This time last year, stocks were still in the gutter, inflation was in the stratosphere and Fed interest rates were going up, up, up. Today the S&P 500 has risen 17% since Jan. 1, the much-anticipated recession has yet to arrive, unemployment remains below 4% and consumers are still spending–Walmart, Target, and Gap all beat expectations this week.
Inflation has dropped to around 3%, not too far off the Fed’s 2% target. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was talking about deflation in the coming months. Oil prices are below $75 a barrel, Airfares are significantly cheaper this year than they were for the holidays last year. Bond yields are dropping, too, as traders start to price in Fed rate cuts next year. The 10-year yield has dropped back to around 4.4% from as high as 5% in October. (Barrons)

On Thursday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said deflation could be coming as general merchandise and key grocery items, such as eggs, chicken and seafood get cheaper.
He said the retailer expects some of the stickier higher prices, such as the ones for pantry staples, to “start to deflate in the coming weeks and months,” too.
“In the U.S., we may be managing through a period of deflation in the months to come,” he said on the company’s Thursday earnings call. “And while that would put more unit pressure on us, we welcome it, because it’s better for our customers.”

“I think the most important observation we’ve made is that the worst of the inflationary environment is behind us,” Hone Depot, Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail

The question now is whether the Federal Reserve, having been extremely slow to start raising rates and reversing Quantative Easing, will be similarly late in easing. The Fed claims to be data dependent, but data tells us what happened in the past – and the Fed’s actions impact the future.

“The Fed must lower rates to cause money suply to grow by 5% per year, consistent with the 2% inflation target.If the Fed waits until core inflation is 2% we could have a recession.”(Jeremy Siegel, Wharton)

And read these articles:
Why Mortgage Rates will fall in 2024
Transitory inflation? Recession? What else will forecasters get wrong?
More insurers coming to Florida
Core Inflation Prices Barely Budged in August
August Housing Market: Median Prices Rise Year on Year

Market Reports

Two More Ways the Mortgage Market differs from 2007/2008

The chart below shows how loans with a credit score under 660 – the bottom colours of yellow and dark blue – which were about 20% of the total in the 2004-2007 period, have virtually ceased, with loans over 720 now making up the vast majority of new mortgages.

Two other changes:
Adjustable-rate mortgages can lead to higher default rates when interest rates rise, but they now represent less than 5% of total purchase and refinance loans, compared with over 35% at the peak of the pre-GFC (Global Financial Crisis) housing cycle. (FORTUNE)

The ratio of Americans’ mortgage debt to their real estate assets—also called loan-to-value—was just 27% in the second quarter, compared to over 40% in 2008 and roughly 50% in 2010. (Bank of America)

And read these articles:
More insurers coming to Florida
Core Inflation Prices Barely Budged in August
August Housing Market: Median Prices Rise Year on Year (more…)

Core Inflation Prices Barely Budged in August

While inflation rose 3.5% year-to-year in Aug. – still above the Fed’s 2% goal – it was only up 0.1% month-to-month after backing out higher gas prices.

Core inflation slows
But excluding the volatile food and gas categories, “core” inflation rose by the smallest amount in almost two years in August, evidence that it’s continuing to cool. Fed officials pay particular attention to core prices, which are considered a better gauge of where inflation might be headed.

Core prices rose just 0.1% from July to August, down from July’s 0.2%. It was the smallest monthly increase since November 2021.

Compared with a year ago, (more…)