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Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends- September 2, 2014

Tuesday’s bond market has opened well in negative ground despite a calm open in stocks. The major stock indexes are showing relatively minor gains with the Dow up 11 points and the Nasdaq up 16 points. The bond market is currently down 16/32 (2.39%), which should push this morning’s mortgage rates higher by approximately .250 of a discount point over Friday’s pricing (markets were closed yesterday due to holiday).

The week’s economic calendar opened late this morning when the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) posted their manufacturing index for August at 10:00 AM ET. They announced a reading of 59.0 that exceeded forecasts of 56.9, indicating surveyed manufacturers were much more optimistic about business conditions last month than many had thought. That is bad news for the bond and mortgage markets because a strengthening manufacturing sector makes broader economic growth more likely.

Tomorrow has three reports set for release that may influence rates. The first is the ADP Employment report at 8:15 AM ET. This report has the potential to cause some movement in the markets if it shows much stronger or weaker numbers. It tracks changes in private-sector jobs of the company’s clients that use them for payroll processing. While it does draw attention, it is my opinion that it is overrated and is not a true reflection of the broader employment picture. It also is not very accurate in predicting results of the monthly government report that follows a couple days later. Still, because we sometimes see a noticeable reaction to the report, it is on this week’s calendar.

The second report of the morning will come from the Commerce Department, who will post July’s Factory Orders data at 10:00 AM ET. This manufacturing sector report is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders release, but also includes orders for non-durable goods. It can impact the bond market enough to change mortgage rates if it varies from forecasts by a wide margin. Analysts are forecasting an increase of 11.0% in new orders, meaning manufacturing activity spiked in July due to the whopping increase in airplane orders that drove the Durable Goods report last week. A much smaller increase would be good news for the bond market and mortgage pricing, but I don’t believe this report will cause too much of a reaction in mortgage rates.

Lastly, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book report at 2:00 PM ET tomorrow. This report details current economic conditions in the U.S. by Federal Reserve regions. It is believed to be a key source of information when the Fed meets for their FOMC meetings and is usually released approximately two weeks prior to each meeting. If it reveals any significant surprises or changes from the previous release, we may see movement in the markets and mortgage pricing as analysts adjust their theories on the Fed’s next monetary policy move.

Overall, this is likely to be a highly active week for the financial markets and mortgage pricing. Friday is the key day with the Employment report being released but we could see noticeable movement in rates any day. We also need to watch the Ukraine crisis as further escalation will likely cause ripples in the world markets and here.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends-August 31,2014

This week brings us the release of six pieces of economic data, with two of them considered to be highly important to the markets and mortgage rates. The financial and mortgage markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of the Labor Day holiday, meaning we will not see new mortgage rates until Tuesday morning. This report will not be updated tomorrow as a result of the holiday. 

The first release of the week will come from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), who will post their manufacturing index for August at 10:00 AM ET Tuesday. This index measures manufacturer sentiment and is expected to show a reading of 56.9, which would be a small decline from July’s reading of 57.1. A reading above 50 indicates manufacturing sector strength because it means that more surveyed manufacturers felt business improved during the month than those who felt it had worsened. A much larger decline in the index would likely cause selling in the stock markets and lead to an improvement in mortgage rates Tuesday as it would hint at manufacturing sector weakness.

Wednesday has three reports set for release that may influence rates. The first is the ADP Employment report before the markets open Wednesday morning, which has the potential to cause some movement in the markets if it shows much stronger or weaker numbers. This report tracks changes in private-sector jobs of the company’s clients that use them for payroll processing. While it does draw attention, it is my opinion that it is overrated and is not a true reflection of the broader employment picture. It also is not very accurate in predicting results of the monthly government report that follows a couple days later. Still, because we sometimes see a noticeable reaction to the report, it is on this week’s calendar.

