Fed Signals Rates Will Rise In 2022 With Inflation Running At 30 Year Highs
It has been a forgettable start to 2022 for the U.S. financial markets, and more specifically, for many tech companies and bond investors. While the last several weeks of 2021 were quite volatile, Wednesday’s hawkish release of the Fed minutes crushed many stocks and also shook the bond market.
Inflation is now a major concern for the Fed. Friday’s Job Report, which contained both positive and negative elements about the employment picture, reinforces the belief that the U.S. economy is near full employment. The current unemployment rate stands at 3.90% with many million job openings still remaining. Wages continue to increase running above many expectations, but, these wage increases are not keeping pace with consumer inflation and this is what the Fed is worried about.
Housing demand remains robust. Should interest rates continue to rise, housing demand and housing affordability will be impacted. However, with the housing supply still too low, housing demand should not dip too much. Lumber will be important to watch as it has quietly gone back up to a 7-month-high. Increased labor costs for construction workers are also a concern along with supply chain issues. Higher rates will force builders to work on keeping costs down on new home builds. It is too early to tell what could happen but homebuilder stocks have not traded well to start the year even as demand is strong.
Another hot CPI report is expected for December, which is due out next week. While the market is already pricing in the likelihood of ongoing inflation, interest rates will be under continued pressure as both PPI and CPI inflation readings run at 30-year highs. We don’t recommend sitting around waiting for interest rates to abate or the Fed to pump large-scale stimulus into the economy in response to the Omicron outbreak. Borrowers who have not taken advantage of the ultra-low rate environment still have some time to lock in very attractive interest rates. For those borrowers with complex financials, Insignia Mortgage has several local banks and credit unions willing to work closely with us to approve loans that larger institutions simply won’t take the time to underwrite. Interest-only products are abundant, as are mortgages for second homes and investment properties.