Mortgage rates officially hit their lowest levels in 4 months after this week’s inflation data. Despite the recent progress, Fed officials continue to talk about keeping rates high “for as long as possible.” Who’s telling the truth? First off, we know that mortgage rates are at 4 month lows because that assertion relies on the past as opposed to the future. You’d have to go back to September 12th to see anything lower for the average lender. We also know that inflation has been the driving force behind the tremendous rate volatility seen over the past 12 months. Specifically, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has been at the scene of the crime for most of the largest rate moves. Up until November, all but one of those large moves was toward higher rates, but things have shifted since then. Rates respond to inflation data because rates are based on bonds and inflation directly impacts the returns on bonds. They’re responding more than normal in the past year because inflation jumped at the fastest pace in 40 years in 2022. Recent reports show progress on the inflation front, so longer term rates like mortgages are showing some hope for the future. All of the above makes sense from a logical standpoint, so why do Fed officials continue saying that more rate hikes are needed and that rates will remain high as long as possible? One source of confusion is the fact that the Fed Funds Rate (the thing the Fed hikes/cuts/etc) is different than mortgage rates. The Fed Funds Rate applies to overnight lending between large institutions and has the biggest impact on the shortest-term bonds. The longer a bond lasts, the more it can vary from the Fed’s rate.