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Household Net Worth Hits Record $142 Trillion, Up $31 Trillion Since COVID, But There Is A Catch…

Household Net Worth Hits Record $142 Trillion, Up $31 Trillion Since COVID, But There Is A Catch…

Another quarter, another record high in…

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This article was originally published by Zero Hedge

Household Net Worth Hits Record $142 Trillion, Up $31 Trillion Since COVID, But There Is A Catch…

Another quarter, another record high in (1%er) household net worth.

The Fed’s latest Flow of Funds report released at noon today showed the latest snapshot of the US “household” sector as of June 30 2021, which confirmed that one year after the biggest drop in household net worth on record when $8 trillion was wiped out in Q1, 2020, in the 2nd quarter of 2021 the net worth of US households soared by another $5.85 trillion, or 4.3%, rising to a new all time high of $141.7 trillion.

As has traditionally been the case, real estate ($34.9 trillion) and directly and indirectly held corporate equities ($47.0 trillion) were the largest components of household net worth. Meanwhile, household debt (seasonally adjusted) was $17.3 trillion.

This means that over the past 12 months, US household net worth has increased by:

  • Q2 2020: $7.92TN
  • Q3 2020: $4.26TN
  • Q4 2020: $7.9TN
  • Q1 2021: $5.1TN
  • Q2 2021: $5.85TN

… a grand total of $31 trillion. And since the bulk of this wealth goes to a fraction of the wealthiest 1% (see chart at the bottom), it means that the covid pandemic has been the biggest wealth transfer in history, making America’s richest even richer.

Looking at the composition of the wealth change, $3.54 trillion came from a gain in stocks, $1.2 trillion was from an increase in real estate values – the biggest quarterly increase in housing values on record –  and another $1.1 trillion coming from “other sources.”

And visually:

It wasn’t just housing and real-estate: net private savings grew at an annualized pace of almost $2.9 trillion in the second quarter after a $4.8 trillion surge in the prior quarter — which while still a high number, suggests that almost $2 trillion in excess savings have already been spent. Excess savings have been a key driver of consumer spending, including last quarter, where consumer outlays jumped at one of the fastest paces on record.

Of course, in addition to assets, liabilities also grew, and in Q2 2021 household debt grew at a 7.9% SAAR, a more rapid pace than in previous quarters as home mortgages surged by 8.0%, spurred by rising home prices and sale activity as well as by the Fed keeping borrowing costs near zero. That’s led to record-low mortgage rates, which have bolstered demand for homes. The median selling price for previously owned homes is at a record high. Homeowners’ real estate holdings minus the change in mortgage debt rose $879.7 billion (a positive value indicates that the value of real estate is growing at a faster pace than household mortgage debt).

Meanwhile, nonmortgage consumer credit increased by 8.6%, as credit cards, auto loans, and student debt all increased.

Nonfinancial business debt grew at a rate of 1.4%, reflecting continuing growth in commercial mortagages, nonbank loans, and corporate bonds and a decline in nonmortgage depository loans. Federal debt rose 9.6%. State and local debt increased 3.1%. As GDP continued to grow, the ratio of nonfinancial debt to GDP edged down a bit further. In the second quarter of 2020, the ratio had spiked, driven by the drop in GDP and the expansion in federal debt related to the fiscal stimulus.

Looking at the various components of nonfinancial business debt, nonmortgage depository loans to nonfinancial business decreased $143 billion in the first quarter. Contributing to the decline was the forgiveness of many loans extended under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which more than offset the extension of new PPP loans. However, nonmortgage depository loans declined even excluding PPP loans. More than 400 billion of PPP loans were on the lenders’ balance sheet at the end of the second quarter and thus are still included in our measure of nonfinancial business debt. However, a large fraction of them is expected to be forgiven.

In contrast to nonmortgage depository loans, commercial mortgages and nonbank loans continued to increase. Corporate bonds also increased, though at a slower pace than in the first quarter.

Overall, outstanding nonfinancial corporate debt was $11.2 trillion. Corporate bonds, at roughly $6.6 trillion, accounted for 59% of the total. Nonmortgage depository loans were about $1.0 trillion. Other types of debt include loans from nonbank institutions, loans from the federal government, and commercial paper.

