Freddie Mac reported today that 30-year mortgage rates have hit 6-month highs.
(Bloomberg) -- Fixed U.S. mortgage rates jumped to the highest level this year, signaling the Federal Reserve’s plan to lower borrowing costs has stalled.
The average 30-year rate rose to 5.29 from 4.91 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage buyer, said today in a statement.
“That’s quite a jump,” said Donald Rissmiller, chief economist at New York-based Strategas Research Partners. “The more rates go up, the more we need home prices to go down to equalize consumers’ payments. It’s those payments that have brought about a level of stability in housing unit sales.”
This is despite, or maybe because of, the Fed's massive monetization of bonds. The interest rate of 10-year Treasuries and Fannie Mae mortgage bonds are higher now than when the Fed began its intervention in the market.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-chartered mortgage companies that are being supported by $400 billion of backup taxpayer capital. The Fed has bought a net $507.1 billion of mortgage bonds so far, including $25.5 billion in the week ended May 27, according to Bloomberg data.
After Fannie and Freddie were nationalized, our Asian creditors became net sellers of those agency bonds. However, this doesn't explain why Treasury rates are higher.
What does explain it is the massive deficit spending around the world.
As governments worldwide try to spend their way out of recession, many countries are finding themselves in the same situation as embattled consumers: paying higher interest rates on their rapidly expanding debt.
Even a single percentage point increase could cost the Treasury an additional $50 billion annually over a few years — and, eventually, an additional $170 billion annually.
This could put unprecedented pressure on other government spending, including social programs and military spending, while also sapping economic growth by forcing up rates on debt held by companies, homeowners and consumers.
“It will be more expensive for everybody,” said Olivier J. Blanchard, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund in Washington. “As government borrowing in the world increases, interest rates will go up. We’re already starting to see it.”
Since the end of 2008, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note has increased by one and a half percentage points, rising to 3.54 percent from 2 percent, the sharpest upward move in 15 years. Over the same period, the yield on German 10-year bonds has risen to 3.57 percent, from 2.93 percent. And British bond yields have increased to 3.78 percent, from 3.41 percent.
It's simply a matter of supply and demand. The more debt that nations issue, without an increase in demand, means the price of that debt falls. In the bond market, price and interest rates are directly inversely related.
The governments of America, Britain, Japan, and elsewhere have tried to compensate for that dearth in demand by monetizing the debt. However, that caused the other supply and demand problem - more money printing without more goods means the value of the currency drops.
In 2009 and 2010, Washington will sell more than $5 trillion in new debt, according to Citigroup. A decade from now, according to the Congressional Budget office, Washington’s outstanding debt could equal 82 percent of G.D.P., or just over $17 trillion.
“It’s an exaggeration of course, but it’s a little like what happened to the subprime borrowers,” Mr. Rogoff said. “People are just assuming the funding will always be there.”