Category Archives: Real Estate News

Where’s the Beef?

A View from the Beach

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
October 17, 2017 – 

 

During the past month or so, interest rates, oil prices and even gold prices have been rising. The stock market has been moving upward steadily as well, though stocks have been moving up for many years now and accelerating for the past year. With the Federal Reserve Board raising short-term rates and starting to sell assets, along with the many hurricanes we have witnessed, these higher prices are not unexpected.

In reality, it is amazing that interest rates and oil prices have stayed so low with all of these factors involved. We all would like to know where things are headed in the future–will they continue up or settle back down? The bottom line is, we can’t predict where prices and rates will go without knowing where the economy is headed. We do know the economy has been heading in the right direction since a pause which took place in the first quarter of the year.

However, we won’t have a great idea of where the economy is heading now because of the interruptions of major storms. We could have a very poor quarter or two and then have a major growth spurt because of the tremendous rebuilding that we will be undertaking. Markets always move on psychology because we can’t predict the future, but the markets are always looking for indicators of the future. Right now our indicators are likely to be even worse predictors of the future than normal. Thus, in answer to the question — where is the beef? It may be more hidden than usual.

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The Story Continues

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
October 10, 2017 –

 

With the release of last month’s job numbers, we were able to get a glimpse of the major effects of three major hurricanes hitting within a few weeks. We have seen many pictures of devastation from Texas to Puerto Rico. The jobs report was one more picture which has made the national numbers look bad, even considering the drop in the national unemployment rate, but the national numbers still dwarf the drastic effects upon the local economies and millions of lives.

This story will not be a short story. It will be a novel with many chapters. It starts with mass devastation and the delivery of food and water, as well as other supplies of survival. It will end differently for many. Some will relocate and many others will be part of the rebuilding process. That rebuilding process will create thousands upon thousands of jobs. This is likely to result in construction job shortages in other parts of the country.

How long will it take to recover? No one knows the answer to that question. Many economic reports will be skewed as these regions go through the process. Even the federal budget deficits will be affected by a slowing economy and increased funds spent on recovery efforts. Along with the budget deficits, there will be a spike in mortgage defaults. But again, the housing stock will be rebuilt. For market analysts, this will be a very interesting story, but not nearly as meaningful as those affected locally.

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Clouded Jobs Report

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
October 3, 2017 –  

The jobs report is a very significant economic indicator. Yet, it seems that every monthly jobs report takes on some extra form of significance. This one is certainly no exception, with the report coming in the midst of the recovery from two natural disasters hitting major population centers within the United States. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey caused major damage to some of the largest states in America — Florida and Texas — as well as affecting several other population areas.

Along with major damage, lives were changed radically. It is anticipated that we will certainly see the effects of these disasters in our economic numbers, and the jobs report should be the first major indicator. It was no surprise that initial claims for unemployment were up in the weeks after the hurricanes hit and that these additional claims were concentrated in the affected areas. The numbers may not be affected radically on a national level, but there are likely to be major changes regionally and these will affect the national numbers. How much? We will know by Friday.

The good news is that these numbers should be temporary, as many jobs will be created in the rebuilding of affected areas. So, the markets will be prepared for one or two down months, but should be anticipating a rebound pretty quickly. The Federal Reserve Board meets two more times this year and most are expecting one more rate increase in December. The size and extent of the damage and rebound may very well be one of the determining factors in this decision.

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Amazing Resiliency

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
September 26, 2017 – 

Earlier this month, the bull market in stocks became the second strongest in history with a gain of over 260% from the bottom reached in 2009. It was already the second longest bull market in history. This is still way short of the strongest bull market in history, which achieved gains of almost 600% for the period of 1987 to 2000, but still very, very impressive. The secret to this market’s success? Steady growth with low inflation. Of course, you can also add that this bull market followed precipitous drops during the financial crisis and thus much of it was clawing its way back up.

