Housing Bubble 2.0: U.S. Homeowners Made $2 Trillion On Their Houses In 2017

Americans who are lucky enough to own their own little slice of the ‘American Dream’ are about $2 trillion wealthier this year courtesy of Janet Yellen’s efforts to recreate all the same asset bubbles that Alan Greenspan first blew in the early 2000’s. After surging 6.5% in 2017, the highest pace in 4 years according to Zillow data, the total market value of homes in the United States reached a staggering all-time high of $31.8 trillion at the end of 2017…or roughly 1.5x the total GDP of the United States.
If you add the value of all the homes in the United States together, you get a sum that’s a lot to get your mind around: $31.8 trillion.
How big is that? It’s more than 1.5 times the Gross Domestic Product of the United States and approaching three times that of China.
Altogether, homes in the Los Angeles metro area are worth $2.7 trillion, more than the United Kingdom’s GDP. That’s before this luxury home on steroids hits the market.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

It’s Official: Government Report Says Market Risks are ‘High and Rising’

During Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference on December 13, she had this to say about financial stability on Wall Street: ‘And I think when we look at other indicators of financial stability risks, there’s nothing flashing red there or possibly even orange. We have a much more resilient, stronger banking system, and we’re not seeing some worrisome buildup in leverage or credit growth at excessive levels.’
Where does Fed Chair Janet Yellen get her information on financial stability risks to the U. S. financial system? A key source for that information is the Office of Financial Research (OFR), a Federal agency created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010 to keep key government regulators like the Federal Reserve informed on mounting risks.
On December 5, the OFR released its Annual Report for 2017. It was not nearly as sanguine as Yellen. In fact, it flatly contradicted some of her assertions. The report noted that numerous areas were, literally, flashing red and orange (OFR uses a color-coded warning system) – raising the question as to why Yellen would attempt to downplay those risks to the American people.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 27, 2017.

From ‘Definitely Transitory’ to ‘Imperfect Understanding’ In One Press Conference

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Alhambra Investments. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
When Janet Yellen spoke at her regular press conference following the FOMC decision in September 2017 to begin reducing the Fed’s balance sheet, the Chairman was forced to acknowledge that while the unemployment rate was well below what the central bank’s models view as inflationary it hadn’t yet shown up in the PCE Deflator. Of course, this was nothing new since policymakers had been expecting accelerating inflation since 2014. In the interim, they have tried very hard to stretch the meaning of the word ‘transitory’ into utter meaninglessness; as in supposedly non-economic factors are to blame for this consumer price disparity, but once they naturally dissipate all will be as predicted according to their mandate.
That is, actually, exactly what Ms. Yellen said in September, unusually coloring her assessment some details as to those ‘transitory’ issues:
For quite some time, inflation has been running below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective. However, we believe this year’s shortfall in inflation primarily reflects developments that are largely unrelated to broader economic conditions. For example, one-off reductions earlier this year in certain categories of prices, such as wireless telephone services, are currently holding down inflation, but these effects should be transitory. Such developments are not uncommon and, as long as inflation expectations remain reasonably well anchored, are not of great concern from a policy perspective because their effects fade away.
Appealing to Verizon’s reluctant embrace of unlimited data plans for cellphone service was more than a little desperate on her part. Even if that was the primary reason for the PCE Deflator’s continued miss, it still didn’t and doesn’t necessarily mean what telecoms were up to was some non-economic trivia.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 26, 2017.

Economic Stimulus Alive and Kicking in EU

Janet Yellen and company pretty much followed the script during last week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, raising interest rates another .25 percent and signaling three rate hikes in 2018.
We tend to focus primarily on Federal Reserve actions, but it’s important to remember the Fed isn’t the only central bank game in town. While it nudges interest rates slowly upward, the European Central Bank is standing pat on economic stimulus. And there’s no indication that is going to change in the near future.
With its latest rate hike, the Federal Reserve has pushed the Federal Fund Rate to 1.5%. That’s the highest we’ve seen since 2008. Even at that, we’re still well below the 5.25% peak hit during the last expansion.
Meanwhile, ECB chair Mario Draghi announced back in October that quantitative easing would live on in the EU.

This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 18, 2017.

Janet Yellen: Trump’s Tax Cut Could Play a Negative Role in Next Downturn

The outgoing Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, held her last press conference yesterday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to hike the Feds Fund rate by one-quarter percentage point, bringing its target range to 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 percent.
Given the growing reports from market watchers that the stock market has entered the bubble stage and could pose a serious threat to the health of the economy should the bubble burst, CNBC’s Steve Liesman asked Yellen during the press conference if there are ‘concerns at the Fed about current market valuations.’
Yellen gave a response which may doom her from a respected place in history. She stated:
‘So let me start Steve with the stock market generally. Of course the stock market has gone up a great deal this year and we have in recent months characterized the general level of asset valuations as elevated. What that reflects is simply the assessment that looking at price-earnings ratios and comparable metrics for other assets other than equities we see ratios that are in the high end of historical ranges. And so that’s worth pointing out.
‘But economists are not great at knowing what appropriate valuations are. We don’t have a terrific record. And the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily overvalued.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

The Flattening US ‘Yield Curve’? NIRP Refugees Did it

Sez Fitch & Yellen
US Treasury securities are doing something that is worrying a lot of folks, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen: While short-term yields are rising in line with the Fed’s hikes of its target range for the federal funds rate, longer-term yield have done the opposite: they’ve been declining. This has flattened the ‘yield curve’ to a level not seen since before the Financial Crisis.
This chart shows the yield curve of today’s yields (red line) across the maturity spectrum against the yields of exactly a year ago, after the rate hike at the time. Note how short-term yields on the left have risen in line with the rate hikes, while toward the right of the chart, long-term yields have fallen:

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 14, 2017.

Dear Janet Yellen: Here Is Your Own Watchdog Warning About Financial Stability Risks In “Red And Orange”

In the most interesting exchange during Janet Yellen’s final news conference, CNBC’s seemingly flustered Steve Liesman asked Janet Yelen a question which in other times would have led to his loss of FOMC access privileges: “Every day it seems the stock market goes up triple digits on the Dow Jones: is it now, or will it soon become a worry for the central bank that valuations are this high?”
Yellen’s response was predictable, colorfully so in fact.
Of course, the stock market has gone up a great deal this year. And we have in recent months characterized the general level of asset valuations as elevated. What that reflects is simply the assessment that looking at price-earnings ratios and comparable metrics for other assets other than equities, we see ratios that are in the high end of historical ranges. And so that’s worth pointing out. But economists are not great at knowing what appropriate valuations are, we don’t have the terrific record. And the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily overvalued.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.

Fed’s Janet Yellen: Stock Market Bubble Not Seen as Major Risk Factor

The outgoing Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, held her last press conference yesterday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to hike the Feds Fund rate by one-quarter percentage point, bringing its target range to 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 percent.
Given the growing reports from market watchers that the stock market has entered the bubble stage and could pose a serious threat to the health of the economy should the bubble burst, CNBC’s Steve Liesman asked Yellen during the press conference if there are ‘concerns at the Fed about current market valuations.’
Yellen gave a response which may doom her from a respected place in history. She stated:
‘So let me start Steve with the stock market generally. Of course the stock market has gone up a great deal this year and we have in recent months characterized the general level of asset valuations as elevated. What that reflects is simply the assessment that looking at price-earnings ratios and comparable metrics for other assets other than equities we see ratios that are in the high end of historical ranges. And so that’s worth pointing out.
‘But economists are not great at knowing what appropriate valuations are. We don’t have a terrific record. And the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily overvalued.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 14, 2017.

