Anxiety Strikes $8 Trillion Mortgage-Debt Market After SVB Collapse – Slashdot

Strains in the banking sector are roiling a roughly $8 trillion bond market considered almost as safe as U.S. government bonds. From a report: So-called agency mortgage bonds are widely held by banks, insurers and bond funds because they are backed by the mortgage loans from government-owned lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bonds are far less likely to default than most debt and are easy to buy and sell quickly, a crucial reason they were Silicon Valley Bank’s biggest investment before it foundered.ÂBut agency mortgage-backed securities, like all long-term bonds, are vulnerable to rising interest rates, which pushed their prices down last year and saddled banks such as SVB with unrealized losses. Now that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has taken over SVB, investors expect the bonds to be sold off in coming months, adding supply to the weakened market and pushing prices lower.

Last week, the risk premium on a widely followed Bloomberg index of agency MBS hit its highest level since October, when climbing interest rates turned global markets topsy-turvy. The move reflected fears that other regional banks might have to sell their holdings, bond-fund managers said. […] When benchmark interest rates rise, bonds that were sold at times of lower rates lose value. Prices of such “low coupon” agency MBS started dropping about a year ago, when the Federal Reserve raised rates to fight inflation and indicated it might start selling MBS it owned.Â
Some of the bonds lost 15% or more in a matter of months, trading as low as 80 cents on the dollar, according to data from FactSet.

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