Fannie Mae: Probable Recession in 2023 and Declining Housing Market

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Economic growth is projected to resume in the second half of 2022, but the combination of high inflation, monetary policy tightening and a slowing housing market is likely to tip the economy into a modest recession in the new year, according to September 2022 commentary from the Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) Group.

The ESR Group continues to forecast 0.0% real GDP growth on a full-year basis through 2022, but it revised downward its expectations for full-year 2023 growth by one-tenth of a percentage point, to -0.5%.

Core inflation remains considerably higher than the Federal Reserve’s stated target; as such, the ESR Group maintained its expectation that the Federal Open Market Committee will raise the federal funds rate by 75 basis points at its September meeting. The ESR Group’s baseline forecast anticipates the federal funds rate topping out at a range of 3.50 to 3.75% in early 2023, though it sees significant upside risk to the eventual terminal rate.

Due largely to the higher mortgage rate environment, the ESR Group lowered its forecast for single-family total home sales in 2022 and 2023 to 5.71 million and 4.98 million, which would represent declines of 17.2% and 12.8%, respectively. While multifamily construction remains strong, the ESR Group also revised downward its multifamily starts forecast for 2022 to 542,000 units but continues to expect demand for rental units to remain strong because of the single-family market’s relative unaffordability.

“In our view, the recent interest rate surge is due to the market’s recognition of two critical factors: that inflation is indeed not transitory, and that, to tame it, the Federal Reserve will need to be resolute, even at the risk of possible recession,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist.

“Inflation’s entrenchment – and the policy action likely required of the Fed – confirms the expectation in our forecast of a moderate recession beginning in the first quarter of 2023,” Duncan adds. “That said, the rise in rates is having the Fed’s desired effect on housing, as house price growth began to slow in June. We expect the slowdown in housing to continue through 2023 as affordability constraints mount for potential homebuyers, and considering, too, that refinance activity has been significantly curtailed by the rise in mortgage rates.”

Image: Maria Ziegler on Unsplash

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