THE BASIS POINT

New Homebuyer Tax Credit, Inflation Hits Disney

The price of a standard admission Walt Disney World in Florida rose to $75 per day, up from $71 since August 2007. A child’s ticket, which previously sold for $60, rose to $63. Will this be the final inflation straw that pushes the Fed to increase overnight rates tomorrow? Doubtful, and there is no word yet from Wally World officials.

NEW HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT EXPLAINED
There are lots of questions about the home purchase tax credit created by the housing bill enacted last week. “If you have not owned a house during the last three years, or are considering buying a first home, and you close on a purchase before the end of next June, you may be eligible for a credit of as much as $7,500 against your federal taxes for 2008 or 2009 ($3,750 if you file taxes as a single person).” Here’s a great breakdown of the tax credit.

BANKING/MORTGAGE INDUSTRY NEWS
Freddie Mac spelled out new foreclosure information and new rules under which loans are eligible for purchase by them (and therefore many investors) beginning October 1.

Wells Fargo correspondent and wholesale instituted a .250 add for LTV’s over 75% on the High Balance loans.

This appears to be better than Chase wholesale, NOT correspondent, who late last week withdrew from offering all non-conforming products to brokers through their wholesale channel. They will continue to offer non-conforming through their correspondent channel that serves mortgage banks.

Europe’s largest bank, HSBC Holdings, reported a 29% decline in profit for the first six months of 2008. Net income fell to $7.7 billion from $10.9 billion in the first half of last year as loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions increased 58 percent. And while we’re talking billions, HSBC put aside $10.1 billion for loan losses this year, up from $6.3 billion in the first half of last year.

ECONOMIC DATA PREVIEW FOR WEEK
As far as rates are concerned, and economic news, it is a pretty light news week. But there are some things for which to pay attention! We’ve already had June’s Personal Income: U.S. consumer incomes rose at the lowest rate in over a year during June, but inflation showed signs of accelerating. Incomes barely edged up by 0.1 percent after rising 1.8 percent in May, the smallest rise in personal incomes since April 2007 when they were flat. But consumer spending (which makes up 2/3 of our economy) rose 0.6 percent in June after gaining 0.8 percent in May. The personal consumption expenditures price index rose 4.1 percent on a year-over-year basis in June – highest since a matching 4.1 percent in May 1991, up from 3.5% in May, and a problem for the FOMC who meets tomorrow to consider interest-rate strategy.

Later we’ll have June’s Factory Orders: Previous: +0.6%. Tomorrow and Wednesday there is not much. Thursday is the usual Jobless Claims, and Pending Home Sales, and then we finish off the first full week of August with Nonfarm Productivity and Unit Labor Costs. The PCE report is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation. As mentioned, tomorrow is a one-day FOMC meeting on Tuesday (expect unchanged overnight rates), Wednesday & Thursday our Treasury will sell $17 billion of 10-year T-notes and $10 billion of 30-year T-bonds, respectively. After the news the 10-yr yield is back up to 3.97%, and mortgage prices are worse by .250 in price versus Friday.

JOKE OF THE DAY
Three guys are at the open casket funeral of a friend.
The first one says, “There’s a legend in my family that if you bury a man with a little bit of money, it will help in the afterlife,” and he puts ten dollars in the casket.
The second guy wasn’t planning on it, but digs into his wallet, finds a ten-dollar bill, and lays it on top of the first one.
The third one, a real estate appraiser, has a reputation for being cheap, so the first two look at him.

“What, you think I won’t put it in, too?” he says. “I’ll put in twenty!” Then he writes a check for forty dollars, drops it in the casket, and takes the two ten dollar bills as change.