Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 10:00:00 PM

Thanks to everyone for a great year, and I wish everyone the best in 2013.

From the WSJ: U.S. Budget Compromise Deal Reached

President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans sealed a budget deal ... Top Democratic lawmakers said the Senate would vote on the deal Monday night. The House could reconvene, or wait until Tuesday to vote. Passage in the House isn't assured and could depend in part on the result in the Senate as well as the reaction to conservatives of the delay in spending cuts.
The vote will be after midnight so technically the politicians are voting for tax cuts, not increases.

Here is a link of a live video of the senate floor.

And this one is a little more fun - Times Square in NYC.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Mortgage Serious Delinquency rates declined in November

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 05:46:00 PM

Fannie Mae reported that the Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate declined in November to 3.30% from 3.35% October. The serious delinquency rate is down from 4.00% in November last year, and this is the lowest level since March 2009.

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 5.59%.

Freddie Mac reported that the Single-Family serious delinquency rate declined in November to 3.25% from 3.31%, in October. Freddie's rate is down from 3.57% in November 2011, and this is the lowest level since August 2009. Freddie's serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.20%.

Note: These are mortgage loans that are "three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure".

Fannie Freddie Seriously Delinquent RateClick on graph for larger image

In 2009, Fannie's serious delinquency rate increased faster than Freddie's rate. Since then, Fannie's rate has been falling faster - and now the rates are at about the same level.

Although this indicates ongoing progress, the "normal" serious delinquency rate is under 1%.  At this pace, it will take several years until the rates are back to normal.

Restaurant Performance Index indicates slight contraction in November

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 03:51:00 PM

From the National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Performance Index Improved in November but Remained Below 100 for Second Consecutive Month

The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 99.9 in November, up 0.5 percent from October. However, November marked the second consecutive month in which the RPI stood below 100, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.

“The November gain in the RPI was driven by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels, both of which registered their strongest performance in three months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “However, restaurant operators remain concerned about the direction of the overall economy, due in large part to the uncertainty around the fiscal cliff.”
...
The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 99.8 in November – up 0.6 percent from a level of 99.3 in October. Although restaurant operators reported net positive sales and traffic results in November, softness in the labor and capital spending indicators outweighed the performance, which resulted in a Current Situation Index reading below 100 for the fourth time in the last five months.
Restaurant Performance Index Click on graph for larger image.

The index increased to 99.9 in November, up from 99.5 in October (below 100 indicates contraction).

Restaurant spending is discretionary, so even though this is "D-list" data, I like to check it every month.

Note: It appears that the "uncertainty around the fiscal cliff" will be resolved (My initial guess is austerity will subtract around 1.5% to 2.0% from GDP in 2013 - with the largest drag coming from the increase in the payroll tax - but we still need the details).

"Fiscal Cliff" Deal

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 12:54:00 PM

From Ezra Klein:
1. Details on the deal: 39.6% tax rate for individual income over 400k/family income over $450k. AMT patched permanently.

2. Dividends and cap gains taxes at 20% of the $400k/$450k levels. PEP at $250k. Pease at $300k.

3. UI and business cuts extended through 2013. Stimulus cuts for 5 years. Medicare cuts stopped with offsets. Payroll cut expires.

4. Sequester unclear. Prez wants to offset with taxes and spending cuts. R's only want to offset with spending cuts.

Updates:
5. Estate tax set at $10m exemption but 40% rate.

6. Deal raises about $600b -- and maybe a bit more -- in taxes over 10 years. As always details can change, but that's where it is now.

From Reuters:

• Obama to speak on fiscal cliff at 1:30pm ET event: White House
• Source: Emerging "cliff" deal would raise tax on income above $400k/yr
• Source: Emerging deal would include permanent alternative minimum tax fix
• Source: Emerging deal would extend unemployment benefits for a year
• Sr. Republican aide: Tentative "cliff" deal contains no new spending cuts
• Sr. Republican aide: Majority of Sen. GOP expected to support tentative deal
• Cornyn via Twitter: GOP to meet at 2pm ET on fiscal cliff negotiations

Dallas Fed: Regional Manufacturing Activity "Slow Growth and Improved Company Outlook" in December

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 10:30:00 AM

From the Dallas Fed: Texas Manufacturing Activity: Slow Growth and Improved Company Outlook

Texas factory activity edged up in December, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose from 1.7 to 2.7, which is consistent with slow growth.

Most other survey measures also indicated manufacturing activity crept up in December. The capacity utilization index returned to positive territory with a reading of 1.8, implying utilization rates ticked up from last month. The shipments index jumped to 11.3 after a reading near zero last month. The new orders index, however, remained near zero, suggesting demand was flat in December.

Perceptions of broader business conditions improved markedly in December. The general business activity index emerged from negative territory, rising sharply to 6.8 as a result of a drop in the share of contacts reporting that conditions worsened. The company outlook index also turned positive, jumping 14 points to 9.2, its best reading since March.

Labor market indicators were flat in December. The employment index came in at -1, its lowest reading in over two years, with about 17 percent of employers reporting hiring and the same share noting layoffs. The hours worked index turned positive after two months in negative territory; however, at a reading of 1, it suggested hours worked barely changed.
This was above (edit) expectations of a reading of 1.0 for the general business activity index.

Here is a graph comparing the regional Fed surveys and the ISM manufacturing index:

Fed Manufacturing Surveys and ISM PMI Click on graph for larger image.

The New York and Philly Fed surveys are averaged together (dashed green, through December), and five Fed surveys are averaged (blue, through December) including New York, Philly, Richmond, Dallas and Kansas City. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) PMI (red) is through November (right axis).

This is the first positive reading for the average of the five Fed surveys since May.

The ISM index for December will be released Wednesday, Jan 1st, and these surveys suggest another weak reading - but probably indicating expansion (above 50).

Update on "Fiscal Cliff" Negotiations

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 09:14:00 AM

According to this report, income taxes would only increase on earnings over $450,000, and the estate tax would be at the GOP requested level. Still no deal.

From the WaPo: Biden, McConnell continue ‘cliff’ talks as clock winds down

Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continued urgent talks Monday over a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” after Democrats offered several significant concessions on taxes, including a proposal to raise rates only on earnings over $450,000 a year.

With a New Year’s Eve deadline hours away, Democrats abandoned their earlier demand to raise tax rates on household income over $250,000 a year.
...
Democrats also relented on the politically sensitive issue of the estate tax, according to a detailed account of the Democratic offer obtained by The Washington Post. They promised instead to hold a vote in the Senate that would guarantee that taxes on inherited estates remain at their current low levels, a key GOP demand.
...
McConnell was holding out to set the income threshold for tax increases even higher, at $550,000, according to people close to the talks in both parties.
Payroll taxes are going up under all proposals.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Night Futures

by Bill McBride on 12/30/2012 08:52:00 PM

As expected - no progress on the "fiscal cliff".   From the WaPo: Senate negotiators search for deal to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’

Still no deal.

There were signs of renewed effort in the talks to resolve the “fiscal cliff” crisis late Sunday afternoon. For one thing, direct talks had begun between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Biden. Republicans exiting a mid-afternoon caucus meeting said that McConnell had excused himself to take a call from the vice president.

Those two Washington veterans have become the capital’s unofficial closers, hammering out the agreement that resolved a fight over tax cuts in late 2010, and the debt-ceiling crisis in August 2011.

