No, the So-Called Trump Lumber Tariffs Will Not Threaten the Us Housing Recovery

We have received a slew of media inquires in the past week from reporters who were pushing the following storylines:
1. Donald Trump’s tariffs on lumber have caused prices to surge from about $300 per thousand board feet (MBF) to more than $600 per MBF.
2. Surging building materials prices pose a potentially mortal threat to the US housing recovery.
Our short responses to these storylines are as follows 1) that ain’t necessarily so, and 2) that’s hogwash.

Spotlight on Housing Removals

The rate of housing removals is an often overlooked, but surprisingly important component of housing demand. It is often overlooked because quality data on home removals are scarce to nonexistent. It is important because removals account for about 20% of the demand for housing over the course of a housing cycle. Only net household formation accounts for a bigger share of underlying demand for housing.

What Will the Federal Reserve Do If………?

The purpose of this spotlight is to flag one of the potential spoilers for the housing recovery over the next few years: above trend economic growth that fuels an escalation in the inflation and interest rates. We seem to have arrived at an inflection point. A few years ago, the Federal Reserve (Fed) was concerned about slow growth and deflation. As a result, Fed policymakers cut interest rates to zero and started purchasing government long-term securities to drive long-term interest rates lower as well. The Fed’s concern is now correctly focused on how to avoid excessively high economic growth that might push the inflation rate above the desired target of 2% per year.

Global Timber & Sawmill Cost Benchmarking Results

Great Results in 2016; Even Better in 2017
The improving dynamics in almost all global markets positively impacted the timberland and lumber producers in the major importing and exporting countries in 2016 and again — even more significantly — in 2017. Expanding demand and high prices have been key themes for lumber producers and exporters, with some strong earnings being recorded (particularly by U.S. producers).