Continued adverse developments in the broader residential mortgage market may adversely affect the value of our investments.
Since 2008, the residential mortgage market in the United States has experienced a variety of unprecedented difficulties and changed economic conditions, including defaults, credit losses and liquidity concerns. Many of these conditions are expected to continue in 2014 and beyond. These factors have impacted investor perception of the risk associated with real estate related assets, including mortgage-related investments. As a result, values for these assets have experienced a certain amount of volatility. Further increased volatility and deterioration in the broader residential mortgage and RMBS markets may adversely affect the performance and market value of the assets in which we invest.
The risks associated with our business may be more severe during economic recessions and are compounded by declining real estate values. Declining real estate values will likely reduce the level of new mortgage loan originations since borrowers often use appreciation in the value of their existing properties to support the purchase of additional properties. Borrowers will also be less able to pay principal and interest on loans underlying the securities in which we invest if the value of residential real estate weakens further. Any sustained period of increased payment delinquencies, foreclosures or losses could increase the rate that the GSEs buy out the delinquent loans from pools underlying the agency securities in which we invest, resulting in an increased rate of prepayments that could adversely affect our net interest income from our agency securities, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
An increase in interest rates may cause a decrease in the volume of newly issued, or an increase in investor demand for, mortgages, which could adversely affect our ability to acquire assets that satisfy our investment objectives and to generate income and pay dividends, while a decrease in interest rates may cause an increase in the volume of newly issued, or a decrease in investor demand for, mortgages, which could negatively affect the valuations for our investments and may adversely affect our liquidity.
A reduction in the volume of mortgage loans originated may affect the volume of investments available to us, which could affect our ability to acquire assets that satisfy our investment objectives. An increase in the volume of mortgage loans originated may negatively impact the valuation for our investment portfolio. A negative impact on valuations of our assets could have an adverse impact on our liquidity profile in the event that we are required to post margin under our repurchase agreements, which could materially and adversely impact our business.
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities and our competitors may be able to compete more effectively for investment opportunities than we can. This competition may limit our ability to acquire desirable investments in our target assets and could affect the pricing of these investments.
A number of entities compete with us to make investments. We compete with other REITs and public and private funds, including those that may be managed by affiliates of American Capital, such as American Capital Mortgage Investment Corp., commercial and investment banks, commercial finance and insurance companies and other financial institutions. Our competitors may have greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do. Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds than we do or access to funding sources that may not be available to us. Many of our competitors are not subject to the operating constraints associated with REIT tax compliance and maintenance of an exemption from the Investment Company Act. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which may allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and establish more relationships than we can. Furthermore, competition for investments in mortgage-related investments may lead to the price of such assets increasing, which may further limit our ability to generate desired returns. The competitive pressures we face could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Also, as a result of this competition, we may not be able to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities from time to time, and we may not be able to identify and make investments that are consistent with our investment objectives.
We may change our targeted investments, investment guidelines and other operational policies without stockholder consent, which may adversely affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to stockholders.
We may change our targeted investments and investment guidelines at any time, including a change that would permit us to invest in other mortgage related investments, without the consent of our stockholders, which could result in our making investments that are different from, and possibly riskier than, the investments described herein. Our Board of Directors also determines our other operational policies and may amend or revise such policies, including our policies with respect to our REIT qualification, acquisitions, dispositions, operations, indebtedness and distributions, or approve transactions that deviate from these policies, without a vote of, or notice to, our stockholders. A change in our targeted investments, investment guidelines and other operational policies may increase our exposure to interest rate, spread, default, credit, prepayment, extension, liquidity and other risks as well as exposure to real estate market fluctuations, all of which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our common and and preferred stockholders.