But their task could could prove far more difficult this time around.
Update: Most market to close as normal, fixed income will close early. Happy New Year to all!

Monday economic release:
• At 10:30 AM, the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey for December will be released. This is the last of the regional surveys for December. The consensus is an increase to 1.0 from -2.8 in November (above zero is expansion).

Weekend:
Summary for Week Ending Dec 28th
Schedule for Week of Dec 30th

The Asian markets are mostly red tonight; the Shanghai Composite index is up, and the Hang Seng down.

From CNBC: Pre-Market Data and Bloomberg futures: the S&P futures are down 8 and DOW futures are down 68.

Oil prices have moved up a recently withWTI futures at $90.65 per barrel and Brent at $110.41 per barrel. Gasoline prices have also increased a little recently.

Housing: 2.5% Year over Year change in Asking Prices

by Bill McBride on 12/30/2012 05:03:00 PM

According to housingtracker, median asking prices were up 2.5% year-over-year in December. We can't read too much into this increase because these are just asking prices, and median prices can be distorted by the mix. As an example, the median asking price might have increased just because there are fewer low priced foreclosures listed for sale.

Note: The Trulia asking price index is adjusted for both mix and seasonality, but the housingtracker data is just the median, the 25th percentile and 75th percentile - and is impacted by both changes in the mix and seasonality.

But with those caveats, here is a graph of asking prices compared to the year-over-year change in the Case-Shiller composite 20 index.

HousingTracker asking pricesClick on graph for larger image.

The Case-Shiller index is in red.  The Case-Shiller Composite 20 index was up 4.3% year-over-year in October, and will probably be up close to 6% in 2012.

The brief period in 2010 with a year-over-year increase in the repeat sales index was related to the housing tax credit.

Also note that the 25th percentile took the biggest hit (that was probably the flood of low end foreclosures on the market).

Now the year-over-year change in median asking prices has been positive for thirteen consecutive months. We have to be careful about the mix (fewer foreclosures on the market), but this suggests year-over-year selling prices will stay positive.

On seasonality, asking prices peaked in June and are down about 4% over the last six months.   I expect this measure of asking prices to start increasing seasonally in February, and to stay positive year-over-year.

Yesterday:
Summary for Week Ending Dec 28th
Schedule for Week of Dec 30th

"Fiscal Cliff": 3PM ET "deadline" for Reid and McConnell

by Bill McBride on 12/30/2012 11:30:00 AM

From the WaPo (updated): Senators trade proposals into night to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’ (ht black dog)

Reid and McConnell have set a deadline of about 3 p.m. on Sunday for cinching a deal. That’s when they’re planning to convene caucus meetings of their respective members in separate rooms just off the Senate floor. At that point, the leaders will brief their rank and file on whether there has been significant progress and will determine whether there is enough support to press ahead with a proposal.
...
If all goes according to plan, the leaders would roll out the legislation Sunday night and hold a vote by at least midday Monday, giving the House the rest of New Year’s Eve to consider the measure.
According to the article, the sticking points are taxes for high income earners and "how to tax inherited estates".

Note: This type of "deadline" is just a target, and there probably won't be an update until later in the day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Fiscal Cliff" Update

by Bill McBride on 12/29/2012 08:44:00 PM

Not much ... from the WaPo: Senators trade proposals into night to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’

Senate negotiators labored late into Saturday over a last-ditch plan to avert the “fiscal cliff,” struggling to resolve key differences over how many wealthy households should face higher income taxes in the new year and how to tax inherited estates.
...
As nightfall approached, top Democratic and Republican aides continued shuttling paperwork with the latest proposals back and forth between the two leaders’ offices, less than 50 steps apart.
...
If all goes according to plan, the leaders would roll out the legislation Sunday night and hold a vote by at least midday Monday, giving the House the rest of New Year’s Eve to consider the measure.
Earlier:
Summary for Week Ending Dec 28th
Schedule for Week of Dec 30th

Unofficial Problem Bank list declines to 838 Institutions

by Bill McBride on 12/29/2012 05:13:00 PM

This is an unofficial list of Problem Banks compiled only from public sources.

Here is the unofficial problem bank list for Dec 28, 2012.

Changes and comments from surferdude808:

The FDIC released its enforcement action activity for November 2012 this week. As a result, seven banks were removed and four banks were added. The changes leave the Unofficial Problem Bank List with 838 institutions with assets of $313.1 billion. A year ago, the list held 970 institutions with assets of $391.2 billion. For the month, the list count declined by 18 and assets fell $13.3 billion. The count decline of 18 matches the highest amount recorded back in April 2012.

The FDIC terminated actions against County Bank, Rehoboth Beach, DE ($341 million); Citizens State Bank - Midwest, Cavalier, ND ($109 million); Prime Alliance Bank, Woods Cross, UT ($104 million); Holbrook Co-operative Bank, Holbrook, MA ($94 million); and Security State Bank of Lewiston, Lewiston, MN ($66 million). The other removals were Hastings State Bank, Hastings, NE, ($136 million) and Hull Federal Savings Bank, Baltimore, MD ($25 million) as they found merger partners.

The following four banks joined the list -- Lake Area Bank, Lindstrom, MN ($276 million); The Peoples Bank, Chestertown, MD ($247 million); WestSide Bank, Hiram, GA ($134 million); and First State Bank of Miami, Texas, Miami, TX ($50 million). The FDIC issued a Prompt Corrective Action order against Covenant Bank, Chicago, IL ($60 million).

After the passage of the fourth quarter, it is time for a refresh of the transition matrix. As seen in the table, there have been a total of 1,606 institutions with assets of $808.9 billion that have appeared on the list. Removals have totaled 768 institutions or nearly 48 percent of the total. Failures continue to be the leading removal cause as 347 institutions with assets of $290.4 billion have failed since appearing on the list. Removals from unassisted mergers and voluntary liquidations total 129 institutions. While there has been an acceleration in action terminations in 2012, the pace has slowed down some during the fourth quarter. In all, actions have been terminated against 292 institutions with assets of $129.6 billion, with 40 terminations occurring in this quarter.
Unofficial Problem Bank List
Change Summary
 Number of InstitutionsAssets ($Thousands)
Start (8/7/2009) 389276,313,429
 
Subtractions   
 Action Terminated97(27,057,010)
 Unassisted Merger26(4,191,282)
 Voluntary Liquidation2(4,855,164)
 Failures148(182,228,947)
 Asset Change (15,385,341)
 
Still on List at 12/28/2012 11642,595,685
 
Additions 722270,521,747
 
End (12/28/2012) 838313,117,432
 
Intraperiod Deletions1   
 Action Terminated195102,513,931
 Unassisted Merger9449,619,506
 Voluntary Liquidation71,760,816
 Failures199108,189,630
 Total495262,083,883
1Institution not on 8/7/2009 or 12/28/2012 list but appeared on a weekly list.

Earlier:
Summary for Week Ending Dec 28th
Schedule for Week of Dec 30th

Schedule for Week of Dec 30th

by Bill McBride on 12/29/2012 01:11:00 PM

Earlier:
Summary for Week Ending Dec 28th

The key report next week is the December employment report to be released on Friday. Other key reports include December auto sales on Wednesday, the December ISM manufacturing index, and the December ISM service index.

Reis might release their Q4 Office, Mall and Apartment vacancy rate reports this week.

Happy New Year to All!  As usual, the Calculated Risk blog will be open all week.

