Fed not likely to raise rates

June 16th, 2009 No comments

Recently, there has been some loud talk about inflation and how the U. S. Federal Reserve is going to have to start raising interest rates soon in order to nip inflation in the bud.

When first confronted with this news, you may have said, “Hogwash! No way in this economic backdrop could the Fed raise rates, slow down growth and risk sending us into a steep ‘double-dip’ recession.”

That certainly would be my view. It’s unclear at this point even if we are coming out of recession, so it really would be premature to slow things down at this point before any growth traction has been achieved.

However, let’s not just make assumptions. Let’s delve into history to see what the Fed has done in prior cycles.

The last U. S. recession was from March, 2001, to November, 2001, a period of eight months. The Fed funds rate was 6.5% from June, 2000, to January, 2001. In January of that year, the Fed lowered the rate to 6%, then went on a 12-month lowering frenzy during the recession and in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. By year-end 2001 the Fed funds rate was 1.75%, with the Fed still maintaining an easing bias.

Despite the official ending of the recession in November, 2001, the Fed maintained very low interest rates for almost three more years. In fact, it kept lowering rates, down to 1% from June, 2003 to May, 2004. This strategy of keeping rates low despite no recession is now widely blamed as the reason for the creation of the housing bubble that popped in 2007. The Fed finally raised rates in June, 2004, a full 30 months after the recession had ended.

In the recession of July, 1990 to March, 1991 (eight months) the Fed had been easing or maintained a neutral bias since February, 1989. At the start of that recession, the Fed funds rate was 8.25%. By the end of the recession, it was down to 6%. Again, despite the recession being over, the Fed kept jamming rates lower, all the way down to 3% in December, 1993. The Fed didn’t raise rates again until February, 1994. In that recession, again the Fed kept lowering rates for 30 months after the end of the recession.

Going back further into history, in the recession of July, 1981 to November, 1982 (16 months) the Fed acted a little more quickly. In May, 1981 the Fed rate was 20.0%. By December of that year, the Fed had moved rates down to 12%. In the spring of 1982, though, rates were back to 15%. But, showing signs of confusion, by the end of the summer 1982, rates were much lower, at 9.5%. The Fed was tightening rates again by September, 1982, and for a period of time investors had no idea what to expect, as the Fed moved rates up or down seemingly at random for a period of 18 months.

In the energy crisis of the early 1970s, the recession lasted from November, 1973, to March, 1975 (16 months). In November, at the start of the recession the Fed funds rate was 9.00% but by May, 1974, because of inflation fears the Fed had already raised the rate to 13%. Recession fears, however, ultimately ruled the day, and by year-end 1975 the Fed rate had been cut in half, to 4.75%. The tightening began anew, however, in April, 1976, 13 months after the official end of the recession.

What can we conclude? One, it seems sometimes that the Fed is just winging it, moving rates at random in response to short-term events. But it does seem the Fed is unwilling to raise rates too quickly after any recession.

Based on the severity of this economic downturn, you would have to conclude the Fed is unlikely to risk a double-dip recession, and will keep the Fed funds rate very low (now 0% to 0.25%) for a long time.

This may, of course, cause inflation, but for the time being, that is still better than a giant de-leveraging economic death-spiral.

Source: Peter Hodson, Financial Post 








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The Best of Both Worlds!

June 10th, 2009 No comments

The Best of Both Worlds!


A new mortgage product has recently been launched.

This new and innovative product called the 50/50 WISE mortgage. Don’t choose between Fixed and Variable. Choose Both!

They key aspects to this new mortgage are detailed below:


  • 50% of mortgage is at the lowest ARM rate in the Industry (currently, prime +.40 = 2.65%). With flexibility to convert to a fixed rate mortgage.
  • 50% of the mortgage is secure at a competitive 5 year fixed rate.
  • Combined total is at the lowest current 5 year effective rate of approximately 3.38% (weighted average interest rate given today’s current pricing!) 
  • Effective rate is lowest when mortgage balance is greatest…for maximum interest savings impact.
  • It would require a move in prime to north of 3.50% to reach a 3.99% effective weighted average rate.
  • Provides flexibility to prepay 20% annually or increase payment 20% annually on the portion of best advantage…
  • Bank of Canada statement and intention is to leave the B. of C. rate steady until at least June 2010.


Ideally suited for:

  • Customers who are unsure whether to go Variable or Fixed.  This product eliminates the biggest dilemma facing mortgage borrowers in today’s economy.
  • Customers who want a low interest rate and are more risk-averse than a typical ARM client.  The weighted average interest rate on this mortgage is approximately 3.38% given today’s current pricing!  And only 50% of the mortgage is subject to interest rate risk.
  • Customers who want added flexibility in paying down their mortgage.  The two portions operate independently of each other, so your customers can choose to make prepayments on the fixed portion which has the higher interest rate or they can choose to pay down the ARM portion aggressively which in turn further minimizes their future interest rate risk!



Trying to Make Sense of Rate Increases!

June 8th, 2009 No comments

Many lenders have raised their interest rates on 5 year and longer fixed rate mortgages.

Why is this happening?

