by Carol K. McConkey
If you’ve been watching the economic news, you’ve probably noticed that market experts and traders have been keeping a close eye on the Commerce Department’s Personal Spending and Personal Income reports. Not only do these reports provide insight into the health of our economy, but they also influence home loan rates. That’s right, personal spending can actually influence the interest rates that are available when you purchase or refinance a home.
Here’s why: It has to do with something called the “velocity of money.” Even though the government keeps pumping money into the system, nothing happens until that money is spent or lent, and passes from one hand to another or one business to another. The speed at which this money passes between parties is the velocity of money.
With the job market still sluggish these days, consumers aren’t spending much money and businesses are still reluctant to spend money to make investments in their business. With the present velocity at low levels, inflation remains subdued, which is good for home loan rates. That’s because rates are tied to mortgage bonds and inflation is the archenemy of bonds, so low inflation is good for bonds and rates. However, once velocity increases, the excess money in the system will cause inflation, which is bad for rates since even the slightest scent of inflation can cause home loan rates to worsen.
While we certainly want to see better economic recovery news in the near future, we have to remember that there’s an inverse relationship between good economic news and bonds and home loan rates. Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of stocks and into bonds, which helps bonds and home loan rates improve. Strong economic news, on the other hand, normally has the opposite result.
Currently, home loan rates are at historically low levels, but that situation won’t last forever. That means now is an ideal time to purchase a home or refinance before the velocity of money — and rates — change. •
Carol K. McConkey is a senior vice president of Paragon Bank.
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