----- Monday, Dec 31st -----

10:30 AM: Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey for December. This is the last of the regional surveys for December.  The consensus is an increase to 1.0 from -2.8 in November (above zero is expansion).

SIFMA recommends US markets close at 2:00 PM ET in advance of the New Year’s Day holiday.

----- Tuesday, Jan 1st -----

Happy New Year! US markets are closed in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday.

----- Wednesday, Jan 2nd -----

9:00 AM: The Markit US PMI Manufacturing Index.  The consensus is for an increase to 54.2, up from 52.8.

ISM PMI10:00 AM ET: ISM Manufacturing Index for December.

Here is a long term graph of the ISM manufacturing index. The ISM manufacturing index indicated contraction in November. The was at 49.5% in November, down from 51.7% in October. The employment index was at 48.4%, down from 52.1%, and the new orders index was at 50.3%, down from 54.2%. The consensus is for PMI to increase to 50.5. (above 50 is expansion).

10:00 AM: Construction Spending for November. The consensus is for a 0.6% increase in construction spending.

----- Thursday, Jan 3rd -----

7:00 AM: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release two weeks of results for the mortgage purchase applications index this week.

8:15 AM: The ADP Employment Report for December. This report is for private payrolls only (no government). The consensus is for 150,000 payroll jobs added in December. This is the third report using the new methodology, and the report last month (118,000) was somewhat close to the BLS report for private employment (the BLS reported 147,000 private sector jobs added in November).

8:30 AM: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for claims to increase to 363 thousand from 350 thousand last week.

10:00 AM: Trulia Price Rent Monitors for December. This is the index from Trulia that uses asking prices adjusted both for the mix of homes listed for sale and for seasonal factors.

2:00 PM: FOMC Minutes for Meeting of December 11-12, 2012. This will provide a little more details on the decision of the Fed to set thresholds for inflation and the unemployment rate.

All day: Light vehicle sales for December. The consensus is for light vehicle sales to decrease to 15.1 million SAAR in December (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) from 15.5 million in November.

Vehicle SalesThis graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967. The dashed line is the November sales rate. Sales in November were boosted by some bounce back following Hurricane Sandy.

TrueCar is forecasting:
The December 2012 forecast translates into a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (“SAAR”) of 15.6 million new car sales, up from 13.6 million in December 2011 and up from 15.5 million in November 2012
Edmunds.com is forecasting:
... an estimated Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) this month of 15.4 million light vehicles
----- Friday, Jan 4th -----

Payroll jobs added per month 8:30 AM: Employment Report for December. The consensus is for an increase of 157,000 non-farm payroll jobs in December; there were 146,000 jobs added in November. 

The consensus is for the unemployment rate to increase to 7.8% in December, up from 7.7% in November.

The second employment graph shows the percentage of payroll jobs lost during post WWII recessions through November.

Percent Job Losses During RecessionsThe economy has added 5.6 million private sector jobs since employment bottomed in February 2010 including preliminary benchmark revision (5.0 million total jobs added including all the public sector layoffs).

There are still 3.3 million fewer private sector jobs now than when the recession started in 2007 (including benchmark revision).

10:00 AM: Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders (Factory Orders) for November. The consensus is for a 0.3% increase in orders.

10:00 AM: ISM non-Manufacturing Index for December. The consensus is for a decrease to 54.5 from 54.7 in November. Note: Above 50 indicates expansion, below 50 contraction.

3:30 PM: Speech by Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, "Systemic Risk", At the American Economic Association/American Finance Association Joint Luncheon, San Diego, California

Summary for Week ending Dec 28th

by Bill McBride on 12/29/2012 08:03:00 AM

It was a light holiday week for economic data. Happy Holidays to all!

New home sales increased to 377,000 in November and are on pace to increase 18%+ in 2012. This was a solid annual increase, and yet sales are still very weak - 2012 will be the 3rd lowest year for New Home sales since the Census Bureau started tracking new home sales in 1963.  So there is still plenty of upside for new home sales over the next few years.

Case-Shiller house prices were up 4.3% year-over-year in October, and will probably be up around 6% for the year. And the 4-week average of initial weekly unemployment claims declined to the lowest level of the year - and the lowest since early 2008.

Consumer confidence was weak (future expectations), and there were some reports of retail sales being below expectations, but overall the data was decent.

Of course the economic headlines were about the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. There is no cliff (more of a slope), and there is no drop dead date - but policymakers do need to reach an agreement soon.

Here is a summary of last week in graphs:

New Home Sales at 377,000 SAAR in November

New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 377 thousand. This was up from a revised 361 thousand SAAR in October (revised down from 368 thousand). Sales for August and September were revised up slightly.

The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate.

On inventory, according to the Census Bureau:

"A house is considered for sale when a permit to build has been issued in permit-issuing places or work has begun on the footings or foundation in nonpermit areas and a sales contract has not been signed nor a deposit accepted."
Starting in 1973 the Census Bureau broke this down into three categories: Not Started, Under Construction, and Completed.

New Home Sales, InventoryThis graph shows the three categories of inventory starting in 1973.

The inventory of completed homes for sale was just above the record low in November. The combined total of completed and under construction is also just above the record low since "under construction" is starting to increase.

New home sales have averaged 363 thousand SAAR through November 2012, up sharply from the 307 thousand sales in 2011. Also sales are finally at the lows for previous recessions too.

This was slightly above expectations of 375,000.

New Home Sales graphs

Case-Shiller: House Prices increased 4.3% year-over-year in October

Case-Shiller House Prices IndicesThe first graph shows the nominal seasonally adjusted Composite 10 and Composite 20 indices (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The Composite 10 index is off 31.0% from the peak, and up 0.6% in October (SA). The Composite 10 is up 4.8% from the post bubble low set in March (SA).

The Composite 20 index is off 30.3% from the peak, and up 0.7% (SA) in October. The Composite 20 is up 5.4% from the post-bubble low set in March (SA).

Case-Shiller House Prices Indices The second graph shows the Year over year change in both indices.

The Composite 10 SA is up 3.4% compared to October 2011.

The Composite 20 SA is up 4.3% compared to October 2011. This was the fifth consecutive month with a year-over-year gain since 2010 (when the tax credit boosted prices temporarily).

The third graph shows the price declines from the peak for each city included in S&P/Case-Shiller indices.

Case-Shiller Price Declines Prices increased (SA) in 17 of the 20 Case-Shiller cities in October seasonally adjusted (also 12 of 20 cities increased NSA). Prices in Las Vegas are off 58.0% from the peak, and prices in Dallas only off 4.6% from the peak. Note that the red column (cumulative decline through October 2012) is above previous declines for all cities.

This was slightly above the consensus forecast for a 4.1% YoY increase.

All Current House Price Graphs

Real House Prices, and Price-to-Rent Ratio

Case-Shiller, CoreLogic and others report nominal house prices, and it is also useful to look at house prices in real terms (adjusted for inflation) and as a price-to-rent ratio.

Real House PricesThe graph shows the quarterly Case-Shiller National Index SA (through Q3 2012), and the monthly Case-Shiller Composite 20 SA and CoreLogic House Price Indexes in real terms (adjusted for inflation using CPI less Shelter). Note: some people use other inflation measures to adjust for real prices.

In real terms, the National index is back to mid-1999 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to July 2000, and the CoreLogic index back to January 2001.

