It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holidays are fast approaching. The new year will be here before we know it, and as you are enjoying this season with your family and friends, it’s important to keep an eye on the following stories. They could have a big impact on home loan rates in the year to come.
First, a Trip Overseas Greece has certainly been a big word throughout 2011, as the country has experienced riots and protests due to their escalating budget crisis. The good news is that last month a deal was reached to keep the country from going into default. Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou announced his resignation while Lucas Papademos was named as interim Prime Minister. During his eight years with Greece’s Central Bank, Papademos helped the country achieve very strong economic growth rates.
And while that’s good news for Greece, the European crisis that has been lingering for 18 months is not over yet. There is concern that Italy, whose Bonds yields have spiked, is the next Greece. It’s important to note that Italy is not in the same dire situation as Greece. But, and this is an important but, their economy is far larger–the world’s 7th largest, in fact–and a debt crisis in that region will be much more difficult to contain.
Last month, German leader Angela Merkel said that Europe is going through its toughest times since World War II. Her comments were in part a response to reports showing that a slowdown in manufacturing has reached the point where recession fears have now gripped that region.
The bottom line is that more pessimistic or uncertain news out of Europe could continue to benefit home loan rates here in the United States, as investors see our Bonds (including Mortgage Bonds, on which home loan rates are based) as a safe haven for their money. That’s why this story is definitely one to keep watching.
Inflation, All We Never Wanted Another important story to watch as we head into 2012 is inflation. Remember, inflation is the arch enemy of Bonds and home loan rates, like Kryptonite to Superman. The concept is very simple: If inflation rises, investors in Bonds demand a higher yield to offset the lost buying power inflation imposes on a fixed payment. And as home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, this would mean home loan rates move higher.
Last month, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the Fed has “considerable latitude” to choose its long-term inflation goal. Although Bernanke didn’t elaborate on specifics, the gist of his comment is that the Fed may tolerate higher inflation for a period of time in an attempt to help the economy recover and improve the employment sector.
Remember, the Fed is charged with a dual mandate of (1) controlling inflation as well as (2) supporting job creation. While inflation remains close to the Fed’s target range, unemployment is nowhere near where the Fed would want to see it, which is between 5% and 6%. So it appears the Fed may make decisions in the future to improve employment, possibly at the slight expense to inflation.
The good news is that wholesale inflation in the form of the Producer Price Index (PPI) was tamer than expected in October. Meanwhile, the year-over-year headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) was down from the previous reading, which is good news for people concerned about inflation. However, the closely watched Core CPI rose by 0.1%, and though this was inline with estimates, it did push the year-over-year rate to 2.1% from 2%…a touch above the Fed’s comfort zone.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever the news brings in the new year, now remains a wonderful time to purchase or refinance a home and take advantage of historically low rates. If you have any questions at all about your personal situation, contact the Inlanta Mortgager
Wishing you and your family very happy holidays and a happy new year!