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Posts Tagged ‘Real Estate’

U.S. Markets Play “Follow the Leader”

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 7th, 2009 9:40 AM |

Yesterday’s rise in rates by the Australian central bank is a bellweather sign of the global shift in the balance of economic power. While the rise in rates by the Aussies is the first central bank move, it certainly will not be the last. Why did the Aussies raise rates and what does it mean both in the short term and for the long haul? Let’s navigate.

The Australian economy did not have near the level of debt that burdens the U.S. and Europe and thus they did not need near the amount of monetary stimulus to weather this global recession. Additionally, Australia has benefited from extensive trade in the Asian hemisphere.

The knee jerk reaction in the markets was focused primarily on a selloff in the greenback which supported a move higher in commodities and global equities via the ‘positive carry trade.’ The commodity which garnered the greatest focus was gold, which moved toward $1040/ounce.

What do these moves mean? I see cross currents on the economic landscape, including:

1. The dollar may not necessarily continue to weaken, but given its current weakness it will support those companies which garner a greater degree of sales overseas.

2. A weak dollar is usually affiliated with inflation. I do not think we are in a position to look at prices in terms of one overall index. Why? Given the technical and fundamental factors in our economy, certain price components will likely project increased inflation while others will not.

To be more specific, given the labor situation in our country, I do not see any appreciable increase in wages anytime soon. In fact, I think it is likely wages will trend lower.

Given the glut of supply and vacancies in both the residential and commercial real estate markets, I have a tough time believing these prices will move appreciably higher anytime soon.

Commodities may very well move higher. Why? High five to MC for sharing with me that there is increased dialogue in the international trade community to move oil away from trading in dollars. In fact, that story likely had a big impact in yesterday’s trading. Even if there is not an immediate shift in this market dynamic, the mere fact that it is being discussed will support oil specifically, oil-based products broadly, and other commodities as well.

Given that these commodities are primarily inputs, the prices for the outputs will likely move higher. This development is clearly inflationary.

3. What happens to interest rates here in the United States? While on one hand we have some deflationary forces at work which would keep rates low, we have the tug of other factors pushing them higher. How does it play out? My gut instinct tells me that overall pools of capital will be flowing away from the United States and, as such, people and private corporations will have to pay more to attract capital here in our country. I think those entities which focus the bulk of their economic activity here in the United States will be forced to pay higher rates to attract funding.

4. What about our equity markets and the Fed? While the Fed will want to keep our rates low for an ‘extended period,’ they may not have that luxury. If other nations follow Australia in raising rates, the U.S. may need to withdraw some liquidity sooner rather than later. Kansas City Fed chair Thomas Hoenig made this very assertion yesterday.

What would higher rates mean or even the thought of higher rates mean? Slower growth and a tough road for equities going forward.

Thoughts, comments, questions always appreciated.


Related Sense on Cents Commentary

Dollar Carry Trade Drives Global Equities (September 16, 2009)

Increasing Vacancy Rates Will Pressure Both the Rental Market and Home Values

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 6th, 2009 11:42 AM |

You do not need to take Economics 101 to understand that an increase in supply of any asset will almost always lead to a decline in prices. This ‘tremendous grasp of the obvious’ in regard to housing runs right in the face of assertions put forth by many real estate brokers and housing experts.

High five to our friends at 12th Street Capital for bringing attention to The Wall Street Journal‘s writing, Apartment Glut Expands:

(Getty Images) Signs advertise apartments for rent in San Francisco in July. Rents declined during the third quarter, usually a strong period for rentals.

Signs advertise apartments for rent in San Francisco in July. Rents declined during the third quarter, usually a strong period for rentals. (Getty Images)

Apartment vacancies hit their highest point since 1986, surging in cities from Raleigh, N.C., to Tacoma, Wash., as rising unemployment continued to chip away at demand during the traditionally strong summer rental months.

The U.S. vacancy rate reached 7.8%, a 23-year high, according to Reis Inc., a New York real-estate research firm that tracks vacancies and rents in the top 79 U.S. markets. The rate is expected to climb further in the fall and winter, when rental demand is weaker, pushing vacancies to the highest levels since Reis began its count in 1980.

Let’s Get Real About Real Estate

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 27th, 2009 5:25 AM |

After the meltdown in technology stocks in 2000-2001, many people decided they would never go near that sector again. I certainly hope we do not see people reluctant to buy real estate again after this correction. Real estate has so many great qualities. As with anything you put money into, you need to understand the risks beforehand and while you own it. Regrettably, not nearly enough people understood the risks of real estate or the risks in the mortgage finance process before they purchased real estate over the last 5 years. 

While Sense on Cents has been focused on many of the major market moving news on Wall Street and Washington, ultimately to most effectively navigate the economic landscape we all need to relate the major news to our own financial lives.

To that point, there are already some great deals in certain real estate markets and there will be more coming along. Where does one go to become more familiar with real estate? Let’s check out our Investing Primer which just so happens to have a piece on Exploring Real Estate Investments: Introduction. (more…)

Let’s Revisit Europe: The Weakest Link

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 17th, 2009 5:15 AM |

I thank our loyal reader in Michigan, Mr. Fiscal Liberal, for sharing with us a piece written by Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Mr. Johnson writes about the growing problems in Europe. I am hard pressed to see how the European situation, both in the East and West, can not end badly. There are too many economies that are effectively insolvent or on the brink of insolvency. I believe this is the region of the world which will experience increased economic strife leading to social unrest and political change. Can the problems in Europe be contained given the massively interconnected world of global finance? 

Thank you again FL for sharing this very enlightening piece from Simon Johnson!!   

G-20s Real Agenda Should be Saving Europe from Itself
By Simon Johnson
Last Updated: 10:28AM GMT 16 Mar 2009

The media coverage of the G20 finance ministers meeting this weekend was dominated by the apparent battle between those who support more fiscal stimulus and those who want to impose more regulations on the financial system.

This, we are led to believe, is the big debate facing the full G20 heads of government summit early next month: the US is pushing for a bigger global fiscal stimulus (2pc extra government spending from everyone, to be monitored by the IMF), while the continental Europeans are holding out for greater regulation. Gordon Brown is trying hard to cast himself as the broker for any apparent deal.   (more…)

How Do We Track Housing?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 12th, 2009 7:07 AM |

housing-crisisAt the core of most, if not all, of our economic problems lies housing. I do not need to replay the tape of low rates, shoddy underwriting, and Wall Street securitizations that all played a dramatic role in creating a bubble the likes of which we have never seen and hopefully never will again.  All that said, housing is an enormous market with a wide array of factors impacting it. How does one track it? Are we supposed to rely on our local brokers telling us things feel better? Should we ask contractors if they are bidding on jobs? Dare we rely on our local or national media outlets to provide their expertise and pandering? If we did, housing may have bottomed 14 different times in the last 10 months. In all seriousness, how can we track housing? Welcome to Sense on Cents

There are two indexes that have developed over the last few years and are enormously respected by market participants. One index, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, is released on a monthly basis. This index tracks a variety of regions in the country but not every region. Still, all things considered, this index is widely watched as a reliable indicator of health in housing. The index is typically released toward the end of each month. The most recently released report was on February 24th, A Look at Case-Shiller Numbers, by Metro Area. In this report, all indications are that housing has yet to see any support. (more…)

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