Recession: what Recession?

The August jobs report published yesterday showed that the labour market remained red-hot in July despite expectations job growth would cool as tighter monetary conditions and company layoffs stoked fears of a recession.

Here were the key numbers from the report, compared to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

Non-farm payrolls: +528,000 vs. +250,000 (more…)

Federal Reserve tries to rewrite history

Two comments from Federal Reserve Chair Powell struck me while I was listening to his Press Conference on Wednesday:

On the “speed” of the Fed’s move to increase rates:

“When inflation changed direction, really, in October. We’ve moved quickly since then. I think people would agree. But before then, inflation was coming down month by month. And we kind of thought we had the story. Probably had the story right. But then I think in October, you started to see a range of data that said no. This is a much stronger economy and much higher inflation than we’ve been thinking.”

Moved quickly? (more…)

Have Mortgage Rates peaked?

With all the noise about the determination of the Federal Reserve (Fed) to continue to increase interest rates it might be tempting to asume that mortgage rates will continue to rise.
But I believe there are good reasons for thinking that mortgage rates may have peaked. Read on to find out why I think this.

Current rates
The 30-year Fixed rate Mortgage (FRM) reached its highest level since 2008 this week: (more…)

Why are Mortgage Rates so high?

Yes, interest rates are rising and with that so are mortgage rates, but the 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM) seems to be about 0.5% higher than I would expect.

First, current rates:

In my recent article The Federal Reserve and Mortgage Rates I explained the link between the FRM and the 10-year Treasury yield (10T). The difference – the spread – has average around 1.7% over time, but with significant fluctuations during periods pf stress.

Here is the chart highlighting the spread at the time of Federal Funds rate changes – and as of this week: (more…)

U.S. Takes Step to Regulate Cryptocurrency Market

Cryptocurrency home sales barely have a toehold, and a new exec order from Pres. Biden may change the rules. The order suggests regulation and a U.S.-owned version.

Over 100 countries are exploring or piloting Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) – a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency.

“The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security and climate risk,” according to the Executive Order.

The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.

Executive Order key points