Proprietary Data Insights
Top Bank Stock Searches This Month
The latest data on the big banks and housing underscores our economic reality: We live in a society of haves and have-nots.
On Wall Street and Main Street, there’s a stark divide between those doing great with money and those fighting for pennies as they struggle to make ends meet amid record-high prices for seemingly everything.
Let’s start with Wall Street.
Open a savings account at Bank of America (BAC) or Wells Fargo (WFC) and they’ll pay you a paltry 0.01% to 0.02% interest rate.
Meantime, check out how BofA and Wells, like many big banks, continue to benefit from rising interest rates.
Source: Bank of America
Net interest income (NII) there increased $2.7 billion, or 24%, year over year, to hit $13.9 billion. Between Q2 and Q3, NII rose 11.2%, or $1.4 billion.
Similar story at Wells…
Source: Wells Fargo
NII there is up 36%, or $3.2 billion, year over year and 19%, or $1.9 billion, between Q2 and Q3.
What is NII?
Net interest income is the difference between how much income banks generate from loans and the interest they pay out on deposits. The Juice has been following this metric all year. And we’re beyond annoyed.
We’re kind of angry.
The government loves to intervene in the economy. How about a little intervention that says banks must increase how much interest they pay out to consumers and small businesses in proportion to how much they benefit from soaring interest rates and higher loan balances?
Now, scroll with us for an illustration of our dichotomous economy on Main Street.
Brought to you by Palm Beach Research Group
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Survival of the Richest
According to Point2, U.S. renters can comfortably afford to buy the typical starter home in just four places – Detroit, Tulsa, Memphis, and Oklahoma City.
For example, in Tulsa, renters earn an average of $35,000 a year, but need to make only $30,000 to comfortably pay the mortgage payment on the typical starter home there.
Comfortably pay meaning allocating no more than 30% of their household income to their housing payment.
A starter home is a single-family property of less than 1,400 square feet.
It used to be the relatively easy entry into home ownership for Americans:
With so little supply amid record home prices and super-high mortgage rates, renters earning the median renter household income in most U.S. cities can’t afford this type of dwelling, let alone something larger and more expensive.
This data contrasts with what The Juice highlighted the other day. Well-off renters commit less than 30% and sometimes 20% of their income to housing. Logic tells us these people can afford the jump to home ownership. But but they’re living comfortably as renters, possibly under rent control regulations. So why make the move?
Not the case for other renters.
As mortgage interest rates increase – we’re at 7.2% on the 30-year – so does the affordability gap.
The Bottom Line: The most well-off among us – be it big banks, relatively rich renters, or homeowners who locked in low interest rates prior to 2022 – fall into that category because of their financial strength.
For much of the rest of the country, the struggle is real. The struggle to generate income on savings. The struggle for upward mobility, which we often define as becoming a homeowner. The struggle to just get by.
But if you have cash to spare, this might be good news from an investment perspective. The other day, The Juice offered two ideas to play the haves and have-nots thesis. In this environment, we also love market-crushing consumer staples stocks that pay reliable dividends.
As for banks, investors have yet to bite.
WFC and BAC are down 13% and 27% respectively over the last year as of late Wednesday.
While both stocks have price-to-earnings ratios around 11, this isn’t uncommon among bank stocks, given their debt use and generally risky nature.
Plus, we’ll almost certainly enter a recession. From there, interest rates will likely start to drop. NII will take a hit. So will bank bottom lines. If the consumer weakens during some sort of downturn, this is more bad news for banks.
Next week, The Juice digs deeper into big bank earnings reports to help gauge the health of the consumer, particularly from a consumer-debt perspective.
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