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By G. Steven Bray
Last time we discussed the case for lower mortgage rates and the fact that unexpected headlines could put some downward pressure on rates. Well, that seems to be the case this week. In addition to news about trade negotiations with China, the Korean and Iranian nuclear deals, and the political drama in Washington, markets had to digest political headlines out of Italy.
Italian headlines affecting US mortgage rates? There’s a good reason for it, and one possible outcome could lead to significantly lower rates.
Italy recently held parliamentary elections with no party taking a majority. However, populist parties that generally oppose Italy’s membership in the European Union had strong showings, and two of them agreed to form a coalition government.
From a market standpoint, the EU represents stability. Much as the Brexit vote caused rates to plummet, an EU breakup could do the same. Italy is the third largest economy in the EU, and while it probably could survive Italy’s departure, that departure could cause other, smaller countries opposed to EU reforms to bolt as well.
For now, I think it would be smart to take advantage of the dip in rates as I think it will be temporary (absent more headlines). The coalition parties have pared back some of their more radical proposals, and it would take many months for them to implement the ones that remain. However, it’s another drip in the bucket trying to pull rates back down from their 7-year highs.