A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 15, 2011 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, for the second straight meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The vote was 10-0.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that since its January 2011 meeting, the economic recovery “is on firmer footing”, and that the labor markets are “improving gradually”. In addition, household spending “continues to expand”. Nonetheless, the Fed said, the economy remains constrained by rising commodity prices and the “depressed” housing sector.

The FOMC statement also re-affirms the group’s plan to keep the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”, and to keep its $600 billion bond market support package — more commonly called “QE2″ — intact.

And, lastly, for the third straight time, the Federal Open Market Committee’s post-meeting release statement included a paragraph detailing the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of managing inflation levels, and fostering maximum employment. Although it acknowledged inflationary pressures on the economy, the Fed said inflation remains too low for the economy currently, and that unemployment remains “elevated”. 

In time, the Fed expects both measurements to improve.

Mortgage market reaction to the FOMC has been negative since the statement’s release. Mortgage rates are unchanged, but poised to worsen.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 2-day event, April 26-27, 2011.

Your Mortgage Rate Strategy For Today’s FOMC Meeting

Fed Funds Rate Nov 2007 - March 2011The Federal Open Market Committee meets today in Washington D.C. The FOMC is a special group within the Federal Reserve, led by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and consisting of 12 members.

The FOMC’s official schedule calls for 8 meetings annually at which it reviews the nation’s economic and financial conditions, and chooses whether to change existing monetary policy.

The group’s last rendez-vous was a 2-day affair, January 25-26, 2011.

Today’s FOMC meeting represents a bona fide risk to home buyers and rate shoppers across the country. This is because when the Fed meets, Wall Street gets nervous which, in turn, causes mortgage rates to get volatile. And, as mortgage rates go, so goes home affordability. 

Rate shoppers learned this the hard way after the FOMC’s last meeting.

In January, Wall Street deemed the Fed’s status quo message too soft on the looming threat of inflation. As a result, conforming mortgage rates rose through 7 of the next 10 days, driving pricing to its worst levels of the year.

This may happen again beginning today.

At 2:15 PM ET, the FOMC will adjourn and make a press release to the markets. The Fed is expected to keep the Fed Funds Rate near its target range of 0.000 percent, and to keep its $600 billion bond buy program in place. That doesn’t mean mortgage rates will idle, however.

Depending on the verbiage of the Fed’s statement, Wall Street will make its new bets. A tough approach on inflation should push mortgage rates down; a soft approach should pressure rates up. Either way, you may want to lock your mortgage rate prior to 2:15 PM ET — just to be safe.

Once the Fed adjourns, you’re at the market’s mercy.

Fed Minutes Show Lower Unemployment And Higher Growth For 2011 and 2012

FOMC November 2010 MinutesThe Federal Reserve released its January 25-26, 2011 meeting minutes Wednesday afternoon. mortgage rates have been in flux since.

Fed Minutes are comprehensive recaps of Federal Open Market Committee meetings; a detailed look at the debates and discussions that shape our nation’s monetary policy. As such, they’re released 8 times annually; 3 weeks after the most recent FOMC meeting.

Fed Minutes can be viewed as the unabridged version of the succinct, more well-known “Fed Statement” that’s released to markets immediately post-adjournment.

Just how much more lengthy are Fed Minutes?

  • The January 25-26, 2011 statement contains 395 words
  • The January 25-26, 2011 meeting minutes contains 6,916 words

If the Fed Statement is an executive summary, the Fed Minutes is a novel. And, the extra words matter.

When the Federal Reserve publishes its minutes, it’s offering clues about the group’s next policy-making steps.  As an example, in the January minutes, the Fed improved its outlook for economic growth; lowered its projections for the Unemployment Rate; and removed its concern for deflation.

In addition, the Fed discussed the potential for food-and-energy-cost-induced inflation, but labeled it as a minor economic risk at this point in time.

Bond markets are mixed on the text of the Fed Minutes.

Although the Fed indicates a willingness to allow inflation to occur, it appears ready to act in case inflation goes too high. One way that the Fed responds to rising inflation is to raise the Fed Funds Rate and many economists believe this will start happening by late-2011 or early-2012.

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (January 26, 2011 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 10-to-0 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that since December’s meeting, economic growth is ongoing, but at a pace deemed “insufficient” to make a material impact on the jobs market. In addition, the Fed said household spending “picked up” late last year, although it continues to be held back by joblessness, tight credit and lower housing wealth.

This is similar to the language used in the FOMC’s November and December 2010 statements.

Also like its last two statements, the Fed used this month’s press release to re-affirm its plan to keep the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”, and to keep its $600 billion bond market support package in place.

And finally, of particular interest to home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers, for the second straight month, the Federal Open Market Committee’s statement contained an entire paragraph detailing the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of managing inflation levels, while fostering maximum employment. 

The Fed acknowledges progress toward this goal, but calls that progress “disappointingly slow”. Inflation is too low right now, and joblessness too high.

Over time, the Fed expects both measurements to improve.

Mortgage market reaction to the FOMC has been positive since the statement’s release. Mortgage rates are unchanged, but poised to improve.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 1-day event, March 15, 2011.

The Fed Meets Today. What It Means To Mortgage Rates.

Fed Funds Rate vs Conforming Fixed Rate (2000-2010)The Federal Open Market Committee begins a 2-day meeting today in Washington D.C. It’s the group’s first meeting of 2011 — one of 8 scheduled for the year.

The Fed meets every 45 days, on average. Its last meeting was December 14, 2010.

Rate shoppers and home buyers should make a note. Mortgage rates and home affordability could change dramatically beginning tomorrow afternoon.

Because Wall Street watches FOMC meetings closely, so should you. The meetings provide insight on the future of U.S. monetary policy, as told by the nation’s central banker. Investors make trades based on the FOMC’s commentary which is one reason why mortgage rates tend to undulate through the hours leading up to the FOMC’s adjournment, and the days immediately after.

Wall Street is shifting old bets, and placing new ones.

A terrific example of this is what happened after the Fed’s November 3, 2010 meeting.

In its post-meeting press release, the Federal Reserve announced a new, $600 billion, market-bolstering plan dubbed “QE2″. Wall Street had widely expected the Fed to create the program, but had underestimated its size.

Starting a $600 billion program sparked fears of a Fed-led inflation run, which, in turn, caused mortgage markets to deteriorate in a hurry. In the 3 days following the program’s announcement, mortgage rates spiked to multi-month highs and have not since recovered.

QE2 marked the beginning of the end of the Refi Boom and low rates. Today, conforming rates are relatively low as compared to higher, but are much higher than they were prior to the FOMC’s November 2010 meeting.

Then, December’s FOMC meeting did little to change the direction of rates. We shouldn’t expect that January’s will, either. After the FOMC’s 2:15 PM ET adjournment Wednesday, mortgage rates should resume climbing, as they have done for the past 10 weeks.

If you’re shopping for a mortgage rate, therefore, the prudent move is to lock prior to Wednesday’s FOMC adjournment because, after once the Fed’s outlook is released, it will be too late.