It’s Central Bank Bonanza Day: European Stocks Slide Ahead Of ECB; S&P Futs Hit Record High

One day after the Fed hiked rates by 25 bps as part of Janet Yellen’s final news conference, it is central bank bonanza day, with rate decisions coming from the rest of the world’s most important central banks, including the ECB, BOE, SNB, Norges Bank, HKMA, Turkey and others.
And while US equity futures are once again in record territory, stocks in Europe dropped amid a weaker dollar as investors awaited the outcome of the last ECB meeting of the year: the Stoxx 600 falls 0.4% as market shows signs of caution before the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are due to make monetary policy decisions as technology, industrial goods and chemicals among biggest sector decliners, while miners outperform, heading for a 5th consecutive day of gains. ‘The Federal Reserve raised interest rates last night, but they weren’t overly hawkish in their outlook. This has led to traders being subdued this morning,’ CMC Markets analyst David Madden writes in note.
The stronger euro pressured exporters on Thursday although overnight the dollar halted a decline sparked by the Fed’s unchanged outlook for rate increases in 2018, suggesting “Yellen Isn’t Buying Trump’s Tax Cut Talk of an Economic Miracle.”
That said, it has been a very busy European session due to large amount of economic data and central bank meetings, with the NOK spiking higher after the Norges Bank lifted its rate path, while the EURCHF jumped to session highs after SNB comments on CHF depreciation over last few months. The AUD holds strong overnight performance after a monster jobs report which will almost certainly be confirmed to be a statistical error in the coming weeks, while the Turkish Lira plummets as the central bank delivers less tightening than expected. Meanwhile, the USD attempts a slow grind away from post-FOMC lows.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.

Witchy Woman: Yellen’s Last FOMC Meeting (Fed Funds Rate Rises To 1.5% As Balance Sheet Begins Slow Unwind)

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Yes, this was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s last Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. And the FOMC raised, as widely expected, the Target rate (upper bound) to 1.50%.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ December 13, 2017.

Watch Live: Janet Yellen’s Last FOMC Press Conference

Grab your handkerchief, it’s gonna be a tear-jerker. Having managed to get through her term as Fed Chair without a ‘crisis’, unlike her three previous colleagues, it would appear Janet Yellen has managed to jump ship at the perfect time. Will she leave her last press conference with a ‘hanging chad’ of uncertainty about extreme asset valuations, or toe-the-line for Powell that everything is awesome?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.

Yellen’s Big Goodbye (And What She’s Leaving Behind)

The past three Fed Chairs before Yellen all had their own crisis to deal with.
Volcker had the disaster of the early 1980’s as he struggled to tame inflation with double digit interest rates. That helped contribute to the Latin American debt crisis, and the subsequent global bear markets in stocks.
He handed over the reins to Greenspan in the summer of ’87 and within months, the new Fed Chairman faced the largest stock market crash since the 1920’s. That trial by fire was invaluable for Greenspan, as he faced a second crisis when the DotCom bubble burst at the turn of the century.
His successor, Ben Bernanke also did not escape without a record breaking financial panic when the real estate collapse hit the global economy especially hard in 2007.
But Yellen? Nothing. Nada. She has presided over the least volatile, most steady, market rally of the past century. Was she lucky? Or was this the result of smart policy decisions? I tend to attribute it more to luck, but it’s tough to argue that she made any large mistakes. Sure you might quibble about the rate of interest rate increases. And her critics will argue that economic growth, and more importantly, wage increases have been especially anemic under her watch, but to a large degree, those variables are out of her hands.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.

Stocks Rebound From “Bama Shock”, All Eyes On Yellen’s Last Rate Hike

After an early slide last night following the stunning news that Doug Jones had defeated Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama special election, becoming the first Democratic senator from Alabama in a quarter century and reducing the GOP’s Senate majority to the absolute minimum 51-49, US equity futures have quickly rebounded and are once again in the green with the S&P index set for another record high, as European stocks ease slightly, and Asian stocks gain ahead of today’s Fed rate hike and US CPI print.
‘The big issue now is whether Republicans will push through their tax bill before Christmas,’ said Sue Trinh, head of Asia foreign-exchange strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong. ‘And more broadly, U. S. dollar bulls will be more worried that this marks a Democratic revival into 2018 mid-term Congressional elections.’
The negative sentiment faded quick, however, because according to Bloomberg, despite the loss of a Senate seat, it probably won’t affect the expected vote on business-friendly tax cuts, however, as the winner won’t be certified until late December.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.