In real terms, most of the appreciation in the last decade is gone.

In October 2004, Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei wrote a Fed letter on price to rent ratios: House Prices and Fundamental Value. Kainer and Wei presented a price-to-rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the Owners' Equivalent Rent (OER) from the BLS.

Price-to-Rent RatioHere is a similar graph using the Case-Shiller National, Composite 20 and CoreLogic House Price Indexes.

This graph shows the price to rent ratio (January 1998 = 1.0).

On a price-to-rent basis, the Case-Shiller National index is back to Q3 1999 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to August 2000 levels, and the CoreLogic index is back to February 2001.

In real terms - and as a price-to-rent ratio - prices are mostly back to 1999 or early 2000 levels.

All Current House Price Graphs

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims decline to 350,000, 4-Week average at low for 2012


This graph shows the 4-week moving average of weekly claims since January 2000.

The dashed line on the graph is the current 4-week average. The four-week average of weekly unemployment claims declined to 356,750.

The 4-week average is now at the low for the year. The previous low for the 4-week average was 363,000.

The recent spike in the 4-week average was due to Hurricane Sandy.

Weekly claims were lower than the 365,000 consensus forecast.

All current Employment Graphs

Friday, December 28, 2012

Update on Fiscal Cliff

by Bill McBride on 12/28/2012 08:40:00 PM

From a Goldman Sachs research note today:

Q: Where do things stand now?

A: Talks have resumed, but as of this writing there is no agreement yet. President Obama and congressional leaders met this afternoon to discuss the possible next steps that might be taken to avoid the fiscal restraint set to take effect at year-end. It seems likely that Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) will bring up legislation on the Senate floor at some point before the end of the year, but it is not yet clear whether that will be the product of a bipartisan compromise reached with Republican leaders and the President, which would have a chance of passing both chambers of Congress, or a proposal supported only by Democrats, which would be less likely to pass in either chamber, particularly the House.

Q: Will there be an agreement by year-end?

A: It is still possible but a retroactive deal in January looks more likely. With little time left before year end, there are two obvious obstacles to enacting an agreement by that time: the lack of a political agreement, and the short time left on the calendar to get any agreement that might be reached enacted into law. Reaching a political agreement is the tougher part. ...

Q: If an agreement is reached, what would it look like?

A: Probably a scaled-down deal. At this point, the most likely solution prior to year end (or in the first few days of 2013) would be enactment of a scaled-down agreement that addresses only the policy changes scheduled for year-end and leaves for later other issues, such as an increase in the debt limit or longer-term fiscal reforms. This might involve an extension of the 2001/2003 tax cuts for income under $400,000 or $500,000 (including capital gains and dividend tax rates at 15% for taxpayers with income under that level and a 20% rate above), relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for 2012, and extension of emergency unemployment benefits, which are scheduled to expire at year end.
And comments from a WSJ article: Cliff Deal Hinges on Senators
"We had a good meeting down at the White House and we are engaged in discussions…in the hopes that we can come forward as early as Sunday" with a plan, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). "We'll be working hard to try to see if we can get there in the next 24 hours," he said, adding he was "hopeful and optimistic."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) agreed the meeting was "constructive." In a warning that seemed aimed at lawmakers in both parties, he said, "whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect."

Mr. Obama said Messrs. McConnell and Reid have the weekend to reach and pass a deal.
There is some chance a deal will be announced this weekend, but it will not be a big deal if it slips into early January.

The Bubble in "Cliffs"

by Bill McBride on 12/28/2012 05:49:00 PM

Just an observation ... I think we are seeing a "bubble" in "cliffs" ...

From CNBC: Milk Futures Showing No Sign of 'Dairy Cliff'

From CNBC: 'Container Cliff' Avoided Until Early February

This reminds of the bubble in bubble reporting following the housing bubble.  Oh well ... it isn't as dumb as the "Risk on, risk off" meme.

Best to all!

Hotels: Record Demand in 2012, Near 2008 Room Rates, Little New Supply

by Bill McBride on 12/28/2012 03:18:00 PM

Some interesting year end observations from Patrick Mayock at HotelNewsNow.com: ‘Unexpected strength’ marks 2012 performance. A few themes for 2012:

1. Record demand
“We are still selling more rooms than we ever have before and expect that growth to remain strong in 2013,” said Vail Brown, VP of global business development and marketing at STR ... The U.S. hotel industry set a record during July for the most roomnights ever sold in a single month with 105,954,122. The summer months of June and August were strong as well, both posting more than 100 million roomnights sold.

Through November, the most recent data available, U.S. hotels had sold approximately 1 billion roomnights, an increase of 2.9% from the same period in 2011.
...
2. Supply slowing creeping
“In the U.S., we are seeing a bump in construction year to date,” Brown said.
...
Preliminary data suggests 2012 in aggregate ended with a 0.5% increase in supply.

3. Rates returning to the peak
While the hotel industry still hasn’t reached its 2008 peak in average daily rate of $107.41, it’s beginning to make headway, Brown said.
...
Preliminary data also suggests the hotel industry in general finished the year with a 4.3% increase in ADR to $106.17.

Still, hoteliers have a lot of ground to make up on an inflation-adjusted basis, Brown said.

4. Group’s late-year surge
“We really haven’t seen a large fluctuation in demand this year as compared to last year—until October where we really saw group demand skyrocket past the prior two years,” Brown said.

Hoteliers sold 11.1 million group roomnights during the month, which was well above the “golden year” of 2007, she said.

Forecasts: Strong December for Vehicle Sales, Slowing growth in 2013

by Bill McBride on 12/28/2012 12:41:00 PM

It looks like auto sales are finishing strong in 2012, however the growth rate for auto sales will probably slow in 2013. This is important because auto sales have been a key growth sector over the last few years, and that contribution will probably slow going forward. 

The following table shows annual light vehicle sales, and the change from the previous year.  Light vehicle sales have seen double digit growth for three consecutive years, but that will probably slow in 2013.


Light Vehicle Sales
Sales (millions)Annual Change
200516.90.5%
200616.5-2.6%
200716.1-2.5%
200813.2-18.0%
200910.4-21.2%
201011.611.1%
201112.710.2%
2012114.513.5%
2013215.03.7%
1Estimate, 2Forecast


Here are a couple of December forecasts:

TrueCar is forecasting: December 2012 New Car Sales Expected to Be Up 10 Percent According to TrueCar; December 2012 SAAR at 15.6M, Highest Since December 2007
For December 2012, new light vehicle sales in the U.S. (including fleet) is expected to be 1,370,658 units, up 10.3 percent from December 2011 and up 19.9 percent from November 2012 (on an unadjusted basis)
...
The December 2012 forecast translates into a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (“SAAR”) of 15.6 million new car sales, up from 13.6 million in December 2011 and up from 15.5 million in November 2012
From Edmunds.com: Edmunds.com Forecasts 1.36 Million New Cars Sold in December
Edmunds.com ... forecasts that 1,361,899 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in December for an estimated Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) this month of 15.4 million light vehicles. This would bring total 2012 sales to 14.5 million light vehicles, which would be a 13.5 percent increase over 2011, and the highest annual total since 2007.

