bank of the james interest rates

Money Market Accounts. James joined Carmignac in 2016. He began his career in 2014 as Interest Rates sales within the Hedge Fund Team at Nomura Investment Bank in Paris. From 2015 to. James Coyne was Governor of the Bank of Canada from 1955 until 1961 was perhaps the first central bank to use short-term interest rates.

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James Grant: Negative Interest Rates Will End — Badly

By Matthew Borin

Posted In: Economics, Fixed Income, Portfolio Management

Negative interest rates are unsustainable and once investors decide to stop paying for the privilege of holding government debt, a banking crisis could result, says James Grant.

The founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer was one of several speakers at the 2016 CFA Society New York Annual Benjamin Graham Conference to remark on the ramifications of unprecedented loose monetary policy.

Historic Lows

Central banks are treading in uncharted waters. Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla, the authors of A History of Interest Rates, found no instance of negative rates in 5,000 years. Now there are $11.7 trillion invested in negative-yield sovereign debt, including $7.9 trillion in Japanese government bonds and over $1 trillion in both French and German sovereign debt.

Grant posed a tongue-in-cheek question: “If these are the first sub-zero interest rates in 5,000 years, is this not the worst economy since 3000 BC?”

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This is not a bad economy by most measures. Household wealth in the United States has grown steadily since the Great Recession. If these gains were the result of greater productivity, interest rates would not need to stay at historic lows. Grant says they are “a sign of someone’s thumb on the currency.” Negative rates are propping up risk assets. He critiqued US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s touting of the bull market in equities as a sign of prosperity by alluding to Brexit voters.

“Asset prices have failed to pacify the world’s unprofitable voters,” Grant said.

The War on Cash

Investors have fallen into the trap of thinking that the future will be like the past, Grant says. The period of falling yields and rising bond prices that began in 1981 is entering its 35th year. He noted that a 35-year bear market preceded this. Yet the yield curve for Swiss bonds is sub-zero for the next 30 years, thereby implying that investors expect negative rates to persist for a long time.

Another reason to think rates must begin to rise: Bonds with negative yields are worse investments than cash. That has always been the reason for zero lower bound in monetary policy. So far, investors have been willing to pay for the convenience and security of storing wealth in banks and bonds, but if yields become sharply negative, some savers will no longer be able to accept guaranteed compounded losses. Then, conventional wisdom says, they will hoard cash, which returns 0%.

To maintain increasingly lower interest rates would require a “war on cash,” Grant said. He envisions a means by which the Fed would discourage and stigmatize using cash, and ultimately implement an unfavorable exchange rate on physical currency.

Financial Analysts Journal Latest Issue Graphic

Central Bank Acrobatics

Central bankers have taken the evolution of currency from a measure of value to a macro-policy tool to, and perhaps beyond, its limits, Grant says. A federal funds rate below zero charges banks to store deposits at the central bank. These negative rates are passed on to depositors, which incentivizes them to spend rather than save. To avoid paying negative rates, banks and individuals buy bonds, so yields fall below zero when demand and price spike.

These “central bank acrobatics” create distortions, like inflated equity prices. Another example: Italian 10-year notes yield roughly 20 basis points (bps) less than US notes. If this is not evidence of the European Central Bank (ECB)’s currency manipulations, Grant said, then investors must expect “a return to the glory of Rome.” Even as the pound fell 12% after Brexit, 10-year gilt yields fell below 1%.

“Where is the pushback from the market?” Grant asked.

Yellen has said the Fed could set the funds rate below zero in the event of a recession. Grant put the odds of sharply negative rates in the case of a recession at “perhaps not 60%,” but noted a confidence in negative rates among central bankers. After the Great Recession, a near-zero funds rate and quantitative easing (QE), which raised inflation expectations, had already reduced real yields to below zero.

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Looming Crises

Though savers are yet to hoard cash in their mattresses, negative rates could have other consequences. Negative funds rates squeeze banks’ profit margins. Low enough rates could cause many to become unprofitable. Pension funds depend on bond yields to meet their payment requirements. Grant says it is now impossible for them to hit 7% return targets. Insurance companies invest their premiums in fixed income, and are “dying on the vine” according to Grant.

