Eq: Total Market

(New York)

With rates looking likely to rise there are increasing concerns that the US housing market might be in for a rough patch. Rising rates mean more expensive mortgages, and combined with the lowering of the interest deduction threshold in the new tax package, real estate could be in for a rough ride. However, the opposite may be the case. The reality is there is low inventory and little new construction, leaving many buyers chasing a shortage of homes. Prices have risen steadily since the Crisis, but with the exception of a few coastal markets, have not surged, meaning pricing still looks reasonable. “Housing is in the third or fourth inning of a nine-inning game”, says one portfolio manager.

FINSUM: All the risk is in mortgage rates. If the Fed hikes very aggressively then it will hurt the market, but if things keep moving at this leisurely pace, housing will likely do just fine.

(New York)

Bonds have stopped their losses and there is a clear reason why—the market does not believe that the Fed is going to be as hawkish as many feared. The Fed’s January minutes were not as aggressive on raising rates as many suspected, and now bond traders are afraid that inflation may run quite hot without the Fed doing anything about it. Therefore, there is upward pressure on yields, but that force is being contained by the fact that rates are unlikely to be hiked aggressively. The current consensus, based on Fed comments, is that inflation could run to 2.5% before the central bank would become concerned.

FINSUM: The economy is doing quite well at the moment and the Fed doesn’t want to disrupt that by hiking too early.


Labor unions have long been a hallmark of developed economies. While their power has been on the decline for decades in the US, they are still a principle part of the labor market. Now, with their grip already in decline, they might be dealt a death blow by the Supreme Court. The court is about to hear a case on whether it is constitutional for labor unions to require government workers to fund the unions which represent them. Because of the decline in private sector unions, about half of all US union membership is now held by government employees, so a ruling against mandatory union dues could likely spark the end of American unions as we know them.

FINSUM: The decline of unions has been a complex and long-term affair. Aside from this case, we wonder if the power of unions might increase or decrease as automation takes further hold of the workplace.

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