“December will be the icing on the cake for 2012 – it’s a strong close for a year that had significant auto sales growth throughout,” says Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. “Along with the momentum of the improving economy, December car sales have been helped by compelling advertising, generous deals from most automakers, and the rush of demand unexpectedly and unfortunately caused by Hurricane Sandy.”
And for 2013: Edmunds.com Predicts 2013 Sales Trends: Growth of New Car Sales Will Slow, Used Car Prices Will Fall
Car sales will grow in 2013, but that growth will slow to a single-digit pace, says Edmunds.com ... Edmunds.com projects 15 million new car sales in 2013, a four percent increase over 2012.

Chicago PMI increases to 51.6, Pending Home Sales index increases

by Bill McBride on 12/28/2012 10:00:00 AM

• From the Chicago ISM:

December 2012:

The Chicago Purchasing Managers reported the Chicago Business Barometer was up for a third month, lumbering along since September's 3 year low. The Business Barometer was guided higher almost exclusively by a sizable advance in New Orders.
PMI: Increased to 51.6 from 50.4. (Above 50 is expansion).

Employment: at a three year low of 45.9, down from 55.2

New orders increased to 54.0 from 45.3.
 
This was above expectations of a reading of 51.0.

• From the NAR: November Pending Home Sales
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 1.7 percent to 106.4 in November from a downwardly revised 104.6 in October and is 9.8 percent above November 2011 when it was 96.9. The data reflect contracts but not closings.
...
The index is at the highest level since April 2010 when it hit 111.3 as buyers were rushing to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit. With the exception of several months affected by tax stimulus, the last time there was a higher reading was in February 2007 when the index reached 107.9.
Contract signings usually lead sales by about 45 to 60 days, so this would usually be for closed sales in December and January.  However, because of the increase in short sales that take longer to close, some of these contract signings are probably for a few months from now.  This was slightly below consensus expectations of a 1.8% increase.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friday: Chicago PMI, Pending Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 08:22:00 PM

First from Neil Irwin at the WaPo: Three ways Washington could mess up the recovery in 2013. A few excerpts:

Going off the cliff. This is the most scrutinized possibility, the one that has been widely analyzed (and, as of Thursday morning, at least, seemed like a growing possibility).
...
If the nation goes fully off the fiscal cliff, and stays there, the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would amount to a drag on gross domestic product of 2.9 percentage points in 2013 ...
...
A deal with too much austerity, too fast. Going off the fiscal cliff is probably not even the likeliest risk (though the odds are changing all the time). Another risk is that while there is a deal to avert the entirety of the cliff, it is a deal that calls for enough austerity in 2013 to seriously undermine the nation’s economic prospects.
...
Debt ceiling hijinks. If the nation goes over the fiscal cliff, the results would be bad, but not catastrophic; we’ve had recessions before, we’ll have them again. But in late February or early March comes a deadline with even more at stake: The legally mandated cap on how much debt the Treasury can issue will become a binding constraint, setting the stage for the same messy negotiations that walloped financial markets and business confidence in the summer of 2011.

From an economic perspective, the thing that makes debt ceiling negotiations so perilous is the threat that Congressional Republicans are making — in effect, to allow the U.S. government to default on its debts if they don’t get their way on major spending cuts.
I think a fiscal agreement will be reached in the next couple of weeks (points 1 & 2), but we will have to see the details before analyzing the drag on the US economy. I'm not worried about the "debt ceiling" (point 3) - as I noted in 2011, there have been threats to not pay the bills before (that is what the debt ceiling is about), and it would be political suicide to default - so a bill will be passed.

Friday economic releases:
• At 9:45 AM, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for December will be released. The consensus is for an increase to 51.0, up from 50.4 in November.

• At 10:00 AM, the Pending Home Sales Index for November. The consensus is for a 1.8% increase in the index.

Earlier on new home sales:
New Home Sales at 377,000 SAAR in November
New Home Sales graphs

Sales Ratio: Existing to New Homes

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 06:46:00 PM

Earlier I posted a graph that shows the "distressing gap" between new and existing home sales. I've argued that this gap has been mostly caused by distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) and that eventually the gap would close.

Another way to look at this is a ratio of existing to new home sales.

This ratio was fairly stable from 1994 through 2006, and then the flood of distressed sales kept the number of existing home sales elevated and depressed new home sales. (Note: This ratio was fairly stable back to the early '70s, but I only have annual data for the earlier years).

Distressing GapClick on graph for larger image.

In general the ratio has been trending down, although it increased over the last few months with the recent pickup in existing home sales. I expect this ratio to trend down over the next several years as the number of distressed sales declines and new home sales increase.

Note: Existing home sales are counted when transactions are closed, and new home sales are counted when contracts are signed. So the timing of sales is different.

Earlier:
New Home Sales at 377,000 SAAR in November
New Home Sales graphs

Philly Fed: State Coincident Indexes increased in 45 States in November

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 03:28:00 PM

From the Philly Fed:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for November 2012. In the past month, the indexes increased in 45 states and decreased in five states, for a one-month diffusion index of 80. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 45 states, decreased in three, and remained stable in two, for a three-month diffusion index of 84. For comparison purposes, the Philadelphia Fed has also developed a similar coincident index for the entire United States. The Philadelphia Fed’s U.S. index rose 0.2 percent in November and 0.6 percent over the past three months.
Note: These are coincident indexes constructed from state employment data. From the Philly Fed:
The coincident indexes combine four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions in a single statistic. The four state-level variables in each coincident index are nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index (U.S. city average). The trend for each state’s index is set to the trend of its gross domestic product (GDP), so long-term growth in the state’s index matches long-term growth in its GDP.
Philly Fed Number of States with Increasing ActivityClick on graph for larger image.

This is a graph is of the number of states with one month increasing activity according to the Philly Fed. This graph includes states with minor increases (the Philly Fed lists as unchanged).

In November, 45 states had increasing activity, down slightly from 46 in October (including minor increases). This is the second consecutive year with a weak spot during the summer, and improvement towards the end of the year.


Philly Fed State Conincident Map Here is a map of the three month change in the Philly Fed state coincident indicators. This map was all red during the worst of the recession.

The map was all green earlier this year, than started to turn red, and is mostly green again.

"Fiscal Cliff": There is no Drop Dead Date and more thoughts

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 01:50:00 PM

Two months ago I pointed out that there was no drop dead date for the "fiscal cliff" (more a slope than a cliff).

A few things to remember:

There is no drop dead date. Online sites and TV channels with "fiscal cliff" countdown timers are an embarrassment and are just trying to scare viewers.

The "fiscal cliff" is about too much austerity too quickly (cutting the deficit too quickly). The "cliff" is a combination of expiring tax cuts (income taxes, payroll taxes, and more will increase), and forced spending cuts (mostly for defense). This has NOTHING to do with other long term fiscal issues, primarily related to medicare.

• All along I've assumed an agreement would be reached in January. That timing is based on a two assumptions: 1) the tax cuts for high income earners would be allowed to expire, and 2) some politicians will not vote for any package that included a tax rate increase. After January 1st the politicians can vote for a tax cut for most Americans. That is obviously dumb, and makes extra work for many involved with payrolls and taxes, but that is politics.  It is possible an agreement could be reached in the next few days - but I still think January is more likely.  If it slips to February, I'll be concerned.

We need the details of the fiscal agreement before we can estimate the drag on the US economy from all the austerity.

New Home Sales and Distressing Gap

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 11:49:00 AM

New home sales have averaged 363,000 on an annual rate basis through November. That means sales are on pace to increase 18%+ from last year. Most sectors would be pretty happy with an 18% increase in sales.

