By Greg Weldon
The National Bank of Slovakia tightened monetary policy last Tuesday by a unanimous 7-0 vote, taking their official short-term interest rate higher by 50 basis points, taking the two-week repo-rate to 4.5%, following hard on the heels of the ‘surprise’ rate hike enacted by the Hungarian Central Bank on Monday (key rate up by 50bp to 6.75%.).
Note the tenor of the commentary offered by National Bank of Slovakia Vice Governor Martin Barto:
“The bank’s board expects that monetary policy tightening will have to continue in the coming months. We cannot rule out further increases in interest rates for the rest of 2006.”
The rate hike is just the last in a series of moves designed to provide support for the depreciating Slovak Koruna (Crown) which has included significant direct foreign exchange intervention. We note the sizable decline in Slovakia’s FX Reserves since the end of June, during which time the NBS has ‘spent’ over $3 billion in support of the SKK, amid a reserve contraction from $16.15 billion to $13.06 billion.
The Slovak CB is not the only global monetary authority that is taking a more aggressive stand against currency depreciation and rising rates of inflation, as we note that the Bank of India hiked their official reverse-repo rate last Tuesday, jacking it by +50 bp to 6.0%.
Moreover, after an average monthly increase in India’s official foreign exchange reserves of more than $3 billion over the last year, thanks to currency intervention growth has ceased and reserves have fallen by (-) $1.5 billion since the middle of May.
And the People’s Bank of China is making more noise related to a more aggressively hawkish monetary stance amid intensified speculation that the CB will not only hike short-term interest rates in the near future, but also, that they will begin to take a more serious approach to manipulating the value of the CNY to the upside, in order to assist in the fight against inflation.
Indeed, the Chinese Yuan is making new post-revaluation highs and is now clearly established ‘above’ the psychologically important 8 Yuan per US Dollar level.
Observe the push to new lows in the USD versus the Chinese Yuan as evidenced in the daily chart on display below.
Against a global backdrop that has, and continues to become increasingly dominated by central bank monetary tightening, our focus is the potential exacerbation of the parallel, intensified erosion taking place in the US Housing arena.
The latest macro-data offered in the US is clear on this point, as demand for homes wanes and the supply of unsold homes soars. Data scalpel in hand, we carve away at the data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
NAR, Existing Home Sales fell (-) 1.3% in the month of June, driving the year-over-year rate further into negative territory, posted at minus (-) 8.9%, down from the (-) 6.6% y/y decline seen in May, and the (-) 5.7% pace of y/y erosion witnessed in April.
NAR, Median Existing Home Price up +0.9% y/y, the lowest in over a decade, as home price reflation vanishes into thin air, relative to the +6.0% y/y pace of home price appreciation posted just one month ago, in May.
NAR, Median Existing Single-family Home Price up +1.1% y/y, evaporating from +6.4% y/y price appreciation posted in May.
NAR, Existing Condo Sales down by a sizable (-) 5.5% during the month of June, taking the y/y rate of Condo sales to a deeply negative (-) 14.6% pace of decline, more than double the (-) 6.6% y/y pace of sales deflation posted in May.
NAR, Median Existing Condo Price deflated by (-) 1.0% during the month, taking the y/y price change from positive to negative, as defined by the (-) 2.1% y/y decline posted for June, versus the rise of +1.9% y/y seen in May.
NAR, Supply of Existing Condos for Sale rose to a whopping 8 months worth of sales, a NEW RECORD HIGH, up from 7.7 months posted in May, and almost twice as many as seen in June of last year, when the figure was pegged at 4.2 months.
NAR, Supply of Existing Homes for Sale rose by a huge +3.8% during the month of June alone, taking the total supply of unsold existing homes to a NEW RECORD HIGH of 3.73 million. Further, the number of homes for sale spiked to 6.8 months worth of sales, up from the 6.4 months worth of sales posted in May and sharply higher than the 4.4 months worth of sales posted in June of last year.
Indeed, the number of Existing Homes for Sale measured in months worth of sales reached its highest level since July of 1997, and, more impressively, has risen by more than one million homes over just the last twelve months, a nominal increase of nearly 40%!!!
No wonder then, that Home Builder’s sentiment is...
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