Moorings 08-23-10Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Moorings. Last Tuesday, the government held a “Future of Housing Finance” conference to discuss changes needed in this area. Most participants agreed that government assistance for housing must be reduced but not eliminated. Bill Gross, from PIMCO and one of the panelists, called for a massive refinancing of certain mortgages backed by Fannie/Freddie/FHA, believing such a move would lift home prices 5% to 10% and provide a $50 Billion stimulus to the economy. I will be watching this situation closely for further developments.Home sales and the job market – two key aspects to our continued recovery – are also areas we need to see change in an improving direction. Last week, the NAHB Housing Market Index came in a bit worse than expectations and showed housing to be at a 17-month low. It can be argued that the tax credits actually hurt the housing market by not adding any sales, just pushing them up. This has now resulted in a void or softer period in the market, potentially wasting billions of dollars. Housing Starts and Building Permits were also reported lower than expected last week. Clearly, demand for housing has slowed over the past few months, due to the expiration of the Home Buyer Tax Credit and persistently high unemployment.Speaking of unemployment, awful is the only way to describe last week’s Initial Jobless Claims report. According to the report, 500,000 people filed to receive unemployment benefits for the first time, which was well higher than the lofty 475,000 expected and the highest reading since November 2009. In addition, between Continuing Claims and people receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation or EUC, the combined total of people receiving unemployment benefits now equals 9.25 Million people.The bottom line is this: The labor market is the foundation of our economy. Job growth and confidence is the best and most sustainable way for our economy to recover. The present anti-business regulatory environment is pushing Initial Claims, a leading indicator on the health of the labor market, in the wrong direction.But home loan rates, meanwhile, continue to remain at historic low levels. Though keep in mind, inflation is the arch enemy of Bonds and home loan rates, which means it can cause both to worsen. Both the Producer Price Index (which measures inflation at the wholesale level) and the Consumer Price Index were recently reported hotter than expected. If rates do start to rise, they will likely do so quickly. With that in mind, it’s only a matter of time before it happens and rates do rise, so if you haven’t already at least discussed the possibility of refinancing your home, do so now. Call a reputable mortgage banker and see just what options you have. It’s amazing how many people haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity to date, with equity and/or lower monthly payments sitting on the table for so many people. Until next week Be Blessed and Numbers 6:24-26 be on you.