Société Générale’s Albert Edwards: Investors Should Brace For A World Of Negative Rates, 15% Budget Deficits And Helicopter Money

Eariler this week, when the San Fran Fed published a paper that suggested that the recovery would have been stronger if only the Fed had cut rates to negative, we proposed that this is nothing more than a trial balloon for the next recession/depression, one in which the Federal Reserve will seek affirmative “empirical evidence” that greenlights this unprecedented NIRPy step (in addition to QE of course).

Today, in his latest note to clients after returning from a 2 week vacation in Jamaica, SocGen’s Albert Edwards picks up on this point and cranks it up to 11 writing that “as central banks thrash around for new tools, I have long thought the next recession would trigger the adoption of helicopter money and deeply negative Fed Funds. Clients have been sceptical of the latter because of the negative impact on bank margins, but now I am more convinced than ever that we will see negative Fed Funds.”

Predictably, Edwards takes aim at the SF Fed “analysis”, writing that “just because the San Fran Fed has published this paper doesn’t mean the Washington Fed will adopt the policy in the next recession, but with this economic cycle clearly now in its final act, one can sense that a number of trial balloons are being floated on what the Fed might do in the next recession. This is just one of them.

More to the point, Edwards also focuses on the recent resurgence of interest in Modern-Money Theory, i.e., MMT, or government-mandated helicopter money, which is predictably a “theory” espoused by socialists everywhere most notably Bernie Sanders and his economic advisors…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/MMT%20spike.jpg?itok=_k1YiwHo

… and writes that “many of the more radical Democrats in the US seem to be adopting the idea and since I expect the US budget deficit to soar to 15% of GDP in the next recession, the ideas of MMT will surely become even more popular.” Edwards is convinced that “the Fed and other central banks will be desperate enough to adopt outright monetisation (aka helicopter money, that is to say the direct central bank financing of public sector deficits) in the next recession. And as that will coincide with public sector deficits in the mid teens, we will be conducting a live MMT experiment. Welcome to a brave new world!”

As validation of his (not all that controversial) view, Edwards believes that in recent weeks we have seen the Fed “take a large step away from Quantitative Easing (QE) and towards outright monetisation.”

When QE was introduced the central bankers vehemently denied that QE was monetisation as the latter sounded too scary. Their argument was QE is different from outright monetisation because they (the central banks) were absolutely going to unwind QE as soon as practical (aka Quantitative Tightening or QT – remember how they told us it was going to be so easy with minimal consequences!). And as economic agents knew QE would be reversed and did not regard it permanent, QE could not be equated to monetisation. My own view has always been that until QE is actually fully reversed, it is to all intents and purposes the equivalent of outright monetisation, and so the central banks are merely splitting hairs.

Naturally, Powell’s recent commentary which switched off the balance sheet unwind “autopilot” caught Edwards’ attention, and the recent trial balloons by the WSJ – and the Fed – hinting at the like likely abandonment of QT, just as it was getting started- removes any doubt in Edwards’ mind “that what we have seen since 2008 is in fact outright monetization” and asks rhetorically, “does anyone really think these bloated central bank balance sheets will ever be reduced before the next recession brings yet another tidal wave of QE?”

The answer: of course not, especially if it only took a 20% drop in stocks for the Fed to immediately reverse its “autopilot” course.

Which brings us to the topic of the next inevitable recession, in which Edwards expects our “all-knowing” central bankers will pull any and every policy lever they have to hand and that in my view includes the Fed pursuing deeply negative interest rates.”

Here the SocGen strategist concedes that the reason most clients reject this outcome is “the destructive impact negative interest rates would have on bank margins, which might exacerbate any credit crunch. Hence policy makers would therefore shy away from negative rates.”

Needless to say, Edwards himself disagrees, reasoning that unlike in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis he does not expect banks to be at the apex of the next recession, perhaps as a result of an ocean of liquidity thanks to the $1.5 trillion in excess reserves currently in the system.