But even with the significant increase this year, 2012 will be the 3rd lowest year for New Home sales since the Census Bureau started tracking new home sales in 1963. This year will be above 2010 and 2011, but below the 375,000 sales in 2009. I expect new home sales to double from here within the next several years as distressed sales continue to decline.

I started posting the following graph four years ago when the "distressing gap" first appeared.

The "distressing gap" graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through October. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship has been fairly steady back to the '60s.

Distressing GapClick on graph for larger image.

Following the housing bubble and bust, the "distressing gap" appeared mostly because of distressed sales. The flood of distressed sales kept existing home sales elevated, and depressed new home sales since builders weren't able to compete with the low prices of all the foreclosed properties.

I don't expect much of an increase in existing home sales (distressed sales will slowly decline and be offset by more conventional sales). But I do expect this gap to close - mostly from an increase in new home sales.

Note: Existing home sales are counted when transactions are closed, and new home sales are counted when contracts are signed. So the timing of sales is different.

Earlier:
New Home Sales at 377,000 SAAR in November
New Home Sales graphs

New Home Sales at 377,000 SAAR in November

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 10:00:00 AM

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 377 thousand. This was up from a revised 361 thousand SAAR in October (revised down from 368 thousand). Sales for August and September were revised up slightly.

The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate.

Sales of new single-family houses in November 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000 ... This is 4.4 percent above the revised October rate of 361,000 and is 15.3 percent above the November 2011 estimate of 327,000.
New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply.

The months of supply decreased in November to 4.7 months. October was revised up to 4.9 months (from 4.8 months).

The all time record was 12.1 months of supply in January 2009.

New Home Sales, Months of Supply This is now in the normal range (less than 6 months supply is normal).
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of November was 149,000. This represents a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate.
On inventory, according to the Census Bureau:
"A house is considered for sale when a permit to build has been issued in permit-issuing places or work has begun on the footings or foundation in nonpermit areas and a sales contract has not been signed nor a deposit accepted."
Starting in 1973 the Census Bureau broke this down into three categories: Not Started, Under Construction, and Completed.

New Home Sales, InventoryThis graph shows the three categories of inventory starting in 1973.

The inventory of completed homes for sale was just above the record low in November. The combined total of completed and under construction is also just above the record low since "under construction" is starting to increase.

The last graph shows sales NSA (monthly sales, not seasonally adjusted annual rate).

In November 2012 (red column), 27 thousand new homes were sold (NSA). Last year only 23 thousand homes were sold in November. This was the fourth weakest November since this data has been tracked (above 2011, 2009 and 1966). The high for November was 86 thousand in 2005.

New Home Sales, NSANew home sales have averaged 363 thousand SAAR through November 2012, up sharply from the 307 thousand sales in 2011. Also sales are finally at the lows for previous recessions too.

This was slightly above expectations of 375,000. I'll have more soon ...

New Home Sales graphs

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims decline to 350,000, 4-Week average at low for 2012

by Bill McBride on 12/27/2012 08:30:00 AM

The DOL reports:

In the week ending December 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 350,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 362,000. The 4-week moving average was 356,750, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week's revised average of 368,000.
The previous week was revised up slightly from 361,000.

The following graph shows the 4-week moving average of weekly claims since January 2000.


Click on graph for larger image.


The dashed line on the graph is the current 4-week average. The four-week average of weekly unemployment claims declined to 356,750.

The 4-week average is now at the low for the year. The previous low for the 4-week average was 363,000.

The recent spike in the 4-week average was due to Hurricane Sandy.

Weekly claims were lower than the 365,000 consensus forecast.


And here is a long term graph of weekly claims:

Note: There are large seasonal factors in December and January, and that can make for large swings for weekly claims. Still - it is nice finishing year at the lowest level for the 4-week average.


All current Employment Graphs

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thursday: New Home Sales, Initial Unemployment Claims

by Bill McBride on 12/26/2012 09:02:00 PM

First, a reminder that rents can't outpace incomes for long ... from Conor Dougherty at the WSJ: Tenants Feel Pinch of Rising Rents

The rising cost of renting is putting pressure on tenants at a time when many are still grappling with slow or falling income growth. In the third quarter, renters spent 24.12% of their disposable income on financial obligations—things such as rent, debts and auto leases. That was the highest level since early 2010, according to the Federal Reserve.
And on house prices from Nick Timiraos at the WSJ: Home Prices Hit a Milestone
Home prices are on track to notch their first yearly gain since 2006, the strongest performance since the housing bust and a development that could accelerate the real-estate rebound even as the broader economy stutters.
...
"The tide has changed," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates. "People feel it's OK to go back into residential real estate—it's no longer taboo—and that change in sentiment could have a very powerful effect."
Thursday economic releases:
• At 8:30 AM, the initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for claims to increase to 365 thousand from 361 thousand last week. If correct, this would put the 4-week average near the low for the year.

• At 10:00 AM, New Home Sales for November from the Census Bureau. The consensus is for an increase in sales to 375 thousand Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) in November from 368 thousand in October.

• Also at 10:00 AM, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index for December will be released. The consensus is for an decrease to 70.0 from 73.7 last month.

Earlier on house prices:
Case-Shiller: House Prices increased 4.3% year-over-year in October
Comment on House Prices, Real House Prices, and Price-to-Rent Ratio
All Current House Price Graphs


Another question for the December economic prediction contest (Note: You can now use Facebook, Twitter, or OpenID to log in).

Lawler: An “Update” to the “Excess” Supply of Housing

by Bill McBride on 12/26/2012 04:42:00 PM

CR: Housing economist Tom Lawler sent me the following long piece that suggests a large number of the excess vacant housing supply has been absorbed.

Housing economist Tom Lawler writes: An “Update” to the “Excess” Supply of Housing; How Much Has the Number of Vacant Homes Fallen Since April 1, 2010 (through December 1, 2012?)

It is over 2 1/2 years since the Decennial Census 2010’s “snapshot” of the US population and housing market on April 1, 2010. While private housing analysts are still awaiting the result of research by Census analysts on the reasons for the sharply different results of Census 2010 compared to other Census surveys (e.g., the ACS and the HVS), I thought it might be useful to review some numbers since the Census was taken.

On the housing production from, Census estimates suggest that from April 2010 to November 2012, housing completions plus manufactured housing units totaled about 1.817 million (an annualized pace of about 681 thousand).

There are no data on the net loss to the housing stock over this period. Prior to the release of Census 2010 results many folks thought that the net loss to the housing stock last decade was averaging around 200 – 250 thousand units a year, but the decennial Census results suggested a much smaller number. But for fun, let’s assume that the net loss in the housing stock since the decennial Census has been about 400,000, or an annualized rate of 150,000.

Such a number would imply that the housing stock at the end of November/beginning of December increased by about 1.417 million, or an annualized rate of about 531 thousand.

Now what about the number of households (or occupied housing units)? Sadly, here there are no good, reliable data to count on. For 2012, there are two sources of “estimates” on US “households,” both based on supplement surveys of the Current Population Survey. One source is the Housing Vacancy Survey, which assumes that (1) the Census’ Population Division estimates of the US housing stock are correct; and (2) the HVS’ estimates of the % of the housing stock are correct. Census 2010 results (and to a lesser extent ACS results) strongly indicated, of course, that the latter assumption is not correct: the HVS appears to overstate significantly the share of the housing stock that is vacant, with the overstatement growing over the past few decades.

