Matrix Blog

Economy

New Record of Foreign-owned Assets in the United States

March 27, 2014 | 4:06 pm | wsjlogo |

3-14commerceForeignInvestors

According to the WSJ Real Time Economics Blog there are the record investment gains. This is good news/bad news…and:

has worried some economists, because it makes the U.S. more vulnerable to major shifts in the global economy. But it also could show strengthening confidence in the American economy.

These gains are largely due to the rising US stock prices rather than more investment. However in the housing sector, I do think rising property values are attracting even more new capital for investment – whether for new development or unit purchases. We can see this in markets like New York City and Miami. Foreign investors seem to be chasing safety and a long term equity play.

Tags: , , ,


Bonus for NYC Housing: Wall Street Comp Up 15.1%, Most Cash Paid Out Since ’08 Crash

March 17, 2014 | 7:00 am | Charts |

The annual release by the New York State Office of Comptroller brought upbeat news to the real estate economy in NYC. Wall Street compensation has long accounted for roughly a quarter of personal income but only 5% of employment so the industry remains very important to NYC’s tax revenues. Here are some of the key points:

  • The overall bonus pool and bonus per person increased 15.1%.
  • The total bonus pool was
  • Bonus pool is up 44% in past 2 years.
  • Securities employment is down 12.6% from before the 2008 market crash.
  • Wall Street accounts for 8.5% of NYC tax revenue and 16% of NYS tax revenue
  • Part of the rise was due to payouts of deferred compensation from prior years.

Here are a few charts that layout the bonus trends in NYC. Wall Street is a key economic driver of NYC and therefore important to the health of the NYC housing market.

Wall Street compensation is 5x that of mere mortals (other private employment compensation) and that ratio has stabilized after a modest correction following the 2008 stock market crash.
2013nycsecuritiesbonus
[click to expand]

Wall Street bonuses rose steadily as a portion of total compensation but after the 2008 stock market correction and financial reform, the market share fell – but not as much as perceived.
2013nycsecuritiescompasperc
[click to expand]

Wall Street employment has fallen since 2008, but not nearly as much as expected. The market share of Wall Street NYC employment has slipped as a result.
2013nycwallstreetemployment
[click to expand]

Tags: , , ,


Housing Can’t “Recover” Until Fundamentals Recover

August 20, 2013 | 1:58 pm | Videos |


Source: Yahoo! Finance

I had a nice conversation with Lauren Lyster today over at Yahoo!’ The Daily Ticker.

I find the bifurcation (yes Bernice, I actually used this word!) between those who see the housing market as recovered and those who don’t fascinating. A recovery is a process and we are in the middle of it – but it hasn’t reached it’s destination. As far as the <7% unemployment comment in their post headline goes…I see housing as normalizing when employment normalizes – not that 7% is a trigger for housing to suddenly recover below this threshold. Nuance, baby.

Why else would so many fret about rising mortgage rates? Nearly every comment on the video – 146 when I wrote this, referenced the weakness of the job market, under employed, lower wages.

I think rising rates are a good thing for housing, long term because they take some of the froth out of the market. Seriously – how can prices rising more than 12% YoY with flat income, high (but improving) unemployment and tight credit? One could even argue that a better rate spread with higher rates and bank business decision pressure to loosen standards as refi volume drops sharply will bring some easing to underwriting standards eventually.

Aside
If you want to get some clarity, watch this video earlier this morning over at The Daily Ticker on Why Investors Should Ignore Economists. No one makes a point more clear (or more bluntly) than my friend Barry Ritholtz.

Tags: , ,


Cool WSJ Infographic on Economic Recovery Since End of Recession

July 1, 2013 | 9:28 am | wsjlogo |


[Source WSJ: click to expand]

Check out this excellent interactive graphics post at the WSJ on the economy since the recession. My fave is above but there are others worth mentioning. Things are slowly improving but note that in the “consumer” section of the interactive (not above), real wages are unchanged since 2009 (housing prices up 12.1% in past year alone).