If interest rates rise due to inflation or pushback from the market, several countries could have difficulty coping with the higher costs of borrowing. Italian stocks tumbled after Brexit, indicating that investors may fear a debt crisis. Japan will have even more difficulty disposing of its debt. Japan has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world at over 200%, in part due to Abenomics intended to prop up stock prices and inflation.

Gold: An Investment in Monetary Disorder

Grant acknowledged that gold is “the asset class of choice for calamity hounds,” but suggested that investors consider it. The case for gold, he says, has more to do with the state of money and credit than with Brexit. Grant characterizes the value of gold as the reciprocal of the world’s trust in central banks.

“Radical monetary policy begets more radical policy,” he said. “It seems to me, at some point, markets or voters will put a stop to this.”

If and when that time comes, investors will be looking for physical stores of wealth.

“The case for gold is not as a hedge against monetary disorder, because we have monetary disorder, but rather an investment in monetary disorder,” Grant said.

Secure Retirement graphic

More Advice for Investors

Grant was not the only speaker to address the current condition of money and credit:

  • David Poppe on why value stocks have underperformed growth stocks: “Low interest rates have made it very cheap for companies to grow. Higher ROI will outperform when capital becomes more expensive.”
  • Jason Karp on dividend-paying stocks: “Retirement flow is coming from low rates because you can’t earn from bonds. Stocks have to be your bond proxy.”
  • Leon Cooperman, CFA, on the end of the bond bull market: “Buying bonds is like walking in front of a steamroller to pick up a dime: You might get away with it, but it’s very risky . . . there’s no coupon to bail you out.”

If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to the Enterprising Investor.


All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: ©Getty Images/MikeMareen

Matthew Borin

Matthew Borin was an intern at CFA Institute. He was pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Источник: https://blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2016/08/08/james-grant-negative-interest-rates-will-end-badly/

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It has been yet another miserable year for savings account interest rates. This sentence has been roughly the same opening for our annual round-up for savers for the last few years.

However, with the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation, a bizarre paradox has emerged like never before.

While Britain has saved like never before this year, with official figures finding as much as £148billion was put away between October 2019 and October 2020, including £54.6billion in three months between April and June during the lockdown, the returns on those savings have never been lower.

2020 saw savings rates fall to an all-time low

2020 saw savings rates fall to an all-time low 

Given that savers had already suffered from a decade of low returns following the 2008 financial crisis, the last thing they would have hoped for in December 2020 was to be staring at interest rates of as little as 0.01 per cent, which is what is being paid by all of the UK's major high street banks.

But the coronavirus pandemic led to a pair of Bank of England base rate cuts in mid-March which took it to an all-time low of just 0.1 per cent, while a cheap central bank funding scheme has dished out £67.2billion since April that banks no longer have to find from savers.

Since then, rates have plummeted to an all-time low. Bread and butter easy-access rates stood at 0.59 per cent in January on average, according to figures from Moneyfacts.

By December, this had fallen to 0.19 per cent, largely weighed down by the cuts Britain's biggest banks made to their easy-access rates. A

nd the best rate available has fallen from 1.41 per cent at the start of the year to just 0.75 per cent in December.

The picture is the same across all accounts, with the average rate on an account requiring savers to lock away money for half a decade paying less than 1 per cent.

While savings experts predicted another gloomy year for savers at the start of 2020, it is far to say things have been far worse than anyone could have expected.