The nonfinancial noncorporate business sector consists mostly of smaller businesses, which are typically not incorporated. Nonfinancial noncorporate business debt was $6.7 trillion, of which $4.7 trillion were mortgage loans and $1.6 trillion were nonmortgage depository loans.

And while it would be great if this wealth increase was spread across most Americans, there is – as usual – a catch as unfortunately, most Americans aren’t benefiting from recent gains in wealth, and while the pandemic has led to a surge in savings and opportunities for many to buy a home or invest while pushing up the financial assets of the “top 10%” to record highs, the downturn has disproportionately impacted low-income workers, many of whom rent and don’t participate in the stock market.

Indeed, the latest data as of Q1 shows that the top 1% accounts for over $41.5 trillion of total household net worth, with the number rising to over $90 trillion for just the top 10%. Meanwhile, the bottom half of the US population has virtually no assets at all. On a percentage basis, just the Top 1% now own a record 32.1% share of total US net worth, or $45.6 trillion. In other words, the richest Americans have never owned a greater share of US household income than they do, largely thanks to the Fed. Meanwhile, the bottom 50% own just 2% of all net worth, or a paltry $2.8 trillion. They do own most of the debt though…

A closer look at the percentile breakdown:

And the saddest chart of all: the wealth of the bottom 50% is virtually unchanged since 2006, while the net worth of the Top 1% has risen by 132% from $17.9 trillion to $41.5 trillion.

Bottom line: the data underscore how the government’s fiscal scramble to speed up the “economic recovery” paired with the Fed’s continued ultra easy monetary policy have helped to protect and grow the wealth of the richest Americans: those who own assets, and who have seen their net worth hit an all time high… unlike the bottom 50% of Americans who mostly “own” debt. 

Tyler Durden
Thu, 09/23/2021 – 13:13



Author: Tyler Durden

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Economics

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, as Visual Capitalist’s…

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Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, as Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley notes, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t have tangible proof of a bubble until it actually bursts.

And by then, it’s too late.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, serves as an early warning system, evaluating 25 global cities and scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Reading the Signs

Bubbles are hard to distinguish in real-time as investors must judge whether a market’s pricing accurately reflects what will happen in the future. Even so, there are some signs to watch out for.

As one example, a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents is a common red flag. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

With this in mind, which global markets are exhibiting the most bubble risk?

The Geography of Real Estate Bubbles

Europe is home to a number of cities that have extreme bubble risk, with Frankfurt topping the list this year. Germany’s financial hub has seen real home prices rise by 10% per year on average since 2016—the highest rate of all cities evaluated.

Two Canadian cities also find themselves in bubble territory: Toronto and Vancouver. In the former, nearly 30% of purchases in 2021 went to buyers with multiple properties, showing that real estate investment is alive and well. Despite efforts to cool down these hot urban markets, Canadian markets have rebounded and continued their march upward. In fact, over the past three decades, residential home prices in Canada grew at the fastest rates in the G7.

Despite civil unrest and unease over new policies, Hong Kong still has the second highest score in this index. Meanwhile, Dubai is listed as “undervalued” and is the only city in the index with a negative score. Residential prices have trended down for the past six years and are now down nearly 40% from 2014 levels.

Note: The Real Estate Bubble Index does not currently include cities in Mainland China.

Trending Ever Upward

Overheated markets are nothing new, though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of real estate markets.

For years, house price appreciation in city centers was all but guaranteed as construction boomed and people were eager to live an urban lifestyle. Remote work options and office downsizing is changing the value equation for many, and as a result, housing prices in non-urban areas increased faster than in cities for the first time since the 1990s.

Even so, these changing priorities haven’t deflated the real estate market in the world’s global cities. Below are growth rates for 2021 so far, and how that compares to the last five years.

Overall, prices have been trending upward almost everywhere. All but four of the cities above—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—have had positive growth year-on-year.

Even as real estate bubbles continue to grow, there is an element of uncertainty. Debt-to-income ratios continue to rise, and lending standards, which were relaxed during the pandemic, are tightening once again. Add in the societal shifts occurring right now, and predicting the future of these markets becomes more difficult.

