The story of the economy and markets for almost two years has been about rising inflation and the extraordinary measures taken by central banks to combat it. On the other hand, a fresh chapter might be beginning, one that could benefit your 401(k). Interest rates are currently at historically high levels, which means that credit cards, house loans, and other loans come with astronomical fees. This has negatively impacted the US home market and put it on course for its most difficult year since 1993, even while it has helped to lower inflation (but noticeably not prices). Furthermore, for a difficult 23 months, these high rates have slowed the expansion of jobs and kept equities flat.
The US Federal Reserve predicted sharply lower rates by this time next year in its economic forecasts on Wednesday, raising the prospect of three rate cuts. There are several positive ramifications for investors, companies, and consumers as a result of this change in the direction of rates. Cheaper borrowing would follow, which might cause mortgage rates—which are currently close to a two-decade high of about 8%—to drop. Reduced business loan costs may also increase corporate earnings and increase stock market appeal. The Dow hitting a record high and the S&P 500 as a whole getting close to a record set in early 2022 are indications of this.
Additionally, it would lessen some of the economic risks associated with interest rate increases. In an effort to proactively control inflation, central banks including the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and European Central Bank have raised lending rates on purpose. But historically, these banks have found it difficult to pull off this manoeuvre without incident, which frequently results in what is referred to as a “hard landing,” or a slump in the economy brought on by strict lending criteria.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell cautioned that a harsh landing scenario is still possible during a press conference on Wednesday. Reducing rates may help mitigate the negative effects of the recent rate spike on the US economy, which has angered a lot of people. A rate reduction in the upcoming year would, nevertheless, also signal the Fed’s confidence in having confronted its resolute fight against inflation, which has been characterised by the fastest rate hikes in recent memory.
Rate reduction will start in March and continue through the spring, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, who also upgraded their estimate for US economic growth. The Federal Reserve’s positive prognosis, expressed at the end of its two-day policy meeting, is good news for your portfolio and pocketbook. Lower lending rates, according to RSM Chief Economist Joe Brusuelas, will encourage company growth and provide immediate comfort to struggling consumers.
Of course! Although there may be reasons for consumers to rejoice, it’s important to recognise any possible downsides as well. The already high US savings rates, which have been rising throughout this century, could fall if the Federal Reserve lowers rates. When there is fear of an upcoming slowdown in the economy, as was the case in late 2019 and throughout the pandemic, the Fed usually cuts interest rates. It’s important to remember that prior to these occurrences, there had been rate decreases during the global financial crisis.