Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Fed on housing ...

Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on August 7 were released this afternoon. There isn't much surprising in the minutes given what we've all seen on our trading screens. For instance, the minutes said: "Financial market conditions were volatile during the intermeeting period, particularly over the last few weeks of the interval." Dare I say "Duh"?

What stands out to me the most? The Fed seems a lot more bearish on the housing outlook. Does this mean our blissful state of "well-contain-ed-ness" is threatened? Anyway, here are some excerpts worth noting ...

--> "Demand for housing in the second quarter was restrained by higher interest rates and by tightening credit conditions in the subprime mortgage market. Sales of new and existing homes in the second quarter were down substantially from their average levels in the second half of 2006. In June, single-family housing starts held steady at their May rate, although adjusted permit issuance slipped further. The combination of decreased sales and unchanged production left inventories of new homes for sale still elevated. House-price appreciation continued to slow, with some measures again showing declines in home values."

--> "Mortgage loans and consumer credit appeared to remain readily available to households with strong balance sheets, although late in the period some evidence pointed to diminishing availability of jumbo mortgages" ... "Growth of home mortgage debt likely slowed again in the second quarter, mainly reflecting the decline in home-price appreciation over the past year and the drop in home sales."

--> "Participants agreed that the housing sector was apt to remain a drag on growth for some time and represented a significant downside risk to the economic outlook. Indeed, developments in mortgage markets during the intermeeting period suggested that the adjustment in the housing sector could well prove to be both deeper and more prolonged than had seemed likely earlier this year. Participants noted that investors had become much more uncertain about the likely future cash flows from subprime and certain other nontraditional mortgages, and thus about the valuation of securities backed by such mortgages. Consequently, the markets for securities backed by subprime and other non-traditional mortgages had become illiquid, and originations of new subprime mortgages had dropped sharply. While these markets were expected to recover over time, it was anticipated that credit standards for these types of mortgages would be tighter, and interest rates higher relative to rates on conforming mortgages, in the future than in recent years. However, participants also observed that mortgage loans remained readily available to most potential borrowers, and that interest rates on conforming, conventional mortgage loans had declined in recent weeks, providing some support to the housing sector."

--> "Several participants noted the risks that house prices could decline significantly and that credit standards for home equity loans could be tightened substantially as factors that could weigh on consumer spending."

--> "The ongoing adjustment in housing markets likely would exert a restraining influence on overall growth for several more quarters and remained a key source of uncertainty about the outlook."


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter