What Drives Fixed Rate Mortgages?

Since January of this year, fixed rate mortgages have been volatile (see chart below) with many increases followed by decreases whereas prime rate (which affects variable mortgages) has been stable over the same period of time. What drives fixed interest rates to be this volatile?


Fixed rates are driven by the bond market.  Bond yields decrease with bad news such as the recent Japanese natural disaster and the Libyan crisis. These events which occured in mid March resulted in lower fixed rates for a short period of time. On the other hand, news such as higher inflation and positive job creation drive up bond yields since investors move their money into the stock market and for bonds to be attractive for investors, they would have to provide a higher yield (ie. fixed rates would increase).

Good economic news with respect to job creation, lower number of Canadians filing for unemployment insurance, US economoy creating jobs and trimming its deficit, result in increased bond yields and therefore higher fixed rates.

In my opinion, the number one risk over the next few years as the global economy recovers is inflation. Governments spent billions of dollars to stimulate the economy by providing liquidity into the market which has to be paid for by the taxpayers eventually.  High inflation would drive up fixed rates accordingly.

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