a controlled manner down through the remainder of the canyon.  Just releasing the plans to open up the floodgates has caused long term interest rates to rise 75% in the last four months.  The deluge of payment shock is crushing the have-nots.  But the current direction taken by Chair Powell et al. seems to be a prudent step if only to have the ability to relax the policy again in a few months should the move be too drastic.

Maybe the Feds should pool their resources and buy $8,000,000,000,000 worth of water.  Ok, hear me out.  The above plan will keep 1,000,000 acre feet of water in Lake Powell in 2022.  A pallet of water bottles at Costco has 253.5 gallons and costs $439.99.  It would take 1,285.4 pallets to amass one acre foot of water at a cost of $565,566.  So just do that a million times and you’ve filled up Lake Powell for the year and reduced the balance sheet by $5.6 trillion.  Geez, this running the country stuff is easy. maybe I should be in the public sector. The ONLY logistical problem I see (because there can’t be any others) is now you’d have 2.5 trillion empty water bottles to try to recycle.  Dang, this is hard indeed.  Well, good luck tomorrow Jerome. 

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance…

Reasons why home loan rates should come down: New Home Sales slipped 8.6% in March. China shutting down. Oil prices have dropped 14.5% in the last few weeks. The Dow is down another 600 this morning and the S&P has lost 4.5% of its value since last Friday. The 10 Year Note has fallen 0.189% over the last three trading days. The above chart shows that mortgage pricing is once again trying to break the downward spiral its been in for the last six weeks. We tested the five year lows (or five year highs if you’re talking about the going rate) late last week and haven’t seemed to have the stamina to move lower (higher). 

Sitting on the fence: Durable Goods Orders rose 0.8% last month, which is up from the -1.7% decline the month before, but less than the 1.0% expected increase.

Reasons why rates will move higher: Case Shiller home price index shows a year-over-year rise of 20.2%, which is a new record YOY gain for Mr. Shiller and his 20 cities he tracks.  The FOMC meets next week and just about every Fed board member has commented that they are considering a 1/2 to 3/4% hike on May 4th (that’s a week from tomorrow)

Building permits are up 9.1% and Housing Starts are up 1.4% from last month, while the NAHB’s own Housing Market Index dropped one point.  The HMI is a reflection of new home sales, new homes under contract, and foot traffic through model homes.  HMI is an abstract collection of sentiment from builders across the country, and carries rippling effects through all aspects of the economy from new appliances purchased (durable goods orders) to real time and future potential labor demands not only in the new communities, but in the surrounding regions.  

Interest rates today take a hiatus from their race to achieving two-year highs.  Still unsure whether they’re just taking a breather from the exhaustive 0.75% climb since New Year’s, or whether they’ve still got another 0.5% to go before hitting the pause button.  The mere mention of four Fed rate hikes this year has already cost the average home buyer $166 per month on a $400,000 loan payment, without the Fed actually raising interest rates.

Upward pressure on interest rates this morning is being mitigated by falling stock prices–just like in simpler times when stock and bond prices would move inverse to one another. The NASDAQ is retreating off of Friday’s all-time-high and other indices are falling suit.  The last FOMC meeting of the year kicks off tomorrow.  There is a 0% chance of a rate hike being announced tomorrow, but I believe they will announce three rate hikes in 2022.

Historically, when the Fed hikes the overnight rate, longer-term rates rise as well.  However, with many corporations and individuals being overleveraged as a result of virtually interest free money being lent these last few years, the prospect of higher carrying costs may actually repress stock prices and send mortgage rates lower. 

The Fed has a lot of stimulus to unwind and must do so without unraveling the entire economic system.  Thank goodness these folks are smart 🙂 

The data on the today’s monthly Jobs report showed that only about 1/3 of the anticipated positions posted to be filled actually came to fruition. Analysts expected 750,000 job listings and we saw 235,000. This data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the main fact finding agency of the U.S. government. Though not as dramatically, the privately held ADP report released earlier this week corroborates(ish) the drop in freshly minted “Now Hiring” signs with 660K projected and 374K materializing.  On a side note, ADP has been a more accurate indicator of reality than the Feds’ initial number.  The BLS will issue several revisions of their initial reports over the next few weeks, which will fall more in line with what ADP broadcast initially.  

