Paper Economy - A US Real Estate Bubble Blog

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bull Trip!: GDP Report Q4 2011 (Second Rough Estimate)

Today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released their second "estimate" of the Q4 2011 GDP report showing that the economy continued to expand at a faster pace than originally estimated with real GDP increasing at an annualized rate of 3.0% from Q3 2011.

On a year-over-year basis real GDP increased 1.62% while the quarter-to-quarter non-annualized percent change was 0.74%.

The latest quarterly results indicate that the most notable source of weakness in the economy came from government defense spending which declined at a rate of 12.1% from Q3 while change in private nonfarm inventories made notable contributions accounting for 1.87% of the percent change of final real GDP while providing the majority of the 20.6% quarter-to-quarter rate of change for the entire Gross Private Domestic Investment category. 

That very same category also saw fixed residential investment expand at a rate of 11.5% while fixed non-residential structures declined at a rate of 2.6% over the same period.

Keep in mind that these results are likely very poorly estimated and are sure to be revised notably in following quarters and even years to come.

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Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – February 29 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) declined 2 basis points to 3.965% since last week while the purchase application volume increased 0.9% and the refinance application declined 2.2% over the same period.

With rates trending ever lower, the economy weak and the FOMC members remaining dovish, it will be interesting to see how far rates on the long end can decline.  All things being equal, falling home prices, declining purchase applications and record low long lending rates all appear to indicate a deflationary for the macro-economy.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).




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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

S&P/Case-Shiller: December 2011

Note... be sure to bookmark the overall S&P/Case-Shiller Dashboard or the Scary Housing Dashboard of the weakest markets for a real-time view of all the markets tracked by S&P.

The latest release of the S&P/Case-Shiller (CSI) home price indices for December reported that the non-seasonally adjusted Composite-10 price index declined 1.08% since November while the Composite-20 index declined 1.11% over the same period resulting in the lowest level seen to on the Composite-10 since June 2003 and the largest peak decline seen since the nearly six year old housing bust began in 2006.

The latest CSI data clearly indicates that the price trends are experiencing a declining trend into the typically less active summer and fall season and as I recently pointed out, the more timely and less distorted Radar Logic RPX data is continuing to capture notable falling prices driven primarily by seasonality.

The 10-city composite index declined 3.94% as compared to December 2010 while the 20-city composite declined 3.99% over the same period.

Topping the list of regional peak decliners was Las Vegas at -61.36%, Phoenix at -55.19%, Miami at -50.97%, Tampa at -47.47% and Detroit at -46.17%.

Additionally, both of the broad composite indices show significant peak declines slumping -33.76% for the 10-city national index and -33.80% for the 20-city national index on a peak comparison basis.

To better visualize today’s results use Blytic.com to view the full release.







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Monday, February 27, 2012

Pending Home Sales: January 2012

Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Pending Home Sales Report for January showing that pending home sales improved with the seasonally adjusted national index climbing 2% since December while increasing 8% above the level seen in January 2011.

Meanwhile, the NARs chief economist Lawrence Yun suggests that today's results indicates "stabilization" for prices and increased activity for the year.

“Given more favorable housing market conditions, the trend in contract activity implies we are on track for a more meaningful sales gain this year. With a sustained downtrend in unsold inventory, this would bring about a broad price stabilization or even modest national price growth, of course with local variations.”

The following chart shows the seasonally adjusted national pending home sales index along with the percent change on a year-over-year basis as well as the percent change from the peak set in 2005 (click for larger version).

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Friday, February 24, 2012

New Home Sales: January 2012

Today, the U.S. Census Department released its monthly New Residential Home Sales Report for January showing a monthly decline with sales dropping 0.97% since December but rising 3.55% above the level seen in January 2011 and remaining at an historically low level of 321K SAAR units.

It's important to recognize that the inventory of new homes has now fallen to a new series low at 151K units, lowest level seen in in at least 47 years while the median number of months for sale increased to 7.1.

The monthly supply declined to 5.6 months while the median selling price declined 9.57% and the average selling price declined 5.11% from the year ago level.

The following chart show the extent of sales decline to date (click for full-larger version).

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

FHFA Monthly Home Prices: December 2011

Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released the latest results of their monthly house price index (HPI) showing that, nationally, home prices increased 0.71% since November and declined 1.32% below the level seen in December 2010.

The FHFA monthly HPI are formulated from home purchase information collected from mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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Extended Unemployment: Initial, Continued and Extended Unemployment Claims February 23 2012

Today’s jobless claims report showed that initial unemployment claims went flat while continued unemployment claims declined as seasonally adjusted initial claims continued to trend well below the closely watched 400K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” went unchanged at 351,000 claims from last week’s revised 351,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “continued” claims declined by 52,000 resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 2.7%.

Since the middle of 2008 though, two federal government sponsored “extended” unemployment benefit programs (the “extended benefits” and “EUC 2008” from recent legislation) have been picking up claimants that have fallen off of the traditional unemployment benefits rolls.

Currently there are some 3.40 million people receiving federal “extended” unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 3.98 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 7.39 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Existing Home Sales Report: January 2012

Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report for January showing an increase in sales with total home sales climbing 5.0% since November and 3.6% above the level seen in December 2010.

Single family home sales increased 3.8% from December and rose 2.3% above the level seen in January 2011 while the median selling price declined 2.6% below the level seen in January 2011.

Inventory of single family homes increased 1.5% from December dropping 18.9% below the level seen in January 2011 which resulted in a monthly supply of 6.1 months.

The following charts (click for full-screen dynamic version) shows national existing single family home sales, median home prices, inventory and months of supply since 2005.



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Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – February 22 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) went unchanged at 3.98% since last week while the purchase application volume declined 2.9% and the refinance application declined 4.8% over the same period.

With rates trending ever lower, the economy seemingly near recession and the FOMC members becoming more dovish by the day, it will be interesting to see how far rates on the long end can decline.  All things being equal, falling home prices, declining purchase applications and record low long lending rates all appear to indicate a deflationary for the macro-economy.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).




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Friday, February 17, 2012

Outstanding Contraction!: Commercial Paper Outstanding January 2012

The Commercial Paper (CP) market is essentially a private debt market used by corporations as a generally cheaper means of funding typical recurring operations than drawing on a line of bank credit.

Commercial paper, as financial instrument, is by no means a recent innovation and, in fact, you can read about how the CP market was affected by the many historic financial shocks experienced by the U.S. (read Panic on Wall Street: A History of America’s Financial Disasters)

Although the Federal Reserve was able to artificially bring CP rates down significantly since the shocking 615 basis point spread blowout (A2/P2 spread) of late 2008, they had not been successful in preventing an overall contraction in the CP market.

The Federal Reserve calculates and published the total amount of CP outstanding every week and for January commercial paper generally wen flat while still contracting at a rate of 4.12% on a year-over-year basis to $972.90 billion, a level that is still substantially lower than even the worst periods of the last two recessions.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Residential Construction Report: January 2012

Today’s New Residential Construction Report showed mixed results in January with single family permits increased from November while starts declined over the same period.

Single family housing permits, the most leading of indicators, increased 0.9% from last month to 445K single family units (SAAR), and increased 6.2% above the level seen in January 2011 but remaining an astonishing 75.25% below the peak in September 2005.

Single family housing starts declined 1.0% to 508K units (SAAR), and climbed 16.2% above the level seen in January 2011 but remaining a stunning 72.13% below the peak set in early 2006.

With the substantial headwinds of elevated unemployment, epic levels of foreclosure and delinquency, mounting bankruptcies, contracting consumer credit, and falling real wages, an overhang of inventory and still falling home prices, the environment for “organic” home sales remains weak and likely very fragile.


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Extended Unemployment: Initial, Continued and Extended Unemployment Claims February 16 2012

Today’s jobless claims report showed a decline to both initial and continued unemployment claims as seasonally adjusted initial claims continued to trend well below the closely watched 400K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” unemployment declined 13,000 to 348,000 claims from last week’s revised 361,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “continued” claims declined by 100,000 resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 2.7%.

Since the middle of 2008 though, two federal government sponsored “extended” unemployment benefit programs (the “extended benefits” and “EUC 2008” from recent legislation) have been picking up claimants that have fallen off of the traditional unemployment benefits rolls.

Currently there are some 3.47 million people receiving federal “extended” unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 4.09 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 7.57 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Production Pullback: Industrial Production January 2012

Today, the Federal Reserve released their monthly read of industrial production and capacity utilization showing a pullback with total industrial production increased 0.3% from December and rising 3.35% above the level seen in January 2011.

Capacity utilization declined 0.06% from December climbing just 2.16% above the level seen in January of 2011 to stand at 78.55%

It's important to recognize that though the "recovery" is well over two years old, both industrial production and capacity utilization are notably below the peaks set in late 2007.


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Homebuilder Blues: NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builder Ratings February 2012

Today, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released their latest Housing Market Index (HMI) showing that all measures increased notably in February with the composite HMI index climbing to 29, the highest level seen since mid-2007, while the "buyer traffic" index climbed to 22.

While all indicators made notable increased again in February, it's important to note that conditions still remain distressed by historic standards though, the last few months results appears to indicate a major change in the builder sentiment.

The new home market will likely not resume any significant form of healthy function until the considerable overhang of inventory is cleared.




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Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – February 15 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) increased 1 basis point to 3.98% since last week while the purchase application volume declined 8.4% and the refinance application increased 0.8% over the same period.

With rates trending ever lower, the economy seemingly near recession and the FOMC members becoming more dovish by the day, it will be interesting to see how far rates on the long end can decline.  All things being equal, falling home prices, declining purchase applications and record low long lending rates all appear to indicate a deflationary for the macro-economy.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).




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