Eq: Total Market
The US real estate market has appeared to be on the ropes for several months. While the woes in commercial real estate have been apparent for some time, it is the recent reversal in the residential market that caught some off guard. Well, new data is out, and it seems to have cemented a new reality—housing is in full decline. Homes sales declined month over month, with a big drop in sales in the northeast. The home sales figure was the weakest in two years. The chief economist of the National Association of Realtors commented that “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come on to the market”.
FINSUM: The summer is usually a better time for home sales, so this comes during what should be a period of strength. Home prices seem bound for a correction given how pricey things have become at the same time as rates have been rising.
Citigroup says that the US just crossed a scary economic threshold. The bank’s well-known economic surprise index shows that the US is now at greater risk of negative economic surprises than is Europe, the first time that has occurred in some time. While the economy has been doing well, the trade war and a multitude of other factors, including the Fed, mean the US is more at risk of an economic downturn than Europe.
FINSUM: It is pretty easy to say that a country whose growth is at 4.1% is at risk of a downturn. It would not take much for the US to slow down considering its growth appears to be peaking.
The US real estate market is in a worrying period. New builds, home sales, and inventory have all been showing weak signs for the last few months, and it seems to portend the start of a reversal in the market after a long run higher. This week will see if the current downward trend holds, or whether the data was an aberration. New data this week will cover new and existing home sales, which the market will be watching closely for signs of a downturn.
FINSUM: Housing and building-related stocks have suffered this year on a worsening outlook. Our instinct is that housing has a hit a wall and may be at the start of a correction.
One would think that 2018 is the perfect time to boost lending to consumers. The economy is strong, the job market is robust, and things are generally humming along nicely. Think again, as US banks are worried about US consumer credit quality and are starting to reign in lending. Bad debt is rising and so is the amount of bad credit banks are having to swallow. Beyond just fundamentals, the competition to lend has made the market uber-competitive, which heightens the risks for lenders because of weaker terms.
FINSUM: Consumer credit is tightening its belt across the board as credit balloons and standards fall. We wonder how much this tightening might impact the economy over the next year.
Pimco has just gone on the record warning that indicators of a recession are flashing worrying signs. Based on trends in the economy and markets, including inflation, Pimco says it is time for investors to adjust their portfolios. In order to play the looming recession, Pimco suggested five trades. These include: short-term corporate bonds, a basket of EM currencies (Finsum comment: ??), gold, large cap stocks over small, and alternative investments.
FINSUM: Wow, most of these are deeply contrarian (i.e. EM currencies, gold, and large caps). All three of those picks have major headwinds against them. The case against EM currencies is clear but why pick gold when rates are rising, the Dollar is strengthening, and investors have shown zero appetite despite all the volatility?
The US real estate market has seen a string of bad news over the last few months, but many were hoping July housing starts would see a rebound. New data out shows that such a boost did not materialize, with housing starts underperforming expectations. The previous month’s reading was also downgraded by 13%. “Housing is the sole weak spot in the economy right now, and that’s probably not going to change”, according to one economist.
FINSUM: There is no near-term recovery in sight. We wonder if housing might be a leading indicator of a looming recession.