Friday, May 18, 2012

What is the FOMC is doing

According to the recently-released FOMC Minutes, the Federal Reserve stands prepared to launch new market stimulus should Europe not contain damage from its current political and economic environment.

Fed : Vigilant On Europe

The Fed Minutes are released 8 times annually -- three weeks to the day after the FOMC adjourns. Fed Minutes are similar to the minutes of a shareholder meeting; or, minutes from your condo board.
For the Fed, Fed Minutes are a follow-up statement; an opportunity to provide additional insight into the mind of the nation's central bank beyond the group's more well-known post-meeting press release.
For example, when the Fed adjourned April 25, it made a press release that totaled 444 words. Its minutes spanned 6,618.
The extra words matter, of course. They are what gives the markets insight into how the Ben Bernanke & Co view the U.S. economy, its strengths and weaknesses, and its threats.
Among today's biggest threats, says the Fed : Europe. If Greece and, to a lesser extent, Spain, trigger a default contagion, it could harm U.S. businesses and the economy. Already, U.S. financial institutions have reduced their exposure in Eurozone nations.

Mortgage Underwriting Harming Housing

In addition to its comments on Europe, the Fed also remarked that the housing market is being "held back" by a glut of distressed properties, and by restrictive mortgage underwriting. Until these hurdles are removed, it's likely that housing market will by suppressed.
Some of the Fed's other comments included :
  • Unemployment rates are expected to remain elevated through 2014
  • Fiscal contraction is likely in 2012 if Congress can't reach a budget agreement
  • The Fed Funds Rate should remain near 0.000% until late-2014
Despite these threats, however, the U.S. economy remains in growth mode and is expanding. Normally, an economic expansion would cause mortgage rates to rise but given the uncertainty that Europe has introduced, and the growing possibility of new, Fed-led stimulus, mortgage rates are sinking.
In jumbo-conforming areas in the western U.S. such as Orange County, California and Honolulu, Hawaii; through to the eastern markets of Miami, Florida and Portland, Maine, conforming mortgage rates continue to drop.
This week, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage made a new, all-time for mortgage applicants willing to pay discount points and closing costs. The published Freddie Mac mortgage rate is now 3.79%.

Check Your Mortgage Rates

The Federal Reserve next meets in three weeks, a 2-day affair scheduled for June 19-20, 2012. Between now and then, mortgage rates will move based on developments in Europe and on changes in the U.S. economy. Rates may rise, or rates may fall. However, today, mortgage rates are as low as they've been in history.
Whether you seek purchase money, a refinance, HARP or FHA Streamline, take a look at today's low mortgage rates. Qualified homeowners stands to save hundreds each month.