All issues have taken a back seat to the onset of the Covid-19 virus. Since this first arose in China at the end of 2019, concern has steadily mounted, leading to unprecedented dislocations in global financial markets. Markets are volatile to a great degree because of uncertainty, not just about the extent and severity of the virus, but also about its economic impact.
In the wake of the economic dislocation that occurred with the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, (GFC), central banks responded with a variety of policy innovations, including Large-Scale Asset Purchases (LSAP’s), also known as Quantitative Easing (QE). Different central banks have implemented these programs in distinct ways, but the Federal Reserve purchased massive amounts of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to place downward pressure on long-term interest rates. (Chart 1)
A key metric in the decision regarding investment in MBS is prepayment speeds. Investors concerned about lower interest rates naturally find value in lower-prepaying pools. In looking into the drivers of differing prepayments, it’s useful to look into differences in performance for different groups of loans. Chart 1 looks at the prepayment speeds for the entire books of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages as measured by the 1-month conditional prepayment speeds (CPR).