I have long said that in the next recession the main toxic asset to avoid will be US corporate bonds – most especially Investment Grade. In the next recession, banks will inevitably lose money if commercial and residential property prices decline and corporate and consumer loans default – although we have been reassured that banks are better capitalised than before and that they have been vigorously stress-tested.

But more importantly due to the Volker Rule and other macro-prudent regulations, banks do not sit on mountains of corporate and mortgage paper as they did in 2007. It is pension funds, insurance companies – and via ETFs, mom and pop – who bought the avalanche of US corporate bonds issued since the last GFC.

So the good news, according to the grumpy SocGen permabear, is that banks are unlikely to be a systemic risk as the next crisis drives a rapid unravelling of the global economy, like they were in 2008 (sarcastically, he then notes that he is “not known for seeing a cup half full!”).

That is why he is confident that central bankers will not care if bank profits are squeezed as interest rates are pushed deep into negative territory – including the sort of adverse market reaction towards the banking sector we saw when Japan cut interest rates from +0.1% to -0.1% in early 2016 (Japanese banks fell around 25% relative to the market as did the eurozone banks as the ECB pushed interest rates to minus 0.4%, see charts below).

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/banks%20in%20NIRP%20edwards.jpg?itok=BEiUYdwl

Addressing just this hot topic, moments ago Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan said that he is “skeptic about whether that’s a viable option” although he quickly added that the central bank should “not take any option off the table” even as he admitted that deploying negative interest rates in the U.S. could cause problems for the financial system.

Perhaps that’s some advice the Fed could have given the ECB, SNB and BOJ before they launched NIRP, but we digress, especially since Edwards is ultimately right, and with fears about banks off the table, banks will be driven by just one prerogative (the same one that Nomura’s Charlie McElligott hinted at earlier) – doing everything to preserve inflation, and avoid deflation, to wit:

The primary central bank objective will be to avoid outright deflation. The inability of the ECB, in particular, to escape the gravitational pull of zero core inflation, despite its continual predictions of success, has been truly shocking

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/ecb%20forecasting.jpg?itok=07iNe5Mh

However, it is not just the eurozone that risks falling into outright deflation in the next recession: according to Edwards, the US is also vulnerable, and while core CPI and core PCE have remained relatively healthy in recent months, and roughly at the
Fed’s 2% target, this has been mostly a function of strong rents and Owner Equivalent Rent, i.e. housing prices, which dominate the core CPI calculation.

However, the risk is that US rent inflation “tends to broadly follow the fortunes of the housing market overall and there is no doubt that the US housing market has begun to unravel quickly over the past six months. New home prices are now actually falling yoy (even with a heavy 9-month moving average, see right-hand chart below). The last two occasions this happened were Nov 1990 and Dec 2007 when the US economy had entered recession! Rent inflation slumped shortly afterwards. In the next recession, the reality of outright deflation will dominate investors’ fears.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/US%20CPI%20rent.jpg?itok=Ifk7b1pS

Meanwhile, in addition to inflation, central banks will be keeping a close eye on the dollar (recall we noted earlier that only two factors matter for the fate of the current rally: inflation and the dollar).

The reason for that, according to Edwards, is that one key policy lesson from Japan in the 1990s (and the GFC of 2008) when the economy slipped towards outright deflation is that a strong currency must be avoided at all costs as it exacerbated the deflation impulse still further.

Finance 101 dictates that a strong currency means import prices begin to decline and what we found in Japan, was that even where an industry was dominated by domestic Japanese producers, the marginal importer was able to undercut domestic producers and became the price setter for the whole sector. “Economists’ models could just not pick up this behavior and were unable to foresee the strong deflationary pull.”

So while Edwards predicts that the Fed does not want to rush to cut Fed Funds into negative territory, the cost of delaying will be very high if others are doing it (via a strong dollar).