Tags:


Money for Nothing Movie Trailer

March 28, 2013 | 5:29 pm | fedny | Videos |

I can’t wait for the documentary Money for Nothing to be released. In fact I donated to IndieGoGo.com because I was so impressed that I wanted my own copy.

This documentary is compelling and so are all the cast members. It includes a who’s who list of current and past members of the Federal Reserve as well as economists and Wall Street experts. Cast members include my friend Barry Ritholtz and Gary Shilling who both have been on my podcast. Todd Harrison of the great site Minyanville.com and John Mauldlin who I have always looked to for insights. Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer who called me at the height of the crisis to get a gauge on the Manhattan housing market.

During the housing bubble I often felt like screaming as I saw the financial world through my appraisal glasses thinking I missed an important math class in 8th grade. Fast growing banks with gigantic mortgage volume and many of my appraisal competitors in bed with mortgage brokers were clearly smarter than me – they could make the numbers work and I couldn’t.

In 2003 and 2004 I remember being absolutely confident as a non-economist that the Fed was keeping interest rates too low for too long. I could see it in the loss of lending standards and the lavish incomes enjoyed by those around me who embraced a world of based on moral flexibility. The froth was simply ignored.

Don’t mean to get sentimental on you dear readers, but this movie struck a chord with me. Enjoy the trailer and watch for the release date announcement.

Tags:


Wall Streeters Paid 7X The Private Sector

February 27, 2013 | 12:42 pm | curbed | Charts |

In case you have any doubts about the amount of compensation that the securities industry enjoys versus the private sector in NYC, I created the chart above. While the bonus comp results has been released for 2012, the salary data is not out yet so I built this chart from 1985-2011. In 2011, securities industry salaries + bonuses were 7x larger than private industry salaries.

In case you had any doubts about how important the industry is to the NYC, regional and state economy, hopefully you are now – love them or hate them.

Since Wall Street bonuses were announced yesterday and have been talked about and analyzed a lot over the past 24 hours, I thought I’d share the following video which apologizes a lot for compensation levels of the securities industry but breaks down the advantages of the bonus compensation practice on Wall Street.

I was provided with a video from OnlineMBA.com



Three Cents Worth: Have Bonus, Will Buy in Manhattan? [Curbed NY]
In Defense of the Wall Street Bonus [OnlineMBA]
NYC Securities v. Other Private Industry Compensation [Miller Samuel Charts]
Wall Street Bonuses Rose in 2012 [NYS Comptroller]

UPDATE: Bloomberg Television saw this post and made it their “Single Best Chart” of the day.

Tags: ,


Housing Data as Pop Culture

February 14, 2013 | 7:00 am | delogo | Charts |


[click to open article]

A recent post in CNN/Money featured Andy Warhol’s 1984 “U.S. Unemployment Rate. No Campbell Soup Cans but it feels strange to associate his art with economic data from the 1980s. It somehow works for me. One of the coolest property inspections I made was through “The Factory” years ago.

In 2007 the “Stand-up Economist” Yorman Bauman led the way with this much watched video on the difference between macro and micro economists. “Microeconomists are wrong about specific things while macroeconomists are wrong about things in general.” HI-larious.

And recently the TV game show “Teen Jeopardy” had 5 questions about the “Federal Reserve.”

Christie’s sales rep said:

“Economic data has become popular culture. While we used to think of it as being some kind of verified information only for people who are really knowledgeable about the economy, it’s popular culture now. You can talk to a taxi driver about it.”

I completely agree. Gangnam Style and GDP now go hand in hand.

We devour housing data ie the recently released Real Deal Data Book (I’ve got a lot of charts and tables in there!)

Throw in the heavy downloads of our report series for Douglas Elliman, NAR Research, CoreLogic, Case Shiller, RealtyTrac, etc. it’s clear to me that housing data is an obsession and embedded in popular culture (thank goodness).

