Posts filed under “Federal Reserve”
Front page WSJ story on the Fed’s troubles convincing Wall Street that even it (the Fed) doesn’t know when interest rate rises will end:
"Federal Reserve is having trouble delivering a new message about how far it expects to raise interest rates: It isn’t sure.
Financial markets, having grown accustomed to the Fed telling them where rates are headed, seem unwilling to hear that new message. After nearly two years of raising rates, the Fed’s efforts to convey that it isn’t certain where they are headed now have been read by markets, instead, as a forecast of where it will take rates. Changing interpretations of that forecast have been roiling the markets in recent days.
A potentially bigger problem for new Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is that, with the latest growth data robust and inflation ticking higher, markets also seem to fear that the Fed will stop raising rates too soon. Since Mr. Bernanke talked last week on Capitol Hill about the possibility of a pause in the Fed’s rate increases, bond and commodity markets have signaled increased concern about inflation.
The next FOMC meeting is next Wednesday, and its a lock the Fed Funds Rate gets pushed up to 5%. Kremlinologists will also dissect the end-of-meeting statement for changes in adverbs and sentence structure.
Will they say "further rate increases may be needed?"
That’s the key line that will make traders sell stocks, buy them back, sell them again, rally the markets, reverse ‘em, repurchase, sell, sell short, cover and go long — all in the span of about 45 minutes. Then they can go home.
After the May 10 meeting, the next FOMC get together is seven weeks away. The Journal notes "by that time, the data may make the decision clear to both the Fed and the markets." Let’s hope so.
Fed Struggles to Convince Markets Of Its Own Uncertainty on Rates
WSJ, May 3, 2006; Page A1
“Every Change of Rate” is an utterly hysterical parody of the black & white Police video “Every Breath You Take,” as done by some Columbia Biz School students; Its an amusing take on the Ben Bernanke, the newly appointed Fed Chief. My favorite bit are the lyrics during the second verse: “First you move your…Read More
Sales of existing homes surprised to the upside yesterday. But one data point does not make a trend. This is the first rise (sequential monthly change) after 5 straight months of falling Home Sales. And that’s before we examine the data.
Before you declare the end of the housing slow down, consider:
- Existing Home sales actually slipped vs. last year by -0.7%; The reported gain was over last month’s data;
- the Inventory of unsold homes soared 7 percent in March, hittting an all-time record; There are now 3.19 million existing homes for sale, or 5.5 months’ supply; That’s the largest inventory since July 1998
- Existing homes edged up 0.3% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of
6.92 million units; (we know that seasonally adjusted data is not always accurate)
- Year over year, the Northeast and Midwest gained, while the previously hot housing markets in the South and the West slipped;
- median home prices are still rising, albeit nmore slowly — up 7.4% year over year, to $218,000.
Here’s a data point that has me scratching my head: Why are there different numbers for the year-over-year changes for seasonally and not seasonally adjusted? Was this March somehow in a different season than last year’s March? I am perplexed.
Note that data for existing home sales comes from National Association of Realtors, a group that is certainly an interested party; Of course, as a homeowner, investor, and someone with a public bearish tilt for the second half, I’m hardly objective myself (hey, I try). But this oddity — down -0.5% for the not seasonally adjusted year over year versus down -0.7% for the seasonally adjusted year over year — is beyond my comprehension.
So much for the hard data on existing sales; Today, we get New Home Sales. Recall our prior admonishments that monthly New Home Sales Data are unreliable; look instead to a moving average.
Let’s move onto some anecdotal evidence. A friend writes:
"Flop! Wow, KB running blue light specials in California. Not surprising,
Chico area was rated one of the most overvalued markets in the country. Houses
in the $200k space. When was the last time you saw that in California? "
Here’s the sales pitch:
"Oak Knoll Place in Live Oak is located in a beautiful
community near the majestic Sutter Buttes. With easy access to Highway 99, it is
ideally located for easy access to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Reno and a wide
variety of recreational opportunities. Yuba City and Marysville are
approximately 10 minutes south, Chico is approximately 35 miles north and the
Gray Lodge Wildlife area is approximately 10 minutes west. Live Oak has a
quaint, small-town atmosphere with many nearby recreational water activities,
including the Feather River, Yuba River and Sacramento River. Prices starting
from the High $200′s."
I don’t know Live Oak, but houses like that in California are hard to imgaine . . .
More after the jump.
Existing-Home Sales Rise Again in March
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
WASHINGTON (April 25, 2006)
Existing Home Sales data
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS