What causes mortgage rates to go up or down?
How come one day 30-year fixed rates are 6.00% and the next they’re 6.125%?
For many people the vision of a boardroom full of cigar smoking bankers comes to mind when contemplating this question. Or, many believe that the Federal Reserve Bank holds ultimate control with the Federal Funds Rate.
However, the truth of the matter is mortgage rates are entirely determined by the marketplace. Many factors can contribute to the direction of mortgage rates including stock market movements, technical trading patterns of mortgage-backed bonds, geopolitical news but of the most important is inflation.
I have provided a link below to an article that I feel does a good job of explaining the relationship between interest rates and inflation.
As well, here is an excerpt from this article which summarizes the relationship:
When prices increase, your dollar gets to buy less. Over time, prices tend to steadily increase. Hence, your one dollar today is not necessarily equivalent in value to your one dollar tomorrow. A case in point: if you could buy four comic books with your one dollar when you were younger, guess what, Batman? You can’t even buy one these days at that price. That is inflation.
So how is this related to interest rates?
Investors, try to preserve the value of their money by investing in activities that have yields that are either equivalent or higher than the inflation rate (therefore, when their expectation for inflation increases, they will demand a higher interest rate to lend their money). Let’s say that the local interest rate is pegged at 6.5%; the money that you earn, save and invest, should be able to at the very least, match that rate. Why, because at the end of the year, if your money stayed inside the piggy bank, its value would’ve been eroded by that rate. So if you save 100 dollars at the start of the year, at the end of the year its worth would’ve been shaved by $6.50 leaving your $100 worth only $93.5…..
So to wrap up, inflation is one of the factors that affect interest rates. When inflation moves up or down, the tendency is to increase or decrease (mortgage) rate(s) as well.