The Fed will be forced to participate as avoiding deflation will be the number 1 priority – not the profitability of the banking sector. Investors should contemplate a brave new world of negative Fed Funds, negative US 10y and 30y bond yields, 15% budget deficits and helicopter money. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? What I said in 2006 sounded ridiculous too.

Concluding, as he often does, Edwards says that he hopes he is wrong, but fears that he will be proved right (again… eventually).

Source: ZeroHedge

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Why Are An Increasing Number Of High-Income Americans Choosing To Rent?

(MishTalk) The percentage of high-income households choosing to rent is on the rise. High-income is defined as $150,000 and up.

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The Rent Cafe reports High-Income Americans Are the Fastest Growing Renter Segment — Up by 1.35 Million in a Decade.

The most recent U.S. Census data tells us that the annual increase in the number of high-income renter-occupied households – defined here as those earning $150,000 or more – has been consistently faster than owner-occupied households. As a matter of fact, from 2007 to 2017, the numbers of those rich enough to own, yet who still prefer to rent grew by 175%. That’s compared to a decade-long increase of 67% in homeowners within the same income bracket.

Top-Earning Renters Are Growing Faster than Any Other Renter Income Bracket

Of the 43.3 million renters nationwide, 2.1 million are top earners. High-income renters represent the demographic that experienced the largest boom across the U.S. given that, back in 2007, there were only 774,000.

Breakdown

  • Over $150K — ↑175%
  • $100K – $150K — ↑111%
  • $75K – $100K — ↑66%
  • $50K – $75K — ↑32%
  • Under $50K —↓0.2%

High-Income Renter-Occupied vs Homeowner-Occupied Households 2007-2017

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/https___s3-us-west-2.amazonaws%20%2815%29.jpg?itok=og0hQlCI

Debate Over High-Income Definition

Arguably, $150K may not be enough to qualify as high-income in places like San Francisco or New York City, which is probably why the two cities have the largest numbers of renter-occupied households inside this bracket.

NYC’s upper-bracket renters outpace owners not only in net numbers but also in the rate of increase. Wealthy renter-occupied households in New York doubled in the course of a decade, going from 125,000 in 2007 to the largest number of wealthy renters in the U.S. today — 249,000. As for people earning $150K or more who own a home in the Big Apple, their numbers have increased by a lesser 63% over the course of a decade (189,000 in 2007 to 306,000 ten years later).

Top 10 Cities With High-Income Renters

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American Dream

The Rent Cafe concluded. “The attitude toward renting at any income level is changing. With renters becoming the majority population in many U.S. cities, the spike in the national population of wealthy renter households could mean a change in attitude toward an American Dream that no longer belongs to this generation of renters.”

Marriage Rates Down, Cohabitation Up

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Not Just Student Debt

The Rent Cafe article ties in nicely with my previous report: Marriage Rates Down, Cohabitating Rates Up: It’s Not Just Student Debt to Blame

Attitudes, Attitudes, Attitudes

A Fed study on Consumers and Communities released last month had an interesting comment on homeownership.

“We estimate that roughly 20 percent of the decline in homeownership among young adults can be attributed to their increased student loan debts since 2005. Our estimates suggest that increases in student loan debt are an important factor in explaining their lowered homeownership rates, but not the central cause of the decline.”

The rest is explained by changing attitudes and affordability.

Attitudes about marriage, having kids, mobility, and debt have all changed.

This is not 1960 or 1971.

To top it off, houses simply are not affordable. That’s what the cohabitation rate shows. Wages have not kept up with home prices even without the burden of student debt.

American Dream

Even when high-income households can afford a house, many choose to rent instead. Why?

  1. Changing attitudes about the “American Dream”.
  2. The Marriage Tax Penalty
  3. The Remarriage Penalty

Reader “Cecilia” thoughtfully added “Liquidity and Walk Away Arbitrage”, which also ties into the remarriage issue.

Remarrying can greatly complicate divorce financial arrangements. It’s easier to live with someone. No one wants a second divorce, especially if the first one was messy.

Source: ZeroHedge

 

Vancouver Home Prices Post Biggest Drop In Six Years As Foreign Bid Vanishes

When China started tightening its capital controls on both its upper-crust investors and its public and private companies back in 2016, we anticipated that the bubble in popular urban markets (markets like London, New York City, Sydney, Hong Kong and Vancouver) was officially doomed to burst in the not-too-distant future.

And as a flood of stories over the past year have confirmed, once the foreign (mostly Chinese) bid was withdrawn, property prices started to drop. It’s happening in Australia (and especially in Melbourne and Sydney), it’s happening in New York, it’s happening in London and – as we’ve catalogued over the past few quarters, it’s happening in Vancouver, which for a while held the ignominious title of world’s most overpriced housing market.

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After a chasm opened up between bids and asks in the Vancouver housing market last year, the halt in home sales has finally started filtering through to prices as reluctant sellers finally cave and cut their prices. According to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the city’s composite home price (which incorporates prices of houses, condominiums and townhouses) fell 4.5% in January from a year earlier to C$1.02 million ($780,000), the biggest decline since May 2013 and down about 8% from the June 2018 peak.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/2019.02.05vancouver.png?itok=3mqaMpV3

As we noted above, the drop in prices follows a decline in sales – the biggest drop in two decades – that many have attributed to new taxes, higher interest rates and a crackdown on dark money flowing into the Vancouver area real estate market. Meanwhile, outbound investment, Bloomberg confirms, has slumped.

Ultimately, the Fed-led global monetary stimulus sent prices in these markets roaring to dizzying new highs during the QE era. But now that the Fed is reining in its balance sheet (and until signaling a “pause”, had been raising interest rates, too) prices that rose on the back of a tidal wave of liquidity are now coming back down.

“Today’s market conditions are largely the result of the mortgage stress test that the federal government imposed at the beginning of last year,” Phil Moore, the realtor group’s president said in a statement Monday.

[…]

“Vancouver real estate was one of the largest benefactors,” of that stimulus, says Steve Saretsky, a Vancouver realtor and author of a local real estate blog. “It may be simple to summarize the slowdown as a few local tax policies and tightening of lending standards, but in reality it’s much more complicated,” says Saretsky, who’s now trying to explain the darkening macro picture in a market where many locals have long considered home price appreciation unstoppable.

The very top end of the market has been the hardest hit: Prices in tony West Vancouver have fallen 14% yoy as of January. And as one real estate agent confirmed to BBG, now that foreign buyers are pulling back, sellers who were once asking for C$12 million or C$13 million are asking for…significantly less.

“These homes in West Van were selling for C$12 million, C$13 million two years ago,” says Adil Dinani, a realtor with Royal LePage, a unit of Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc. “Agents are asking me to throw them off for anything – C$8 million, C$8.5 million, whatever it is.”

Dinani, who’s been in the business for 14 years, says there are fewer speculative investors, and foreign buyers have really pulled back. “And what local buyer has C$6 million, C$7 million to put towards a home?” he said.

Still, with Vancouver’s housing market extremely unaffordable when benchmarked to local wages, no local buyers have the money for these homes.

Which can mean only one thing: Prices have further to fall before the equilibrium point is found.

Source: ZeroHedge

Oregon Defies Logic With Statewide Rent Control

It is often said by cynical economists and political commentators, usually of the right or libertarian persuasion, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There is no more odious and damaging economic policy that comes from the heart than rent control. For years, limiting the cost of living spaces was done at the local level, but one West Coast state aims to be the first to implement statewide rent controls.

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Oregon’s Proposed Rent Controls

Oregon is set to pass SB 608, legislation that prohibits landlords from raising rents in the first year of a resident’s tenancy. The bill would also cap future rent hikes at 7% annually, plus inflation. This will target all rental properties 15 years or older but exempt units that are a part of a government housing project.

It should be noted that SB 608 does not have vacancy controls, which means buildings can jack up the rent by any amount once the tenant gives his or her notice. Because of this, the legislation bans no-cause evictions, so any landlord must offer a government-approved excuse for evicting a tenant.

