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Dollar tumbles vs. yen as U.S. jobs data weighs | Reuters
This is not the way we want to create inflation in the US.
The dollar tumbled to its lowest in almost a month against the yen on Monday, as investors caught out by Friday’s soft U.S. jobs data reassessed how quickly the Federal Reserve might scale back its stimulus.
The dollar slid 0.8 percent to 103.30 yen, having fallen to 103.26 at one point, its lowest level since December 18. The greenback’s losses accelerated after it breached Friday’s intraday low of 103.83 yen.
Dollar/yen was the strongest-performing major currency pair last year and many hedge funds have been betting the trend will continue as the Fed cuts back its huge bond-buying program and on expectations the Bank of Japan will provide even more stimulus this year.
But many traders were taken by surprise by the U.S. non-farm payrolls data, which showed a rise of 74,000, well short of the 196,000 analysts had expected.
If the numbers aren’t later revised upwards, it’s the worst jobs performance in 3 years. It’s also what we feared concerning the taper: it was too soon, way too soon. The unemployment rate crashed downward because the numbers were inflated with seasonal jobs and because more people simply dropped out of the labor market: stopped looking for work. They didn’t simply retire early in those numbers.
The Post-Crash Rebound, Not Job Growth, Drove 2013 Price Gains | Trulia Trends
However, as expected:
Rent Gains Driven More by Job Growth
In December, rents rose 3.0% year-over-year nationally. Among the 25 largest rental markets, rents rose fastest in San Francisco, Portland, and San Diego. Unlike recent price gains, rent gains have a positive, statistically significant relationship with job growth. Of the five large rental markets with the biggest rent increases, four had job growth of 2% or more. But of the five large rental markets with rent declines or slowest increases, just one had job growth of 2% or more.
Nine Million-Plus U.S. Homes Deeply Underwater | Mortgage News | Daily National and State Headlines
We covered RealtyTrac’s “U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report” before, but this article may have more stats to suit your liking.
RealtyTrac released its U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report for December 2013, which shows that 9.3 million U.S. residential properties were deeply underwater — worth at least 25 percent less than the combined loans secured by the property — representing 19 percent of all properties with a mortgage in December.
That was down from 10.7 million residential properties deeply underwater in September 2013, representing 23 percent of all properties with a mortgage, and down from 10.9 million properties deeply underwater in January 2013, representing 26 percent of all properties with a mortgage. The recent peak in negative equity was May 2012, when 12.8 million U.S. residential properties were deeply underwater, representing 29 percent of all properties with a mortgage.
Does real estate have anything left to give in 2014? | Financial Post
Interesting article covering optimistic and pessimistic views of Canada’s real-estate market:
At some point, there has to be a housing correction. Right?
Some argue there was a correction in 2013, based on declining sales activity. But prices never really followed and by September the market was roaring as consumers raced to buy homes in a climate of fear based on mortgage rates rising in response to the U.S. Federal Reserve easing its bond purchasing activity.
3 Reasons the Dollar Should Strengthen This Year | BlackRock Blog | Global Market Intelligence
Russ Koesterich, Chief Investment Strategist, BlackRock:
… how is a stronger dollar likely to impact the major asset classes? Historically, a stronger dollar has helped corporations in Europe and Japan, as a weaker domestic currency translates into stronger earnings. This is likely to be particularly true for Japanese companies, which are levered to global trade.
On the flip side, a stronger dollar represents a modest headwind for U.S. profitability and by extension, U.S. earnings growth. Emerging markets, meanwhile, are even more vulnerable. A strong U.S. dollar hurts countries dependent on foreign funding, and as those countries prop up local currencies by selling dollars, this effectively tightens local monetary policy.
We think the Fed misjudged and will not taper as quickly as many are still suggesting.
Real estate recovery sets stage for 2014 tech, acquisition boom | Inman News | Page 2
This article covers a great deal more than the following, but we thought you’d be particularly interested in the “rental” info.
