It smells like…VICTORY:
First off, mortgage purchase applications tanked 7% from the previous week. Mortgage purchase applications are now down five weeks in a row. Mortgage purchase applications have been declining now for over a year. Flash headline: if people are not applying for mortgages, they are not buying homes. Kind of throws napalm on the “seasonally adjusted, annualized rate“ metrics vomited at us by the National Association of Realtors and the Census Bureau.
Second, housing starts and permits missed the consensus estimate from Wall Street’s
brain trust economic propaganda department. Now, housing starts are kind of a b.s. number because all a homebuilder needs to do is file a permit on a piece of land and stick a shovel in the ground and it’s called a “start” by the Census Bureau. Based on my in-depth analysis of several of the largest homebuilders – see: Housing Reports – more than 50% of all new homebuilder inventory can be considered “spec” inventory.
With new home sales volume declining (the unseasonally adjusted, unannualized, actual deliveries net of cancellations, the latter of which are running in the low-mid 20’s percent now), the housing “starts” number is largely meaningless. This is especially true when you factor in that the big driver in the last year has been multi-family buildings. I know that in Denver there’s a literal avalanche of large new apartment buildings that are now in various stages of completion. I also know that all new buildings are now offering 1-month free move-in incentives, including the one I live in, which is less than an year old. I have had several readers send me emails saying that they are seeing the same thing in their cities. This means that as apartment rents dive, home rental rates dives and the value of homes in general dives. This is a full repeat of the last housing bust cycle that began in 2005.
Third, industrial production, which came in at .2% for January but missed the consensus estimate from Wall St., which was looking for .4%. Worse, the -.1% drop in December was revised lower to a -.3% drop. The manufacturing component of this index rose .2% vs .4% expected BUT the .3% gain in December was taken away and is now being report as…no gain.
Just a quick observation on the slight gain in industrial production in January. The biggest influence in the gain reported was output from utilities. This makes sense because its winter and because every household in the northeast was likely running their heaters overtime with the unusually cold weather. Also, with the wholesale inventory to sales ratio spiking higher quickly – again, another sign that consumerism is tanking hard – a lot of the product manufactured in January will likely get tossed on the proverbial log-pile, waiting in vain to be purchased by someone with room on their credit card…
The economy is slipping into darkness quickly. It’s probably why the tension in Ukraine is being escalated, as we learned today that the U.S. is now shipping “tanker buster” jets to Europe at Germany’s apparent request. “When all else fails, they take us to war” – Gerald Celente.