Resurgent Inflation And Tight Jobs Market Raise Interest Rates
A better-than-expected jobs report combined with a hotter-than-expected CPI and PPI report has put the Fed back on its heels. There is now talk of a 50 bp increase in the Fed’s Funds Rate come March. The bond market seems to be reassessing inflation, pushing bond yields up across maturities. As we have written in previous posts, when inflation is allowed to run hotter for longer, it invades every nook and cranny of the economy. Fed Powell was presumed to relax last month based on his press conference about inflation. Unfortunately, there is more wood to chop, in the form of higher rates and more restrictive policy decisions by the Fed. We believe the Fed Funds Rate will not go much above 5.500%.
The US economy is proving to be very resilient. Although wonderful news long term, it is creating tension between the bond market, equity market, and Fed policy. The Fed wants a slowing economy. This requires higher unemployment rates and lower levels of GDP growth. Higher interest rates have hit the real estate market quickly. So far, other sectors of the economy have not been as affected by tighter Fed policy. The extended endurance of higher rates will lead to price declines across all asset classes. Given the pent-up demand for housing in our main market, if prices fall by another 5% to 10%, we foresee a surge in real estate activity.
Mortgage rates have enjoyed a few months of calmness. That period has ended momentarily, commensurate with the 30-year conforming mortgage rate climbing back to the upper 6.00% range. With so many banks coming in and out of the mortgage market week-to-week, mortgage brokers serve a very important service. Insignia Mortgage works with over 30 institutions. Given the volatile market conditions, we speak to banks and credit unions daily and are able to stay highly informed on which lenders are aggressively priced and desirous to do business.