Trending Thursday is a roundup of the stories shaping the week and what’s yet to come through the weekend — also taking into account social media reaction. Think of it as a midweek Monday Morning Cup of Coffee, but with extra caffeine.
Will the recent uncertainty in international markets and the drop in global equity prices have a major bearing on the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision next month?
The analysts at Capital Economics doubt it.
“Nonetheless, it may provide an excuse for the Committee to hold fire,” says John Higgins, in a client note. “There are plenty of times when the Fed has eased policy in response to a slump in stock markets in order to cushion the US economy.
“It is harder, though, to find episodes when lower equity prices have caused the Fed to refrain from tightening. This is because stock markets have tended to be quite strong ahead of its onset,” he says.
Admittedly, China’s influence on the American economy is bigger now than it was a decade or so ago and concerns about China today revolve around growth being too weak.
“What’s more, unlike in the run-up to June 2004, equity prices in the US itself have fallen. But the decline of 10% or so has already been partially unwound and may be further before the FOMC meets next month. Even if that doesn’t happen, the drop we have seen is unlikely to have a major bearing on the US economy,” Higgins says.
But then again, New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley seemed to suggest on Wednesday that slowing demand in China may have a lasting adverse effect on the US economy, so there is that. Plus Dudley suggested that there is concern that the risks of tightening policy now are too great given the prevailing low level of inflation.
“But this is not a done deal given the further signs of strength that the US economy has been showing lately. We may get more clarity from Jackson Hole later this week,” Higgins says.
But then Anthony Sanders, distinguished professor of finance at George Mason University, notes that the Fed already has effectively raised rates, on the down-low.
Apparently, The Fed has been jawboning a possible Fed Funds Target increase so often that interest rates have actually increased. Much like the old EF Hutton ads.
According to Reuters, China’s Peoples’ Bank of China official blames planned U.S. interest rate rise for volatility. In fact, the PBOC is calling on The Fed to delay any increase in the Fed Funds Target Rate.
At the same time, China is dumping US Treasury bonds to support the Yuan.
And today the Q2 2015 revision was released showing that Q2 2007 GDP growth jumped to 3.7% from 2.3% leading to speculation that The Fed may indeed raise rates in September.
Too late PBOC! The 2 year Treasury yield has already risen 25 basis points since January 31. Call this the stealth Fed rate increase.
So there’s that, as well.
One thing most everyone agrees on when it comes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that private capital needs to be brought back into the mortgage finance space.
But that’s the trick, isn’t it? The how, and then there’s the question of the confidence of the people bringing private capital to the table.
The folks at Investors Unite bring up the point that capital follows the rule of law, and from their perspective, the Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency have not.
“Instead, private capital needs to be brought back into this system.”
True. But surely [former FHFA Acting Director Ed] DeMarco is not arguing the government should force private capital to step up. The government can merely create the conditions. Ironically, the actions DeMarco oversaw as the acting director at FHFA are in fact keeping private capital at bay. We, of course, refer to the Net Worth Sweep, which DeMarco conveniently neglects to mention.
FHFA was created through the Housing and Economic Reform Act (HERA) as the conservator for the GSEs. Congress could have chosen to put the companies into receivership but it consciously did not go that route, deciding instead for a conservatorship, which should have given the companies space to strengthen their foundations before being released. That was in 2008. In 2009, DeMarco moved from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight before taking charge of the newly created FHFA. Three years later, just as the companies were becoming profitable again and it appeared as though they could emerge from the conservatorship, the terms of the arrangement suddenly changed to become the Net Worth Sweep.
Read the whole piece here.
It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina’s wrath was visited on the city of New Orleans.
Now, a decade later, what is the housing situation?
“The City has successfully built a solid foundation for long term resilience as demonstrated by the recent influx of private investment in all areas of the city,” says Brian Lawlor, former City of New Orleans’ Director of Housing Policy and Community Development. “The remaining challenge is to seek out ways to leverage those investments in a way that provides opportunities to residents and businesses that have fully recovered from the storm. It will take creativity and expertise to develop programs and incentives to accomplish that.”
Lawlor is currently special counsel with the Jones Walker LLP affordable housing team.
He says the unprecedented magnitude and scope of the disaster of Katrina made the recovery and response particularly difficult. There was an influx of complicated federal programs and resources available to New Orleans but the expectations of residents, the needs of neighborhoods, and the obligations and restrictions of the financial assistance all had to be managed.
“Balancing those moving parts was crucial and you needed expertise to work through all of the programs. On many levels, we are still working through them and will continue to do so as we move forward” he says.
The second quarter did show a bounce after all after economists got done upwardly revising it from 2.3% to an unbelievable (ahem) 3.7%. This report suggests better-than-expected momentum going into the current quarter.
Residential investment was very strong, at plus 7.8%, as was nonresidential fixed investment that, boosted by an upward revision to structures, came in at plus 3.2%.
So, does this mean an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in September is back on the table? Hard to tell.