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The Fed and the Unsaid

December 18, 2020

Last Week in Review: The Fed and the Unsaid

Last week stocks climbed to all-time highs, and rates were able to hold steady near all-time lows. The big news of the week was the Fed Meeting.

It is important to follow Fed activities as they are the most powerful central bank on the planet, and what they say and do can cause seismic shifts in the financial markets. The dual mandate of the Fed is to promote maximum employment and price stability (inflation). At the moment, unemployment is too high and inflation is too low, so the Fed said they are “committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time.” What the Fed didn’t say limited the improvement in both stocks and rates.

When it came to the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program, the financial markets were hoping the Fed would “up” their Bond purchases to help further pin down long-term rates like mortgages, but this didn’t happen. Instead, the Fed said it will “continue to increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $80 billion per month and agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $40 billion per month. The Fed will continue this program until substantial further progress has been made toward the current pace to sustain the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals”.

The takeaway — the Fed will continue to purchase at least $120 billion worth of Bonds until we see unemployment sharply lower and inflation solidly higher. This means home loan rates should remain relatively low for a long time.

Bottom line: Even with the Fed bond-buying, rates have ticked up slightly from the recent all-time lows. With vaccine distribution and more stimulus on the way, it may be difficult to see rates improve much, if at all. 

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