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Dec. 2, 2013

Economy Watch: GSE Delinquencies Continue to Drop

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Fannie Mae reported on Friday that its single-family serious delinquency rate declined from 2.55 percent in September to 2.48 percent in October. The serious delinquency rate for mortgages owned or controlled by the GSE is down from 3.35 percent in October 2012, and now stands at its lowest level since December 2008; the most recent peak was 5.59 percent in early 2010.

Earlier last week, Freddie Mac likewise reported that its single-family serious delinquency rate dropped in October to 2.48 percent, compared with 2.58 percent in September. In October 2012, Freddie reported a 3.31 percent rate. The current rate is the lowest one for Freddie Mac since March 2009, and compares with a recent peak of 4.2 percent, also in early 2010.

According to the GSEs, a mortgage loan is seriously delinquent when it’s “three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure.” A more “normal” rate of serious delinquencies—at least, more normal before the Panic of 2008—is about 1 percent. At the current rate of decline, serious delinquencies might be that low again by early 2016, assuming Fannie and Freddie are still in their current form at that time.

Most states turn in stronger coincident indexes

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported last week that its coincident indexes for 44 of the 50 states increased in October 2013, while only four states posted declines, and two showed no net change for the month. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 45 states and decreased in five, according to the Philly Fed.

The coincident indexes combine four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions in a single statistic. The four state-level variables are non-farm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the state unemployment rate and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index (U.S. city average, which has been quite low lately).

The states that suffered declines during the three months ending in October were Alaska—the only state to drop more than 0.5 percent—as well as Alabama, Montana, Ohio and Wyoming, all of which dropped between 0.1 percent and 0.5 percent. A large number of states—11—showed increases in the coincident indexes of more than 1 percent during the three months ending in October.

Euro zone unemployment edges down

The euro zone, which has (mercifully) been out of the headlines lately, saw its aggregate unemployment rate drop from 12.2 percent in September to 12.1 percent in October, according to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office. In October 2012, the aggregate unemployment rate for the nations that use the euro was 11.7 percent.

Wall Street’s trading day was shortened on Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but the markets did manage to move a little, coming in mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 10.92 points, or 0.07 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.08 percent. The Nasdaq gained 0.37 percent.

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