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Wolf Richter

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On his site WOLFSTREET.com, Wolf Richter slices into economic, business, and financial issues, Wall Street shenanigans, complex entanglements, debacles, and opportunities that catch his eye in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and China. He lives in San Francisco.

Wolf Street - Home-equity-loan balances in Canada per capita are now 3.3 times what they were in the US during HELOC peak before it all collapsed. Home Equity Lines of Credit – the infamous HELOCs Americans used as endless ATMs to draw equity out of their homes before home prices collapsed – played a role in the US […]

Wolf Street - Bubbles don’t end well for those who don’t get out in time. US tariffs and threats of more tariffs have not been particularly well received in China, which is already being rattled by corporate credit problems, quakes in the shadow banking system, a peculiar Enron-type phenomenon at provincial and municipal governments called “hidden debt,” and […]

Wolf Street - Here’s my math when this “balance sheet normalization” will end. In August, the Federal Reserve was supposed to shed up to $24 billion in Treasury securities and up to $16 billion in Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), for a total of $40 billion, according to its QE-unwind plan – or “balance sheet normalization.” The QE unwind, […]

Wolf Street - How does it compare to German, Japanese, and Chinese yield curves? On Friday, the US Treasury 2-year yield rose to 2.63% and the 10-year yield remained at 2.82%. This squeezed the spread between them to just 19 basis points, the lowest since August 2007. This is a further step in the “flattening yield curve,” where […]

Wolf Street - Speculators in gold price futures are short 670 tonnes – the biggest bearish position in 25 years. First things first: I want to thank the many readers who have expressed their interest in an article about my views and theories on gold and silver. In fact, the response has been so strong that I decided […]

Wolf Street - What will the Bank of Canada do? The Bank of Canada has nudged up its target rate four times, starting July a year ago, from 0.5% to 1.5%. It last hiked on July 11. But now it is facing inflation that suddenly and unexpectedly jumped at twice the Bank of Canada’s current target rate. Canada’s […]

Wolf Street - Emerging Markets turmoil: The price of cheap debt & misallocation of capital. “Excess liquidity usually leads to the misallocation of capital, masking any balance sheet constrains. As this tide of excess liquidity recedes, it reveals the misallocation of capital and the mispricing of risk,” Nedbank CIB strategists Neels Heyneke and Mehul Daya write in a […]

Wolf Street - As “affordability challenges” hit new vehicles, consumers switch to used, prices spike to record, inflation psychology sets in. For a brain-twisting phenomenon, amuse yourself for a moment with the Consumer Price Index for used cars and trucks. It shows that there has been 0% inflation since 1994 in used cars and trucks, despite actual prices […]

Wolf Street - SEC, are you checking into this? Tesla never ceases to astound with its hype and promises and with its results that are just mindboggling, including today when it reported its Q2 “earnings” – meaning a net loss of $718 million, its largest net loss ever in its loss-drenched history spanning over a decade. It was […]

Wolf Street - A  $1-trillion job. What the Bureau of Economic Analysis released today as part of its GDP report was a huge pile of revisions and adjustments going back years. It included an adjustment to the tune of nearly $1 trillion in “real” GDP. And it lowered further its already low measure of inflation. Based on this […]

Wolf Street - How the “Yield Curves” Stack Up in central-bank manipulated bond markets. So we had a little bond-market upheaval this morning. After President Trump successfully manipulated bond yields down yesterday and today by griping about the Fed’s rate hikes, an inveterate Fed dove (who has also been griping about the Fed rate hikes) responded by brushing […]

Wolf Street - Moody’s chimes in.  The trade war talk has been going on since the presidential campaign but markets just brushed it off and rallied. In 2018, the trade war verbiage moved to the foreground. But until June 14, the administration vacillated between thinking about tariffs and putting the trade war “on hold,” depending on who was […]

Wolf Street - This Fed is getting seriously hawkish: It revealed that instead of thinking about backing off rate hikes, it’s replacing the yield curve. In the minutes of the FOMC meeting on June 12 and 13, released this afternoon, there was a doozie, obscured somewhat by the dynamics of the rate hike plus the indication that there […]

Wolf Street - Rents in Southern California go nuts. Bay Area & Seattle “mixed.” Chicago & Honolulu in free-fall. New York City sharply lower. Washington DC loses grip. But rents soar 10-15% in many markets. Median asking rent for one-bedroom apartments across the US rose 4% in June compared to a year ago, to $1,209. And for a […]

Wolf Street - Despite persistent and false memes to the contrary. When a housing downturn gets big enough, there will be a mortgage crisis, and it will hit banks, shadow banks, and mortgage insurers no matter what the mortgage laws are: that’s what the US mortgage crisis has demonstrated. Yet many industry organs and media outlets in Canada, […]

Wolf Street - As banks pull back from mortgage lending amid inflated prices and rising rates, “shadow banks” become very aggressive. In the first quarter 2018, banks and non-bank mortgage lenders – the “shadow banks” – originated 1.81 million loans for residential properties (1 to 4 units). In the diversified US mortgage industry, the top 10 banks and […]

Wolf Street - For over 12 hours on Friday, shopping centers in the UK and other parts of Europe were plunged into chaos as millions of consumers were unable to use their Visa debit or credit cards at points of sale. The credit card company, which was finally able to restore normal service early Saturday morning, said it […]

Wolf Street - Some beautiful spikes too. Prices of houses and condos across the US surged 6.5% from a year earlier (not seasonally-adjusted), according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for March, released today. The index is now 7.8% above the crazy peak of “Housing Bubble 1” in July 2006 just before it all came […]

Wolf Street - The PE-firm-owned brick-and-mortar retailer grapples with its fate. PetSmart, the largest brick-and-mortar pet supply and services retailer in the US and Canada, with 55,000 employees, 1,600 big-box stores, 200 pet boarding facilities, and $8.7 billion in revenues in fiscal 2017, has a little problem: $8.1 billion in debt. And you guessed it: Half of this […]

Wolf Street - But no blood in the streets. Just a rate-hike cycle at work. Today the US Treasury 10-year yield broke out of its recent range and surged 8 basis points to 3.08% at the close, the highest since July 2011. The price of a bond falls when its yield rises. The odds have been stacked against […]

Wolf Street - But What’s Going on with Used Vehicle Retail Prices? Been reading misleading headlines about low inflation again? That is was “softer than expected” or whatever? So here are the numbers: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics released this morning, was 2.5% higher than a year ago. That increase may […]

Wolf Street - What will Housing Bubble 2 do when mortgage rates hit 6%? Wow, this was fast. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances – $453,100 or less with 20% down) jumped to 4.80% for the week ending April 27, from 4.73% in the prior week, and from 4.66% two weeks ago, […]

Wolf Street - Everything spikes. Prices of houses and condos across the US surged 6.3% from a year earlier (not seasonally-adjusted), according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for February, released this morning. The index is now 6.7% above the crazy peak of “Housing Bubble 1” in July 2006 just before the hot air hissed […]

Wolf Street - The two-year yield, now surging, is a leading indicator. The Financial Stress Index, released weekly by the St. Louis Fed, is designed to track financial conditions that companies face in the markets. It reached record lows in November – meaning that there was extraordinarily little “financial stress” in the markets after years of ultra-easy monetary […]

Wolf Street - Inflation day didn’t disappoint. “Underlying Inflation” hottest since July 2006. After the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index for March this morning, including a hotter-than-expected (or feared) reading for the core Consumer Price Index – more on that in a moment – several other inflation gauges were released, all based on various […]
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