Month Average easy-accessAverage one-year fixed-rate bond Average two-year fixed-rate bond Average five-year fixed-rate bond Average easy-access Isa Average one-year fixed-rate Isa Average two-year fixed-rate Isa Average five-year fixed-rate Isa 
January0.59%1.22% 1.34% 1.71% 0.85%1.15% 1.22% 1.61% 
February 0.56% 1.19% 1.29% 1.66% 0.84% 1.13% 1.2% 1.61% 
March 0.57% 1.16% 1.24% 1.56% 0.83% 1.13% 1.18% 1.47% 
April 0.51% 1.11% 1.17% 1.46% 0.8% 1.04% 1.06% 1.28% 
May 0.41% 1.01% 1.05% 1.39% 0.63% 0.91% 0.94% 1.27% 
June 0.3% 0.88% 0.92% 1.24% 0.45% 0.75% 0.77% 1.18% 
July 0.24% 0.71% 0.78% 1.13% 0.38% 0.61% 0.65% 1.04% 
August 0.22% 0.64% 0.72% 1% 0.32% 0.56% 0.63% 0.99% 
September 0.22% 0.66% 0.73% 1.05% 0.32% 0.54% 0.68% 1.16% 
October 0.24% 0.7% 0.77% 1.14% 0.35% 0.63% 0.68% 1.16%
November 0.22% 0.62% 0.74% 1.05% 0.31% 0.58% 0.61% 1.04% 
December 0.19% 0.54% 0.66% 0.97% 0.28% 0.52% 0.55% 0.92% 

'It's been tough for savers for many years now, but 2020 has taken things to a new level of tough', Anna Bowes, the co-founder of analyst Savings Champion, said. 

'Anyone with cash in a variable rate account is likely to have seen the interest they are earning fall, as there have been almost 4,500 rate cuts to existing variable rate accounts over the last eight months.'

And, ironically, those able to stash extra money away during the lockdown months potentially made matters worse for themselves. 

Banks seeing reduced demand from borrowers due to the shutting down of vast swathes of the economy were already less in need of paying for savers' deposits, even before billions of pounds were dumped into their laps.

The Bank of England slashed its base rate to an all-time low of 0.1% in March to help combat the coronavirus

The Bank of England slashed its base rate to an all-time low of 0.1% in March to help combat the coronavirus

'It's really a matter of supply and demand', Stuart Hulme, director of savings and marketing at Hampshire Trust Bank, told This is Money earlier this year.

Much of the demand has also been satisfied by billions of pounds in cheap Bank of England money lasting until 2024, which as history shows has previously reduced banks' need for money from everyday savers and reduced savings rates.

There had appeared to be some green shoots of recovery over the summer, with rates improving slightly between late July and mid-September as the economy reopened and recovered.

Account Best buy rate in April Best buy rate in July Best buy rate in September Best buy rate on 21 December 
Easy-access1.31%1.15% 1.15% 0.75% 
One-year fixed-rate bond 1.6% 1.1% 1.2% 0.8% 
Two-year fixed-rate bond 1.75% 1.4% 1.31% 1.05% 
Five-year fixed-rate bond 2% 1.6% 1.55% 1.28% 
Easy-access Isa 1.35% 0.9% 0.95% 0.6% 
One-year fixed-rate Isa 1.36% 0.8% 0.85% 0.65% 
Two-year fixed-rate Isa 1.5% 1% 0.92% 0.8% 
Five-year fixed-rate Isa 1.6% 1.24% 1.44% 1.18% 

However, the billions of pounds savers had poured into another bank, Treasury-backed National Savings & Investments, set the stage for another sharp fall in savings rates in the final few months of the year.

NS&I had helped fund the Government through two previous world wars and savers' cash was once again marshalled during the coronavirus pandemic, after it reversed planned cuts to its savings rates and raised its fundraising target to £35billion in 2020-21.

The state-backed savings bank proved a lifeline at the top of the best buy tables, but the billions of pounds it soaked up from rate-starved savers saw it blow through that target in just half a year, with This is Money reporting throughout 2020 on how record sums have been poured into its tax-free Premium Bonds each month.

MonthTotal Premium Bonds in the drawNew Bonds in the draw
June 201981,180,745,735
July 201981,646,957,120466,211,385
August 201981,979,282,936332,325,816
September 201982,518,577,254539,294,318
October 201983,121,568,735602,991,481
November 201983,678,794,092557,225,357
December 201984,379,826,041701,031,949
January 202085,042,266,956662,440,915
February 202085,346,436,256304,169,300
March 202086,147,886,134801,449,878
April 202086,430,926,941283,040,807
May 202087,664,243,4941,233,316,553
June 202089,218,660,2801,554,416,786
July 2020 90,917,241,141 1,698,580,861‬ 
August 2020 92,663,149,308 1,745,908,167
September 2020 94,472,953,474 1,809,804,166 
October 2020 96,072,406,201 1,599,452,727 
November 2020 97,467,982,557 1,395,576,356
December 2020 98,952,302,605 1,484,320,048 

As a result, rather than the initial cuts proposed earlier this year, NS&I in September announced drastic cuts to all its accounts which took rates paid to as little as 0.01 per cent from last month, although savers have struggled to cut their losses as the bank grapples with a customer service meltdown.

It meant the savings market has once again been in freefall, with the smaller banks which populate the top of the best buy tables unable to sustain the billions of pounds the cuts released into the market, something bankers warned This is Money about in July.

A net £537million flowed out of NS&I in October after the cuts were announced and savings experts predicted even more was withdrawn after the reductions came into effect last month.

Which banks had borrowed the most? 

At the end of September, the following banks and building societies had drawn the most money from the Bank of England's Term Funding Scheme, which offers cheap money designed to be lent out to businesses and consumers:

- Lloyds Banking Group - £13.6bn

- Barclays - £6.58bn

- Nationwide Building Society - £6.2bn

In total £45bn had been drawn from the TFSME by the end of September, although the figure now stands at £67.2bn 

What happens next?

After a year to forget for savers, the next question is whether things will recover in 2021. While savers might well think things can hardly get worse, rates could be slow to bounce back, and they could even fall further.

'It's likely rates across the market will continue to fall as lenders are sufficiently liquid', Maitham Mohsin, head of savings at Skipton Building Society, said. 'Sadly the forecast for savers will be unwelcome but not entirely unexpected.'

He added he felt the record savings made by Britons in 2020 could be mirrored next year, which would be good news for household finances but would reduce the chances of rates rising.

Moneyfacts' Rachel Springall agreed. She said: 'Interest rates are unlikely to rise over the next few months and there have even been murmurings of a potential base rate cut to come, so there really is no guarantee savings rates won't continue to fall.'

However, Anna Bowes was slightly more optimistic. She said: 'There is still so much uncertainly with both the Vaccine hope and the big Brexit deal or no deal situation that it's impossible to make a call.

'That said, the vaccine programme could see the beginning of the economic recovery, which in turn could push up inflation, which may lead to an increase in the Bank of England base rate and hopefully savings interest rates.

'There are also new banks waiting in the wings and as we've seen before, these new banks seeking new customers can often set a cat among the pigeons, albeit usually only for a short period.'

A year no-one could have predicted... but we still tried

Despite a year no one could have predicted, two of James Blower's 3 savings predictions for 2020 were correct

Despite a year no one could have predicted, two of James Blower's 3 savings predictions for 2020 were correct 

Last year, James Blower, founder of The Savings Guru and an advisor to challenger banks, continued his usual practice of giving us three predictions for what was in-store for savers in 2020.

They were:

  1. We will see a strong year of new bank applications and launches
  2. Rates will be broadly flat or improve slightly in 2020
  3. I think we will see a rise of marketplaces, deposit platforms and savings-related apps 

While his prediction on improving rates sadly didn't come true, it's probably fair to give him a free pass given no one could have predicted what 2020 would bring. 

And in spite of that, 'I think I had a pretty successful year of predictions', he said. 

'2020 was indeed very strong for new banks. We have seen six new authorisations so far this year, plus the launch of savings from Allica Bank, JN Bank and Zopa during the year. 

'Unfortunately, my rate predictions were completely destroyed by coronavirus, as were everyone else's. Nobody saw the year coming that we have had and I don't think many of us will be sad to see the back of 2020. 