Banks lend more money than they take in through deposits.  In order to meet the demand for customer loans, they borrow money in financial markets. To ensure they are not taking interest rate risk, they lock in the rate on the money they borrow to match the term of the mortgage. For example, a 5 year fixed mortgage is funded by a 5 year fixed rate bond. In May, the rate on longer term bonds started to rise, meaning the banks cost of funds – the cost to the bank of raising the money needed to loan to customers — went up. When they pay a higher rate to borrow in the bond market this reduces their profit margins. This is why rates on the longer term fixed rate mortgages have increased. The relationship between bonds and mortgage rates is not new. Attached is a chart that shows how bonds track closely with mortgage rates. They tend to go up and down together.The good news is that the upward trend in bonds prices is a positive sign that consumer and investor confidence is on the mend.

What does this mean for you? 

For those of you who are in a variable rate and want to switch to a fixed rate, the general rule is as follows: The variable rate mortgage is usually a 5 year term, if you want to switch into a fixed rate in year two of your mortgage term you may switch into a 3 year term (the remaining term of your mortgage) 

Million Dollar Question, should I switch into a fixed rate now? 

This week in the Bank of Canada’s announcement they maintained their overnight target rate at ¼ per cent (prime remains the same at 2.25%) and they reiterated their conditional commitment to hold the current rate until middle of next year – on condition that inflation did not rise above their inflation target. What we are hearing is that the prime overdraft rate should stay the same until next year, what we are seeing is that the longer term fixed interest rates are increasing.  You should be asking yourself; at what point if any do you want to lock into a fixed rate.  Fixed rates are at all time low, we are told this is the bottom – do you want to lock in now loose your good rate or hold on for awhile – at what point will you be ready to switch if at all? 

Tough decision!


2009 Home Renovation Tax Credit

April 30th, 2009 No comments

The Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) can help improve the value of your home.

Renovating your home is an investment in the long term value of your home. Here’s how the 2009 Home Renovation Tax Credit can work for you. Canadian homeowners can claim a 15% non-refundable tax credit for eligible expenditures exceeding $1,000, but not more than $10,000, meaning that the maximum tax credit that can be received is $1,350 ($9000 x 15%). Taxpayers can claim the HRTC when filing their 2009 tax return.

What is the eligibiliy period for the HRTC?

The HRTC will apply to eligible home renovation expenditures for work performed, or goods acquired, after January 27, 2009 and before February 1, 2010.

Who can claim the HRTC?

Eligibility for the HRTC will be family-based which means the credit can only be claimed once per family. A family is generally considered to consist of an individual, and where applicable, the individual’s spouse or common-law partner. Family members with joint ownership will be able to share the credit. The credit can be claimed on eligible expenditures incurred on one or more of an individual’s dwellings. Renovations to houses, cottages and condominium units that are owned for personal use are eligible for the HRTC.

What should you do?

Keep your original receipts for eligible home improvement purchases and labour (eg. contractors) and submit them for a tax credit when you complete your 2009 tax return.

What types of products, services and expenses are eligible?


_ Renovating a kitchen, bathroom or basement

_ New carpet or hardwood floors

_ Building an addition, deck, fence or retaining wall

_ A new furnace or water heater

_ Painting the interior or exterior of a house

_ Laying new sod

_ Labour costs

_ Professional fees

_ Building materials

_ Fixtures

_ Equipment rentals

_ Permits


_ Furniture and appliances (refrigerator, stove, couch)

_ Purchase of tools

_ Carpet cleaning

_ Maintenance contracts (furnace cleaning, snow removal, lawn care, pool cleaning, etc.)


Source: Canadan Revenue Agency and the Department of Finance Canada www.cra.gc.ca for more information.






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What does the Bank of Canada interest rate mean for YOU!

April 23rd, 2009 No comments

It means that you can get a 5 year fixed rate Mortgage for as little as 3.69% Quick Close Special (the lowest in Canadian history) and a variable rate at 2.85% (Prime plus 0.60).

Another important point, never before made, is that the Bank of Canada is going to hold the overnight lending rate steady until June 2010.  

So if you currently have a variable rate, now is not the time to lock in if the Bank holds true to its promise.

Many people who are in fixed rates are looking at refinancing their mortgages into lower rates.  The penalty to break an existing mortgage is the greater of three months interest or what is called the interest rate differential. The interest rate differential is the lost interest between your current rate and market rates.  Whether this is worth your while can only be decided on a case-by-case basis.

I listened to Benjamin Tal, chief economist of CIBC and his comments regarding the variable rate mortgages where as follows:

“You might do better the first two years [of a five-year mortgage] but not the remaining three. I’m convinced long-term interest rates will rise. I can see [long-term] rising 200 basis points. These are emergency rates and at some point this emergency will end,” says the economist.

The banks and the mortgage insurers are becoming more stringent on their lending criteria; minimum credit score requirements have increased, if you are self-employed they are wanting more documentation and appraisals are getting harder too – they look at the appraised value as opposed to the purchase price.  If your credit is less than perfect, this can also be challenging, that is why we are finding more and more people seeking out the expertise of an accredited mortgage professional.

Written by:  Charmaine Idzerda, (AMP) Mortgage Broker   FSCO# M080000747
Verico Designer Mortgages Inc. 
www.DesignerMortgages.ca    FSCO# 10194
Tel: 905.336.5997, Tollfree 1.866.824. 8057