The relationship between short-term and longer-term interest rates is often referred to as the "yield curve." Ordinarily, short-term interest rates are lower than longer-term interest rates. If short-term interest rates rise disproportionately relative to longer-term interest rates (a "flattening" of the yield curve), our borrowing costs may increase more rapidly than the interest income earned on our assets. Because our investments generally bear interest at longer-term rates than we pay on our borrowings, a flattening of the yield curve would tend to decrease our net interest income and the market value of our investment portfolio. Additionally, to the extent cash flows from investments that return scheduled and unscheduled principal are reinvested, the spread between the yields on the new investments and available borrowing rates may decline, which would likely decrease our net income. It is also possible that short-term interest rates may exceed longer-term interest rates (a yield curve "inversion"), in which event, our borrowing costs may exceed our interest income and we could incur operating losses and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be hindered.
Interest rate caps on mortgages backing our adjustable rate securities may adversely affect our profitability.
Adjustable-rate mortgages that we may purchase or that may back securities that we purchase will typically be subject to periodic and lifetime interest rate caps. Periodic interest rate caps limit the amount an interest rate can increase during any given period. Lifetime interest rate caps limit the amount an interest rate can increase through the maturity of a mortgage loan we may purchase or that may back securities that we may purchase. Our borrowings typically will not be subject to similar restrictions. Accordingly, in a period of rapidly increasing interest rates, the interest rates paid on our borrowings could increase without limitation while caps on mortgages could limit the interest rates on our investments in ARMs. This problem is magnified for hybrid ARMs and ARMs that are not fully indexed. Further, some hybrid ARMs and ARMs may be subject to periodic payment caps on the mortgages that result in a portion of the interest being deferred and added to the principal outstanding. As a result, we may receive less cash income on hybrid ARMs and ARMs than we need to pay interest on our related borrowings. These factors could reduce our net interest income and cause us to suffer a loss.
Declines in value of the assets in which we invest will adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations, and make it more costly to finance these assets.
We use our investments as collateral for our financings. A decline in their value, or perceived market uncertainty about their value, could make it difficult for us to obtain financing on favorable terms or at all, or maintain our compliance with terms of any financing arrangements already in place. Any fixed-rate securities we invest in generally will be more negatively affected by increases in interest rates than adjustable-rate securities. Our investments in mortgage-related securities are recorded at fair value with changes in fair value reported in net income or other comprehensive income (a component of equity). As a result, a decline in the fair value of our mortgage-related securities could reduce both our comprehensive income and stockholders' equity. If market conditions result in a decline in the fair value of our assets it will decrease the amounts we may borrow to purchase additional mortgage-related investments, which may restrict our ability to increase our net income, and our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our hedging strategies may not be successful in mitigating the risks associated with changes in interest rates.
Subject to complying with REIT tax requirements, we employ techniques that limit, or "hedge," the adverse effects of changes in interest rates on our repurchase agreements and our net book value. In general, our hedging strategy depends on our Manager's view of our entire investment portfolio, consisting of assets, liabilities and derivative instruments, in light of prevailing market conditions. Our hedging activities are generally designed to limit certain exposures and not to eliminate them. In addition, they may be unsuccessful and we could misjudge the condition of our investment portfolio or the market. Our hedging activity will vary in scope based on the level and volatility of interest rates and principal repayments, credit market conditions, the type of assets held and other changing market conditions. Our actual hedging decisions will be determined in light of the facts and circumstances existing at the time and may differ from our currently anticipated hedging strategy. These techniques may include entering into interest rate swap agreements, interest rate swaptions, TBAs, short sales, caps, collars, floors, forward contracts, options, futures or other types of hedging transactions. We may conduct certain hedging transactions through a TRS, which may subject those transactions to federal, state and, if applicable, local income tax.
There are no perfect hedging strategies, and interest rate hedging may fail to protect us from loss. Additionally, our business model calls for accepting certain amounts of interest rate, mortgage spread, prepayment, extension and liquidity risks and other exposures and thus some risks will generally not be hedged. Alternatively, our Manager may fail to properly assess a risk to our investment portfolio or may fail to recognize a risk entirely, leaving us exposed to losses without the benefit of any offsetting hedging activities. The derivative financial instruments we select may not have the effect of reducing our risk. The nature and timing of hedging transactions may influence the effectiveness of these strategies. Poorly designed hedging strategies or improperly executed transactions could actually increase our risk and losses. In addition, hedging activities could result in losses if the event against which we hedge does not occur. For example, interest rate hedging could fail to protect us or adversely affect us because, among other things: