The uncertainty of the future level of taxation in the United States is still being debated by Congress today. 20%, 30%, 50%? Corporate, personal, long term, and estate rates? Will it pass? Will we need to raise the debt ceiling? Chinese take-out or pizza delivery for lunch? Pretty serious stuff. Mortgage rates have held fairly steady for the last ten weeks while these matters have echoed around the hallowed halls that house our elected officials. In the meantime, the stock market continues to soar to new highs every other day.
Though you wouldn’t know it by the weather, it’s now December, and that means Christmas shopping is on everyone’s mind. American consumers did a good job of budgeting last month: Personal Spending rose 0.3%, just under the 0.4% rise in Personal Income. It’s always a good practice to spend less than you earn. Remember that this month 🙂
It feels like the winds of change could soon be blowing, and I am not just referring to the weather. The outcome of the new and allegedly improved tax code, the path of the stock market, and the Fed decision to raise rates in 12 days may be enough to kick mortgage rates back up above 4.0%
Goldman Sachs this morning warned that “pain” is coming to the stock market. Low paying bonds and cheap borrowed money have produced an average valuation that’s higher that at any point since 1900 (the year, not the index). That’s a long time ago. And speaking of “a long (long) time” and an Elton John song with those lyrics, “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un is testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that has the ability to reach the United States.
These two points should be enough to pull money into bonds and lower interest rates. However, Pending Home Sales for the month jumped from a 0.6% gain to a 3.5% gain, and a 2nd Q3 GDP reading showing 3.3% growth in the U.S. are keeping traders hands off the “sell” button for now.
Prices on oil, stocks, and bonds are all “falling” this morning. The Consumer Price Index has also fallen from 2.2% to 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. Retail Sales on the other hand rose by 0.1%–which is great if your prices have dropped.
With a new Fed Chair, and the top three slots at the Federal Reserve most likely changing hands in the next 12 months, we may start seeing the role of the Central Bank change. It’s hard to say what they’ll do, and what impact that might have for interest rates and the U.S. economy in general. Sometimes, big and powerful can be a good thing, and at times it’s better to take a less imposing position. From my perspective, over the last six years or so, the Fed has taken on that subordinate role, and let the economy grow back its legs, as it were. I think that they’ve done a decent job of getting us out of a recession. I know that it hasn’t been as swift or as powerful as everyone, myself included, expected. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
An unyielding, heartfelt salute to those who serve our country in the military. They keep me safe and I am grateful for their service. Happy Veterans Day.
Despite turmoil in world affairs, and notwithstanding the prolonged stagnation to see improvement in many key economic indicators, American consumers are feeling pretty good about spending their hard earned cash. We are a resilient bunch–short sighted at times to be sure, but able to maintain positivism all the same. The Consumer Sentiment report this morning shows the index popped just over 100.0 for only the second time since the 1990’s. The other time was in 2004 when (relatively) low interest rates helped a similar euphoric attitude toward spending obscene amounts of money to flourish.
I believe that we can learn from history and the boom-to-bust pattern concerns me as a conservative provider of food and shelter for a wife and four hungry boys. As an arm-chair economist though I say bring on the spending! The holiday season is just around the corner and the men and women in uniform need a vibrant country to protect. God bless America, whatever lies around the corner.
Bond prices are starting to slip back down after hitting the ceiling of resistance yesterday. The technical picture has rates jumping back up 1/8% over the next week, and the 30 day rollover after the close of trading this afternoon will make the chart look even worse. Watch for traders to start shorting Bonds. The good news is that this purely technical move will be easily reversed by real economic data–or it could be perpetuated…
It’s been a year since President Trump was elected. The DOW is up 28% from this time last year and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It’s difficult to argue against the speed and strength of a freight train in motion. In the Bond market however, The 2-10 year Treasury yield curve is at its lowest point in a decade, which is a sign of little growth and upcoming weakness. If (when?) the Fed’s hike the overnight rate another 0.25% next month, that will flatten out the curve even further.
Core Logic’s Home Price Index shows an average 0.9% appreciation rate across the country last month, raising the year-over-year jump to an even 7.0%. The same entity anticipates a 4.7% price jump over the next 12 months.
Mortgage Bonds have bounced back up against a ceiling of resistance that will prove a difficult barrier to pierce, so don’t expect rates to sink any lower. Stocks are taking a breather today after yet again seeing the indices reach all-time-highs again yesterday.
Here is what having the weight of the financial world off of your shoulders looks like.
Jerome Powell is expected to be appointed as the next Fed Chair by President Trump today. His term would start next year. He’s a little softer than Yellen has been, which may seem hard to believe. As expected, the Fed did not raise interest rates yesterday, but the probability of a 0.25% bump in December is near certain.
Speaking of government policy, some of the details of the proposed tax reform are coming out. The mortgage interest deduction will be capped at $500,000 for newly purchased homes. I hate that. The Child Tax Credit will bump up from $1,000 to $1,600, and the corporate tax rate will drop from 35% to 20%.
Weekly Jobless Claims dropped 5K, and Q3 Productivity rose 3.0%, vs. the 2.8% expected. Pricing on mortgages is clawing its way back, easing the pressure off of the rising rate trend.
Investor Intelligence shows that the Bulls, or those who think that the stock market is going to go up, rose to 63.50–the highest lever in 30 years. The Bears, or those who think that the stock market is going to go down, fell to 14.4, which is the lowest in the last 2.5 years. The spread between them is 49.1, which is just below the all-time-high disparity of 50.5 seen in 1987. That was also 30 years ago when we saw a huge reversal called Black Monday. I’m not calling for it necessarily, but many believe that a reversal is in the future. Many I guess is 14.4% in this case. Another 22.1% have no idea. I am one of those 22%. I continue to invest in stocks, but I’m wary about sticking all those eggs in one basket.
Speaking of odds: The Dodgers are favored to win the World Series tonight. I don’t know that they will, but I am cheering for them!