As we near Q4 of 2022, many of us find ourselves in what feels like the perfect storm. Those of you that are busy navigating the various challenges understand that it is coming from many directions, all at once. However, for those of you that are laser focused on your respective area, with minimal insight into the larger picture, you may be sitting with a lot of confusion or unknowns. So, what is going on? Is your company alone in their challenges?
To give insight into what is going on now, we need to dial it back to Q1 2020. Mortgages were in what some called the ultimate trifecta: Low interest rates, lowest unemployment rate and highest equity positions. As we all know the pandemic changed everything. A lot of what was happening behind the scenes with margin calls, investors pulling out of various products and programs was a direct result of the unknown. Would defaults mimic 2008? Would unemployment go through the roof? Would businesses shut down? As we know, the market doesn’t respond well when they are unable to make an educated prediction to the near future. Mortgage-Backed Securities were not a “hot commodity” on the secondary market. I mean who wishes they were an investor in 2008? So, what ultimately happened? The government stepped in and became the number one purchaser of MBS. This is called Quantitative Easing. Here is where we saw the rates really decrease. As we all know this was artificially stimulated by the U.S. government.
So, why does that matter to what we are experiencing now? Well, in the most simplistic explanation, the government stopped buying MBS’ and raised Federal Funds rates. This is what you call Quantitative Tightening. That is where you started to see that massive rate hike that felt like it was overnight. Rates being high is only one battle that we are facing in this “storm.” Life will move on at any interest rate, as history has shown us time and time again.