The Daily Spark

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  • This Economy Is Not Slowing Down

    Torsten Sløk

    Apollo Chief Economist

    Earnings growth is a three-quarter leading indicator for capex spending, and the continued strength in earnings suggests that we will see a strong rebound in business fixed investment over the coming quarters, see chart below.

    Continued strong earnings growth points to higher capex spending ahead
    Source: BEA, S&P, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • At the beginning of the year, the market was pricing six Fed cuts this year, six ECB cuts, and five BoE cuts, see chart below.

    Today, the market is pricing two-and-a-half cuts by the ECB and the BoC, one-and-a-half cuts by the Fed and the BoE, and only half a cut by the RBA.

    With inflation still a problem and continued strong tailwinds to the US economy from easy financial conditions and expansive fiscal policy, we continue to expect zero Fed cuts this year.

    Market is expecting fewer rate cuts
    Source: Bloomberg, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • Foreigners Prefer Higher All-in Yields

    Torsten Sløk

    Apollo Chief Economist

    Net foreign purchases of US credit have increased dramatically since the Fed started raising yield levels, see chart below.

    Foreigners have been buying more US credit after the Fed started lifting yield levels
    Source: US Treasury, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • US Housing Outlook: Recovery Continues

    Torsten Sløk

    Apollo Chief Economist

    Ten reasons to be bullish on US housing:

    1) Household formation is 2.3 million below its long-run trend, i.e., there is pent-up demand for 2.3 million homes in the US, see the first chart.

    2) The share of homes without a mortgage is rising, and now at about 40%, see the second chart.

    3) 30% of homes are selling above their list price, see the third chart.

    4) The inventory of homes for sale remains very low, see the fourth chart.

    5) The share of people planning to move to a new address has started to increase, see the fifth chart.

    6) The share of homes built for rent is going up, see the sixth chart.

    7) Employment in construction is rebounding, see the seventh chart.

    8) The number of new foreclosures remains very low, see the eighth chart.

    9) About half of mortgages have an interest rate below 4%, see the ninth chart.

    10) After the Fed pivot in November 2023, asking rents have started to increase, see the tenth chart.

    Our updated US housing chart book is available here.

    US has an estimated deficit of 2.3mn homes
    Source: Census, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist
    Almost 40% of US homes don’t have a mortgage
    Source: US Census Bureau, Bloomberg, Apollo Chief Economist
    Despite high mortgage rates, 30% of homes selling above their list price
    Source: Redfin, Apollo Chief Economist
    Total housing inventory per person very low
    Source: Census Bureau, FRED, Apollo Chief Economist
    Share of households planning to move starting to recover
    Source: FRB of NY, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist
    Share of homes built for rent going up
    Source: Census Bureau, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist
    Employment in residential construction rebounding
    Source: BLS, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist
    New foreclosures, by age of homeowner
    Source: FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, Equifax, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist
    About half of all mortgages outstanding have an interest rate below 4%
    Source: FHFA, Apollo Chief Economist
    Asking rents rising across regions
    Source: Rent.com, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • The Outlook for Inflation

    Torsten Sløk

    Apollo Chief Economist

    Demographic trends will weigh on inflation over the coming decades, but the secular stagnation forces pulling inflation down are currently being offset by upward pressures on inflation coming from deglobalization, energy transition, defense spending, restrictions on immigration, easy financial conditions, and easy fiscal policy.

    Put differently, the structural forces pushing inflation down are currently being offset by cyclical forces putting upward pressure on inflation.

    That’s the reason why interest rates will not only be higher for longer in the short term but also in the longer term, see also the second chart, which shows that the market is currently pricing that the Fed funds rate will be between 4% and 5% over the coming years.

    Secular stagnation driving interest rates lower over the coming decades
    Source: UN Population statistics, Haver Analytics, Apollo Chief Economist
    Interest rates will remain permanently higher
    Source: Bloomberg, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • Supercore Inflation Trending Higher

    Torsten Sløk

    Apollo Chief Economist

    The key reasons why supercore inflation remains high are auto insurance and hospital services, and it is a legitimate question to ask whether the Fed keeping interest rates higher for longer will slow down inflation in those two categories, see chart below.

    The problem with that logic is that housing inflation is also high, and if the Fed were to lower interest rates, it would put new upward pressure on the demand-driven components of CPI, including housing inflation, airfares, hotel prices, restaurant prices, etc.

    The bottom line is that if the Fed, instead of focusing on the overall CPI index, decides to put less weight on housing inflation, auto insurance, and hospital services, it runs the risk that Fed communication about what is important and what is not important becomes very difficult. This challenge is particularly difficult when the Fed is already being asked why it puts no weight on inflation in food and energy.

    Supercore inflation trending higher
    Source: BLS, Bloomberg, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • Having a flexible labor market where it is easy to hire and fire workers increases potential growth and resilience to shocks. The US has the most flexible labor market among all OECD countries, see the chart below.

    It is easier to fire and hire workers in the US than in any other OECD country
    Source: OECD, Apollo Chief Economist. Note: The OECD indicators of employment protection are synthetic indicators of the strictness of regulation on dismissals and the use of temporary contracts. For each year, indicators refer to regulation in force on the first of January. Strictness of employment protection against individual and collective dismissals for workers with a regular contract is the weighted sum of sub-indicators concerning the regulations for individual dismissals (weight of 5/7) and provisions for collective dismissals (2/7). It incorporates 23 detailed data items.

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  • After the Fed pivot in November 2023, lower mortgage rates, rising stock prices, and increased activity in capital markets have put upward pressure on rents in Manhattan, see the first chart below.

    Over the same period, easy financial conditions have boosted the housing market, with home prices currently up 7.3% over the past 12 months.

    With this backdrop, the risks are rising that shelter inflation may begin to flatten out over the coming months and maybe even rise later this year, see the second chart.

    The Fed will have to keep interest rates higher for longer to prevent housing inflation from becoming a problem again.

    Manhattan median rent increased to $4220 in April 2024
    Source: Elliman, Apollo Chief Economist
    Rebound coming in housing inflation
    Source: Haver Analytics, BLS, S&P, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • Same-Store Retail Sales Still Strong

    Torsten Sløk

    Apollo Chief Economist

    Weekly data for consumer spending continues to show no signs of a slowdown in private consumption, see chart below.

    Weekly data for same-store retail sales still strong
    Source: Redbook, Bloomberg, Apollo Chief Economist

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  • Most of the time in financial markets is spent on discussing Apple, Tesla, and Coca-Cola, but these firms and the rest of the S&P 500 companies only make up a very small part of the US economy, see our chart book available here.

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