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Unlocking Home Equity

Published on May 20, 2024 by Premium

Freddie Mac's proposal to purchase second mortgages can potentially unlock up to $1.8t in lending to a vast swath of homeowners. Freddie has long supported the U.S. housing market by buying first mortgages, transforming them into Agency MBS and then selling them to investors. Freddie is now thinking of also expanding this business to second mortgages, which is a mortgage taken out in addition to the first mortgage. This would make it easier for homeowners

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Gold Rising

Published on May 13, 2024 by Premium

The surprising surge in gold prices appears in part due to a structural shift in sovereign reserve allocation that looks to continue for years. The rise in gold prices is happening amidst a relatively strong dollar and multi-decade highs in real interest rates, suggesting the emergence of a new driver of prices aside from traditional macro factors. A recent study from the IMF finds evidence of an ongoing decoupling of global trade and global financial

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Another Path

Published on May 6, 2024 by Premium

Higher than expected inflation raised the Fed's expected rate path, but the recent softening in the labor market is opening up another path to earlier and more frequent rate cuts. A wide range of indicators suggest that the demand for labor is softening even as the supply of labor is increasing by the millions through migration. Business surveys are showing a decline in demand for labor, while job postings are also moderating towards pre-pandemic levels.

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Chair Trump

Published on April 29, 2024 by Premium

A potential Trump Administration looks to fundamentally change the framework of monetary policy by taking a greater role in setting both interest rates and foreign exchange policy. This would be a break from current norms and mark a return to a prior era. The Treasury has set FX policy since the 1934 Gold Reserve Act, though it has not meaningfully exercised that power in recent decades. The Fed has managed interest rates since the Treasury-Fed

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Shake it Off

Published on April 22, 2024 by Premium

The equity markets appear to be frightened by the sudden rise in interest rates, but even a 5% 10 year yield does not necessarily preclude an on-going rally. Common frameworks that link the level of interest rates with equities such as the equity risk premium sound reasonable, but have not been useful in practice. A brief glance through history and across the world shows that high equity prices can coincide with high interest rates, which

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April Tax Drain

Published on April 15, 2024 by Premium

This post explains the mechanics behind the annual April tax drain and why it sometimes impacts funding markets. Federal income taxes are collected quarterly for businesses, but most individual taxpayers pay their annual income taxes on April 15th. This means that as much as several hundred billion in funding is shifted around in the financial system in a short period of time. While the event is well telegraphed, it can have impacts on funding markets

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Employment Pivot

Published on April 8, 2024 by Premium

The Fed is shifting its reaction function on employment such that strong job growth numbers will no longer elicit a hawkish monetary response. Chair Powell had previously sought to lower inflation by dampening wage growth, which was to be done by raising unemployment. In that framework, strong job gains would suggest the need for tighter policy. But Powell now indicates that the tremendous surge in migration will increase labor supply and moderate wage growth without

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The Sequence

Published on April 1, 2024 by Premium

The decline in RRP balances looks to slow in the coming months, which suggests the upward pressure in money market rates necessary to end QT will not appear until early 2025. Chair Powell strongly hinted at an imminent QT taper, but noted that QT would continue until signs of reserve scarcity emerge. Fed officials widely look to upward pressure in overnight rates as a key indicator for scarcity. The sequence from 2018 was first an

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Synchronized Easing

Published on March 25, 2024 by Premium

A synchronized easing cycle in the context of declining inflation creates further upside risk for all risk assets. Developed market central banks are set to cut rates in the coming months, and the impact of their easing may be greater than the sum. Banks and investors hold portfolios across jurisdictions and their risk appetite may further rise as they see their entire portfolio inflate. In addition, major central banks are set to cut rates due

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Importing Shelter Inflation

Published on March 18, 2024 by Premium

The Biden Administration's immigration policy is likely increasing demand for shelter, which is putting upward pressure on inflation and reducing the prospect of future cuts. Shelter inflation accounts for around 30% of CPI and was widely anticipated to slow or even fall into outright deflation. But the entry of an estimated 3.3 million migrants in 2023 is likely creating demand for housing that is frustrating those forecasts. A similar inflationary impact has also been observed

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