Stocks Plunge, Consumer Pessimism Grows And U.S. Home Sales Just Hit Their Lowest Level In 3 Years

It appears to be more likely than ever that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession.  On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 301 points as investors were rattled by several very important pieces of news.  Back in 2008, home sales began to fall precipitously just prior to the financial crisis in the second half of that year, and now it is happening again.  Of course home sales are always going up and down, but the numbers that we are seeing now are definitely very unusual.  According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales just hit their lowest level in 3 years

U.S. home sales tumbled to their lowest level in three years last month and house price increases slowed sharply, suggesting a further loss of momentum in the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday existing home sales declined 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million units last month — the lowest level since November 2015.

And when you compare December 2018 to December 2017, the numbers look even worse.  According to Wolf Richter, last month existing home sales were down 10.3 percent on a year over year basis…

Sales of “existing homes” — including single-family houses, townhouses, condos, and co-ops — in December, plunged 10.3% from a year earlier, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 4.99 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors this morning. This was the biggest year-over-year drop since May 2011, during the throes of Housing Bust 1

Those are absolutely horrible numbers, but thanks to high interest rates they aren’t going to get much better any time soon.  Just like a decade ago, this is going to be a very tough time to be in the real estate industry.

During the “boom years”, the west was the hottest region for real estate in the entire nation, but now it is leading the way down.  And last month was just abysmal, with sales falling 15 percent in that portion of the country…

  • Northeast: -6.8%, to an annual rate of 690,000.
  • Midwest: -10.5%, to an annual rate of 1.19 million.
  • South: -5.4%, to an annual rate of 2.09 million.
  • West: -15.0%, to an annual rate of 1.02 million.

Unfortunately, these are exactly the kinds of numbers that we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession.

Investors were also rattled on Tuesday by news that trade talks between the U.S. and China seem to be breaking down

Stocks fell to their lows of the day after the Financial Times reported the U.S. canceled a trade meeting with Chinese officials. CNBC later confirmed the report through a source. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow denied the reports, saying the meetings are not canceled, giving stocks a boost into the close. China and the U.S. are trying to strike a permanent trade deal with the U.S. Both countries have been in a trade war since last year, slapping tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods.

We’ll see what happens, but the Chinese appear to be dragging their feet, and it does not look like there will be a major trade agreement between the two sides any time soon.

And when you throw in the fact that we are in the midst of the longest government shutdown in all of U.S. history, it becomes exceedingly clear that the elements for a “perfect storm” are definitely coming together.

In fact, Peter Schiff is entirely convinced that the coming recession is already “a done deal”…

“And they think simply because the Federal Reserve is no longer hiking rates that they no longer have to worry about the Fed pushing the economy into a recession. Well, it’s too late for that. The rate hikes of the past have already guaranteed that the economy is headed for recession. It doesn’t matter whether they continue to raise rates in the future. The recession is a done deal. It’s just now you have that calm between the storm while investors are still clueless and haven’t yet connected those, what should be, very obvious dots.

When the next recession comes, you will know who to blame.  Every time the Federal Reserve has engaged in a rate hiking program since World War II, it has always ended in either a recession or a stock market crash.  The Fed is the reason why the U.S. economy has been on a roller coaster ride for decades, and now we are steamrolling directly toward the “bust” portion of this cycle.  If we ever want to end this madness, we need to abolish the Fed, and that means that we need to send people to Congress that are willing to take action on these things.

Sadly, it is probably going to take a major collapse before abolishing the Fed becomes a big political issue again.  Economic issues have been on the back burner for a while, but that may be about to change, because pessimism about the economy is growing.  According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans that believe economic conditions are worsening has risen by 12 points over the past two months…

Americans are not feeling very confident about the economy these days.

Almost half (48%) of Americans say economic conditions are worsening, up from 45% in December and 36% in November, according to a recent poll by Gallup, a Washington, D.C.-based research and consulting firm.

This is more evidence of the national psychological shift that I have been talking about.  People are starting to realize what is happening, and they are becoming deeply concerned about what the future holds.