Rentals ride high With inventory at near-record lows and investors playing such a large role — more than 50 percent of home sale transactions over the 18 months ending June 30, 2013, were completed solely with cash — the rental market and the tools to service it heated up. More Realtors are specializing in rentals in 2013 than they have in the last 15 years, according to NAR’s 2013 member survey, which found 6 percent of member agents said their primary business specialty was property management. In February, Zillow opened a rentals-focused office in San Francisco, housing both Zillow Rentals and HotPads, the rental listing site it acquired in late November 2012 for $16 million. In July, Zillow began monetizing its rental business — which it launched in October 2012 — for the first time by charging property managers of multifamily units $50 per month to enhance their listings on Zillow Rentals and HotPads.
Calculated Risk: Lawler on Builder “supply-chain” Issues in 2013
At the beginning of last year, I wrote: “I’ve heard some builders might be land constrained in 2013 (not enough finished lots in the pipeline).” At Lawler notes, the builders have aggressively acquired land in 2013, and this “supply-chain” issue might be resolved. Less supply allowed the builders to raise prices aggressively in 2013, but that probably will not happen in 2014.
Stanley Fischer Will Please Centrists, But He’s the Wrong Choice for the Fed | Next New Deal
Barack Obama’s nominee for Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, whom Janet Yellen talked into the job, is Stanley Fischer. Is he the right person for the job? Jeff Madrick, a Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow, doesn’t think so. Jeff believes that Stanley Fischer is mostly an Austrian School of Economics adherent who doesn’t base his decisions on “empirical evidence” but rather “market ideology.”
… Fischer was a pure Washington consensus man, imposing balanced budgets, privatization, and market liberalization everywhere and anywhere he could. Most telling, as number two at the International Monetary Fund in the 1990s, he insisted the developing nations eliminate controls on capital flows. Was this based on any empirical evidence? As far as I know, there was none. It was based on market ideology.
The source of the link to that article is no less pessimistic about Stanley Fischer: “How the Fed’s Would-Be No. 2 Helped Wreck Russia.”
Our view is that either Stanley Fischer explains how his economic stance has radically changed away from Austrian School or he should not be approved for the Vice Chair position at the Fed and regardless of Janet Yellen’s efforts on his behalf.
In 2013, the Fed Showed Why Fiscal Policy is Still Important | Next New Deal
Regardless of what you think the Fed wanted in late 2012, they certainly weren’t trying to generate lower inflation. If the Fed truly is omnipotent, we shouldn’t see this. You can say that the bickering over the taper caused these problems, but this is precisely, as Michael Woodford has pointed out, one of advantages of fiscal stimulus in these situations (as I said in last year’s piece, “Using fiscal policy also avoids the expectations problems that plague monetary policy”).
To reiterate, I think the Federal Reserve should be doing more. I’d love to see Yellen enact a genuine regime change at the Fed. But we shouldn’t doubt that fiscal policy, at this moment, is making a difference in the giant slack that still smothers our economy and is collapsing our labor force.
We agree. We need more fiscal stimulus targeted very carefully at the real economy, not at finance capital (aka Wall Street and banks that can’t seem to find the right people to whom to lend to employ the unemployed, etc.).
Will the Real Unemployment Rate Please Stand Up? | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy
… there’s a cottage industry among economists trying to guesstimate lfg so as to adjust that equation and get a more accurate bead on labor market slack. The labor force participation rate, as I noted after last jobs report, is down about three-and-a-half ppts off of its pre-recession peak, but demography is at work here, as opposed to weak demand, as aging boomers leave the labor force for retirement. So there’s lots of argumentation as to how much of the decline to assign to cyclical slack and how much would have happened anyway. Or to perhaps put the question more intuitively: how many of those ppts would come back if the job market really strengthened?
