As reported from BCREA:
In stark contrast to the consensus of economists expectations at the end of last year, bond yields have spent most of 2014 trending downward. Indeed, perhaps weary of previous false starts, bond markets have even shrugged off recent signs of a strengthening economy, an acceleration of inflation and the unwinding of stimulus from the US Federal Reserve. Lenders have responded in kind, offering homebuyers record low mortgage rates.
Given well anchored inflation expectations and near consensus that short-term rates will be higher next year, the continued downtrend in bond yields this year is difficult to explain. One factor could be that investors are acclimating to the idea that the neutral rate, or the Bank of Canada’s preferred destination for interest rates once it tightens,
is likely much lower than in the past and that realization is being priced into expectations and therefore long-term interest rates.
Additionally, the performance of Canada’s financial and banking system post-financial crisis has won it a reputation among foreign investors as a safe harbor. Foreign holdings of Canadian government bonds and treasury bills have jumped from 15 per cent to over a quarter of outstanding debt since the global financial crisis. As uncertainty mounts in other areas of the world due to weak economic growth or unresolved conflicts, assets have crowded into both US and Canadian debt securities, forcing yields lower. Given these factors, rates could remain below historical average levels even as the Bank of Canada begins tightening.
While we do not expect the Bank to act on interest rates until late in 2015, bond yields could rise modestly before then in anticipation of higher rates, particularly if economic growth is stronger than expected. If so, we expect to see a slight increase in five-year and one-year fixed mortgage rates by the end of 2014.
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