• HELOC Help

    For the week ending 3/18/20, home equity loans outstanding rose $2.3 billion to $317.2 billion. Outside of an increase during the last government closure, this was the first increase in home equity loans since the week ending 2/1/12, when they rose $4.7 billion to $553 billion. This is identical to … [Read More...]

  • Frequent Flicks

    The Friday File: 8% of American who were recently surveyed considered “binge-watching” to consist of watching two straight episodes of a show. 27% thought three back-to-back episodes qualified as binge-watching, and 22% thought four episodes is what is needed. 13% thought it was five episodes, 5% … [Read More...]

  • Mortgage Money

    While interest rates on Treasuries have hit all-time lows, mortgage rates have fallen, but not as much. There are at least three reasons. First, if rates keep falling, prepayments will increase, hurting mortgage investors. Second, lower rates suggest the economy is weakening and that can boost … [Read More...]

  • Overwhelming Ovechkin

    The Friday File: Last Saturday, 34-year old Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored his 700th NHL goal, placing him 8th on the all-time list. More amazingly, he is currently 3rd in goal scoring this year, and at his current pace (and he shows no signs of slowing), in four years he’ll … [Read More...]

  • Generation Gap

    In 1990, when the Baby Boomers median age was 35, they owned 21% of the nation’s wealth. In 2008, when Generation Xers median age was 35, they owned 9% of the nation’s wealth. While Millennials median age will not hit 35 until 2023, their share of the nation’s wealth will have to triple from its … [Read More...]

Jun
23

Possible Probabilities

While US equities continue recovering lost ground, markets may be discounting two key risks. The first, a powerful fall Covid-19 wave, let alone the current rise in new case counts in AZ, CA, FL, TX and elsewhere. Second, markets appear to be ignoring polls suggesting Democrats will almost certainly … [Read more...]

Jun
22

Default Data

Between 3/1/20-5/31/20, 79 million student loans entered forbearance, up from 18.2 million between 3/1/20-4/30/20. Over the same periods, deferred auto loans rose to 7.3 million from 3.6 and credit card deferrals hit 11.5 million from 8. Mortgages increased to 5.5 million from 3.6; personal loan … [Read more...]

Jun
19

Bad Bidding

The Friday File: When Bob Barker began hosting “The Price is Right” in 1972, contestants generally bid 5% to 10% below the market price. That remained the case through the early 1980s. From then through 2010, bid quality progressively deteriorated and by 2010 the median bid was a surprising 25% … [Read more...]

Jun
18

Recovery Rate

We are currently digging out of an economic recession and a suppression of economic activity resulting from government mandated Sheltering-in-Place. With suppression ending, the first part of the recovery, the most powerful part, is now occurring. But weakened corporate and personal balance sheets, … [Read more...]

Jun
17

Curve Control

Since QE1’s arrival during the Great Recession, the Fed has guided interest rates by buying bonds and offering forward guidance about when they expect to raise rates. The Fed is now considering adding another tool, yield curve control, where they promise to buy/sell enough bonds to guarantee a given … [Read more...]

Jun
16

Income Increase

During 4/20, US personal income rose 10.5%, its biggest jump ever. The rise was entirely due to the $1,200/$500 personal stimulus checks and the $600/week increase in unemployment insurance payments. Despite that, consumer spending still shrank by a record 13.6% in April due to fear and lockdowns. … [Read more...]

Jun
15

Slow Strengthening

First time claims for unemployment fell for the 10th straight week to a still painful 1.54 million/week vs. 220,000/week before the Coronavirus, but down from a high of 6.87 million the week ending 3/28/20. Moreover, continuing claims have been steady at 21 million for three straight weeks after … [Read more...]

Jun
12

Superfluous Space

The Friday File: Currently, 36% of persons put two spaces after a period and before the next sentence, 64% put one space. While this practice is hotly debated, there is absolutely no evidence either method offers any advantage. The debate exists because older people learned on typewriters with … [Read more...]

Jun
11

Underestimated Unemployment

The official May unemployment rate was 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April. However, classification errors systematically lowered unemployment rates in March through May. After accounting for these errors, which the Census Bureau fully disclosed, the true unemployment rate in April was 19.7%, in May it … [Read more...]

Jun
10

Hotels Hurting

Hotel occupancy is up for the seventh straight week, albeit from a staggeringly depressed level. For the week ending 5/30/20, US hotels enjoyed (if you can call it that) an occupancy rate of 36.6%, pushing weekly demand to about 11 million room nights. The average daily rate per occupied room was … [Read more...]