Fannie Mae reported its January total serious delinquency rate for single-family houses: the rate hit a new record of 5.54%, a jump from the December's 5.38%, and double the 2.77% in January 2009. All in all a perfect time for the Fed to be moving away from the mortgage market pardon, to no longer being the mortgage market. The one saving grace for the Fed, was that new issuance keeps declining: $43.9 billion in MBS was issued in February, 7% less than the $47.6 billion in January. Yet $44 billion is not zero, and we anticipate ongoing new issuance which will need to find private buyers now that taxpayers are out of the picture. And even as Fannie's total book of business grew at a 1% annualized pace to $3,229,645 MM, the actual guaranteed MBS and mortgage loans declined at 0.9% to $2,882,552.
Incidentally, it's worth nothing here that the Chief Fixed Income Strategist of MS Smith Barney Kevin Flanagan told Market News earlier that investors should reduce exposure to MBS, which he said are expensive even without considering that the Fed is no longer buying MBS. Flanagan said that "for those investors looking to buy agency MBS anyway, they are
better off avoiding the political uncertainty surrounding the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by sticking to the front end of the curve -- under the two-year area." Well, judging by the weak 4 week and 56 Day CMB auctions, this is certainly not happening at the ultra-short end of the curve.
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