Within minutes of the opening bell on Wall Street this morning, as we are all now well aware, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off by 1089 points. A precipitous drop in commodities signaled what was going to happen on today, following a downward trend in recent weeks that was largely due to real and perceived events taking place in China.
While I have been predicting a negative turn of economic events here in the U.S. created by fanciful delusions that our economy is in growth mode, I believe what we are experiencing is actually a “pressure release valve” being activated.
This will, I trust, become a wake-up call for those who have believed our economy has been in recovery. At best, we have been experiencing what some economists call a “tortoise” economic recovery.
With anemic GDP growth of just 2%, skewed unemployment numbers that do not reflect the reality of a vastly shrinking workforce, an artificially created bull market on Wall Street, our continued deficit spending, and mounting federal debt, not to mention other global threats, today’s financial roller coaster was inevitable. Real damage has been done, and continues to be done, to the American economy, not just by what is taking place in China, but also by the Fed’s questionable monetary policies and the failure of the Bush and Obama Administrations’ economic policies.
Following the financial crisis and housing sector meltdown in 2007 and 2008, quantitative easing helped create a booming stock market that rose beyond what market fundamentals typically dictate.
As a result, it was unavoidable that a correction (at the very least), would occur. Unavoidable, yet much needed to bring us back to reality.
And, while the stock market continued to bounce back today, the DJIA closed at just under 16,000 points, more economic turmoil is surely on the horizon in the short term.
This does not portend well for the housing market.
Zero interest rates helped fuel the bull market we have had for over six years and propelled wealth ever higher for the already wealthiest among us. But the middle class once again got hammered by increased taxes, the fallout from the creation of ObamaCare, dramatically increased regulations, the handcuffing and even dismantling of American industry, and other factors.
While the rich got richer, the middle class watched their wages stagnate or decline.
And, while the media continually reported that the economy was getting stronger, the middle class saw no tangible evidence of those reports… for them. Fictitious government reporting on unemployment rates, the health of the economy in general and the housing sector in particular, as well as the artificial propping up of Wall Street, created a false recovery. There should no longer be any doubt about this fact.
Even with a rebound on Wall Street, market volatility and the very visible weakness of our overall economy are combining with fear-inducing world events and global economic woes to further add to the already palpable uncertainty that resides in the hearts and minds of most Americans. This will not help to instill confidence in the average homebuyer.
As I noted in several of my most recent articles, there are numerous signs pointing to another downturn in the housing market. Today’s events certainly add to those signs, even though it is now unlikely that interest rates will rise in the near term. Additionally, over this past weekend I had a conversation with a senior mortgage loan originator with one of the nation’s largest lenders who noted that appraised values in many markets are coming in two and three percent lower than purchase prices. The market may well be on its way to more housing price declines – perhaps not as steep as during the recent housing crisis, but noticeably so.
But, and that is a very big but… a return to reality by understanding what is taking place, and what got us to this point, and by electing a president next year who will work with congress to create real solutions to our most important and immediate problems will prove to be the silver lining in today’s financial events.
So while the Dow will bounce back once the valve is twisted tight, no such relief remains for the housing industry.