October 19, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

America’s New Normal Will Look Pretty Slow, Fed Economist Says 

The new normal for long-run U.S. economic growth could be 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent a year, a major slowdown from the 1990s and early 2000s as an aging population, more gradual gains in education and weak productivity growth take their toll. In a new paper, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco economist John Fernald takes a stab at projecting the future normal rate of growth given long-term trends in the economy. The historically slow pace he comes up with would have major implications for America’s future prosperity. With slower economic growth, worker wages and living standards would improve more slowly than in the past, and business sales would grow more slowly. Fiscal policy makers would be held back by more modest growth in tax revenue, and monetary policy makers would face a lower neutral rate of interest -- the one that neither stimulates nor stokes the economy -- meaning less room to cut rates to spur the economy in the event of a crisis.

CFPB Structure Is Unconstitutional, Court Rules

"The CFPB's concentration of enormous executive power in a single, unaccountable, unchecked director … poses a far greater risk of arbitrary decision-making and abuse of power, and a far greater threat to individual liberty, than does a multi-member independent agency," said Judge Brett Kanavaugh. The single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau represents an unconstitutional concentration of executive power, a federal appeals court said Tuesday. But the court stopped short of disbanding the agency, instead giving the president more power to remove its leader. In a 110-page ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that executive power vested in the president can be conferred onto heads of lower administrative agencies, but that in doing so there have to be limits to that power. Agency directors may serve at the pleasure of the president, or in the case of independent commissions like the National Labor Relations Board or the Securities and Exchange Commission, directors are limited by the voting power of their fellow board members.

Could the House Really Flip?

House Democrats are thinking the once unthinkable: They have a real shot at winning the lower chamber next month. Such a shift would require a robust wave, as the Democrats would need to steal at least 30 seats from the largest Republican majority in decades. But the implosion of Donald Trump's presidential bid — and the Republican civil war sparked by his incendiary campaign — has left Democrats with fresh new hopes that the GOP nominee will doom the Republicans down ballot and return the Speaker's gavel to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after six years in the minority wilderness. On Wednesday, Democrats blasted out their first bit of evidence in the form of an internal poll finding that Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat, has taken a 2-point lead over Rep. John Mica (Fla.), a 12-term Republican who has endorsed Trump.

Here's How Student Loan Debt Plays a Role in the Future of Housing
How does it impact housing starts?

Student loan debt is playing its biggest role in the mortgage process yet, and it doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon. After all, many Millennials have yet to finish college, and the tail end of the generation is barely 18. But while student debt has a bigger role, it’s not necessarily the worst thing to ever happen to housing. Currently, new data from NeighborWorks America’s fourth annual housing survey found that nearly one-third (30%) of Americans know someone who has delayed the purchase of a home because of student loan debt, up from 28% in 2015 and just 24% in 2014. The data also cited that more than half (53%) of potential home buyers with student loan debt said the debt was somewhat or very much an obstacle to buying a home, down slightly from 57% in 2015, but above the 49% rate in 2014.

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