In the short term, we may see what UBS calls “the era of urban outperformance” come to an end.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 10/23/2021 – 22:00

Author: Tyler Durden

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Precious Metals

JPMorgan Turns Positive On Crypto, Sees “A Bullish Outlook For Bitcoin Into Year-End”

JPMorgan Turns Positive On Crypto, Sees "A Bullish Outlook For Bitcoin Into Year-End"

The launch of the first Bitcoin ETF, BITO, even if based…

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JPMorgan Turns Positive On Crypto, Sees “A Bullish Outlook For Bitcoin Into Year-End”

The launch of the first Bitcoin ETF, BITO, even if based on futures, was the culmination of seven years of anticipation for bitcoin bulls and it certainly did not disappoint: the leaks and the actual news propelled the cryptocurrency to a new all time high above $66,000 (with some profit-taking to follow).

Yet despite the clear impact on the price of bitcoin, which has more than doubled from its July lows, not everyone is uniformly bullish on the impact of the first bitcoin ETF. As JPM’s Nick Panigirtzoglou writes in his latest widely-read Flows and Liquidity note, “the bulls are seeing this ETF as a new investment vehicle that would open the avenue for fresh capital to enter bitcoin markets” while the bears “are seeing the new ETF as only incremental addition to an already crowded space of bitcoin investment vehicles including GBTC in the US, ETFs listed in Canada since last February which have been already accessible to US investors, regulated (CME) and unregulated (offshore) futures, and plenty of direct investment options using digital wallets via Coinbase, Square, Paypal, Robinhood etc.”

For its part, JPM – not surprisingly – falls into the skeptics’ camp (we say not surprisingly because for much of 2021, the largest US bank has been publishing bearish note after note, as we have repeatedly detailed, urging clients to ignore the largest cryptocurrency and if anything, to take profits. In retrospect, this has been a catastrophic recommendation for anyone who followed it). 

According to the JPMorgan quant, the launch of BITO by itself will not bring significantly more fresh capital into bitcoin due to “the multitude of investment choices bitcoin investors already have. If the launch of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF (BTCC) last February is a guide, as seen in Figure 1, the initial hype with BITO could fade after a week.”

Here, once again, JPM’s superficial “analytical” approach shines through and we are confident that Panigirtzoglou, who has been dead wrong about bitcoin for the past year, will once again be wrong in his take on BITO. Instead, for a much more nuanced – and accurate – view of the daily happenings in bitcoin ETF land we recommend Bloomberg’s inhouse ETF expert, Eric Balchunas who points to what is clearly an unprecedented, and rising demand for crypto ETF exposure (one can only imagine what will happen when Gensler greenlights an ETF based on the actual product not spread-draining and self-cannibalizing futures). Indeed, as Balchunas pointed out on Thursday, BITO – which is “maybe too popular for its own good”, has already “used up 2/3 of its total bitcoin futures position limits, only about 1,700 contracts ($600m) left bf it hits 5k total. Could hit in next day or two.”

But what about the ramp in bitcoin prices in recent weeks? Surely the anticipation of the ETF launch was the main catalyst? Well, according to JPM the answer is again no, and instead the JPM strategist writes that “while we accept that bitcoin momentum has shifted steeply upwards since the end of September, we are not convinced the anticipation of BITO’s launch was the main reason.”

Instead, as the Greek quant explained before (see “JPMorgan: Institutions Are Rotating Out Of Gold Into Bitcoin As A Better Inflation Hedge“) he believes that rising inflation concerns among investors “has renewed interest in inflation hedges in general, including the use of bitcoin as such a hedge.”

As he further explains, “Bitcoin’s allure as an inflation hedge has been strengthened by the failure of gold to respond in recent weeks to heightened concerns over inflation, behaving more as a real rate proxy rather than inflation hedge.” This is actually correct, and as we have shown previously gold indeed correlates much more closely to real rates that nominals, although in recent months, even real rates suggest that gold prices should be notably higher, perhaps confirming ongoing precious metal price suppression of the kind we have previously documented to be emanating from the BIS.

In any case, JPM also updates a chart we showed previously, the shift away from gold ETFs into bitcoin funds, which was very intense  uring most of Q4 2020 and the beginning of 2021, has gathered pace in recent weeks.