The second report of the day Wednesday will come from the Commerce Department, who will post July’s Factory Orders data at 10:00 AM ET. This manufacturing sector report is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders release, but also includes orders for non-durable goods. It can impact the bond market enough to change mortgage rates if it varies from forecasts by a wide margin. Analysts are forecasting an increase of 11.0% in new orders, meaning manufacturing activity spiked in July do to the whopping increase in airplane orders that drove the Durable Goods report last week. A much smaller increase would be good news for the bond market and mortgage pricing, but I don’t believe we will see too much of a reaction in mortgage rates Wednesday.

And finally, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book report at 2:00 PM ET Wednesday. This report details current economic conditions in the U.S. by Federal Reserve regions. It is believed to be a key source of information when the Fed meets for their FOMC meetings and is usually released approximately two weeks prior to each meeting. If it reveals any significant surprises or changes from the previous release, we may see movement in the markets and mortgage pricing as analysts adjust their theories on the Fed’s next monetary policy move.

Thursday’s only relevant monthly or quarterly release is the revised 2nd Quarter Productivity numbers, which measures employee productivity in the workplace. Strong levels of productivity allow the economy to expand without inflation concerns. It is expected to show little change from the previous estimate of a 2.5% increase. Forecasts are currently calling for a 2.6% increase, meaning productivity was slightly better from April through June than previously thought. This would technically be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates, but this data is considered to be only moderately important to the markets. Therefore, it will take a sizable variance from forecasts for this report to affect mortgage rates. Favorable news would be a sizable upward revision in productivity.

The biggest news of the week and arguably the most important that we see monthly comes early Friday morning. The Labor Department will post the unemployment rate, number of new jobs added or lost and average hourly earnings for August at 8:30 AM ET Friday. The ideal scenario for the bond market and mortgage rates is rising unemployment, a drop in payrolls and earnings to fall slightly. Analysts are expecting to see that the unemployment rate slipped 0.1% to 6.1% and that 2200,000 new jobs were added during the month. Weaker than expected readings would signal softer employment sector growth than predicted and would be very good news for bonds and mortgage rates Friday. However, if we get noticeably stronger than expected numbers, mortgage rates and bond yields will probably spike higher Friday.

Overall, this is likely to be a highly active week for the financial markets and mortgage pricing. Friday is the key day with the Employment report but Tuesday could also be one of the more active days due to the ISM report that follows a three-day weekend. We also need to watch the Ukraine crisis as further escalation will likely cause ripples in the world markets and here.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends- August 29, 2014

The most recent key indicators, Consumer Confidence, S&P Case-Shiller Index, New Home Sales and the FHFA House Price Index all showed improvement this last week. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index in particular has now risen four months in a row to 92.4–a seven-year high for the second straight month.

The signs for the overall economy’s recovery seem to point to steady improvement. This should bode well for the real estate and lending industries, but as is always the case, there could be a wild card played that could send us in the other direction.

One of the ways to dig deeper into these key indicators is to look for trend lines. For instance the Consumer Confidence Index didn’t merely rise this past month, but has risen 4 straight months in a row. Taken by itself as a one month statistic (and comparing it to last month) may not give us as clear a picture as we need to analyze it’s meaning.

Some indicators are based on a moving average. The S&P Case-Shiller Index for Home Price Values–very likely the most esteemed such index in the real estate industry–is a three-month moving average, for example. Thus, the shorter-term spikes and plunges are smoothed out, resulting in an index that is less likely to confuse us with a diet of highs and lows.

New Home Sales, on the other hand, is one of the most volatile and often re-adjusted indicators. Compiled by the Census Bureau, this is an indicator that would benefit from using a moving average.

But there is something that amateur housing economists can address with some success. Instead of jumping whenever the Census Bureau speaks on the subject of newly-constructed homes, we can keep a 4-month (or 3-month, if you prefer) moving average of these totals and thus be allowed to watch the sales data move in a more sober fashion, which is what conservative economists use if the data appears volatile.

Now, admittedly, not every reader of these words will immediately begin to record a four-month moving average to offset the wild variations in the new home sales data (and other peculiarly volatile data). The important thing to do, in any case, is to realize that the report of new home sales is a bit less than reliable and therefore, it shouldn’t send us running for cover each time it is full of odd surprises.

Overall, the economy based on the current indicators and the recent trends, seems to be gaining strength and is on a positive path to recovery.

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Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends- August 29, 2014

Friday’s bond market has opened flat following mixed economic news. The stock markets are relatively calm also with the Dow down 27 points and the Nasdaq nearly unchanged from yesterday’s close. The bond market is currently down 1/32, which should keep this morning’s mortgage rates unchanged from Thursday’s morning pricing.

Yesterday’s 7-year Treasury Note auction was uneventful for the most part with investor demand in the securities nearly at the same level as Wednesday’s 5-year Note sale. That prevented much of a reaction in the bond market and mortgage rates during afternoon trading yesterday.

There were two pieces of moderately important economic data posted this morning. The first was July’s Personal Income and Outlays report at 8:30 AM ET. The Commerce Department announced a 0.2% increase in income and a 0.1% decline in spending. Both readings were softer than what analysts were expecting, indicating weaker economic activity than many had thought. That makes the data good news for bonds and mortgage rates.

The second was the University of Michigan’s revised Index of Consumer Sentiment for August just before 10:00 AM. It was the bad news of the morning, coming in at 82.5 when forecasts were calling for a reading of 80.0. That means surveyed consumers were more optimistic about their own financial situations and are likely to spend more in the immediate future. Because consumer spending makes up such a large part of our economy, we should consider the data negative for mortgage rates.

Next week doesn’t have a high number of economic reports scheduled but most of what is being released is considered to be highly important to the financial and mortgage markets. The markets will be closed Monday in observance of the Labor Day holiday, although there is no early close for bonds or stocks today.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends- August 28, 2014

Thursday’s bond market has opened in positive territory again despite unfavorable economic news. The stock markets are showing early weakness with the Dow down 53 points and the Nasdaq down 11 points. The bond market is currently up 8/32 (2.33%), which should improve this morning’s mortgage rates by approximately .125 of a discount point.

The first revision to the 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was posted at 8:30 AM ET this morning, revealing a 4.2% annual growth rate during the April through June months. This was an upward revision from the initial estimate of 4.0% and stronger than what analysts were expecting. That means that the economy was a little stronger during the quarter than what many had thought, making the data bad news for the bond and mortgage markets.

Also released early this morning was last week’s unemployment figures. They showed that 298,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, down slightly from the previous week’s revised total of 299,000. Analysts were expecting to see a small increase in initial claims that would have indicated the employment sector weakened slightly last week. The nearly unchanged number that remained below 300,000, hints that there was little change in the sector. Therefore, we should consider the data neutral to slightly negative for bonds and mortgage rates.

This week’s second relevant Treasury auction is taking place today also. 7-year Treasury Notes are being sold today with results being posted at 1:00 PM ET. Yesterday’s 5-year Note sale didn’t go badly, but we can’t say it was strong either. Several of the benchmarks we use to gauge investor interest in the securities pointed towards an average level of demand. If that is the same in today’s sale, we likely will see little reaction during afternoon trading. On the other hand, if today’s auction was met with a strong demand, we could see bond prices rise and mortgage rates revise slower during mid-afternoon hours.

July’s Personal Income and Outlays report will be posted at 8:30 AM ET tomorrow. This data will give us a measurement of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. Rising income means consumers have more money to spend. It is expected to show an increase of 0.3% in income and a 0.1% increase in spending. Since consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy, weaker than expected numbers would be considered good news for the bond market and mortgage pricing.

The second report of the morning will be the University of Michigan’s revised Index of Consumer Sentiment for August. This sentiment index helps us track consumer willingness to spend. It is expected to show a reading of 80.0, up from August’s preliminary reading of 79.2. If it revises lower, consumers were less confident about their personal financial situations than previously thought. This would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates because waning confidence usually means that consumers are less likely to make large purchases in the near future. The lower the reading, the better the news it is for mortgage shoppers.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends-August 27, 2014

Wednesday’s bond market has opened in positive territory even though there is little to drive trading this morning. The stock markets are relatively calm with the Dow up 15 points and the Nasdaq up 2 points. The bond market is currently up 7/32 (2.37%), which should improve this morning’s mortgage rates by approximately .125 of a discount point.

