Thursday, August 24, 2006

"it is simply ugly"

nacfolgend nochmla ne zusammenfassung der aktuellen lage. dank geht an mish und sein markettraderforum

"The Biggest Slump in US Housing in the Last 40 Years"…or 53 Years?Nouriel Roubini Aug 23, 2006


The Biggest Slump in US Housing in the Last 40 Years”: These are not my words but those of the Toll Brothers, the famous luxury McMansions homebuilders. As reported by the WSJ today: In his 40 years as a home builder, Mr. Toll says, he has never seen a slump unfold like the current one. "I've never seen a downturn in housing without a downturn in employment or... some macroeconomic nasty condition that took housing down along with other elements of the economy," he says. "This time, you've got low unemployment, you've got job creation, you've got a stable stock market and relatively low interest rates.

Some official estimates that I have seen suggest that real residential housing will contract at 10% - rather than the Q2 6.4% in the next two quarters. My own estimate – based on a reading of the coming data – is that, actually, the contraction is more likely to be of the order of 12-15% annualized rate in the next several quarters

I have also argued before that the effects of housing on US economic growth and the role of housing in tipping the US economy into a recession in early 2007 are more significant than the role that the tech sector bust in 2000 played in tipping the economy into a recession in 2001.

There are three reasons:

1. The direct effect of the fall in residential investment in aggregate demand will be as high as the effects of the fall in real investment in the 2000-2001episode. Then, real investment fell by about 2% of GDP. This time around the fall in residential investment alone – let alone the role other components of real investment, such as software and equipment, that are already falling in Q2 – will be as large as residential investment could fall from the peak of about 6.2% of GDP (the highest level since the 1950s) to as low as 4% of GDP at the bottom in 2007.

2.The wealth effect of now falling housing prices – yes median prices are starting to fall at the national level - affects every home-owning household: the value of residential real estate has also increased to 48.5% of household wealth in 2006 from from 38.7% in 1996. Also, the link between housing wealth rising, increased home equity withdrawal (HEW) and consumption of durable and non durables is very significant (see RGE’s Christian Menegatti brief on this), much more than the effect of the tech bubbles of the 1990s. Last year, out of the $800 billion of HEW at least $150 or possibly $200 billion was spent on consumption and another good $100 billion plus went into residential investment (i.e. house capital improvements/expansions). It is enough for house price to flatten – as they already did recently – let alone start falling - as they are doing now since they are beginning to fall in major markets – for the wealth effect to disappear, the HEW dribble to low levels and for consumption to sharply fall. Note that this year there will be large increases in the borrowing costs for $1 trillion of ARM’s while this figure for 2007 will be $1.8 trillion. Thus, debt servicing costs for millions of homeowners will sharply increase this year and next.

3. The employment effects of housing are serious; up to 30% of the employment growth in the last three years was due directly and indirectly to housing. The direct effects are job lost in construction, building materials, real estate brokers and sales agents, and employees of the mortgage finance industry. The indirect effects imply that the role of housing is even larger than 30%. The housing boom led to a boom in consumer durables spending on home appliances and furniture. Indeed, in Q2 real consumption of such goods was already negative: as you have less new home built and purchased and less old homes refurbished and expanded, you get less purchases of home appliances and furniture. There are also other indirect effects of the housing bust on employment, even on the purchases of motor vehicles. Indeed, the current auto sector slump is not unrelated to the housing slump. As the Financial Times put recently, the sharp fall in the sales of Ford's pick-up trucks is related to the housing slump as such truck are widely purchased by real estate contractors. And indeed in Q2 real consumer durables (that include both cars, home appliances and furniture all related to housing) already fell, consistent with the view that we have now have a glut in the stock of consumer durables (durables consumption has a investment-like nature to it as such goods last for a long time). Thus, as housing sector slumps, the job and income and wage losses in housing will percolate throughout the economy.

How bad are the signals coming from the housing sector? As a recent news headline clearly put it: it is simply UGLY.

The evidence on falling home prices is now becoming clearer. Since the end of World War II, there has never been a year on year fall in housing prices.

the value of the housing stock in those two regions (coasts) is close to 50% of the total housing stock given the bubble of recent years. Thus, a housing bust in the two coasts can and will have macro effects.

Indeed, today the National Association of Realtors reported today that the median price of an existing home rose only 0.9 percent in July from a year ago. So, housing prices are practically flat at the national level. Worse, relative to a year ago housing prices have already fallen in the North East (-2.1%), Mid-West (-0.6%) and the West (-0.3%). So, not only housing prices are falling in the bubbly two coast; they are also starting to fall in the Mid-West, the region where the conventional wisdom was that there was no housing bubble

You can expect falling median housing prices, on a year-on-year basis, at the national level starting this month of August

Note also that, on an inflation adjusted basis, real home prices (relative to the CPI index) are already falling at a 4% plus rate.

So, the simple conclusion from the analysis above is that this is indeed the biggest housing slump in the last four or five decades: every housing indictor is in free fall, including now housing prices. By itself this slump is enough to trigger a US recession: its effects on real residential investment, wealth and consumption, and employment will be more severe than the tech bust that triggered the 2001 recession. And on top of the housing bust, US consumers are facing oil above $70, the delayed effects of rising Fed Fund and long term rates, falling real wages, negative savings, high debt ratios and higher and higher debt servicing ratios. This is the tipping point for the US consumer and the effects will be ugly. Expect the great recession of 2007 to be much nastier, deeper and more protracted than the 2001 recession.

And the housing bust is not going to be only a US phenomenon. As I will discuss in another blog, housing bubbles festered in many other economies including many European ones. Thus, the combination of high oil prices, delayed effects of rising interest rates and slump of housing that is now leading to a US recession is a phenomenon that is common to many other economies, including several European ones. So, expect the same deadly combinations of three ugly bears (slumping housing, high oil prices and rising interest rates) to hammer Goldilocks and sharply hurt Europe and other economies in the world.

starker tobak. aber ich stimme hundertprozentig überein.


disclosure: short alle großen homebuilder


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