I’m not going to spend the time to go through all of the estimates, but I think this is a fair summary: most analysts have assigned most of the drop to the cycle. A few go the other way, arguing it’s mostly demography, and it’s tricky, because lfg is a moving target (in fact, for most of the data history, the labor force isn’t very cyclical at all). I thought this paper takes a particularly rigorous look at the question and they argue that the decline is pretty much all cycle, at least through the beginning of last year. But other careful work disagrees. (Brad Plumer usefully reviews the issues here.)
This is exactly why we have been calling for a target of 5% or lower for the unemployment rate until 3% consumer-price inflation is reached. We don’t see such employment numbers happening in the near enough future via monetarism but rather fiscal spending on greatly needed infrastructure upgrades.
Weak US jobs data challenge the Fed | Gavyn Davies
For many years after 2008, markets were able to assume that the Fed would always be super-dovish. Not any more. What really matters from now on is where the personal “dots” of Janet Yellen and (if confirmed) Stanley Fischer may lie. I suspect that they will turn out to be moderate, not super, doves, and will try to promote a coalition around this view. To do this, they will no longer be able entirely to ignore the hawks — unless the latest jobs report proves to be the harbinger of a much weaker economy.
So long as the jobs reports, including the participation rate (which is down much more due to the recession than people retiring who would have anyway), sway them rather than allowing Austrian School ideology to control them, then we will be fine with Yellen and Fischer (if he’s approved) being moderates.
Industrial Continues to Hit on All Cylinders
For the third consecutive year, Colliers International predicts that industrial real estate will be a star performer among commercial property types in 2014. While many have hopped aboard the industrial recovery train over the past 12—18 months, few had Colliers’ breadth of experience to see the industrial recovery germinating as far back as 2011. Even prior to the financial crisis, the industrial recovery began with high-tech manufacturers returning to the U.S. due to a lack of patent protection in many emerging markets that had lured manufacturers offshore with the promise of cheap labor. The ROI on that strategy disappeared if the emerging market became a direct competitor with a slightly modified product based on a supposedly proprietary process. The on-shoring trend accelerated during the financial crisis as the Federal Reserve’s extraordinary monetary policy intervention devalued the U.S. dollar and made it more attractive to manufacture in the U.S. And then came cheap energy from the “tight oil” production boom, and the drive to upgrade and re-engineer the supply chain due to the growth in e-commerce and coming expansion of the Panama Canal. With technology and robotics offsetting the need for cheap labor, the major cost concerns for manufacturers have shifted to energy and transportation. The U.S. has again become the most desirable place to manufacture.
“… cheap energy from the ‘tight oil’ production boom …” is something we’d like to see fleshed out. In addition, we’ll need to deal with the unemployment issues that will certainly arise due to robots. If all boats will rise with the tide, that will be fine; but if people will be left by the wayside without a decent standard of living and quality of life, it will be a very bad development.
The December Jobs Report: Disappointing But Not Surprising | New Economic Perspectives
Robert E. Prasch:
Consumer expenditures are highly constrained by previous debt and the felt need of consumers to save more even as banks have become more particular about lending. Net exports are a drain on aggregate demand but not as substantial a drain as previously. Investment is growing but still well off its highs as business revenues are not rising substantially (this, and not “excess regulation” from Dodd-Frank, is the reason that banks have curtailed lending to them). Government is, after years of bi-partisan clamor on the subject, fixated on reducing its deficit and thereby reducing its net addition to aggregate demand.
Absent anything driving aggregate demand, can we be surprised to learn that overall spending is failing to grow at anything like the pace required for a robust economic expansion? We have every right to be disappointed, but no cause to be surprised, by December’s employment numbers. Moreover, while future employment numbers will likely be better (they really can’t get much worse), we will not likely see numbers at or above the population growth rate, and thereby a rise in the labor force participation rate, until at least one of the components of demand described above begins to grow substantially.