Today has no economic data being released that is expected to affect mortgage rates. However, it does have the first of this week’s two Treasury auctions that have the potential to affect bond trading and mortgage pricing. 5-year Treasury Notes are being sold today while 7-year Notes go tomorrow. Results of the auctions will be posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. If investor interest is strong, it is possible that the broader bond market will rally and mortgage rates could move lower during afternoon trading. However, a lackluster demand could lead to bond selling and higher mortgage rates later today and tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow morning does have some mortgage-relevant reports scheduled. The first is the first revision to the 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 8:30 AM ET. The GDP is the total of all goods and services produced in the U.S. and is considered to be the best measurement of economic growth or contraction. This reading is the second of three that we see each quarter. Last month’s preliminary reading revealed that the economy grew at an annual rate of 4.0%. Tomorrow’s revision is expected to show no change to that estimate. A downward revision should help lower mortgage rates, especially if the inflation portion of the release does not get revised higher. On the other hand, an upward revision would indicate the economy was stronger than previously thought, making it bad news for mortgage rates. There will be a final revision issued next month, but it probably will have little impact on mortgage rates since traders will be more interested in the current quarter’s acti! vity.

Also at 8:30 AM tomorrow will be the release of last week’s unemployment figures. It is expected to show that 302,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, up from 298,000 of the previous week. The higher the number of claims, the better the news it is for bonds and mortgage rates because rising initial claims is a sign of a weakening employment sector.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends-August 26,2014

Tuesday’s bond market has opened flat despite strong results in both of this morning’s headline economic readings. The stock markets are also having somewhat of a muted reaction to the data with the Dow up 53 points and the Nasdaq up 5 points. The bond market is currently unchanged from yesterday’s close, which should keep this morning’s mortgage pricing at yesterday’s levels.

July’s Durable Goods Orders was the first of two relevant reports posted this morning, revealing a 22.6% spike in new orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket products. This was a record monthly spike and much stronger than expected. However, the increase is being attributed to a significant jump in new airplane orders that skewed the broader numbers. If more volatile transportation-related orders are excluded, there was actually a 0.8% decline when analysts were expecting to see a 0.6% rise. In other words, the headline reading indicates strong economic growth while the more stable ex-transportation reading hints at weakness. That has prevented a much larger reaction in the financial and mortgage markets.

August’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) was released at 10:00 AM ET. The Conference Board announced a reading of 92.4 that was well above the 88.3 that was expected. This means that surveyed consumers were much more confident in their employment and financial situations and more likely to make a large purchase in the near future than many had thought. Because those purchases fuel economic growth, the data is bad news for the bond and mortgage markets. Fortunately, traders seem to be unconcerned about the news.

There is no economic data scheduled for release tomorrow that is expected influence mortgage rates. We do have the first of this week’s two Treasury auctions that have the potential to affect bond trading and mortgage pricing. Tomorrow’s auction has 5-year Treasury Notes being sold followed by Thursday’s 7-year Note sale. Results of the auctions will be posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. If investor interest is strong, it is possible that the broader bond market will rally and mortgage rates could move lower during afternoon trading. However, a lackluster demand could lead to bond selling and higher mortgage rates tomorrow and/or Thursday afternoons.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends-August 25, 2014

Monday’s bond market has opened up slightly despite early stock strength. The major stock indexes are showing sizable gains with the Dow up 102 points and the Nasdaq up 27 points. The bond market is currently up 3/32 (2.39%), which may improve mortgage pricing slightly but no much from Friday’s morning rates.

The week’s calendar kicked off late this morning with the release of July’s New Home Sales data. The Commerce Department reported that sales of newly constructed homes fell 2.4% last month, falling short of expectations. Analysts were expecting to see an increase in sales, indicating growth in the housing sector. The decline hints at weakness, making the data slightly favorable for bonds and mortgage rates.

