This past week, the Federal Reserve announced it would cease using new money to purchase longer-term Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This has lead many market watchers to believe interest rates will start to rise. After all, reduced Fed demand will lead to higher yields.

It's not quite that simple. For one, the Fed will continue to reinvest the proceeds of maturing notes, bonds, and MBS into new notes, bonds, and MBS. The Fed has also said that it won't allow its portfolio of these holdings, which exceeds $4 trillion, to shrink until it starts raising short-term rates. This isn't expected to occur until the second-half of 2015 at the earliest.

In addition, banks are picking up the slack in demand. Recent rules approved by the Fed, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. leave banks about $100 billion short of the $2.5 trillion in easy-to-sell assets that they need to meet new liquidity standards. Treasury securities and MBS help banks meet the standards.

At the same time, supply of Treasury securities is expected to drop. A falling fiscal deficit will result in less Treasury-debt issuance going forward. According to the CBO , the deficit for 2014 – for the fiscal year that ended on September 30 – was $486 billion, $194 billion less than the $680 billion deficit recorded in 2013. That’s the lowest deficit since 2007.

In short, we don't expect a meaningful increase in mortgage rates for some time, possibly not until the second quarter of 2015.

Information provided by Jessica Regan.

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