With that caveat in mind, the HVS estimates are that the number of US households averaged 114.916 million in September 2012, compared to an average of 112.633 million in March-April of 2010. The official Census 2010 household estimate for April 2010 was 116.716 million. Assuming that the HVS estimates for the last 3 months of 2012 show similar YOY growth as the previous few months, and “grossing up” the totals to be consistent with Census 2010 totals, the HVS estimates might suggest household growth from April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2012 of about 2.62 million, or an annualized rate of about 983 thousand. This is a “low” estimate.

Another source of an “estimate” of US households in 2012 is the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. This annual survey, taken over February, March, and April with an “expanded” sample size relative to the “normal” monthly CPS and HVS surveys, purportedly produces “estimates” of the number of US households in March of each year that are consistent with (1) civilian non-institutionalized population estimates, and (2) survey results. The CPS/ASEC, in essence, is “controlled” to population estimates, as opposed to the CPS/HVS, which is “controlled” to housing stock estimates.

In the latest CPS/ASEC for March, 2012, the estimate of the number of US households was 121.084 million, which is a staggering 4.368 million higher than the official Census 2010 estimate for April 1, 2010. The CPS/ASEC revised household estimate for March, 2011, based on Census 2010 population controls, was 119.927 million, up from the previous 118.682 million in the 2011 report based on Census 2000 population controls. Census did not provide updated March 2010 estimates based on Census 2010 population controls.

It should be noted, however, that the CPS/ASEC household “estimates” are not “controlled” to Census 2010 household estimates, but instead are “controlled” to population estimates, and the CPS/ASEC survey results appear to significantly overstate US households (they also aren’t consistent with decennial Census estimates of the household, as opposed to civilian non-institutionalized, population estimates). I “guesstimate” that a CPS/ASEC household estimate consistent with Census 2010 household population estimates and recently-released 2012 household population estimates by age group for March, 2012 would be about 119.6 million, and that an estimate for December 1, 2012 using updated household population estimates would be about 120.5 million, about 3.8 million higher than the Census 2010 estimate for April 1, 2010, and an annualized increase of about 1.425 million. This is a “high” to “very high” estimate.

Another alternative would be to look at updated estimates of the household population (available through December 1, 20121), and then make certain assumptions either about household size (very crude) or make certain assumptions about “headship” rates by age group. Below is a table with some data to start with.

A few things are worth noting: first, overall population growth is estimated to have grown at an annualized rate of about 0.74% since the decennial Census was taken, and the household population is estimated to have grown at an annualized rate of 0.76%. This growth rate is significantly lower than last decade’s average, partly reflecting lower immigration levels and partly reflecting lower birth rates.

The population of adults – which is more important in terms of household growth, is estimated to have grown at a more rapid annualized rate. E.g., the 25+ year household population is estimated to have grown at an annualized rate of about 1.09%.

   Annualized % Chg
 4/1/2010 12/1/2012 
Resident Population308,747,508 314,918,6150.74%
Household Population300,758,251Average Household Size306,855,5150.76%
Households116,716,2922.577  
Household Population by Age Group    
15-2440,202,045 40,442,5540.22%
25-3440,005,898 41,371,9611.27%
35-4440,277,153 39,666,291-0.57%
45-5444,288,729 43,274,284-0.87%
55-6436,068,290 38,485,6462.46%
65-7421,429,316 24,256,9894.76%
75+17,380,962 18,231,3151.81%
25+ Years199,450,348 205,286,4861.09%
Households by Age Group Headship Rate*  
15-245,400,79913.43%  
25-3417,957,37544.89%  
35-4421,290,88052.86%  
45-5424,907,06456.24%  
55-6421,340,33859.17%  
65-7413,504,51763.02%  
75+12,315,31970.86%  
* Households divided by Household Population


[Note: the difference between the “resident” population and the “household” population is the number of people estimated to be living in “group quarters,” usually broken out between “institutionalized” (including correctional facilities for adults, juvenile facilities, and nursing/skilled nursing facilities) and “non-institutionalized” (including college/university student housing, military quarters, and other group housing).]

There are two “Q&D” ways one might “gueestimate” the number of households on December 1, 2012: one – very quick, extremely dirty – would be to assume that the average household size had remained the same. That approach, which doesn’t take into account shifts in the age distribution of the population, would lead to an estimate of 119.028 million, up 2.366 million from April 1, 2010.

A second approach would be to assume that the “headship” rates for different age groups on December 1, 2012 was about the same as on April 1, 2012. Using that “Q&D” approach, one would get an estimate of the number of households on December 1, 2012 of about 120.283 million, up 3.567 million from April 1, 2010.

So … let’s assume that a “very low” case for household growth from April 1, 2010 is around 2.4 million (annual rate of 900 thousand); a “high” case is 4.0 million (annual rate of 1.5 million), and a “base” case is around 3.2 million (annual rate of around 1.2 million). What might these numbers mean for the number of vacant homes as of December 1, 2012 compared to April 1, 2010?   Here is a table showing (rounded) what the numbers might look like.

Changes from April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2012 (millions of units)
 LowBaseHigh
Household Increase2.43.13.8
Housing Production*1.81.81.8
Net Housing Units Lost0.40.40.4
Housing Units1.41.41.4
Vacant Housing Units-1.0-1.7-2.4
*Housing Completions plus Manufactured Housing Placements (with November estimate)

Under a “very low end” estimate of household growth, the number of vacant units since April 1, 2010 would be down by about a million. Under a “very high end” estimate of household growth, the number of vacant housing units would be 2.4 million lower. And a “not too unrealistic” estimate of household growth would imply that the number of vacant housing units was down by about 1.7 million.

Now, does a 1.7 million decline in the number of vacant homes for sale since April 1, 2010 seem plausible? Well, if that were the case one would probably expect that the number of homes for sale, for rent, and held as REO would be down significantly. So, let’s take a look at some available numbers.

NAR estimates that the number of existing homes for sales declined from 3.09 million at the end of March 2010 to 2.03 million at the end of November 2012, a decline of about 1.06 million. Realtor.com’s listings numbers fell by a similar amount. Obviously not all homes listed for sale are vacant, but a significant % are vacant.

Census estimates that the number of completed new SF homes for sales declined from 92 thousand at the end of March 2010 to 40 thousand at the end of October 2012, a decline of 52 thousand.

The REO inventory of Fannie, Freddie, FHA, and private-label ABS, combined with an estimate of the REO inventory of FDIC-insured institutions (based on $ carrying amounts and estimates of the average carrying balance) declined from about 531 thousand from the end of March 2010 to about 367 thousand at the end of September 2012, a decline of about 164 thousand. Some, but probably less than 40%, of these REO properties were listed for sale.

There aren’t good, aggregate data on the number of homes for rent: HVS has estimates, but comparisons with decennial Census data indicate that HVS rental vacancy rates not only are overstated, but also that the overstatement has grown over time. Given that caveat, the HVS estimates show that the number of homes for rent declined from a first-half 2010 average (to come close to an April 1 estimate) of about 4.458 million to a third-quarter 2012 average of 3.809 million, a decline of about 649 thousand. The actual decline is probably larger.

Hmmmm…..gosh, a decline in the number of vacant homes of about 1.7 million since April 1, 2010 sure SEEMS plausible!