Well, the truth is that things are going to get a lot tougher.  But instead of getting down in the dumps about it, we need to prepare for what is ahead, and we need to be ready to implement some positive solutions in the aftermath of the coming crisis.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.  His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News.  From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the nation.  If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so.  The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

 

Much Worse Than Expected: Experts Shocked As New Home Sales Plunge 8.9 Percent

The U.S. economy is definitely deviating from the script, and we just got more evidence that “Housing Bubble 2” is bursting.  Experts were expecting that new home sales in the U.S. would rise in October, but instead they plunged 8.9 percent.  That number is far worse than anyone was projecting, and many in the real estate industry are really starting to freak out.  And to be honest, things look like they are going to get even worse in 2019.  One survey found that the percentage of Americans that plan to buy a home over the next 12 months has fallen by about half during the past year.  Mortgage rates have steadily risen as the Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates, and at this point most average Americans have been completely priced out of the market.  Home prices are going to have to come way down from where they are right now, and just as we witnessed in 2008, rapidly falling home prices can put an extraordinary amount of stress on the financial system.

It is hard for me to put into words just how bad this latest number is.  Even though I write about our growing economic problems on a daily basis, even I didn’t expect to see a number anywhere near this bad.  Sometimes a really bad number from one part of the U.S. can drag down the overall number, but that wasn’t the case this time.  According to Reuters, there were “sharp declines in all four regions”…

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to a more than 2-1/2-year low in October amid sharp declines in all four regions, further evidence that higher mortgage rates were hurting the housing market.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new home sales dropped 8.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 units last month. That was the lowest level since March 2016. The percent drop was the biggest since December 2017.

But of course it isn’t as if this latest report is coming out of nowhere.  The truth is that new home sales have fallen in four of the last six months, and so a very clear trend is now developing.

Sadly, most mainstream economists still don’t seem to be understanding what is happening.  According to Reuters, the consensus estimate was that we would see new home sales rise 3.7 percent in October, and so an 8.9 percent plunge came as a real shock.

New home sales have now missed expectations for seven months in a row, and the similarities to 2008 are starting to become undeniable.

Sales of previously owned homes have been falling as well.  In fact, in October we witnessed the largest drop for previously owned home sales in four years

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes posted their largest annual decline since 2014 in October, as the housing market continues to sputter due to higher mortgage rates that are reducing home affordability.

If you want to blame someone for this mess, blame the Federal Reserve.

They created a “boom” in the housing market by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama years, and now they are creating a “bust” by aggressively jacking up interest rates at a pace that our economy simply cannot handle.

If we had allowed the free market to be setting interest rates all this time, we would not be on such a roller coaster ride.

Just like during “Housing Bubble 1”, millions of Americans have been buying houses that they cannot afford, and that could mean another massive wave of mortgage defaults as this new economic downturn intensifies.  At this point, the debt to income ratio for mortgages insured by the FHA is at an all-time record high

One worrying indicator: The average debt-to-income ratio for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which makes up about 22% of the housing market, is now at its highest level ever.

This is yet another indication that we are even more vulnerable than we were just prior to the subprime mortgage meltdown during the last financial crisis.

Let me try to shed some light on what is coming next.  Even if economic conditions remained stable, housing prices would need to start falling dramatically in order to attract buyers.  In fact, we are already starting to see this happen in southern California and other markets that were once extremely “hot”.  As housing prices fall, millions of Americans will suddenly find themselves “underwater” on their mortgages.  In other words, they will owe more on their homes than their homes are worth.  During the last recession, many “underwater” homeowners ultimately decided to walk away rather than continue to service ridiculously bloated mortgages.

But the truth is that economic conditions are not likely to remain stable.  In fact, many are projecting that the approaching downturn will be even worse than 2008.

In such a scenario, millions of Americans will lose their jobs, and that means that millions of Americans will suddenly not be able to make their mortgage payments.  As a result, mortgage defaults will skyrocket and home prices will drop like a rock.  Just like last time around, there could be people that wake up one day and realize that they owe two or three times as much money on their mortgages as their homes are currently worth, and the stampede of people walking away from “underwater” mortgages could become an avalanche.

Needless to say, millions of mortgages suddenly going bad is a scenario that our financial system is not equipped to handle.  What happened in 2008 was absolutely catastrophic for our large financial institutions, and what is coming is going to be even worse.

Of course the big financial institutions will want the federal government to bail them out, but there may not be much of an appetite for more corporate bailouts this time around.

And considering the fact that we are already 22 trillion dollars in debt, we can’t exactly afford to be throwing money around.

The Federal Reserve has set the stage for a giant mess, and it is going to shake the housing industry to the core.

We should have learned from the mistakes that we made in 2008, but we didn’t, and so now we are going to pay a very great price for our negligence.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

 

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