We concur. The Fed, if it is to be effective, must educate banks to educate would-be borrowers so lending may ramp up significantly. Also, the federal government must spend on infrastructure, as we’ve mentioned above and in previous posts. It would also be wise were the federal government to move to a debt-free currency, such as United States Notes.
Jobs report: Fluke or sign of slowdown? – latimes.com
“Even after adjusting for the weather effect, the job picture looks bad after four years of economic recovery,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands. “Despite the optimism leading to the Fed tapering [of stimulus], businesses are not comfortable about the economic outlook and are not willing to hire people at a faster clip,” he said.
We don’t think the weather can explain even half of what happened, though we’re open to being shown data that would change our minds. We should think that too much hiring is planned too far out in advance to account for such a dramatic fall in employment. What’s your take on it?
Regulators to ease bank rule to help economic recovery | Reuters
The anticipated easing of the leverage rule follows a decision by Basel to scale back its bank liquidity rule to reflect a shift in focus by politicians from cracking down hard on banks to encouraging more credit to aid economic recovery.
… with what strings attached? Give a little. Get a little. For receiving relaxed standards, what are the banks being required to do in terms of making loans, anything?
Shadow Inventory Lowest Since August 2008
The industry’s shadow inventory of homes with mortgages 90 or more days delinquent, in foreclosure, or held as REO by mortgage servicers but not currently listed on multiple listing services (MLSs)—also known as pending supply—stood at 1.7 million as of October 2013, according to CoreLogic.
The supply of homes hidden in the shadows carries a value of $256 billion and is at its lowest level since August 2008, the company reports.
False start for accelerated economic growth will keep mortgage rates grounded, for now | Inman News
This is the info we were looking for above concerning the “… cheap energy from the ‘tight oil’ production boom ….” Lou Barnes:
The December report will be revised, and may be an anomaly.
The U.S. petroleum trade deficit is shrinking very fast, even though domestic producers are not supposed to export. The net cut in imports over exports is entirely due to substituting U.S. supply for imports. The November net petroleum deficit was barely $15 billion; at the worst of 2008, $40 billion in a single month.
If that’s correct and if the trend continues, gas prices should drop. That always greatly aided recoveries in the past and would this time too. It always made construction less expensive (at least slowed the rate of rising construction costs), which always boded well for the overall economy: construction jobs, material suppliers, etc.
Survey Reveals the Best Incentives for Retaining Tenants – The Software Advice Blog
Apartment managers are in an advantageous position today—more people are choosing to rent instead of buy, and multifamily construction has grown by roughly 300 percent since 2010, giving renters many more living options should they choose to move at the end of a lease. So, what can property managers do to make their apartments more appealing to residents and gain an edge over the competition?
Retaining residents is far less costly than finding new ones, so we set out to learn which incentives are most effective in convincing existing residents to renew a lease, and when the best time is to offer these perks. To do this, we surveyed approximately 4,600 former and current renters. Here, we highlight the biggest takeaways.
Don’t Cut Apartment Rents Too Soon | Multifamily content from National Real Estate Investor
Jobs, vacancy rates, and new construction …:
Suburban apartment markets are also dodging new construction, with relatively few projects underway. As a result, suburban apartments are likely to beat the core urban apartment markets for rent growth in 2014, even though the strongest job growth is likely to be in the urban core.
…the top markets for job growth, like the New York metro area, are also the places that have the most new construction, where developers are building massive qualities of urban, high-end apartments.
“We anticipate above average rental growth in many secondary and tertiary markets,” says John S. Sebree, vice president for and national director of the National Multi Housing Group for Marcus & Millichap.
Class-B and class-C properties are also likely to be spared from competition, since most new construction is targeted at high-end renters. A new high-rise is unlikely to steal renters from a class-C property next door.
Why Phoenix’s housing rebound is losing steam – Phoenix Business Journal
The rebound of the Phoenix-area housing market continued losing steam in November, which saw the weakest sales numbers in several years and the once-explosive price increases slow to a trickle.
