One of our major rules at Recursion is that we are a fintech data and analytics company and that we don’t give investment advice. So spoiler alert: the answer to the question is that anything is possible.
But we noticed in the most recent weekly Freddie Mac survey that the 30-year mortgage rate edged up to 3.01% from a record-low 2.98% the prior week, the first sub-3.0% level ever recorded. Market lore says that at a certain level, rates give lenders sticker shock and mark a point below which they are reluctant to venture. In an early blog post we noted that mortgage rates were at record lows, but that Treasury yields were deeper into record-low territory, so mortgage spreads were actually quite wide.
Mortgage rates are set in the market reflecting offsetting pressures including: downward pressure from Federal Reserve purchases, upward pressure from record demand, and the costs of forbearance borne by servicers that they seek to recoup with higher margins on new business. Below is an update to the March chart with a new variable added: the inelegantly named OPUC:
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)