Ep. 357: Populism a Bigger Problem in the U.S. Than Italy

Economy Slowing Down

We got quite a bit of economic data that was released today, pretty much all of it confirming what everybody seems to be denying, and that is that the U.S. economy is, in fact, slowing down, at least the way we like to measure it.  We will get more data later in the week, of course we get the big number, the nonfarm payroll number, on Friday. We always get that number the first Friday of the month; this Friday is June 1, so we are going to get the May jobs number.

Last Month’s ADP Jobs Number Revised Down

We got the ADP number that came out this morning.  It was weaker than expected.  In fact, there was a significant downward revision to the prior month, which was originally reported at 204,000 jobs.  That was revised down to 163,000 jobs, so about a 20% reduction.  This month, the consensus was 187,000 and we got 178,000; of course, that number will also be subject to revision next month.  But, to me, that shows that we can potentially get a weaker number on Friday as well.

Decline in Refinances at an 18-Year Low

Earlier this morning, we got some data on mortgage re-fi’s, which we get every week.  We get the numbers on new mortgages and mortgage re-fi’s.  Everything is down.  This makes sense, because mortgage rates are going up. In particular, the decline in refinances is to an 18-year low in mortgage re-fi’s. One of the reasons that the inability to refinance your mortgage is going to become a problem is that re-fi’s have been providing a lifeline to consumers to enable them to continue to spend.

Refinances Available as Property Values Rise

When you refinance your mortgage, you’re generally doing it to reduce your monthly payment because you are able to qualify for a lower monthly payment.  Some people who perhaps could not qualify a couple of years ago because they did not have enough home equity, but as real estate prices have risen that has enabled people who have been unable to refinance in the past to re-fi now.  Especially for those who are doing a re-fi and are also doing a cash out.