Regardless of where it has come from, stocks have moved a long way through significant challenges and the question on everyone’s mind is — how long can this rally go on? As you would guess, there are opinions on both sides, with many analysts saying there is room to run, and others saying that stocks are being inflated by artificially low rates courtesy of the Federal Reserve Board.

The Fed met last week amid this rally, but at the same time also had to consider additional challenges, such as national disasters and a ramp-up of international tensions. The Fed’s decision to keep short-term interest rates unchanged and begin the paring of assets in October was right in line with pre-meeting expectations, though some had hoped for a delay based upon the recent challenges. Is the Fed justified in keeping rates so low, or should they hold off on the next hike expected in December — until they see how well our economy recovers longer-term from the hurricanes which have hit so hard? Only time will tell, as we cannot predict the future any better now than we could in 2009.

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Significant News for the Fed

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
September 19, 2017 –

 

Meetings of the Federal Reserve Board are very news worthy for the markets by themselves. On the other hand, thinking about how much news and data the Fed has to consider before they make a decision regarding interest rates and other activities is almost mind boggling. It is not as if they look at the jobs data and make a decision based upon that report. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of points of data to consider.

Add the current events happening today, and one would not want to be in that decision-making position. Between Korean nuclear tests, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, legislative and administrative actions, and more; there is no lack of information which might influence the Fed. In other words, the economic data is very complex, but adding all these other factors make the decision-making environment totally convoluted.

Before the current events intervened, the betting line was that the Fed would announce tomorrow that they will start paring down their assets — most likely starting in October. They were expected to hold open the possibility of raising rates again before the end of the year, but were not likely to act at this meeting. We believe that the current events make it even less likely that the Fed will raise rates at today’s meeting and the decision to start paring down in October may still stand, but even this expected move could be delayed.

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America is Tested Again and Again

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ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
 September 12, 2017 – 

 

All through our economic commentaries we always are fearful of making predictions. No matter how much information we have, there are always unknown factors which can change the future to a significant degree. There is no better example of this than what Texas and Louisiana just faced with Hurricane Harvey. An entire region of our country devastated with an amazing amount of support pouring in throughout the country.

There is no doubt about the fact that this natural disaster will have a major effect upon our economy — as well as Irma and whichever storms follow. From the devastation of local economies to gas prices, there will be a multitude of factors we will be facing. In the long-term there will be an economic revival as we rebuild lives, houses and infrastructure. We have rebuilt successfully before and we will rebuild again. America has always demonstrated our resiliency.

However, there are major questions which will remain far beyond this event. For example, we all know that houses are expensive to build and “excessive” regulations are part of that equation. On the other hand, as the insurance companies continue to point out, the lack of adequate building and zoning standards in some areas of the country have increased the cost of rebuilding significantly. In other words, we have some very hard questions to address, questions which are very difficult to answer. And coming out with the right answers will help us pass this test in the future long after we rebuild this time around.

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More Jobs News

A View from the Beach

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
September 5, 2017 –  

Last month we spoke about the data that will be coming out before the Federal Reserve Board meets towards the end of September. These economic reports included jobs, inflation, the quarterly reading on economic growth and more. The August job numbers released just before the Labor Day weekend was expected to be one of the major determinants contributing to the decision by the Fed — along with unexpected events that might come up. Certainly, the massive stormed named as Harvey has been a major example of such an unexpected event.

Until now, most analysts were betting that the September Fed announcement would include an October start to the Fed’s previously announced program of paring down mortgage and government bonds. While the markets are dreading such a plan, because it could potentially raise long-term interest rates — the paring down is expected to be gradual. In addition, the Fed is not expected to raise short-term rates in September, but leave open the possibility of such a move before the end of the year.

Did the numbers released strengthen these assessments, or could there be another course for the Fed? The increase in jobs of 156,000 was seen as disappointing, especially when coupled with the downward revision of the numbers for the previous two months. The unemployment rate moved up slightly to 4.4% and wage inflation continued to be tame. The bottom line? Along with the devastating effects of the storm, this further decreases chances for a rate hike this month, but may not deter the Fed from starting to pare down their assets.

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