Monday, July 06, 2009

090706 Less Worse Syndrome and other Brain Dumps

Are we in the midst of recovery? Has the Great Recession hit bottom? The market chatter has definitely shifted. Key changes include:

  • "green shoots" instead of "next shoe to drop"
  • "inflation" instead of "deflation"
  • "recovery" instead of "bottoming"

During the last Fed meeting, there were actually conversations that included speculation that the Fed would either raise rates, or begin looking in that direction. They said nothing of the sort. And even though the oddsmakers had the chances of rates changing at that meeting at less than 4%, there was still anticipation along these lines. Since that meeting, SF Fed President (evidently in the running to be the next Fed Chairperson) reiterated her belief that the Federal Funds rate would be at or near the current level of 0.000-0.250% into 2010 or longer. huh.

Paul McCulley
says, discussing the eventual hiking of Fed Funds rate:

"And when is all this going to happen? Last week, the markets started to romance the notion of before the end of 2009. To me, this is simply silly. In the matter of cutting off, and then kikking, the fat tail risk of deflationary Armageddon, boldness in execution is no vice, while patience in declaring victory is indeed a virtue. The Fed has been bold and is committed to patience. Bravo! And the first Fed rate hike? Call it no sooner than 2011." -6/15/09

It's going to be tough to pull out of this with rising unemployment. At 70% of GDP, Consumer Spending is a critical factor in new environment. Consider this from Bridgewater, which I recevied from John Mauldin:

"... as long as credit remains frozen, spending will require income, and income comes from jobs. And debt service payments are made out of income. Therefore, in a deleveraging environment job growth becomes an important leading, causal indicator of demand and other economic conditions."

Less Worse syndrome is dominating the markets right now. For example, in May, the total number of jobs lost came in around 345k, but since April had losses of ~509k, the markets saw this as a positive sign. Job losses are not positive. The month to month changes may indicate a change in the trend, but not just on one report. The June losses were at 465k. So that's 509, then 345, then 465. During the mnth of June, before the June data was released, the markets were optimistic based on an appearance of "less worse". They appear to be reconsidering...


The California new home purchase tax credit - 10,000 to anybody buying new construction residential real estate in CA has expired. The program hit it's limit at 100,000 applicants.

There is a 1 page bill in congress to put the hated HVCC (Home Valuation Code of Conduct) policy on hiatus for 18 months. If you are engaged in a financing transaction, you've either encountered this acronym, or are about to. It is causing all kinds of problems, and creating quite a stir. Should be interesting to see where this goes. I'm not too encouraged by the 1-pager, but there's been overwhelming support from the industry...