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Did the Federal Reserve's MBS purchase program lower mortgage rates?

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  • Diana Hancock
  • Wayne Passmore
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    Abstract

    We employ empirical pricing models for mortgage-backed security (MBS) yields and for mortgage rates to measure deviations from normal market functioning in order to assess how the Federal Reserve MBS purchase program--a 16 month program announced on November 25, 2008 and completed on March 31, 2010--affected risk premiums that were embedded in mortgage and swap markets. Our pricing models suggest that the announcement of the program, which signaled strong and credible government backing for mortgage markets in particular and for the financial system more generally, reduced mortgage rates by about 85 basis points between November 25 and December 31, 2008, even though no MBS had (yet) been purchased by the Federal Reserve ; Once the Federal Reserve's MBS program started purchasing MBS, we estimate that the abnormal risk premiums embedded mortgage rates decreased roughly 50 basis points. However, observed mortgage rates declined only slightly because of generally rising interest rates. ; After May 27, 2009 fairly normal pricing conditions existed in U.S. primary and secondary mortgage markets; that is, the relationship between mortgage rates and its determinants was similar to that observed prior to the financial crisis. After the end of the Federal Reserve's MBS purchase program on March 31, 2010, mortgage rates and interest rates more generally were significantly less than they had been at the beginning. ; In sum, we estimate that the Federal Reserve's MBS purchase program removed substantial risk premiums embedded in mortgage rates because of the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve also re-established a robust secondary mortgage market, which meant that the marginal mortgage borrower was funded by the capital markets and not directly by the banks during the financial crisis-had bank funding been the only source of funds, primary mortgage rates would have been much higher. ; Lastly, many observers have attributed part of the Federal Reserve's effect from purchasing MBS to portfolio rebalancing. We find that if portfolio rebalancing had a substantial effect, it may have had its greatest importance only after the Federal Reserve's purchases ended, but while the Federal Reserve held a substantial portion of the stock of outstanding MBS.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2011-01.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-01

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    Keywords: Mortgage-backed securities ; Housing policy ; Secondary mortgage market ; Mortgage loans ; Monetary policy;

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    Cited by:
    1. John C. Williams, 2012. "The role of monetary policy in bolstering economic growth," Speech 114, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Meixing Dai & Frédéric Dufourt & Qiao Zhang, 2013. "Large Scale Asset Purchases with segmented mortgage and corporate loan markets," Working Papers of BETA 2013-20, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    3. Fratzscher, Marcel & Lo Duca, Marco & Straub, Roland, 2013. "On the international spillovers of US quantitative easing," Working Paper Series 1557, European Central Bank.
    4. Simon Gilchrist & Egon Zakrajsek, 2013. "The impact of the Federal Reserve's Large-Scale Asset Purchase programs on corporate credit risk," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-56, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Silvio Contessi & Pierangelo De Pace & Massimo Guidolin, 2013. "How did the financial crisis alter the correlations of U.S. yield spreads?," Working Papers 2013-005, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    6. Chabot, Benjamin & Herman, Gabe, 2013. "A History of Large-Scale Asset Purchases before the Federal Reserve," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 140-152.
    7. repec:fip:fedfsp:y:2012:i:nov2 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Hancock, Diana & Passmore, Wayne, 2011. "Did the Federal Reserve's MBS purchase program lower mortgage rates?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(5), pages 498-514.
    9. Bernanke, Ben S., 2014. "The Federal Reserve: Looking Back, Looking Forward : a speech at the Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 3, 2014," Speech 608, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Kandrac, John, 2013. "Have Federal Reserve MBS purchases affected market functioning?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 188-191.
    11. Bernanke, Ben S., 2012. "Monetary Policy since the Onset of the Crisis : a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, August 31, 2012," Speech 645, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Walentin, Karl, 2013. "Business Cycle Implications of Mortgage Spreads," Working Paper Series 275, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    13. Leippold, Markus & Strømberg, Jacob, 2014. "Time-changed Lévy LIBOR market model: Pricing and joint estimation of the cap surface and swaption cube," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 224-250.
    14. Fratzscher, Marcel & Lo Duca, Marco & Straub, Roland, 2012. "A global monetary tsunami? On the spillovers of US Quantitative Easing," CEPR Discussion Papers 9195, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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