Most FED officials prefer raising interest rates prior to selling their MBS. How would this affect AGNC?

Of course most Federal Reserve officials would prefer to raise interest rates rather than sell toxic mortgage backed securities.  Nobody in their right mind would pay full face value for those toxic MBS.  The Fed knows this and it is already suffering a public relations crisis.  It doesn’t want the public to know how ineffectual their actions have been since late 2008.

They will also find that raising the Fed Funds Rate will be pushing on a string.  The commercial bankers have over $1.3 trillion in excess reserves in their digital vaults.  They are not loaning money to each other overnight at the Fed Funds Rate to meet reserve requirements (duh! Because they have $1.3 trillion in excess RESERVES.)  The Federal Reserve could raise this rate to 20% and nothing would happen.  Actually something would happen.  People would notice that the Fed is not in control of all interest rates like they were taught.

If the Federal Reserve does sell toxic MBS into the market, then that is very bad for high dividend stocks like American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC) and other mortgage REITs.  There would be an increased supply of MBS for sale and no new demand at the old prices.  Prices of MBS would go down.  The asset value of AGNC’s MBS portfolio would go down.  If the Fed flooded the market with enough MBS, then it is even possible that AGNC would have to sell some agency MBS to satisfy margin calls for its repurchase agreements.  Leverage is a two way street.

The interest rates that the Fed doesn’t control are going to rise and that will hurt AGNC’s net income derived from the spread of various interest rates.  AGNC will lose money if interest rate yield curves invert (that would be a signal of a double dip recession).  Enjoy the high dividend yields while they last because lower future asset values and rising interest rates are going to torpedo AGNC’s investment prospects.

Disclosure: I don’t own AGNC and I don’t plan on owning it ever.

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(Reuters) – Most Federal Reserve officials prefer to raise benchmark interest rates before selling assets when the time comes to tighten policy, minutes of their April meeting showed on Wednesday.

During an extensive discussion of how the central bank might pull back its massive support for the world’s largest economy, officials agreed they would eventual shrink the Fed’s much expanded portfolio over the medium term, and that getting rid of mortgage-related debt would be a priority.

"A majority of participants preferred that sales of agency securities come after the first increase in the (Fed’s) target for short-term interest rates," the Fed said.

"And many of those participants also expressed a preference that the sales proceed relatively gradually, returning (Fed holdings) to all Treasury securities over perhaps five years," the minutes said.

Discussion of the removal of monetary stimulus should not be seen as an indication the Fed is ready to start down that road any time soon, policy makers said.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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