The Commerce Department will post July’s Durable Goods Orders early tomorrow morning, giving us an important measure of manufacturing sector strength. This report tracks orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket items, or products that are expected to last three or more years such as appliances, electronics and airplanes. Analysts are expecting to see an increase of approximately 6% in new orders, indicating manufacturing sector strength. This data is known to be quite volatile from month to month, so an increase of this size doesn’t raise too much attention. However, a decent sized decline is good news for the bond market and mortgage rates as it means manufacturing activity is likely softening. A secondary reading the excludes more volatile transportation-related orders is expected to rise 0.5%. The softer the reading, the better the news it is for the bond and mortgage markets.

Tomorrow also has August’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) form the Conference Board at 10:00 AM ET. This index measures consumer sentiment about their personal financial situations, which helps us measure consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are feeling more confident in their own finances, they are more apt to make a large purchase in the near future, fueling economic growth. A decline in confidence would indicate that surveyed consumers probably will not be buying something big in the immediate future. That would be a sign of economic weakness and should drive bond prices higher, helping to lower mortgage rates tomorrow. It is expected to show a reading of 88.3, which would be a decline from July’s 90.9. The lower the reading, the better the news it is for bonds and mortgage rates.

Overall, I am expecting to see the most movement in rates tomorrow, but Thursday’s GDP report could be the week’s most important report if it shows a significant revision. Wednesday looks to be the lightest day with nothing of importance scheduled except the moderately important Treasury auction. Even though none of this week’s economic data is considered to be a market mover, we still should see plenty of activity and movement in rates.
 

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends-August 25, 2014

This week has six economic reports scheduled for release that are relevant to mortgage rates in addition to two Treasury auctions that can potentially affect rates. There is data being posted four of the five days with Wednesday the only day with nothing scheduled, but none of the reports are expected to be a market mover. Still, most of the week’s releases carry enough significance to affect mortgage rates if their results vary from forecasts.

July’s New Home Sales data is the first report of the week, coming tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET. This report will give us another indication of housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand, but only tracks a small portion of all home sales. The majority of U.S. home sales were covered in last week’s Existing Home Sales report. It usually doesn’t have much of an impact on bond prices or mortgage rates unless it varies greatly from forecasts. Current forecasts are calling for an increase in sales of newly constructed homes from June to July. A larger increase in sales would hint at housing sector strength, making the data negative for mortgage rates.

The Commerce Department will post July’s Durable Goods Orders early Tuesday morning, giving us an important measure of manufacturing sector strength. This report tracks orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket items, or products that are expected to last three or more years such as appliances, electronics and airplanes. Analysts are expecting to see an increase of approximately 6% in new orders, indicating manufacturing sector strength. This data is known to be quite volatile from month to month, so an increase of this size doesn’t raise too much attention. However, a decent sized decline is good news for the bond market and mortgage rates as it means manufacturing activity is likely softening. A secondary reading the excludes more volatile transportation-related orders is expected to rise 0.5%. The softer the reading, the better the news it is for the bond and mortgage markets.

Tuesday also has August’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) form the Conference Board at 10:00 AM ET. This index measures consumer sentiment about their personal financial situations, which helps us measure consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are feeling more confident in their own finances, they are more apt to make a large purchase in the near future, fueling economic growth. A decline in confidence would indicate that surveyed consumers probably will not be buying something big in the immediate future. That would be a sign of economic weakness and should drive bond prices higher, helping to lower mortgage rates Tuesday. It is expected to show a reading of 88.3, which would be a decline from July’s 90.9. The lower the reading, the better the news it is for bonds and mortgage rates.

Thursday’s only monthly or quarterly data is the first revision to the 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 8:30 AM ET. The GDP is the total of all goods and services produced in the U.S. and is considered to be the best measurement of economic growth or contraction. This reading is the second of three that we see each quarter. Last month’s preliminary reading revealed that the economy grew at an annual rate of 4.0%. Thursday’s revision is expected to show no change to that estimate. A downward revision should help lower mortgage rates, especially if the inflation portion of the release does not get revised higher. On the other hand, an upward revision would indicate the economy was stronger than previously thought, making it bad news for mortgage rates. There will be a final revision issued next month, but it probably will have little impact on mortgage rates since traders will be more interested in the current quarter’s activity.

