Earlier in the week the Fed announced a plan to move short-term securities into long-term holdings, such as 50-year bonds. This move would ultimately affect mortgage rates and other consumer and business loans. As investors buy up U.S. treasuries, yields will drop in response, forcing interest rates on mortgages to also drop. Over the past week the 30-year mortgage has dropped from 4.18% to 4.00%, pushing further into record-breaking ground. Just how far will mortgage rates drop? As long as the US economy stays weak and the Fed keeps short-term rates near 0%, mortgage rates could stay close to where they are right now.
How does this affect savers?
Anyone not buying a house, car or taking out long-term loans will be affected negatively by the current moves of the Fed. As long as banks and other financial institutions can get money at near 0% interest, they have no need to get it from investors. When the Fed increases rates, the cost to banks for borrowing money increases, this will in turn give the banks an incentive to pay its customers more to borrow their money.
Whenever you place your money into a bank account, savings account or certificate of deposit, the bank uses that money to lend to its customers of credit cards, mortgages, car loans and any other type of loans. In turn the bank charges an interest rate for these loans and pays its customers its borrowing money from a part of that percentage. This is how the banking system makes its money. When rates are down, the banks have no reason to pay a higher rate to investors. Therefore, as long as interest rates are at or near 0%, investors will lose, while those buying long-term loans will win by the decreased cost of borrowing money.
Will interest rates increase in 2011?
The U.S economy is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2%, not even keeping up with the rate of inflation. The current inflation rate for 2011 is 3.8% (US Inflation). When the Fed announced that it would keep interest rates near zero percent for ‘an extended period’, they said so because there was little prospect that the economy would recover within the next two years. This means that interest rates would stay low for this period of time, giving borrowers more time to make purchases or to borrow money at record low rates.
One of the dangerous causes of low interest rates is inflation. If inflation increases, interest rates would need to be increased to control the increase of inflation. The only hope for savers to see an increase on their savings accounts or CD rates in the near future would be to see an increase in inflation. Then it becomes a game of when, or if the Fed will renege on their original statement that interest rates would stay low until at least mid-2013. If the interest rate the Fed sets is not increased until 2013, then I do not see CD rates or Savings rates increasing until 2013 also.
Where are the best interest rates for savers?
If you are looking for the best interest rates on CDs or savings accounts, then stay away from major banks. Check your local credit union, as these financial institutions tend to have the best CD rates anyone can find. Melrose Credit Union is a great example of a Credit Union offering some of the highest rates on their certificate of deposits. Melrose is also a credit union open to anyone, while most credit unions are only open to specific groups of people.