Eq: Total Market

(New York)

A new study out of Harvard makes a very interesting point about US home prices. While real estate prices have seen a strong and steady rise since the bottoms of the Crisis, and prices in many markets seem very lofty, the truth is that the cost of owning a home actually hasn’t risen for the last thirty years. How is that possible? The answer is that while home prices have risen compared to income, interest rates have also fallen strongly, meaning the monthly mortgage payment it costs to actually own a home has remained pretty much flat sine 1987 (on an inflation-adjusted basis).

FINSUM: So this is a good point, but the reality is that the monthly payment does not account for the huge down payment that families now need to come up with (which they did not back when interest rates were at 12%).

(New York)

Bloomberg has come out with a very interesting piece about how climate change has been affecting the US real estate market. A new study looked at over 3,000 US cities and mapped them by risk to different types of climate change-drive natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods, and wild fires. What the study concluded was quite striking—in all of those categories, the riskiest locations had seen values drop considerably, while the safest locations had seen major gains. For hurricane surge risk, for instance, the “very low risk” locations had seen annual gains of 8.1% between 2007 and 2017, while the “very high risk” locations saw annual losses of 9.1%.

FINSUM: It is interesting to see that Americans have been taking account of these risks for some time even as the national debate over climate change rages on. This could be a major new differentiating factor in real estate.

(New York)

Before President Trump got elected, and immediately after, there was a great deal of excitement that financial firms were going to experience a flourishing as the US cut back heavily on financial regulation. 500 days in that hope has failed to significantly materialize. While small and medium sized banks have benefitted, and the DOL’s fiduciary rule is gone (great for wealth management), large banks have not seen gains. For instance, the Fed has made stress tests for large banks more stringent.

FINSUM: Banks had the prop trading rules (Volcker rule) weakened recently, so that is positive, but otherwise there hasn’t been much change.

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