In turn, by putting upward pressure on bitcoin prices, JPM argues that this shift away from gold ETFs into bitcoin funds likely triggered mean reversion  across bitcoin futures investors which had reached very oversold conditions by the end of September. This is shown in Figure 3 via the bank’s position proxy based on CME ethereum futures. Looking at Figure 3, JPMorgan now claims that “there had been a steep decline in our bitcoin futures position proxy” which pointed to oversold conditions towards the end of September triggering a bitcoin rebound. This rebound appears to have accelerated over the past days ahead of BITO’s launch with the blue line in Figure 1 fully recapturing all the previous months’ unwinding. In other words, the price ramp into the bitcoin ETF launch was just a coincidence. Yeah right, whatever.

Where JPM is however right, is in its assumption that a significant component of bitcoin futures positioning encompasses momentum traders such as CTAs and quantitative crypto funds. Previously, the bank had argued that the failure of bitcoin to break above the $60k threshold would see momentum signals turn mechanically more bearish and induce further position unwinds; it also claims this has likely been a significant factor in the correction last May in pushing CTAs and other momentum-based investors towards cutting positions. At the end of July, these momentum signals approached oversold territory at the end of July and have been rising since then in reversal to last May-July dynamics. The shor-tterm momentum signal has exceeded 1.5x stdevs, a z-score that we would typically characterize as overbought for other asset classes but still below the exuberant momentum levels of January 2021.

So with both With Figure 3 and Figure 4 pointing to exhaustion of short covering and more crowded bitcoin positioning in futures, Panigirtzoglou sees bitcoin relying more on other flows outside futures to sustain its upswing. To him, this elevates the importance of monitoring Figure 2, i.e. the importance for the current shift away from gold ETFs into bitcoin funds to continue for the current bitcoin upswing to be sustained.

In our opinion, the main problem for bitcoin over the previous two quarters had been the absence of significantly more fresh capital as shown in Figure 5 and Figure 6. Figure 5 shows our estimate of retail and institutional flows into bitcoin with an overall downshift in Q2 and Q3 of this year. Similarly, Figure 6 shows that the previous steepening in the pace of unique bitcoin wallet creation has largely normalized returning to pre-Q4 2020 norms, again implying an absence of significantly more fresh capital entering bitcoin.

And yet, despite this latest (erroneous) attempt to downplay the impact of the bitcoin ETF, which JPMorgan says “is unlikely to trigger a new phase of significantly more fresh capital entering bitcoin”, by now too many JPM clients are invested in the crypto asset as Jamie Dimon (whose opinions on bitcoin have been an absolute disaster for anyone who traded on them) recently admitted, and so while tactically staying bearish on the impact of BITO, not even JPM’s house crypto “expert” can objective stay bearish in general, and as he concludes, “istead, we believe the perception of bitcoin as a better inflation hedge than gold is the main reason for the current upswing, triggering a shift away from gold ETFs into bitcoin funds since September.”

So with Bitcoin now perceived as the best inflation hedge among non-traditional assets, Pnaigirtzoglou concludes that this gold to bitcoin flow shift “remains intact supporting a bullish outlook for bitcoin into year-end.”

 

Tyler Durden
Sat, 10/23/2021 – 19:10


Author: Tyler Durden

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Economics

Different CPIs

A recent exchange [1] on Econbrowser regarding forecasts of CPI reminded me that — even among the official series — there’s more than one CPI. Figure…

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A recent exchange [1] on Econbrowser regarding forecasts of CPI reminded me that — even among the official series — there’s more than one CPI.

Figure 1: CPI-all urban (blue), and CPI-wage earners and clerical workers (red), s.a., in logs 2020M02=0. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS, NBER and authors calculations.

 

Figure 2: Year-on-year inflation rates for CPI-all urban (blue), and CPI-wage earners and clerical workers (red), s.a., calculated as log-differences. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS, NBER and authors calculations.

Inflation for the bundle that wage earners/clerical workers has outpaced that for all-urban, by about 0.6 ppts by September.

Interestingly, the weights for the two CPI bundles indicate that wage earners/clerical workers have a higher weight on food, food away from home, and private transportation, and less weight on housing, than all urban consumers. As elevated housing costs feed into the CPI housing components, the places might switch.

Author: Menzie Chinn

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