Government Struggles to Keep Interest Rates Low

Mortgage rates are rising, despite the government’s efforts to hold them down.

 

The government can’t control all the factors that affect mortgage rates. Mortgage interest has climbed because more borrowers refinanced when rates fell and boosted the supply of mortgage bonds.

 

Experts also attribute rising rates to expanded borrowing by the government to pay for stimulus packages, worries about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and concerns about whether the central bank will continue to purchase mortgage bonds after June.The suggestion that the government solve the problem by creating an entity that offers 30-year mortgages at preset rates of 4 percent or 4.5 percent has drawn criticism.

 

“Not a lot of buyers are likely to want to buy a 3.5 percent mortgage-backed security, so the government may end up being a significant holder of these loans,” said Nicholas Strand, a mortgage strategist with Barclays Capital.  “And that number could run up to trillions of dollars.”

 

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Prabha Nataraian (02/03/2009)