Don’t Fight The Fed! Will The Fed’s Quantitative Easing II Policy Cause Residential Mortgage Interest Rates To Rise Or Fall?

by Rich Vetstein on November 10, 2010 · 1 comment

in Mortgage Crisis, Mortgages, Refinances

We welcome for the first time, guest blogger Ricardo Brasil. Ricardo is a Vice President at one of America’s largest Banks, and is recognized as one of the top mortgage originators nationally. For more info, go to his website at www.ricardobrasil.com or call him directly at (617) 897-5192.

Ricardo Brasil

Quantitative Easing Policy I (QE I): The First Go-Around

Some feel there is a good chance that the FOMC’s planned announcement to purchase U.S. treasury bonds will cause mortgage rates to fall even further. Unlike the Fed’s first quantitative easing (QE I) program, however, borrowers could see a muted (or even negative) response by the time QE2 winds down next June when it comes to rates for home loans.

Mortgage rates improved substantially the last time the Fed carried out its first Quantitative Easing program from December 2008 through March 2010. $1.75 trillion in bonds and mortgage backed securities were purchased during that time and mortgage interest rates dropped by more than 1% over the same period for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. In 2010 they have fallen further to just over 4% last week with no points.

Quantitative Easing Policy II (QE II): The Here & Now

There are those who argue the Fed’s second attempt at Quantitative Easing, known as QE2 or QEII, is different. Mortgage rates have the QE2 effect ‘baked into the cake’ according to many industry pundits. The goal of this type of Fed action is to lower real interest rates and increase spending in sectors that respond to interest rate changes. This includes home purchases as well as business spending and investment. Quantitative easing could decrease mortgage rates by increasing mortgage backed securities’ liquidity enough that the lower end MBS’s begin to sell. On the contrary, the purpose of quantitative easing ultimately is to stimulate the economy, and if it is successful, over time there should be real indicators of growth that show up in production and employment figure increases. These will surely put pressure on interest rates to rise.

Additionally, the direct impact on the economy of this quantitative easing policy will be a weakening of the US dollar. A weaker dollar in turn should make US products cheaper to foreign countries and cause exports to rise. With a weak dollar imported products of all kinds from clothes to consumer electronics will increase in price because it will take more dollars to buy the same amount of products. The increased cost of imports will drive up retail prices and increase inflation. As a result, inflation will cause home prices to rise and mortgage rates as well. This wouldn’t happen immediately but could be expected in the in the not too distant future. Moderate inflation and job growth are what the Fed is looking for.

Rising production of exported products should generate more profits for domestic companies and those profits should result in increased production and job growth. That in turn will lead to the stock market going up and for those in the mortgage industry who know this all too well, mortgage rates tend to follow the direction of the financial markets. Rates rise when the economy is clicking on all cylinders and equity markets are moving higher.  Rates decrease when the economy and equity markets struggle.

Float or Lock Down? Don’t Fight The Fed

As the cliché goes, don’t fight the Fed. Well, when it comes to mortgage rates, when we know the Fed is trying to stimulate the economy and put off dealing with inflation, I would do away with any floating bias and will be taking advantage of historically low rates for the time being without holding off for lower rates that we may not see.

Mortgage rates are currently hovering at record lows and remain very attractive especially in combination with low home prices. Although there will continue to be fractional fluctuations in rates over the next few months, mortgage rates should be low but range bound for the foreseeable future before being forced higher by inflationary pressures. After rates improved a bit following the Fed’s announcement they have gone up as recent economic news has been quite sanguine especially with the 151,000 jobs added in October. Mortgage bonds have fallen a whopping 143 basis points in the past 5 days and the yield on the 10yr-note has spiked 28 basis points higher.

Ricardo Brasil can be reached at www.ricardobrasil.com or call him directly at (617) 897-5192.

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