OpinionMarkets & Economy

The most powerful force holding down U.S. rates

  • U.S. bonds will be attractive for a long time at low yields for us, but sky-high compared to competitors’.

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A sustained rise in long-term interest rates stopped Friday and reversed a bit, but identifying the fingerprints requires a little dusting, lifting and the microscope. The US 10-year T-note. There have been no economic events to explain today’s drop. Just politics. The 10-year-T-note on March 13 touched its post-election high at 2.62 percent (the prior top was December 14), with mortgages approaching 4.50 percent. The US 10-year T-note in the last year. All signs point to a Fed rate hike in June and at least one more in early fall, and then -- gulp -- the Fed will begin to unwind its balance sheet, inevitably bringing more upward pressure. (Most days, add 1.80 percent to the 10-year to get close to 30-fixed no-point mortgage rates.) From that March 2.62 percent, shaky economic data took the 10-year to 2.17 percent on April 18, with mortgages a hair under 4.00 percent. It then rose back to 2.42 percent last week on better data and clear Fed intentions to tighten. F...