Mortgage Rates Stay Low As Inflation Debate Heats Up
The Fed’s favorite inflation reading, Core PCE, rose the most since 1960 and clocked in at 3.10% annually for April. This came as no surprise as everyone is seeing what inflation looks like when they pay their bills at the end of each month. The bond market waived off the report as no big deal as bond yields are lower in light trading. Perhaps the White House’s $6 trillion budget proposal and all the new taxation associated with it is keeping bond traders calm. Higher taxes will curtail spending on goods and services which will lower demand and in theory, could prove the Fed right that inflation is transitory. However, there is cause for concern as businesses, especially smaller businesses, can only absorb so much in added cost before being forced to raise prices. Also, the spread between home prices versus home affordability has stretched and should be monitored.
Many goods and services are out of stock which has led to more demand than supply and therefore price increases. In my experience, once prices rise except for commodities, they rarely come down. This is the counterargument for a more structural move in inflation and not the transitory one coming out of the Fed. Also, wage inflation is taking shape. Due to a lack of workers, businesses are paying more for employees. Again, in my many years in business once you offer someone a higher salary it is hard to take it away. With this in mind, if the Fed is wrong in its position on inflation, the back half of this year could be volatile. If interest rates rise further than expected due to a change in inflation trajectory, there will be shifts in home purchase and home refinance demand as well as a re-pricing of high beta stocks that are using near-zero discount rates. We continue to advocate that borrowers should not wait to lock in historically low interest rates as inflationary pressures grow.