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October 12, 2023 | Rachelle Allen


Higher for Longer – 5 Implications for Your Finances

The financial world is abuzz with the prospect of sustained higher interest rates, marking a departure from earlier expectations of rate cuts by central banks globally. The shift in this trajectory is affecting various aspects of our financial lives. Here's what you need to know:

1. The Intent Behind Rising Rates

  • Central banks raise interest rates to cool down economic activity. As the cost of borrowing increases, consumers tend to reduce their spending, which, in turn, helps stabilize prices. It's a tool to maintain economic stability.

2. An Unprecedented Rate Hike Cycle

  • We're in the midst of one of the most aggressive interest rate hiking cycles in history. For instance, the Bank of Canada has increased rates 10 times since March 2022, and the Federal Reserve followed suit with 11 rate hikes in the same time period.

3. Inflation Progress

  • Inflation has decreased from 9% in August 2022 to 4% September 2023, indicating positive progress. However, this figure remains double the target interest rate of 2%, suggesting more work is needed.

4. Economic Resilience

  • Recent indicators, including an increase in U.S. job openings and improvements in the U.S. manufacturing sector, hint at an underlying resilience in the economy, further supporting the case for maintaining higher rates.

How Higher Rates Impact You

1. Bonds

  • The relationship between interest rates and bonds is inverse. Rising rates cause bond prices to fall, affecting the value of existing bonds. Newly issued bonds carry higher coupons after rate hikes, making older bonds with lower coupons less valuable. Currently, bonds are experiencing their third consecutive year for negative returns. The last time this happened, you must go 150 years back in the history books.

2. Stocks

  • Although interest rate changes don't directly affect the stock market, central bank actions can indirectly impact stock prices. Higher rates can reduce consumer and business spending, increase operating costs for corporations and potentially lowering the value of stocks.

3. Cash and Cash Equivalents

  • Rising interest rates can lead to higher returns on savings accounts and GICs (Guaranteed Investment Certificates). At present, various issuers are offering rates in the range of 5.50% - 5.62% for a 1-year GIC.

4. Real Estate and Borrowing Costs

  • If you're involved in real estate or planning to buy a home or renew a mortgage, higher interest rates may increase your monthly payments. This can significantly impact your cash flow. For example, a standard five-year fixed mortgage rate in Canada was 2.65% in 2020. For the average mortgage loan in Ontario in 2022 ($469,202, 25-year amortization), payments would increase from $2,137 monthly to $3,139, a substantial rise of $1,002.

5. Retirement Planning

  • If you have retirement savings in fixed-income investments like bonds, higher interest rates can lead to increased returns. However, these higher rates can make bonds more attractive, potentially reducing the demand for stocks and affecting overall portfolio performance.

The evolving interest rate landscape requires a thoughtful evaluation of your financial strategies. It's wise to stay informed and consider consulting with Finucci Janitis Allen to make well-informed decisions in this ever-changing environment.


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