Strong 30-Year Auction Sets The Stage For Yellen’s Final Rate Hike

After yesterday’s stellar 3Y morning auction, and disappointing 10Y afternoon auction, today’s reopening of the 29-Year, 11-month RZ3 Cusip was right down the middle.
The bond stopped at a high yield of 2.804%, stopping through the When Issued 2.808% by 0.4bps, the third consecutive stop through in a row. The high yield was above November’s 2.801% but below October’s 2.870%.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

Near Record 5.6 Million Americans Were Hired In October, Most In Over 16 Years

After a burst of record high job openings which started in June and eased modestly in August, today’s October JOLTS report – Janet Yellen’s favorite labor market indicator – showed a sharp drop in job openings across most categories now that hurricane distortions have cleared out of the system, with the total number dropping from 6.177MM to 5.996MM, well below the 6.135MM estimate, the biggest monthly drop and the lowest job openings number since May, resulting in an October job opening rate of 3.9% vs 4% in Sept.
After nearly two years of being rangebound between 5.5 and 6 million, the latest drop in job openings despite the alleged improvement in the economy is another inidication that an increasingly greater number of jobs may simply remain unfilled in a labor market where skill shortages and labor imbalances are becoming structural.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.

The Fed’s Fantasy on Neutral Interest Rates

In her testimony to the Congress Economic Committee on November 29, 2017, the Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the neutral rate appears to be quite low by historical standards. From this, she concluded that the federal funds rate would not have to increase much to reach a neutral stance.
The neutral rate currently appears to be quite low by historical standards, implying that the federal funds rate would not have to rise much further to get to a neutral policy stance. If the neutral level rises somewhat over time, as most FOMC participants expect, additional gradual rate hikes would likely be appropriate over the next few years to sustain the economic expansion.
It is widely accepted that by means of suitable monetary policies the US central bank can navigate the economy towards a growth path of economic stability and prosperity. The key ingredient in achieving this is price stability. Most experts are of the view that what prevents the attainment of price stability are the fluctuations of the federal funds rate around the neutral rate of interest.
The neutral rate, it is held, is one that is consistent with stable prices and a balanced economy. What is required is Fed policy makers successfully targeting the federal funds rate towards the neutral interest rate.
This framework of thinking, which has its origins in the 18th century writings of British economist Henry Thornton1, was articulated in late 19th century by the Swedish economist Knut Wicksell.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 11, 2017.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen Urges Congress to Monitor U.S. Debt As She Steps Down (NOW A Warning??)

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s final speech to Congress (Joint Economic Commitee) reminded me of the scene in the movie Death Becomes Her where Meryl Streep swallows a magic potion and Isabella Rosselini then says ‘Now a warning.’
Yes, Yellen warned Congress that they should monitor the US debt load, now at $20.6 trillion, up from $9.5 trillion in Q2 2008. She also called on Congress to adopt policies that will promote investment, education and infrastructure spending.
Yes, US public debt outstanding has more than doubled since Team Bernanke/Yellen began quantitative easing (QE) back in September 2008.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 4, 2017.

Banks and the Fed’s Duration Trap

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of theinstitutionalriskanalyst. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Atlanta | Is a conundrum worse than a dilemma? One of the more important and least discussed factors affecting the financial markets is how the policies of the Federal Open Market Committee have affected the dynamic between interest rates and asset prices. The Yellen Put, as we discussed in our last post for The Institutional Risk Analyst, has distorted asset prices in many different markets, but it has also changed how markets are behaving even as the FOMC attempts to normalize policy. One of the largest asset classes impacted by ‘quantitative easing’ is the world of housing finance. Both the $10 trillion of residential mortgages and the ‘too be announced’ or TBA market for hedging future interest rate risk rank among the largest asset classes in the world after US Treasury debt. Normally, when interest rates start to rise, investors and lenders hedge their rate exposure to mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) by selling Treasury paper and fixed rate swaps, thereby pushing bond yields higher.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by (Admin) Bill Patalon ‘ November 30, 2017.