Monday night, presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clashed in their much-anticipated first debate in New York, giving viewers plenty to digest (and ridicule).
As you scour the replays for their most quotable moments (“tremendous stamina,” anyone?), don’t look too hard for any thoughtful commentary on how they view the mortgage industry.
The candidates didn’t touch housing at all.
Aside from brief references to the Great Recession and “this Janet Yellen of the Fed,” Clinton and Trump were quiet about the housing market, and didn’t once mention any substantive monetary policy.
That leaves us searching for clues on how the candidates will form policies that affect housing in the four years to come.
Where do they stand?
Neither contender this election season has made housing a priority, and the debate gave us no new information about how Trump or Clinton feel about mortgages or financial markets.
We did hear Clinton accuse Trump of “rooting for the housing crisis” so he could profit from foreclosures. Trump’s response: “That’s called business, by the way.”
Clinton’s assertion stems from unsealed court documents showing that Trump University offered classes on how to capitalize on foreclosures after the crisis.
On Monday, Trump suggested the country was on the cusp of an economic slide — “we’re in a bubble right now,” he said — and railed against Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, accusing her of “doing political things” by holding off on raising interest rates.
He went on: “When they raise interest rates, you’re going to see some very bad things happen, because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.”
Any policy insights?
Trump is a political outsider with no history of setting policy. So Monday saw Clinton mainly attack his record as a businessman. Trump has indicated he would support fewer business regulations, which would sync with the Republican Party’s calls for scaling back the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, his outsider status leave us guessing at how he would govern when it comes to mortgage programs and regulations.
Clinton used the debate to fortify her position as the status quo candidate, address the debate’s talking points on bettering relations between the police and community, defeating ISIS and rebuilding wealth for the middle class. On housing, Clinton would likely support the CFPB and look for ways to expand access to housing for low- and moderate-income Americans.
Who’s taking the lead?
Most post-debate polls suggest that Clinton emerged the victor in Monday night’s smackdown. Critics roasted Trump’s apparent lack of preparation and focus.
In spite of her tough talk on big banks — some of which have bankrolled her campaign — Wall Street would likely receive a Clinton presidency well because she’s a known commodity who comes with few surprises.
Two more more debates are scheduled (Oct. 9 and Oct. 19) before Election Day (Nov. 8), and Trump has vowed to come back stronger and hit Clinton harder. The election is clearly leaning toward Clinton, but it’s too early to make a call.
What happened at Deutsche Bank?
This week also saw Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, tossed into turmoil after several hedge fund clients concerned about its viability pulled their money out.
As a result, the bank’s shares fell to near 30-year lows, dropping more than 11 percent at one point and rippling across global financial markets. U.S. stocks fell nearly 2 percent on Thursday, along with the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which dropped from 1.6 percent to 1.54 percent. The S&P 500 closed down at 0.9 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 200 points.
Early Friday, U.S. stocks opened slightly higher as worries over Deutsche Bank slowly began to subside. Bank shares began to recover, and Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan wrote an email to employees assuring them the bank’s customer base is still robust and its reserves flush with cash, according to Reuters.
The volatility comes after the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this month told the bank to pay $14 billion for mortgage bond misconduct at the onset of the financial crisis. Also, the International Monetary Fund in June identified the bank as the biggest contributor to risk among global banks. The news shook investor confidence, prompting a gradual drop in shares. The bank has already said it will not be getting a bailout from the German government, though some German leaders may feel pressure to step in if things get worse.
Any hints of fragility from the bank raise concerns because it is a trader with all the world’s major financial institutions. We’ll have to keep our eyes on developments at Deutsche — mainly if it can broker a deal with the DOJ to lower its fine — to see if a rebound is imminent.
Mortgage rates this week
Freddie Mac’s weekly survey showed pricing on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged six basis points lower and hit a new 10-week low. The dip is attributed to the Fed’s decision last week to forego raising benchmark interest rates. Mortgages are following the 10 Year Treasury lower. (See chart below). Still, I expect a rate hike in December, and the 10-Year Treasury yield to rise as we move through the fourth quarter.
“The course of the economy is uncertain,” Freddie Mac economist Sean Becketti said Thursday. “Yet consumers continue to be a bright spot. The September consumer confidence index is up 3 percent to 104.1, exceeding forecasts and reaching a new cycle high.”