Mortgage Equity Withdrawal slightly positive in Q4
Note: This is not Mortgage Equity Withdrawal (MEW) data from the Fed. The last MEW data from Fed economist Dr. Kennedy was for Q4 2008.
The following data is calculated from the Fed's Flow of Funds data (released last week) and the BEA supplement data on single family structure investment. This is an aggregate number, and is a combination of homeowners extracting equity - hence the name "MEW" - and normal principal payments and debt cancellation (modifications, short sales, and foreclosures).
For Q4 2018, the Net Equity Extraction was a positive $1 billion, or a 0.0% of Disposable Personal Income (DPI) .
Click on graph for larger image.
This graph shows the net equity extraction, or mortgage equity withdrawal (MEW), results, using the Flow of Funds (and BEA data) compared to the Kennedy-Greenspan method.
Note: This data is impacted by debt cancellation and foreclosures, but much less than a few years ago.
MEW has been positive for 9 of the last 11 quarters. With a slower rate of debt cancellation, MEW will likely be mostly positive going forward - but nothing like during the housing bubble.
The Fed's Flow of Funds report showed that the amount of mortgage debt outstanding increased by $56 billion in Q4.
The Flow of Funds report also showed that Mortgage debt has declined by $0.36 trillion since the peak.
Dr. James Kennedy also has a simple method for calculating equity extraction: "A Simple Method for Estimating Gross Equity Extracted from Housing Wealth". Here is a companion spread sheet (the above uses my simple method).
For those interested in the last Kennedy data included in the graph, the spreadsheet from the Fed is available here.