With Democratic supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, SB 608 is likely to pass, making Oregon the first state with statewide rent control.

Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) is proud of the move, saying in her inaugural address:

“We also need to help Oregonians who have homes but are struggling with the high cost of rent. We can help landlords and tenants navigate this tight housing market. Speaker [Tina] Kotek and Sen. [Ginny] Burdick have innovative proposals that will give renters some peace of mind.”

Lawmakers are jubilant over the bill, but economic experts call the Beaver State’s policy proposal risky, including Mike Wilkerson of ECONorthwest, an economics consulting firm, telling Reason: “You’d be hard-pressed to find any economist who comes out in favor of rent control as a means to help improve whatever failure you are experiencing.”

Rent Control Hurts the Poor

First, it is important to examine the justification for rent controls. Advocates contend that it is immoral for someone who has lived in a neighborhood his entire life to be suddenly priced out of it. It is also wrong, they assert, that landlords are just sitting on their rear ends, enjoying higher rents, because there is a greater demand to reside in New York, San Francisco, or Boston than in Jerome, AZ, or Bonanza, CO.

Proponents will ignore the unintended consequences of rent control. New properties are not erected, vacancy rates plunge, existing landlords exit the market, and the small supply of housing diminishes. Landlords will try to evade regulations by transforming their units into condominiums, luxury apartments, furnished suites, or offices.

Advocates also overlook two other important facts: Real estate can be utilized for a diverse array of purposes (commercial, housing, or industrial), and these laws distort pricing signals.

Ultimately, the state plays a game of cat-and-mouse, coming up with intrusive ways to rein in the evaders. Regulation begets regulation.

New York City

When World War II ended and peacetime reigned supreme in America again, things were not what they used to be, at least for the thousands of troops returning home. After being engaged in battles overseas, soldiers had a new front to fight at home: life – and everything it had to offer.

Despite the inflation rate either contracting or rising in single digits between 1947 and 1952, the cost of living ballooned for the returning heroes of the Armed Forces. One area of the country that increasingly priced these men out of the market was New York City, where real estate values were skyrocketing – and still are!

Officials had an idea to help everyone affected by rising housing costs: rent controls. While the goal was to make units more affordable, the city made the situation worse by introducing temporary relief.

Like economist Milton Friedman once quipped, “There is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.” This relic of 1947 is still around today, exacerbating the housing affordability crisis. It is estimated that approximately 50,000 apartments and one million rent-stabilized units are controlled by a 70-year-old law.

To understand how egregious this policy is, look no further than former Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). The Wall Street Journal reported in September 2008 that he occupied “four rent-stabilized apartments in a posh New York City building,” living in three and using another as an office. By holding four properties, he took advantage of valuable resources at below-market prices at the expense of others.

Controls

Is there a difference between bombs and rent control? Economists often pose this question when debating the efficacy of government controls. The Mises Institute’s Joseph Salerno delivered a lecture a few years ago, showing pictures of urban areas and asking his audience if these dilapidated units were the victims of a bombing campaign or rent controls.

When you even pose the question, you know it’s necessary to second-guess the prescription.

Any time officials use “controls,” you know the policy is going to be a failure. Whether it is preceded by “price” or “rent,” this economically defiant measure produces destitution, deterioration, and destruction. It’s too bad politicians and bureaucrats never learn their lesson.

Source: ZeroHedge

More Alarm Bells As Banks Report Tightening Lending Standards While Loan Demand Slides

The latest alarm signal that the US economy is on collision course with a recession came after today’s release of the latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS) by the Federal Reserve, which was conducted for bank lending activity during the fourth quarter of last year, and which reported a double whammy of tightening lending standards and terms for commercial and industrial loans on one hand, and weaker demand for those loans on the other. Even more concerning is that banks also reported weaker demand for both commercial and residential real estate loans, echoing the softer housing data in recent months.

