The Fed has barely started raising interest rates but the air is already seeping out of the housing bubble.
New single-family home sales plunged by 16.6% from March and were down 26.9% year on year. New home sales dropped to the lowest level since the lockdown in April 2020.
With a surge in April tax receipts, the federal government ran a record budget surplus last month. This seems like good news. And the mainstream spun it as such. But record government revenue is papering over a spending problem that isn’t going away.
Gold-backed ETFs saw net inflows of gold for the fourth straight month in April.
ETFs globally added 42.8 tons of gold to their holding, with Europe-based funds leading the way.
Americans are feeling the pinch of inflation. Wages are up but consumers are worse off. Average hourly earnings have risen by 5.5% over the last year. But factoring in rising costs, real earnings are down 2.6%. So, how are Americans making ends meet?
They’re charging it.
Virginia and Alabama both extended their sales tax exemptions on precious metal bullion this year, relieving some of the tax burdens on investors, and taking a step toward treating gold and silver as money instead of as commodities.
Back in 2019, CNBC commentator Jim Leventhal said he had no interest in gold because it has no uses as a metal. This comment was a real head-scratcher because, besides its extensive use in jewelry, gold is an increasingly important industrial input, particularly in the technology sector.
The Federal Reserve came through with the second rate hike of this tightening cycle, bumping up the Fed Funds rate by 0.5%. It was the biggest interest rate boost by the Fed since 2000. But given the extent of the inflation fight, this hardly seems like a bold, aggressive move. In fact, it was a weak swing that looks more like shadow boxing. And one has to wonder just how long the Fed can stay in the ring.
The Federal Reserve has raised rates once – a mere 25 basis points (with another hike on the table today). So, it’s just getting started, but has it already popped the housing bubble? It sure looks that way. The question is how long will it take for the air to really start coming out.
As mortgage rates push up, mortgage applications continue to fall. As of last week, applications were down 17%, and at the lowest level since May 2020 when the economy was shut down for COVID, according to last week’s Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly Purchase Index. The index has dropped 30% from peak demand in late 2020 and early 2021.
Despite a number of big sales, global central bank gold demand remained brisk as net holdings increased by 83.8 tons in the first quarter of 2022.
That more than doubled the 41.2-ton expansion of central bank gold reserves in the last quarter of 2021 but was 29% lower than the first quarter of last year.