Tags:


Falling Inventory Has Created a Housing “Pre-Covery,” not “Recovery”

January 28, 2013 | 9:00 am | nytlogo |

I was speaking at the New York Real Estate Bar Camp recently and asked the audience what to call the state of housing market right now, since I objected to the use of the word “recovery” and “a period of better stats without underlying fundamentals” wasn’t catchy. Philip Faranda came up (more like shouted out) a brilliant suggestion. We’re in a “Pre-Covery!” I loved it and it stuck.

I thought about the new word when I read a great Robert Shiller piece in the New York Times this weekend called: A New Housing Boom? Don’t Count on It.

Shiller questions the substance of the happy housing news we’ve all been reading about:

It’s hard to pin down, because nothing drastically different occurred in the economy from March to September. Yes, there was economic improvement: the unemployment rate, for example, dropped to 7.8 percent from 8.2 percent. But that extended a trend in place since 2009. There was also a decline in foreclosure activity, but for the most part that is also a continuing trend, as reported by RealtyTrac.

What’s missing from all the metrics being tracked and discussed is sharply falling inventory - that’s what is driving prices higher even though little else has changed.

The reason for falling inventory? Sellers, when they sell, become buyers (or renters) and with >40% of mortgage holders having low or negative equity, they don’t qualify for the trade up. We have been so focused on negative equity that we’ve paid short shrift to the impact of low equity.

Not only don’t many sellers qualify – they simply aren’t under duress i.e. they haven’t lost their job, don’t need to move, etc. so what will they do when they realize they don’t qualify?

Nothing.

They expect/hope hope the market improves eventually.

This has created yet another form of “shadow inventory.”

Although I certainly agree that the long term trend of mortgage rates doesn’t really correlate with housing prices since rates have been falling for years, weak employment and personal income are not justifying the last 6 months of housing market improvement.

I see falling mortgage rates as simply keeping demand steady (but rates can’t fall much further) and falling inventory is either pressing prices higher or to stabilization depending on the market.

Here is a simplistic generic but typical scenario in most of the markets I follow over a 2 year window:

  • The number of sales in a market rises 2%.
  • The number of listings in same market falls 30%.

In this scenario the rise in sales is NOT working off inventory – the math doesn’t work so something else is in play – low or negative equity is choking off new listings entering the market against steady demand caused by falling rates.

Since low inventory is not a local market phenomenon but is happening in nearly every housing market I can think of (sales rising modestly and listing inventory falling sharply) it makes this a credit phenomenon. I like to say “housing is local but credit is national.”

To make this discussion really crazy we could even say that tight credit conditions are actually prompting the pre-recovery something that on the surface is very counterintuitive. But in reality, tight credit is choking off supply and low rates are keeping demand constant. Then prices rise.

Tags: ,


Yes, Mortgage Rates Impact Housing Prices

December 26, 2012 | 4:50 pm | Charts |

I few weeks ago I was dressed down by an analytics friend of mine who is in the business. Based on his employment and housing sales analysis in Alabama (I’ve never been) he suggested my comments about mortgage rates influencing housing prices as anecdotal and hypocritical (who says analysts have to have tact) – that only employment can be correlated. And further…since mortgage rates can not be proved to influence housing sales through multiple regression, any such claims are hearsay and anecdotal. While I agree that housing’s largest influence comes from employment, I was a bit surprised by the out-of-left-field agita I inspired.

He was focused on the predictive element of a trend versus a knee jerk reaction to a sudden change in a metric. My comment about a spike in mortgage rates at this moment (not predicting it) as ending the party – is apparently what caused him to lose faith in my analysis. Appreciative of the constructive feedback, I whipped up a couple of US macro price charts.

Yes, US employment trends correlate with US housing prices and mortgage rates correlate by showing an inverse trend against housing prices.

Predictive? Only if considered with other metrics.
Anecdotal? Hardly.

Tags:


[The Housing Helix Podcast] Barry Ritholtz Part 2

September 23, 2012 | 6:36 pm | Podcasts |

Read More

Tags: