I had been posting every business day on the 10 year treasury and the 30 year mortgage since the announcement of Operation Twist. The reason why I am posting info on the 10 year treasury is that the 30 year fixed rate mortgage tends to track closely. It is not tied directly together, but the 10 year treasury is used as a guide for banks when they buy and sell mortgages.
Earlier this week the 10 year treasury started moving higher. The 30 year fixed rate followed upwards. Yesterday I got busy and forgot to track these and sure enough – the 30 year fixed rate mortgage rate dropped today.
The 10 year treasury nudged down a bit today as did the 30 year fixed rate mortgage. The national average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage today is 4.01%. This chart below shows the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage compared to the 10 Year Treasury. The 30 year mortgage rate data is updated as of 9/29/2011, the 10 year treasury is updated as of 9/27/2011 at 2.01. (today it closed at 1.96)
click to enlarge
Now let’s look at where Edina Realty Mortgage Rates are today.
Image via Wikipedia
Here we go again..
Operation Twist has been launched by the Federal Reserve. The idea is the Federal Reserve will buy long-term T-Bills, $400 billion worth. The theory is it will lower the long-term interest rates. This is also supposed to give banks cash balances. Sounds good, except it has been tried in the past and did not work.
The term “Operation Twist” comes from the early 1960s, when the Fed tried something similar. (It’s named for the Chubby Checker hit.) It may have had a small effect — one recent studyfound that it drove down the interest rate on Treasury bonds by 0.15 percentage points. But the effect on mortgage rates was smaller, and the effect on corporate borrowing costs was tiny.
Read Article from NPR
One problem, okay one of many problems… Mortgage Interest Rates are already at record low levels. This is not the problem with the housing market. The housing market is suffering because of the high unemployment and underemployment. You may argue: it is because of the foreclosures! Well, sure – why are people going into foreclosure?? Maybe because of job loss and under-employment??
I don’t care if mortgage rates are 2% or 4%, if you are unemployed you still won’t buy a house!
Let’s phrase this differently, someone will buy a house at 12% interest rate if they have a job before someone buys a house at 3% interest rate that has no job.
How did the market respond to this news? Take a look at the Dow Jones chart for the day and see if you can identify what time the news was announced:
Welcome to the Lost Decade.
I do hope this works, but I am not optimistic on this strategy at all…
This is not surprising news, and I don’t find it too alarming at this point. We have had a turbulent couple weeks in the stock market bring uncertainty to many households. We are back to 1996 levels on mortgage applications. What is surprising is that it is the complete opposite of record low interest rates…. which puts into perspective the extent of the uncertainty out there…
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 2.4 percent in the week ended Aug.19.
The seasonally adjusted gauge of loan requests for home purchases tumbled 5.7 percent to its lowest level since December 1996, the MBA said.
“This decline impacted borrowers across the board, with purchase applications for jumbo loans falling by more than 15 percent and purchase applications for the government housing programs falling by 8.2 percent.” The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 79.8 percent of total applications from 78.8 percent the week before.
Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.39 percent, up from 4.32 percent.
Full Story from CNBC
Calculated Risk is great at graphing this information. Once again another great chart from Calculated Risk showing the mortgage applications:
Mortgage Applications Aug 24 2011 CalculatedRiskBlog