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Fannie Mae: Economic Indicators Hint At 2023 Recession

Sarah Wolak
Sep 21, 2022
Fannie Mae HQ

Fannie Mae's ESR Group predicts housing will cool further as mortgage rates spike.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • The ESR Group continues to forecast 0% GDP growth on a full-year basis through 2022.
  • The group maintained its expectation that the Federal Open Market Committee will raise the federal funds rate by 75 basis points at its September meeting. 

Economic growth is projected to resume in the second half of 2022, but the combination of high inflation, money tightening, and decelerating housing market is likely to tip the economy into a modest recession in 2023, according to the September 2022 commentary from Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) Group.

The ESR Group continues to forecast 0% GDP growth on a full-year basis through 2022, but it revised its expectations for full-year 2023 growth by one-tenth of a percentage point to negative 0.5% — a downward prediction compared to the group’s original estimate. 

Core inflation remains considerably higher than the Federal Reserve’s stated target. The ESR Group maintained its expectation that the Federal Open Market Committee will raise the federal funds rate by 75 basis points at its September meeting, which ends today. 

The group’s baseline forecast anticipates the federal funds rate topping out at a range of 3.5% to 3.75% in early 2023, though it sees significant upside risk to the eventual terminal rate.

Due to the higher mortgage rate environment, the group lowered its forecast for single-family total home sales in 2022 and 2023 to 5.71 million and 4.98 million, respectively. These predictions would represent declines of 17.2% and 12.8%, respectively. 

While multifamily construction remains strong, the ESR Group also lowered its multifamily starts forecast for 2022 to 542,000 units, but continues to anticipate demand for rental units to remain strong due to single-family market’s unaffordability.

“In our view, the recent interest rate surge is due to the market’s recognition of two critical factors: that inflation is indeed not transitory, and that, to tame it, the Federal Reserve will need to be resolute, even at the risk of possible recession,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist. “Inflation’s entrenchment — and the policy action likely required of the Fed — confirms the expectation in our forecast of a moderate recession beginning in the first quarter of 2023."

:"That said," Duncan added, "the rise in rates is having the Fed’s desired effect on housing, as house-price growth began to slow in June. We expect the slowdown in housing to continue through 2023 as affordability constraints mount for potential homebuyers, and considering, too, that refinance activity has been significantly curtailed by the rise in mortgage rates.”

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