The second major point out of the Jobs Report was the increase in wages, up 0.6% this month versus the 0.3% expected.  Companies are handing out twice the raises and hiring half the people. So a betting man or woman (or a savvy gender neutral employee) would ask for a raise rather than just go out looking for a new job. This “wage based inflation” will be the main driver of interest rate hikes, and, I believe, is an enormous consideration for an Administration considering bumping up the Minimum Wage whilst keeping rates low to balance(ish) their own budget…er, deficit…er, money printing operations.

One more statistic before announcing the winner of a free mortgage payment.  The number of homes that sold in Salt Lake and Utah Counties dropped 26.1% and 22.3% respectively from July 2020 to July 2021.  Over the same period of time, the median sales price on those fewer homes that did sell rose 24.5% and 25.7% in the same order.  Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for being a homeowner.  With home prices rising more than 3X the average wage, finding affordable housing is an increasingly daunting challenge–unless of course you get your payment made by your favorite loan officer.   

Bentley, my 14 year old son, loves the Avengers.  All his friends love the Avengers.  Last night, for 15 minutes, he told me about possible plot conclusions to the final film that comes out next week.  It sounds super exciting, so I rented a couple theaters and thought I’d share them with you, my favorite people in the world.  


I’d love to have you join us at a showing of Avengers: Endgame at the Megaplex Theaters at Geneva, in Vineyard! 


We have two showings available: Thursday, April 25th at 5:30 PM or Saturday, April 27th at 11:15 AM.  (The first showing is a day before the film officially opens to the public!)

Since this is a theater and not a waterpark, seats are limited.  Consequently, we’ll only be able to provide your family with four tickets.  So choose your favorite children/friends.  Please be sure to arrive a little early to find your seats.

Please RSVP to rbeadle@superiorlending.net or you can call Becca at 801-235-0929 and let her know how many tickets you want, and to which showing.

Patience.

I am a product of the ’80’s, so when I hear the word “patience”, it’s immediately followed by melodic whistling, gentle guitar strumming, and the aroma of smouldering tobacco.  Experiencing that song was the 20th century’s version of zen.  

But patience is also the current buzzword at the Fed regarding the timing of interest rate hikes, particularly because their favorite measure of inflation, Personal Consumption Expenditures, is still registering at 1.9%.  So close, yet still so far away from their elusive 2.0% threshold. (Hey, at least we’re not in Venezuela, I say!). 

Germany and Japan are also both experiencing low inflation and continuing low interest rates (1st world problems).  Add to that the concern over global trade, insurmountable budget deficits, and general political unrest, and you have a good formula for the FOMC backpedaling away from any “tightening” they had previously been considering.  There will be a solid half dozen Fed Governors on the speaking circuit at various junkets today, attempting to convey their rebirthed trepidation over constricting commerce .  “This is what it sounds like, when the doves cry.” 

As we are all aware, it’s a three-day weekend on account of President’s Day this coming Monday.  It’s a great time to celebrate all the amazing sacrifices that these men have endured to make our country what it is today.  Take for example the concession to keep the federal government up and running until of the end of the fiscal year (September 30) instead of only the originally agreed upon three forthcoming weeks.  Simply magnanimous.  That plus Monday off is cause for celebration indeed.  

Many Americans wondered if they would be getting paid for work performed during the last shutdown, and many went on unpaid leave.  Some of us in the private sector have been on the edges of our seats many times this last month, wondering  whether branches of government would be up and running so that we could do our own jobs.  That’s affected the collective unconscious of Americans in general.  Consequently, the poll numbers show that our confidence in the system and outlook of the future have both taken a hit.  If we’re not careful, our cynicism may become a self fulfilling prophecy.  Now if someone will kindly point out the line between sarcasm and cynical I will do my best to avoid it, at least through the weekend.

So while I may be on the edge of my seat about many things, truth be told, it’s an ergonomically designed chair in an obscure climate controlled office, not an overstuffed chair under the scrutiny that its place in the Oval Office bears.  I don’t know all the pressure that our Commander in Chief has to deal with.  I imagine that the balancing act takes courage, bravado, and thick skin. So in celebration of President’s Day, I take my hat off to you, Mr. President. Let’s make America great again.   

Enjoy your long weekend! 

For the last little while, the labor market has been very strong all across the country.  Because of high demand, wages are up and unemployment is down.  These conditions have been a boon to the economy in general, and have helped the stock market rebound from a horrible December.  The lasted report out today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that job openings are at an all time high right now with 7.3 million available positions.  Provided that there are enough employees to reach maximum productivity, this is another great sign for the job market, and should continue to cultivate vigorous expansion. 

Tribune classified ads. July 25, 1947