December 4, 2012 by Leave a comment

After a rocky morning, mortgage backed securities rallied yesterday leading to slightly lower mortgage rates.  The market sold off early but the screens turned green following bad U.S. manufacturing numbers.  This morning it looks like we are seeing a continuation of yesterday’s trend in the absence of any significant news or data.  As has been the case since the election, this rally could quickly turn into a sell-off on the smallest positive utterance about the fiscal cliff negotiations (which by many accounts seem to be going nowhere fast).

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I’m pretty sure we’re all tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff (trumped-up nonsense that it is), but there is little else that seems to matter right now.  Sure, the spotlight may shift to unemployment briefly on Friday, but for now it’s all fiscal cliff all the time.  Between the proposals, counter-proposals, and wringing of hands from Messrs. Boehner and McConnell, it’s hard to know what to heed and what to ignore.

My gut instinct is to ignore it all, because I don’t think anything is going to get done until the last minute (or maybe shortly thereafter), and much/most of what we are hearing now is nothing more than political posturing.  Remember this: addressing the debt issues that our country faces will come at a cost, and austerity (because that’s what some combination of tax increases and spending cuts amounts to) will put a drag on growth next year.  I think now is a terrible time to address these issues, but we seem hell-bent on doing so.  Remember this when our prolonged recovery becomes even more prolonged.

In other goings on, James Bullard, President of the St. Louis Fed made some sort of hawkish statements regarding the future of monetary policy vis a vis Operation Twist, but he is not a voting member of the FOMC this year, so I’m not sure how much influence he has.  I’ve heard rumblings that Operation Twist will continue in some manner, and the portion of the program that sells short-duration bonds will be scuttled while the purchasing of longer duration bonds will continue.  I really doubt that the Fed is going to back away from the support it’s been giving the economy at this juncture.

So what does all of this mean with regard to mortgage rates?  At this point, probably not a whole lot.  Rates will probably continue to sit near record lows at least through the end of the year (assuming there is no swift action on the fiscal cliff, which would be totally out of character for our Congress).


Today’s Links:

NYT: The Next Tobacco? Wherein Joe Nocera smacks down the eminently-smackable NCAA.

Hardballtalk: Inducting Jack Morris Would Lower the Bar for the Hall of Fame.

Tim Duy’s Fedwatch: Struggling to Gain Traction in Manufacturing.

Guardian: UK Manufacturing Exports Hit by Crisis.

Scientific American: Why is it Impossible to Stop Thinking, to Render the Mind a Complete Blank? Voyager 1 Spacecraft Enters New Realm at Solar System’s Edge.

BBC: How Tall Can a Lego Tower Go? Short answer: about 2.2 miles, but only in theory.

The New Yorker: Warren’s Way. I sort of question the way that the collective press on Warren Buffet reads like a hagiography.

Charlie Pierce: The End of Simpson-Bowles.  I wish it were so.  I have a feeling much of this pernicious proposal will became reality.

Reuters: NATO Warns Syria Not to Use Chemical Weapons.  A wounded, cornered animal is most dangerous, right?  Well that’s Assad in a nutshell.  He’s going to get the Ghaddafi treatment and he knows it, so I wouldn’t put anything past him.

Slate: Save the $1 Bill. I don’t normally find myself in agreement with Matt Yglesias, but he’s dead on here.  Anyone who has ever received a whole bunch of $1 coins after buying a Metro North ticket in cash from the vending machine probably also agrees.

NYT: Rick Santorum is Afraid, Very Afraid. “We could provide you with a link to Mr. Santorum’s full argument on WorldNetDaily, which is tucked among ads warning about FEMA concentration camps. But your time is worth more than that.”

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