This tightening in C&I lending standards coupled with sharp declines loan demand, especially for mortgage and auto loans, is shown below.

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Here are the details via Goldman:

  • 20% of banks surveyed reportedly widened spreads of loan rates over the cost of funds for large- and medium-sized firms, while 16% narrowed spreads. 14% of banks surveyed reported higher premiums charged on riskier loans, while 4% reported lower premiums. Other terms, such as loan covenants and collateralization requirements, remained largely unchanged. Demand for loans reportedly weakened on balance.
  • Relative to the last survey, standards on commercial real estate (CRE) loans tightened on net over the fourth quarter of the year. On net, 17% of banks reported tightening credit standards on loans secured by multifamily residential properties, while 13% of banks on net reported tightening standards for construction and land development loans. As above, banks reported that demand for CRE loans across a broad range of categories moderately weakened on net.
  • Banks reported that lending standards for residential mortgage loans remained largely unchanged on net in 2018Q4 relative to the prior quarter. However, this benign environment was largely as a result of slumping demand for credit, as banks reported weaker demand across all surveyed residential loan categories, including home equity lines of credit.
  • While banks reported that lending standards on consumer installment loans and autos remained largely unchanged, banks reported that lending standards for credit cards had tightened slightly. Here too demand – for all categories of consumer loans – was moderately weaker, while respondent willingness to make consumer installment loans tumbled to the lowest value since the financial crisis.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/installment%20loans.jpg?itok=xsclC3ru

Finally, and most concerning of all, is that in their response to special questions on their 2019 outlook, assuming that economic activity continues to be in line with consensus forecasts, banks reported they plan to tighten lending standards somewhat for C&I loans, commercial real estate loans, and residential mortgage loans, in other words the most important credit would become even more difficult to attain. As a result, or perhaps due to the slowdown in the economy, banks also expect demand for C&I, CRE, and residential mortgage loans to weaken somewhat in 2019.

Banks also reported expecting delinquencies and charge-offs to increase somewhat on C&I, CRE, and residential mortgage loans; as Bloomberg’s Andrew Cinko muses “if America was heading toward an economic contraction that would be a typical expectation. But this doesn’t seem to be the case for the foreseeable future. So what gives?”

Perhaps “what gives” is that the economy is not nearly as strong as consensus would make it appear, and behind closed door, loan officers are already batting down the hatches and preparing for a recession. 

* * *

Here would be a good time to remind readers that according to a Reuters investigation conducted in mid-December, when looking behind headline numbers showing healthy loan books, “problems appear to be cropping up in areas such as home-equity lines of credit, commercial real estate and credit cards” according to federal data reviewed by the wire service and interviews with bank execs.

Worse, banks are also starting to aggressively cut relationships with customers who seem too risky, which is to be expected: after all financial conditions in the real economy, if not the markets which just enjoyed the best January since 1987, are getting ever tighter as short-term rates remain sticky high and the result will be a waterfall of defaults sooner or later. Here are the all too clear signs which Reuters found that banks are starting to prepare for the next recession by slashing and/or limiting risky loan exposure:

  • First, nearly half of the applications from customers with low credit scores were rejected in the four months ending in October, compared with 43 percent in the year-ago period, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Second, banks shuttered 7 percent of existing accounts, particularly among subprime borrowers, the highest rate since the Fed started conducting surveys in 2013.
  • Third, home-equity lines of credit declined 8 percent across the industry, with growth slowing in areas such as credit cards and commercial-and-industrial loans, the survey showed.

Then there are the bank-specific signs, starting with Capital One – one of the biggest U.S. card lenders – which is restricting how much it lends to each customer even as it aggressively recruits new ones, CEO Richard Fairbank said last December.

We have been more cautious in the extension of credit, initial credit lines, the broad-based credit line increase programs,” he said. “At this point in the cycle, we’re going to hold back on that option a bit.”