Peer-to-peer lender Zopa and Britain's first Caribbean bank JN Bank were among those which opened their doors to savers in 2020

Peer-to-peer lender Zopa and Britain's first Caribbean bank JN Bank were among those which opened their doors to savers in 2020

'Marketplaces, platforms and savings apps all had a good year. Raisin and Hargreaves Lansdown’s Active Savings have all reported strong growth in balances and customer numbers, Flagstone raised £11million in venture capital and Akoni Hub entered the market. 

'Chip, Snoop and Moneybox were the top three biggest crowdfunds in Europe of 2020 - raising over £28million between them - and Nude Finance, which helps first time buyers save to buy their first home, was also in the top 10 raising over £3.5million.'

Three predictions for 2021

This time around James isn't backing rates to improve in 2021. Instead, he's predicting the following: 

1. I expect 2021 to see a strong first quarter for new authorisations and new entrants

I expect to see Oxbury Bank, Castle Trust and Chase, from JP Morgan, early in 2021 and John Lewis to enter too, via a partnership. 

These new banks will be essential for savers as they are the only good news I can see for interest rates. 

New entrants all typically offer attractive rates to get customers on board at launch, while they have little or no brand recognition. 

Could JP Morgan Chase's digital bank come to the UK early next year?

Could JP Morgan Chase's digital bank come to the UK early next year?

2. Interest rates will continue to be very low 

Brexit, coronavirus, the general economic outlook and the absence of any likelihood of base rate rising will all weigh heavily on savings rates and we may well see further falls from the already record lows we are witnessing. 

I warned readers of my newsletter at the start of October that the low rates then would look good in a few months and we’ve seen one-year best buy rates halve in that time. 

Sadly, I see no reason for improvement from where we are and think we will see further falls early in January and I can see little reason for rates to pick up from there.

3. NS&I will cut the interest rate on Premium Bonds

This leads to NS&I. 

Until we get to their update in mid-January, it is difficult to know how they are faring. 

The Bank of England October figures suggested only around £500m had left them, after the announcement of rate cuts, but what we don’t know is how much left in November when the cuts came into effect. 

Premium Bonds pay a prize pool of 1 per cent and that is almost double the best easy-access rate in the market, which I expect will fall in January to around 0.4 per cent. 

I see no reasons for this to improve and therefore expect that NS&I will announce a cut in the first quarter of 2021 to reduce the differential from their prize pool and the best buy easy access rates.

What should savers do?

Skipton Building Society's head of savings Maitham Mohsin believed rates could get worse next year

Skipton Building Society's head of savings Maitham Mohsin believed rates could get worse next year 

As always, the advice for savers is to look beyond the pitiful rates offered by the high street banks and check independent best buy tables like those provided by This is Money. 

Even though savings rates are at record lows, there is still value to be had in switching provider.

If the best easy-access rate on the market is paying 0.75 per cent, then a saver who moved £10,000 from an account with one of Britain's major banks paying 0.01 per cent would earn £74 more a year in interest.

However, savers should be wary of locking their money away for too long, given that returns on fixed-rate bonds with terms longer than 18 months are not that much higher than those on shorter term lengths at the moment.

Meanwhile, Mr Mosin added: 'What is becoming apparent is that existing savers can often find better rates on older savings products they hold, particularly those products that were available in the market just prior to NS&I's rate reduction announcement.

'It's really worth people spending a little bit of time to see what savings accounts they have and what their rates are, particularly if they're variable rates rather than fixed.'

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Источник: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-9079265/Savings-rates-rebound-time-low-2021.html

Mortgage Rates

Effective Date November 23, 2021 10:00 AM

*Interest Rates vary daily and are accurate as of the date above and subject to change without notice.  Principal and interest payments do not include taxes, insurance or monthly mortgage insurance, if applicable.  Actual payment obligation may be greater.

1Jumbo 30 year Purchase assumptions and disclaimers for above rates and points examples are based on: Purchases with $550,000 loan amount, a minimum credit score of 740, 75% LTV, primary residence, single family detached property, first lien mortgage without escrow waivers.  Purchase Rate Lock periods are 65 days. The interest rate shown for the Jumbo products includes a .25% discount when the loan payments are automatically deducted from a Lakeland Bank checking or statement savings account. The APR will increase if, at any time during the term of the loan, the automatic payment deduction is discontinued.  Jumbo loans up to $1,500,000.

