Prime Rate

also known as the Fed, National, U.S. and WSJ Prime Rate,
from the interest rate specialists at www.FedPrimeRate.comSM

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2013 Prime Rate Forecast: Prime Extremely Likely To Remain At 3.25% All Year

Herprime rate forecaste's a clip from the last (October 24, 2012) FOMC monetary policy statement:

"...In particular, the Committee also decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted at least through mid-2015..."

Today's statement was interesting because the Fed switched to explicit  employment and inflation targeting.  Clips from today's statement:

"... In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored..."

Therefore, it's an extremely good bet that the Fed won't lift short-term rates, including the US Prime Rate, during 2013, and will probably leave its cardinal interest rate exactly where it is during 2014 as well.

The Fed is currently projecting that the jobless rate will be in the range of 6.9% to 7.8% during 2013.  The projected central tendency for 2013, which leaves out the top and bottom three projections, is currently 7.4% to 7.7%.  Federal Reserve Board members and Fed Bank presidents are the contributors to these  projections.

The US Prime Rate is essentially a function of the fed funds target rate:

U.S. Prime Rate = (The Federal Funds Target Rate + 3)

At 3.25%, US Prime is currently as low as it can go.

Employment / inflation targeting is new territory for the Fed, and it explains why the central bank is willing to dump huge sums of newly printed cash into the system, risking serious inflation down the road.  The money supply continues to expand, and will only keep growing as the Fed continues to blow up its balance sheet.

The nation needs jobs in big way.  The Fed is, therefore, risking fresh, inflation-menacing cash exactly where it should be risking it: housing.  Mortgages are, after all, precisely where the Great Recession started in the first place.

Mortgage Rate Forecast

Here's another key clip from today's statement:

"...To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee will continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. The Committee also will purchase longer-term Treasury securities after its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of Treasury securities is completed at the end of the year, initially at a pace of $45 billion per month..." 

Both actions described above will place continued and substantial downward pressure on mortgage rates.  The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage during November 2012 was 3.35%.  With the Fed doing all it can to help the housing market, don't be surprised if mortgage rates fall below Prime (3.25%) in the short term.

The Fed controls the Prime Rate much more directly than it does mortgage rates. Rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages track very closely with the yield on the 10 Year US Treasury Note.

In the long term, as the economy improves, capital will flow from the safety of long-term, government debt into riskier assets like equities.  As this happens, long term bond yields will rise, which in turn will cause mortgage rates to rise. 

From the entire crew here @ www.FedPrimeRate.com: All the best for 2013.

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As of right now, the investors who trade in fed funds futures at the Chicago Board of Trade have odds at 100% (as implied by current pricing on contracts) that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will vote to leave the benchmark target range for the Federal Funds Rate at its current level at the January 30TH, March 20TH and May 1ST, 2013 FOMC monetary policy meetings.


Summary of the Latest Prime Rate Forecast:

  • Current odds that the Prime Rate will remain at the current 3.25% after the January 30TH, March 20TH and May 1ST, 2013 FOMC monetary policy meetings are adjourned: 100% (certain)
  • NB: U.S. Prime Rate = (The Federal Funds Target Rate + 3)

The odds related to federal-funds futures contracts -- widely accepted as the best predictor of where the FOMC will take the benchmark Fed Funds Target Rate -- are constantly changing, so stay tuned for the latest odds.

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