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NMP Market Barometer: August 2009 Part II

David Beadle
Aug 17, 2009

Provided exclusively to National Mortgage Professional Magazine by David Beadle, president of BestInfo Inc., the BestRates cell, pager and e-mail rate alert service for mortgage industry subscribers. A reading of "1" has the lowest impact on rates, while "10" has the highest. Although carefully verified, data are not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness. BestInfo Inc. cannot be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss or liability incurred by applying any of the information or opinions in this feature. August 18 July Producer Prices Rate Impact: 7 The Federal Reserve continues to repeat the mantra that inflation is not a problem, as if saying the same thing over and over again will cause rising prices to vanish. But the fact is that core personal consumption expenditure prices (excluding volatile food and energy) rose two percent in the second quarter of this year, which was almost exactly double the level of the first quarter, when they rose 1.1 percent. And this figure is precisely the one which the Fed says it has been watching as the most reliable gauge ever since the previous Fed chairman dismissed the consumer price index as being out of touch with the true price-pressure picture. Today, we will see if inflation at the earlier stages of production is under control. In the June results, the overall PPI accelerated by a whopping 1.8 percent from May. The core rate was up a larger-than-expected 0.5 percent when it had been tracking close to zero since March. If the Fed does not wish to take inflation seriously, watch what the bond market vigilantes do in the months ahead. It may not be pretty. August 20 Weekly Jobless Claims Rate Impact: 6 The government's seasonal adjustment factors have made such a mess of this data series that it has lost a huge amount of credibility with Wall Street traders. Last month, the statisticians were continuing to apply outdated seasonal information which expected motor vehicle plants to have shut down in July for a two-week vacation break. Hello. News flash for the bureaucrats … the old General Motors and the old Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before summer commenced. They idled their plants while they went through the bankruptcy process, starting in May. The plants generally remained shuttered in June. So, utilizing a seasonal factor for July is more than a day late and a dollar short. But perhaps the part of the government that arranged the bankruptcies didn't tell the other part of the government which calculates the weekly jobless figures. The GIs in World War II had a name for this disconnect. They called it a "snafu." Nothing has changed. August 21 July Existing Home Sales Rate Impact: 8 There was a surge of excitement in the real estate sector in late July when it was reported that June existing home sales rose 3.6 percent from May to an annualized rate of 4.84 million transactions. Better yet, the inventory of unsold homes fell to a 9.4 month supply, well below the 10.1 month figure from April. The year-over-year drop in prices was 15.4 percent, which brought some buyers into real estate offices across the country. But here's the question: Is the worst behind us? The answer is murky because some media reports indicate a significant number of banks have been holding back foreclosure inventory in order to benefit from possible future price increases down the road. There is also conjecture that home owners who want to sell have been waiting for a flattening of prices before listing their homes. This is called "shadow" inventory because it is present but not yet visible. Therefore, if sales start to accelerate because buyers decide prices have bottomed, there could be an unexpected onslaught of new listings which could reverse prices back to the downside. This story may have more twists and turns. July new home sales data will be released on Wednesday, Aug. 26. August 31 August Chicago PMI Rate Impact: 7 The Chicago purchasing managers will release their report on August manufacturing activity in the Upper Midwest on the last day of August, and it may make for some interesting reading. In July, the index rose back to 43.4 from June's 39.9 and May's 34.9 after a low of 31.4 in March. There's a chance it may have sustained the improvement in August if vehicle manufacturers were forced to ramp up production following the avalanche of interest in the government's Cash for Clunkers program in late July. It turns out that so many people showed up at dealer showrooms to take advantage of rebates of as much as $4,500 for their current clunkers that some outlets ran out of new car inventory. This is known as "pulling sales forward," which means people who were going to have to buy a new car anyway did it earlier because of the spectacular savings opportunities at the expense of other taxpayers who were footing the bill. Therefore, it is possible that a number of vehicle manufacturers with depleted stocks may have found it necessary to build more new cars in August. And that could lead to a temporary bubble in motor vehicle manufacturing, to be reflected in the purchasing managers data. Send your inquiry to [email protected] for full details on a free two-week trial subscription.  
Aug 17, 2009