Eq: Total Market

(New York)

While the housing market has been doing well and credit markets still look solid on a fundamental basis, there is big trouble brewing in US housing. The proportion of highly indebted mortgage borrowers is surging. Fannie Mae recently increased the amount of total debt as a proportion of income it allows for federally-backed mortgages from 45% to 50%. Rising house prices and stagnant incomes mean that 1 in 5 mortgage borrowers now have 45% or more of their pre-tax income eaten up in debt every month. That is triple the same proportion of borrowers compared to 2016 and the first half of 2017.

FINSUM: The mortgage market has been running out of prime borrowers, and in response, the proportion of subprime borrowers seems to be rising, though this is being accommodated by increased federal support for such mortgages. Are we headed down the same road again?


There is a lot of rhetoric out there about how the labor market is extremely tight, which will push wages up and force the Fed to raise rates. According to Barron’s, if you really compare this year’s labor market data versus last year, it looks like there is an unemployment pool of at least around 1 million Americans that could re-enter the labor force. This group is often referred to as the “hidden unemployed”.

FINSUM: This means that there is actually more capacity for the labor market absorb jobs than is often reported, meaning there may not be as much upward pressure on wages, and therefore, rates, as expected.


This morning the US released a jobs report that was expected to be very strong, with unemployment maybe falling under 4%. However, the opposite happened, and we have a definitively weak report on our hands. The economy only created 103,000 jobs versus expectations of 178,000 and unemployment held steady at 4.1% rather than falling to 4%. The Labor Department also revised previous months downward, worsening the overall picture.

FINSUM: This is an interest result and one that seems more likely to keep the Fed leaning towards dovishness. We would say this is clearly bullish for bonds, and a little bearish for stocks.

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