There were 5,846 single-family home sales in November in the Phoenix area — a 27 percent plunge from a year ago, according to the latest Arizona State University housing report released today [Jan. 10, 2014].
Multifamily Real Estate Trend | USDA Looks to Make an Impact on Rural Multifamily Markets – Apartment Intelligence™
According to a release put out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the agency is planning to disburse grants to forty-five select states along with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific.
These grants have been designed to allow rural single and multifamily properties, the ability to begin making improvements and repairs to units being occupied by low income residents.
Can you afford a home in your city?
Why they’ll continue renting:
Mortgage rate: 4.61 percent (+0.79 percent from second quarter 2013)
Home price: $127,000 (+6 percent year-over-year)
Monthly payment: $521.45
While Cleveland is still king in terms of affordability, stronger home prices and higher mortgage rates during the third quarter have increased the
needed salary figure by nearly $7,000 from the beginning of the year.
San Francisco: $125,071.78
Mortgage rate: 4.68 percent (+0.60 percent from 2Q13)
Home price: $705,000 (+24.1 percent YOY)
Monthly payment: $2,918.34
Rounding out the California trifecta is San Francisco. Just like the last time around, owning a home in San Francisco continues to be a dream for many. Add the highest home prices overall with a 24.1 percent appreciation, and you’re California dreamin’ if you think owning a home will be easy in San Francisco.
CBRE: Shale Plays
Look at the size of the shale basin in Canada. Click on the title for the full-sized image. Here’s the source article.
The NYT spreads AEI’s Big Lie of the Crisis : Columbia Journalism Review
What in the world is The New York Times doing running an op-ed from AEI’s Peter Wallison that perpetuates his thoroughly discredited argument about what caused the housing crisis?
Both this bubble and the last one were caused by the government’s housing policies, which made it possible for many people to purchase homes with very little or no money down. In 1992, Congress adopted what were called “affordable housing” goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are huge government-backed firms that buy mortgages from banks and other lenders. Then, as now, they were the dominant players in the residential mortgage markets. The goals required Fannie and Freddie to buy an increasing quota of mortgages made to borrowers who were at or below the median income where they lived.
No mention of the deregulation that Wallison and AEI pushed or of Wall Street’s massive subprime securities machine or of the global wave of cash searching for return or of shady credit raters or of fraud.
Also, the GSE’s came to the game late, long after Wall Street had started in with the liar’s loans, etc. The crash was not caused by Fannie and Freddie. The Wall Street firms were not selling all of their toxic securities to the GSE’s, far from it. The crash was caused by the issues mentioned by Ryan Chittum.
Fed’s plans to taper unshaken by bad jobs report: economists – Yahoo Finance
Only 16 of 56 economists said the Fed will lift the federal funds target rate, its key overnight interest rate, before July 2015. The rest of those surveyed see it later that year or even in 2016.
The dollar fell after the disappointing jobs report. But a separate Reuters poll on Wednesday showed it will be one of the best-performing currencies in the first half of this year at the euro and yen’s expense.
Short-term rate futures rallied after the disappointing payrolls report, showing investors in interest rate markets expect more lag time before the Fed raises rates.
This was a retracement from steep losses earlier in the week that had drawn forward the market-implied timeline for the Fed’s first rate hike to as early as the spring of 2015. By Friday afternoon, fed fund futures prices implied the first Fed rate hike would not occur before the summer of 2015.
What could happen in China in 2014? | McKinsey & Company
Chosen highlights: Gordon Orr:
Expect the Chinese government’s rhetoric and focus to shift from economic growth to job creation. The paradox of rising input costs (including wages), the productivity push, and technological disruption is that they collectively undermine job growth, at the very time China needs more jobs. Millions and millions of them. While few companies are shifting manufacturing operations out of the country, they are putting incremental production capacity elsewhere and investing heavily in automation.
