Rates Are Not a Big Concern Among Consumers
Unstable home values, job insecurity and volatile stock market fears may be more of a concern for some members than what the rates are at their credit unions.
That’s according to Brian Turner, director and chief strategist for Catalyst Strategic Solutions, a subsidiary of Catalyst Corporate Credit Union in Plano, Texas.
His analysis comes in light of the Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Open Market Committee’s announcement to keep the target for fed funds rate at 0% to 0.25%.
The FOMC said “it currently anticipates that economic conditions – including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run – are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014.”
Regardless of the Federal Reserve’s intentions, the consumer continues to be swayed more by fundamental economic factors that reflect job insecurity, unstable home values and volatile stock market fears, Turner wrote in his Aug. 1 analysis. This makes consumers less rate sensitive so the Fed’s motivations may be fruitless in this particular environment, he added.
“Their unseen objective is to keep rates low enough that lenders can no longer afford to invest in securities or sit on cash but shift to the higher whole loan offering rates. But this also flies in the face of consumers’ behavior profile,” Turner said.
While credit unions have seen vehicle loans improve this year, the average loan rate has changed very little since the first of the year.
“The auto dealers learned early on that even a 0.00% financing offer did not increase sales,” Turner said.
Meanwhile, the Fed seems to be trying to pushing lenders to extend credit beyond their underwriting standards in light of consumers’ defiant rate-sensitivity, he noted.
“This comes dangerously close to 2004-2008 when federal politicians pushed for more liberal mortgage originations to spur home sales and ownership – what got us in this problem in the first place,” Turner said.
Financial markets and business communities appear to have put themselves on hold until after the national election rather than speculate at this time the fiscal budget and regulatory climate that each will be operating under over the next few years, Turner said.
A rally on Aug. 3 that pushed the stock market up 217 points may not have a true impact on the economy, according to Dan Geller, chief research officer at Money Anxiety Index, a measurement of economic factors.
The latest jobs report showed an increase of 163,000 in the number of nonfarm jobs. However, the makeup of this figure indicates that 29,400 jobs were seasonal employees. Additionally, education and health care added 38,000 jobs following a decrease of 6,000 jobs in June. “The July employment figure is closer to 80,000 permanent and sustained jobs, and the June confidence level is wishful thinking on the part of respondents," Geller said.