But wait: if the number of vacant homes since Census 2010 has been that large, then that would imply a sizable reduction in the “excess” supply of housing – enough so that, if true, one should have expected to see stability in, or even in many areas even increases in, home prices in 2012! Could that really be true? (CR note: see previous posts!)

Looking ahead to the next few years, the likely growth in population by age groups suggests that household formations should average about 1.3 million a year, with some upside if headship rates rebound in any meaningful fashion.

1 Actually, “estimates” are available through July 1, 2012, and data from August 1, 2012 through December 1, 2012, are short-term “projections.”

CR Note: This was from housing economist Tom Lawler.

Comment on House Prices, Real House Prices, and Price-to-Rent Ratio

by Bill McBride on 12/26/2012 12:23:00 PM

There is a seasonal pattern for house prices, and I've been predicting that the Case-Shiller indexes would turn negative month-to-month in October on a Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA) basis.

That is the normal seasonal pattern. Also, as I've noted, I expect smaller month-to-month declines this winter than for the same months last year. Sure enough, Case-Shiller reported that the Composite 20 index declined 0.1% in October from September (barely negative). In October 2011, the index declined 1.3% on a month-to-month basis.

Over the winter, the key will be to watch the year-over-year change in house prices and to compare to the NSA lows in early 2012. I think the house price indexes have already bottomed, and will be up about 6% or so year-over-year when prices reach the usual seasonal bottom in early 2013.

House Prices month-to-month change NSA Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the month-to-month change in the CoreLogic and NSA Case-Shiller Composite 20 index over the last several years (both through October). The CoreLogic index turned negative month-to-month in the September report (CoreLogic is a 3 month weighted average, with the most recent month weighted the most). Case-Shiller NSA turned negative month-to-month in the October report (also a three month average, but not weighted).

Case-Shiller reported the fifth consecutive year-over-year (YoY) gain in their house price indexes since 2010 - and the increase back in 2010 was related to the housing tax credit. Excluding the tax credit, the previous YoY increase was back in 2006. The YoY increase in October suggests that house prices probably bottomed earlier this year (the YoY change lags the turning point for prices).

The following table shows the year-over-year increase for each month this year.

Case-Shiller Composite 20 Index
MonthYoY Change
Jan-12-3.9%
Feb-12-3.5%
Mar-12-2.6%
Apr-12-1.7%
May-12-0.5%
Jun-120.6%
Jul-121.1%
Aug-121.9%
Sep-122.9%
Oct-124.3%
Nov-12 
Dec-12 
Jan-13 

Case-Shiller, CoreLogic and others report nominal house prices, and it is also useful to look at house prices in real terms (adjusted for inflation) and as a price-to-rent ratio.

As an example, if a house price was $200,000 in January 2000, the price would be close to $275,000 today adjusted for inflation.

Real prices, and the price-to-rent ratio, are back to late 1999 to 2000 levels depending on the index.

Nominal House Prices

Nominal House PricesThe first graph shows the quarterly Case-Shiller National Index SA (through Q3 2012), and the monthly Case-Shiller Composite 20 SA and CoreLogic House Price Indexes (through October) in nominal terms as reported.

In nominal terms, the Case-Shiller National index (SA) is back to Q1 2003 levels (and also back up to Q3 2010), and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 Index (SA) is back to September 2003 levels, and the CoreLogic index (NSA) is back to January 2004.

Real House Prices

Real House PricesThe second graph shows the same three indexes in real terms (adjusted for inflation using CPI less Shelter). Note: some people use other inflation measures to adjust for real prices.

In real terms, the National index is back to mid-1999 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to July 2000, and the CoreLogic index back to January 2001.

In real terms, most of the appreciation in the last decade is gone.

Price-to-Rent

In October 2004, Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei wrote a Fed letter on price to rent ratios: House Prices and Fundamental Value. Kainer and Wei presented a price-to-rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the Owners' Equivalent Rent (OER) from the BLS.

Price-to-Rent RatioHere is a similar graph using the Case-Shiller National, Composite 20 and CoreLogic House Price Indexes.

This graph shows the price to rent ratio (January 1998 = 1.0).

On a price-to-rent basis, the Case-Shiller National index is back to Q3 1999 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to August 2000 levels, and the CoreLogic index is back to February 2001.

In real terms - and as a price-to-rent ratio - prices are mostly back to 1999 or early 2000 levels.


All Current House Price Graphs

Case-Shiller: House Prices increased 4.3% year-over-year in October

by Bill McBride on 12/26/2012 09:00:00 AM

S&P/Case-Shiller released the monthly Home Price Indices for October (a 3 month average of August, September and October).

This release includes prices for 20 individual cities, and two composite indices (for 10 cities and 20 cities).

Note: Case-Shiller reports NSA, I use the SA data.

From S&P: Sustained Recovery in Home Prices According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Data through October 2012, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, ... showed home prices rose 4.3% in the 12 months ending in October in the 20-City Composite, out-distancing analysts’ forecasts. Anticipated seasonal weakness appeared as twelve of the 20 cities and both Composites posted monthly declines in home prices in October.

The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded respective annual returns of +3.4% and +4.3% in October 2012 – larger than the +2.1% and +3.0% annual rates posted for September 2012. In nineteen of the 20 cities, annual returns in October were higher than September. Chicago and New York were the only two cities with negative annual returns in October. Phoenix home prices rose for the 13th month in a row. San Diego was second best with nine consecutive monthly gains.
...
“Annual rates of change in home prices are a better indicator of the performance of the housing market than the month-over-month changes because home prices tend to be lower in fall and winter than in spring and summer. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites and 19 of 20 cities recorded higher annual returns in October 2012 than in September. The impact of the seasons can also be seen in the seasonally adjusted data where only three cities declined month-to-month. The 10-City Composite annual rate of +3.4% in October was lower than the 20-City Composite annual figure of +4.3% because the two weaker cities – Chicago and New York – have higher weights in the 10-City Composite." [says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.]

“Looking over this report, and considering other data on housing starts and sales, it is clear that the housing recovery is gathering strength. Higher year-over-year price gains plus strong performances in the southwest and California, regions that suffered during the housing bust, confirm that housing is now contributing to theeconomy.'
Case-Shiller House Prices Indices Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the nominal seasonally adjusted Composite 10 and Composite 20 indices (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The Composite 10 index is off 31.0% from the peak, and up 0.6% in October (SA). The Composite 10 is up 4.8% from the post bubble low set in March (SA).

The Composite 20 index is off 30.3% from the peak, and up 0.7% (SA) in October. The Composite 20 is up 5.4% from the post-bubble low set in March (SA).

Case-Shiller House Prices Indices The second graph shows the Year over year change in both indices.

The Composite 10 SA is up 3.4% compared to October 2011.

The Composite 20 SA is up 4.3% compared to October 2011. This was the fifth consecutive month with a year-over-year gain since 2010 (when the tax credit boosted prices temporarily).

The third graph shows the price declines from the peak for each city included in S&P/Case-Shiller indices.

Case-Shiller Price Declines Prices increased (SA) in 17 of the 20 Case-Shiller cities in October seasonally adjusted (also 12 of 20 cities increased NSA). Prices in Las Vegas are off 58.0% from the peak, and prices in Dallas only off 4.6% from the peak. Note that the red column (cumulative decline through October 2012) is above previous declines for all cities.

This was slightly above the consensus forecast for a 4.1% YoY increase. I'll have more on prices later.