Treasury Yields Dip On Fears Of Slowing Economy
The economy is slowing. This is evidenced by the recent layoffs amidst many technology companies, lenders, and other businesses that were benefactors of stay-at-home and low-interest rates. The leisure industry remains strong as people continue to spend money on experiences and travel, with the exception of restaurants, which seem a lot less busy. Many clients are complaining about the cost of living which becomes exacerbated in a downward trending equity market. The front-page news of a looming recession and its potential certainly does not help quell public concern. Consumer and business confidence remains low. In my opinion, there is a fairly good chance the economy is already in a recession. It certainly feels that way.
Inflation Is Always And Everywhere A Monetary Phenomenon
If the Fed has the resolve to break inflation, it will. More clarity should be available by the end of next week when the PCE inflation reading (the Fed’s favorite gauge of inflation) is released. Should that reading come in hot or as expected, the Fed will most likely go up 75 bp again in July. The old saying that “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” rings true these days. The markets will stay volatile during the next few months as the new terminal rate for rate hiking is established. There’s a big chance that the Fed’s double-barreled strategy of increases in rates and balance sheet runoffs could result in them breaking something in the financial system. Caution remains warranted even during strong rallies like today.
I expect the Fed to move above 3% on Fed funds sooner than later. 40% of Americans are now living paycheck-to-paycheck and are struggling to pay for life necessities. The one positive here is that I think the Fed is now taking inflation seriously enough to ensure that it should come down fairly quickly, maybe by the fall. That is just my best guess. Earlier this week, the yield curve continues to be flat and briefly inverted. This is almost always an ominous sign.
Interest Rates In The Ether
How higher interest rates will affect home prices is yet to be established. My belief is that prices will need to come down. Some models are showing a 20% or so draw down in values. However, in supply-constrained cities like Los Angeles, there are still not enough homes to meet demand. Should interest rates remain persistently high, I imagine home prices will slide even in supply-constrained markets. I am hearing from commercial bankers that higher interest rates will have an immediate effect on cap rates and that exit cap rates have been reduced as well. Cautious underwriting is being implemented across the board, which I applaud. Better to stress-test loan applicants than be sloppy in a rising rate environment. I expect as interest rates remain elevated, refinance of real estate will be used to pay down more expensive personal or business debt. ARM loans and interest-only loan demand has picked up. Borrowers are attempting to offset the rise in interest rates with an interest-only payment.