Friday is a multi-release day with two pieces of economic data set to be posted. July’s Personal Income and Outlays report is the first at 8:30 AM ET. This data will give us a measure of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. Rising income means consumers have more money to spend. It is expected to show an increase of 0.3% in income and a 0.1% increase in spending. Since consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy, weaker than expected numbers would be considered good news for the bond market and mortgage pricing.

The second report of the morning will be the University of Michigan’s revised Index of Consumer Sentiment for August. This sentiment index helps us track consumer willingness to spend similarly to Tuesday’s CCI. It is expected to show a reading of 80.0, up from August’s preliminary reading of 79.2. If it revises lower, consumers were less confident about their personal financial situations than previously thought. This would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates because waning confidence usually means that consumers are less likely to make large purchases in the near future. As with the CCI index, the lower the reading the better the news for mortgage shoppers.

Also worth mentioning are a couple of Treasury auctions that may affect bond trading and mortgage rates this week. There are auctions several days, but the two relevant ones are Wednesday’s 5-year Note and Thursday’s 7-year Note sales. Results of the auctions will be posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. If investor interest is strong in the auctions, it is possible that the broader bond market will rally and mortgage rates could move lower during afternoon trading. However, a lackluster demand could lead to bond selling and higher mortgage rates Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

Overall, I am expecting to see the most movement in rates Tuesday, but Thursday’s GDP report could be the week’s most important report if it shows a significant revision. Wednesday looks to be the lightest day with nothing of importance scheduled except the moderately important Treasury auction. Even though none of this week’s economic data is considered to be a market mover, we still should see plenty of activity and movement in rates.

Lake Tahoe Mortgage Rate Trends-August 22,2014

“We are getting closer to a more normalized economy, and now we are expecting to see housing driven by fundamentals, and in fact, we’ve already seen this in some markets.” [Frank Nothaft, chief economist, Freddie Mac]

 ”Normalizing” is a rather mysterious word when we’re talking about a real estate market that has been anything but normal. We have seen home values pick up in the early stages of an apparent recovery because investors became so enthusiastic about single-family residences that they boosted prices by competing with one another to purchase viable investments. This is not the way we “normally” come out of a slowdown.

Nonetheless, it has helped boost real estate to resume higher pre-recession levels and has helped pull an astonishing number of homes out of likely foreclosures.

The question remains, though: Where is the market headednow? This is proving very difficult to judge and one of the reasons it is so difficult is that the real estate market, though it has clearly improved, is not acting in a recognizable way, for the most part. We just can’t find the normal signs that might help us decide where the market is truly headed.

In a sensible (normal?) period of economic growth, we would expect to see real estate sales volume growing in a nearly orderly way. Clearly, with rates still historically low and prices still relatively attractive, it seems a good time to buy a home–either as a personal residence or as an investment. In short, many of the factors that often accompany a resumption of real estate sales activity are in place. But buyers remain reluctant.

Particularly difficult to understand is new home construction, which our nation is lagging way behind in, but which is failing to pick up a great deal of steam. (Inevitably, with demand growing as it is, the number of builders constructing new homes has grown; employment in the sector has jumped. But we still don’t see the sales figures for New Homes rising at truly faster rates.)

Perhaps we can gain some insight into the reluctance to buy, sell or build in this market that seems to be normalizing by looking at the youngest potential buyers–the Millenials. Polling of the young potential buyers suggests this is an apparent lack of trust in the ability of the economy at this point to sustain meaningful growth rates.

We need economic growth–especially job growth–that inspires confidence in the future. Frank Nothaft, quoted above believes this kind of confidence is on the way. He may indeed be right, but proof is not yet in.

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30-Year Freddie Mac Fixed-Rate Mortages