2Jumbo 30 year Refinance assumptions and disclaimers for above rates and points examples are based on: No cash-out refinances with $550,000 loan amount, a minimum credit score of 740, 75% LTV, primary residence, single family detached property, first lien mortgage without escrow waivers.  Refinance Rate Lock periods are 65 days. The interest rate shown for the Jumbo products includes a .25% discount when the loan payments are automatically deducted from a Lakeland Bank checking or statement savings account. The APR will increase if, at any time during the term of the loan, the automatic payment deduction is discontinued.  Jumbo loans up to $1,500,000.

3Assumptions and disclaimers for above rates and points examples are based on: $300,000 loan amount, a minimum credit score of 740, 75% LTV, purchase of a primary residence, single family detached in New York, first lien mortgage without subordinate financing, and with escrows for taxes. Rates may be higher for refinance transactions and/or refinancing of subordinate liens. Loans over 80% LTV require PMI Insurance. Rate Lock periods are 50 days for purchases and refinances.

4FHA Assumptions and disclaimers for above rates and points examples are based on: $152,625 loan amount (which includes an upfront mortgage insurance premium of $2,625), a minimum credit score of 680, 96.50% LTV, purchase of primary residence, single family detached property, first lien mortgage without subordinate financing.  Rate Lock periods are 50 days for purchases and refinances.

5Welcome Home assumptions and disclaimers for above rates and points examples are based on: $150,000 loan amount, a minimum credit score of 660, 95% LTV, primary residence, single family detached property, first lien mortgage, income restrictions apply. Principal and interest payments do not include taxes or insurance. Actual payment obligation may be greater. Rates may be higher for refinancing of subordinate liens. Rate Lock periods are 65 days for purchases and refinances.

6Payment Schedules are based on a loan amount of $300,000, a minimum credit score of 740, 75% LTV, purchase of a primary residence, single family detached in New Jersey.  Adjustable Rate Mortgages are variable rates and the annual percentage rate may increase or decrease after the initial fixed period. The APR shown for the 15/1 ARM Advantage product includes a .25% discount when loan payments are automatically deducted from a Lakeland Bank checking or statement savings account. The APR will increase if, at any time during the term of the loan, the automatic payment deduction is discontinued.

All loans are subject to full underwriting review. Not all applicants will qualify. This is not a commitment to lend or a guarantee of an approval. Rates stated are subject to change at any time without notice. Please contact one of our Mortgage Representatives to obtain the most current rate quote that is customized to fit your unique loan level features. The actual interest rate and fees applicable to you will include, but are not limited to, your credit history, product type, and loan to value, and may be different than the rates displayed here. Other rates and product options are available. 

Interest Rates vary daily and are accurate as of the date above and subject to change without notice.

*We offer other products and rates not listed here. Contact us for more rates.

Lakeland Mortgage is a Division of Lakeland Bank.
Lender NMLS#: 530634

Источник: https://www.lakelandbank.com/rates/mortgage-rates/

What are negative interest rates?

By Szu Ping Chan
Business reporter, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

The Bank of England has taken another step towards adding negative interest rates to its crisis-fighting toolbox.

It's given High Street banks six months to be operationally ready for them.

Policymakers stressed that this did not mean that sub-zero borrowing costs were "imminent, or indeed in prospect".

But what exactly are negative interest rates? And could a world where savers are penalised and borrowers rewarded end up doing more harm than good?

What are negative interest rates?

The term "interest rates" is often used interchangeably with the Bank of England base rate.

Described as the "single most important interest rate in the UK", the base rate determines how much interest the Bank of England pays to financial institutions that hold money with it, and what it charges them to borrow.

High street banks also use it to determine how much interest they pay to savers, as well as what they charge people who take out a loan or mortgage.

The Bank of England usually lowers interest rates when it wants people to spend more and save less.

It cut them to a fresh low of 0.1% in March 2020 to try to stimulate the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Image source, Getty Images

In theory, taking interest rates below zero should have the same effect. But in practice, it's a bit more complicated.