Crumbling buildings get much-needed attention
While China’s flagship buildings are architectural wonders built to the highest global standards of quality and energy efficiency, they are unfortunately the exception, not the rule. Much of the residential and office construction in China over the past 30 years used low-quality methods, as well as materials that are aging badly. Some cities are reaching a tipping point: clusters of buildings barely 20 years old are visibly decaying. Many will need to be renovated thoroughly, others to be knocked down and rebuilt. Who will pay for this? What will happen if residential buildings filled with private owners who sank their life savings into an apartment now find it declining in value and, perhaps, unsellable? Alongside a wave of reconstruction, prepare for a wave of local protests against developers and, in some cases, local governments too.
Mortgage News: Reduce the Burden of Closing Costs when Mortgaging
Closing costs are always a function of borrowing. Following are options that mitigate the burden of coming up with the extra cash to seal the deal. …
MBS Day Ahead: What does Friday’s Jobs Report Mean for Bonds?
A reasonable position: Matthew Graham:
We’re most likely to find that one bad jobs report means very little in the grand scheme of things and FOMC members have said as much. Too, recall that the utterly deceptive 95k NFP private payrolls print that tricked markets into thinking Bernanke’s March 20th comments were premature, ultimately was revised to 154k. The following three reports printed at 176, 178, and 202k to boot!
Even if Friday’s report is never revised higher, we know enough about what’s important to the Fed to know one report won’t make the difference. If it’s joined by 2 upcoming weeks of data that are decidedly awful, then another $10bln reduction in purchases becomes less of a certainty, and the depth of the correction in bond markets may reflect that.
Many people lost their unemployment benefits. Some of them will try all the harder to get work; but their spending will be drastically reduced of necessity, which will hurt the recovery.
Qualifying as a real estate pro may take sting out of losses on rentals | Inman News
Under the passive activity loss rules, all rental losses are automatically deemed to be passive losses that are deductible only against other passive income, not against nonpassive income such as wages or active business income.
There are only two exceptions.
First, up to $25,000 in rental losses can be deducted by taxpayers whose incomes are below $100,000 per year. … (this deduction is phased out for landlords with incomes of $100,000 to $150,000 per year).
The other exception is for real estate professionals. Any person who qualifies as a real estate professional may deduct all the passive losses incurred from rental real estate activities from other nonpassive income. In short, the passive activity loss rules don’t apply to real estate pros.
To qualify as a real estate professional …:
- spent more than half of their working hours during the year working in one or more real property businesses, and
- spent more than 750 hours a year in one or more real property businesses.
CFPB Director Lauds New Industry Rules
As the Qualified Mortgage (QM), Ability-to-Repay (ATR), and new mortgage servicing rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took effect on Friday, CFPB Director Richard Cordray addressed an audience in Phoenix, publicly lauding the new rules.
“It may seem silly that we need rules to tell servicers to answer the phone; not to lose people’s paperwork; to tell borrowers how much they owe. It might also seem silly that we need a rule telling lenders they must pay attention to whether borrowers will be able to repay the money that is lent to them. But we have lived through the financial crisis. We have seen with our own eyes the grave dysfunctions in the mortgage market. There was an embarrassingly long list of things that should have happened but never seemed to happen. Our new rules are aimed at setting things right again.”
Cordray also addressed concerns that the new industry rules will be cumbersome or serve as an impediment to the market. “On the contrary,” he said, “these measures are not new at all. They are exactly what good community banks and credit unions have been doing for many, many years.”
5 Not-So-Hot Housing Markets Set to Fall in 2014
Regardless of the reasons these markets are declining, real estate investors should be interested in this list. Because of low home prices and historically cheap mortgage rates, returns on investments in rental properties can be very high. In fact, Realty Biz News recently named Wichita Falls the No. 1 place to invest in real estate, stating that the average return on an income property is 13.4% annually.