Regional banks have become more cautious lately as well, as they avoid financing riskier projects like early-stage construction loans and properties without pre-lease agreements (here traders vividly recall the OZK commercial real estate repricing fiasco that sent the stock crashing). New Jersey’s OceanFirst Bank also pulled back on refinancing transactions that let customers cash out on their debt, and has started reducing exposure to industrial loans, CEO Chris Maher told Reuters.

“In a downturn, industrial property is extremely illiquid,” he said. “If you don’t want it and it’s not needed it could be almost valueless.”

What happens next?

While a recession is looking increasingly likely, especially as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with banks slashing loans resulting in even slower velocity of money, while demand for credit shrinks in response to tighter loan standards and hitting economic growth, the only question whether a recession is a 2019 or 2020 event, bankers and analysts remain optimistic that the next recession will look much more like the 2001 tech bubble bursting than the 2007-09 global financial crisis.

We wonder why they are so confident, and statements such as this one from Flagship Bank CFO Schornack will hardly instill confidence:

“I lived through the pain of the last recession. We are much more prudent today in how we underwrite deals.”

We disagree, and as evidence we present Exhibit A: the shock write down that Bank OZK took on its commercial real estate, which nobody in the market had expected. As for banks being more “solid”, let’s remove the $1.5 trillion buffer in excess reserves that provides an ocean of artificial liquidity, and see just how stable banks are then. After all, it is this $1.5 trillion in excess reserves that prompt Powell to capitulate and tell the markets he is willing to slowdown or even pause the Fed’s balance sheet shrinkage.

Source: ZeroHedge

US New Home Sales Fall 7.7% YoY In November, But Rise 16.9% MoM, Most Since 1992 (Months Supply Still Elevated, Median Price Falls)

Let’s start with the +16.9% MoM number, a more cheery, pop the champagne bottle headline.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/nhsstatsnov18-1.png?w=624&h=449

But on a YoY basis, new home sales fell 7.7% in November.

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Months supply of new home sales fell in November, but are still at elevated levels.

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And the median price of new home sales fell in November as The Fed’s normalization grabs the housing market with its icy grip.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/nhsmedpricenov18.png?w=624&h=449

“The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed….”

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Source: by Anthony B. Sanders | Confounded Interest

***

November New Home Sales Surge By The Most Since 1992

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…as the median price plunged to $302,400 – the lowest since Feb 2017…

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America Shrink

Seattle prices drop 5.1% in five months, most since Housing Bust 1; San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Portland all decline.

(WolfStreet) This is the most obvious one: Seattle. House prices in the Seattle metro dropped 0.7% in November from prior month, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index released this morning. It brought the index down 5.1% from the peak in June 2018, the biggest five-month drop since the five-month period that ended in January 2012 during the final throes of Housing Bust 1.

The historic spike through June is getting systematically unwound. The pace of the price declines over the past five months pencils out to be an annual rate of decline of 12%. The index is now at the lowest level since March 2018. Over the past 12 months, given the phenomenal spike into June, the index is still up 6.3% year-over-year and up 29% from the peak of Seattle’s Housing Bubble 1 (July 2007):

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So some of the markets in this select group of the most spending housing bubbles in America have turned south, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, confirming other more immediate data. This includes, in addition to the Seattle metro, the five-county San Francisco Bay Area, the San Diego and Los Angeles metros, the Denver metro, and the Portland metro. In these markets, house prices have dropped the fastest since Housing Bust 1. In other markets, house prices have been flat for months, such as Dallas. And in a few markets on this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America, the bubble remained intact and prices rose.

On a national basis, individual markets get averaged out. Single-family house prices in the US, according to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, have now been flat on a month-to-month basis for four months in a row, and are up 5.2% compared to a year ago (not seasonally-adjusted). This year-over-year growth rate has been ticking down gradually from the 6%-plus range prevalent through July 2018.

The index is now 11.4% above the July 2006 peak of “Housing Bubble 1” — as I named it because it was the first housing bubble in this millennium. It came to be called “bubble” and “unsustainable” only after it had begun to implode during “Housing Bust 1”:

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The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is a rolling three-month average; this morning’s release is for September, October, and November data. And thus the index lags several months behind more immediate data, such as median prices. Based on “sales pairs,” it compares the sales price of a house in the current month to the prior transaction of the same house years earlier. It also incorporates other factors and formulas.

The index tracks single-family houses. In some large markets, Case-Shiller provides an additional index for condos. Unlike median-price indices, the Case-Shiller index does not indicate dollar-price levels. It was set at 100 for January 2000; a value of 200 means prices as tracked by the index have doubled since the year 2000. For example, the index value of the National Home Price Index for November is 205.85, indicating that house prices have risen 105.8% since the year 2000. Every index on this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America, except Dallas and Atlanta, has more than doubled since 2000.

The index is a measure of inflation — of house-price inflation, where the same house requires more dollars over the years to be purchased. In other words, it tracks how fast the dollar is losing purchasing power with regards to buying the same house over time.

So here are the remaining metros in this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America.

San Francisco Bay Area:

The Case-Shiller index for “San Francisco” includes five counties: San Francisco, San Mateo (northern part of Silicon Valley), Alameda, Contra Costa (both part of the East Bay ), and Marin (part of the North Bay). In November, the index for single-family houses fell 0.7% from October and 1.4% from September, to the lowest level since April. Since the peak in July 2018, the index is down 1.6%, the biggest four-month drop since March 2012.

The index was still up 5.6% from a year ago, after the surge in prices early 2018, and remains nearly 40% above the peak of Housing Bubble 1:

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Also in the five-county San Francisco Bay Area, the Case-Shiller index for condo prices fell an ear-ringing 2.4% in November from October to the lowest level since February 2018, and is down nearly 3.3% from the peak in June 2018, the steepest five-month decline since the five months ended in February 2012, as Housing Bust 1 was winding down.

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San Diego:

House prices in the San Diego metro declined 0.6% in November from October and are now down 1.2% from the peak in June, the biggest five-month drop since March 2012. This pushed the index to the lowest level since February 2018:

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Los Angeles:

The Case-Shiller index for the Los Angeles metro edged down in November from October and is now down 0.4% from the peak in August. This sounds like nothing,  but it was the largest three-month decline since the three months ended March 2012. The index is still up 4.2% from a year earlier:

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Portland:

House prices for the Portland metro in November fell for the fourth month in a row and are down 1.2% from the peak in July 2018, according to the Case-Shiller Index. And that was the steeped four-month drop since March 2012. Year-over-year, the index was up 4.4%:

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Denver:

The index for the Denver metro edged down in November for the fourth month in a row, after a perfect run of 33 monthly increases in a row. It took the index to the lowest level since May 2018. The four-month drop, small as it was at 0.8%, was the steeped such drop since March 2012. The index is still up 6.2% from a year ago:

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Dallas-Fort Worth:

House prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro in November were essentially flat for the sixth month in a row, after an uninterrupted run of 54 monthly increases. The year-over-year gain, at 4.0%, is down from the 5.0% range early and mid-2018:

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Boston:

In the Boston metro, house prices have been essentially flat for five months, and remain up 5.6% from a year ago, according to the Case-Shiller Index:

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Atlanta:

House prices in Atlanta inched up a wee bit to a record in November and were up 6.2% from a year ago, according to the Case-Shiller Index:

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New York City Condos:

The Case-Shiller index for condo prices in the New York City metro can be a little volatile. After ticking down several months in a row in mid-2018, they then jumped three months in a row, but in November, they fell again. The end-effect is that the index is up 2.1% from November 2017, which is the lowest year-over-year price gain in this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America:

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With Seattle’s economy still strong, the downturn in its housing market isn’t caused by layoffs & defaulting mortgages. The fabulous bubble has run out of steam on its own.

Source: by Wolf Richter | Wolf Street