After all, why would anyone pay to stash money in a savings account or lend someone money, when they can keep the cash at home for free?

Why might this happen now?

The Bank of England's number one job is to keep prices across the economy rising steadily every year.

This is known as the Bank's inflation target, which is set at 2% by the government.

Inflation measures how quickly the cost of living is rising.

And, measured by the consumer prices index (CPI), it stood at 0.6% in December, up from 0.3% in November 2020.

While low inflation means prices aren't rising quickly, if it remains low for too long, bosses start factoring that into pay reviews.

This can then dampen consumer confidence and spending.

Central banks have been cutting interest rates to spur inflation for years. But as rates approached zero across the developed world, a handful went a step further.

Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and the 19 nations of the eurozone all took interest rates below zero.

In Switzerland, negative interest rates have also helped to discourage investors from pouring money into the country during times of uncertainty.

How will this affect savers?

British savers have already seen their returns dwindle in recent years.

The average UK instant access account pays just 0.12%, according to the Bank of England, while accounts that require you to lock your money away currently offer an average return of 0.51%.

In countries with sub-zero interest rates, commercial banks have passed them on to big companies.

However, the evidence suggests there is a very high bar to pass the pain on to ordinary savers.

Christina Nyman, chief economist at Swedish lender Handelsbanken, says charging savers to put money in their own accounts is seen as "taboo" in Sweden.

She says: "Competition is fierce, and households are ready to move their money to another bank, so nobody wants to lose business."

Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse only impose negative rates on deposits of more than 2 million Swiss francs.

In Germany, where some banks impose charges on deposits of more than €100,000 (£90,000), some people have started stashing their money in vaults.

Image source, Getty Images

According to Germany's central bank, physical cash holdings by families and businesses there have almost trebled to €43.4bn since the European Central Bank (ECB) introduced a negative deposit rate in 2014.

But David Oxley at Capital Economics says there hasn't been a wider shift towards cash because most people still prefer the security and convenience of keeping it in the bank.

Putting it in a vault "runs the risk of the money either being lost, stolen, or damaged," he says. "Bank deposits cannot catch fire, but banknotes can."

Negative rate mortgages already exist. In 2019, Danish bank Jyske announced that it would effectively pay borrowers 0.5% a year to take out a 10-year loan.

James Pomeroy, an economist at HSBC, says this was only possible because of the nature of the mortgage market.

When someone in Denmark applies for a home loan, Danish banks act as a middleman between potential borrowers and investors.

"In Denmark the banks don't take the hit, investors do," says Mr Pomeroy. "Banks are then charging higher product fees, so have actually made money off of this."

But negative rate mortgages are unlikely to be offered in the UK any time soon.

When UK interest rates were slashed to 0.5% in March 2009, some borrowers thought they could be in line for a payment.

Around 1,500 Cheltenham and Gloucester customers had a mortgage that tracked 1.01 percentage points below the Bank of England base rate.

But any prospect of a windfall was quickly dashed when financial regulators described interest payments as "a one-way obligation on the borrower".

In a letter to UK bank bosses, Sam Woods, chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), said some lenders would need up to 18 months to make permanent changes needed to deal with negative rates.

While "short-term fixes" could be implemented within six months, upgrading systems not built to deal with a negative Bank of England base rate would take longer, especially for some mortgage customers.

Banks said they would find it easier to explain and implement changes to big corporate clients, because many already had international experience with negative rates.

What are the side effects of negative interest rates?

Negative interest rates hit bank earnings by squeezing the gap between the money they make on loans and what they pay to savers.

"If not passed on to customers, negative rates would hurt bank profitability, especially at a time when they are expected to be hit by crisis-related loan losses," says Danae Kyriakopoulou, chief economist at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF).

Negative interest rates pose a particular challenge to building societies, which hold around £1 of every £5 in British savings accounts.

While commercial banks can access cheaper borrowing by tapping financial markets, building societies must raise at least half their funding from individual savers.

More on this story

Источник: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52772950

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