Mortgage Credit News by Louis S Barnes - January 29, 2021

This new quiet is odd. Like dense fog but suddenly no foghorn. Why, we could get lost in a pea-soupah like this without the baa-WAA. Now we can think in complete sentences without interruption, but freedom to think can lead to confusion and anxiety.
Thus a good idea to stay centered, and to continue one of America’s all-time lessons in civics.
Economic snips. Sales of new homes ended 2020 up 18.8% from 2019.... a national surveyor of apartments found only a 2.5-percentage point drop in on-time payments this December from 2019... December orders for durable and capital goods were in the range of a healthy economy... 5.3% of existing mortgages are still in suspended payments.
The Fed and Rates. The 10-year T-note tried to rise above 1.15% a couple of weeks ago, and this week tried to fall below 1.00%. Oh-for-two. Today back to 1.09%, going nowhere, same for mortgages, despite the stock market sinking follies.
Chair Powell helped to put a floor under 10s, and to cap them. The floor: he indicated more hope than previously for a better 2021, late in the year. But he also emphasized that current damage is heavy if localized, much of it suffered by those least able to sustain themselves.
The ceiling... a comment directed at the Wall Street salespeople and civilian worrywarts who see inflation ahead (and behind and everywhere): “...The US has had for some decades... significant disinflationary pressure. Inflation has averaged less than two percent for a quarter of a century. It’s very unlikely anything we see now would result in troubling inflation.”
Checkpoint Biden. Unlike his immediate Democratic predecessor, Joe knows and likes politics, which is the art of putting effort into the doable while not annoying friends who have ambitious agendas. Much better to let opponents douse those dreams.
Thus perhaps half of the $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal will survive trimming, and with improved targeting. The $15 national minimum wage is dead as a hammer and should be. Doubling the minimum wage or more in affluent localities has helped workers and businesses there are okay. Jack the minimum blindly everywhere? Uh-uh.
A blizzard of executive orders was inevitable, foolishness beginning with Dubya, but Biden is about done, the mission mostly for satisfaction among Democrats. The big emphasis on climate is underway but flinching wisely from costly measures. So many Important Activists appointed to one overriding climate committee that it won’t get anything done. Good. We need technology, not feel-good noise.
Cabinet and senior staff appointments show diversity and competence -- and note the absence of Warren, Sanders, and The Squad. A fair definition of extremism in either party: all-out demands for action which has no chance of passage.
All of that aside, few presidencies are on the line immediately. This one... win the Covid fight and win everything; bungle it and wish you had not been elected.
Covid... Stay centered. The full horror of Covid is outside the US in poor places without medical support, even running out of oxygen, and no hope for vaccination without aid from rich nations. And if not contained there, then festering and mutating it will return here.
The chaos here is sad and painful, but the EU is worse. Now fighting its vaccine provider, refusing exports of vaccine, EU bureaucrats are worse at distribution than ours, and inflicting lockdowns which have triggered riots even in Holland. The one European bright spot in vaccine distribution is the one nation which escaped: the UK.
Another bright spot: the CDC guesses that about one-quarter of Americans have had the virus, immune for years. Given the asymptomatic half of cases and early lack of testing, the guess is likely low. Another 20 million have already had one dose of vaccine, the second shortly. Maybe... maybe the current decline in new cases is the early edge of herd diminution. Or maybe just being smarter about living inside while it’s cold outside.
So quiet that we can hear the stock market... In the kleptocratic world of stocks, excellent black humor this week in the outrage among thieves whose ill-booten gotty has been stolen by other thieves. Hedgies with wads of capital used it to short allegedly bubbled stocks, then the hedgies at mid-week were mugged by webmobs who e-banded together to drive up prices, ruin the short trades, force the hedgies to buy to cover and drive prices to Mars and instant fortunes to the e-vandals.
Next time someone intones the essential role of markets in the proper allocation of capital -- the WSJ every day in opposition to regulation of any kind -- it’s okay to laugh. But to clarify widespread misinformation: short-selling is the best of all bubble-limitations in markets. And so embarrassing to market-boosters that forbidding shorts is common to autocracies (China a leader). After the excesses of the 1920s shorts have been legal, but not in concert -- collusion is a “bear raid.” Equally illegal: stock-puffing in concert, “logrolling.”
GameStop/AMC/Robinhood... back to civics. Our species has survived by cooperation. Other predatory species are solitary, but solo humans are somebody’s lunch. Cooperation began in tribes. Cooperation in large human groups arrived recently with agriculture, in just the last 10,000 years, but our nature is as it had been for 200,000 years.
We think of large groups as civilization, but with wide and unresolved disagreement about what the word means. Perhaps the most common civilization: one guy and his buddies and we have to do whatever he says. Far less common and fragile, in large-group concept for only about 2,500 years: collaboration and group assent. But no matter what, civilization requires surrender of some individual freedom, and the rules for the public good are variously abided, resisted, or rebelled against. “You can’t tell me what to do. I can say whatever I want.” Today resistance is often found in high-sounding theory, like Libertarians (no such functioning society anywhere). Or overt extremists, non-cooperators by definition.
Extremists will be with us always, happy in their alternate realities. They tend not to be trouble until they find each other and mob-up, otherwise just annoying at the dinner table. Mobbing-up was damned hard to do before the printing press and literacy. You could yell and preach in the town square, but not two at the same time. By 1776 a pamphleteer like Tom Paine could motivate gatherings. Within one long lifetime assembling a mob has become inconceivably easier: radio in the 1920s, TV in the 1950s, and now the web.
The web-empowered anti-civilization impulse on January 6 had the same roots as this week’s web-vandalism in the stock market. Free speech, you say? Market manipulation is illegal, whether four guys over martinis at lunch, or tens of thousands with keyboards. Hedge funds are unattractive clones of Daddy Warbucks, but legal and useful.
Evidence of the web’s power of mobocracy? The unifier of an unlikely group quickly chirping opposition to any limitation on the web megaphone? Those who depend on it: Ted Cruz, AOC, Tucker Carlson, Elizabeth Warren, and Donald Trump Jr.
My IT son says his generation is accustomed to web noise, not easily fooled into mobbing up, likes the disciplined skepticism elsewhere on Reddit, and is absolutely opposed to limitations on posting. After hours of discussion last night, neither of us was quite so sure of position.

Despite our apparent economic stability, vulnerable mortgage borrowers and tenants can begin to fail in large numbers:

Covid good news. Despite proper worries about huge numbers, deaths, and mutating virus, our national numbers are better:

Here in Colorado, in the metro fraction which includes most of us, mask discipline is very strong. We had a bad spell when it got cold. It is still cold, but we’ve toughened our discipline. Ski areas and colleges are open, the state a center of travel. If you are a mask-doubter, study this place. Almost six million of us, new cases back under 1,000/day, less than 800 people hospitalized statewide: