It's pointed out that the rise in rates has been done by central banks "with a degree of synchronicity not seen over the past five decades" to tackle soaring prices,
This warning comes ahead of monetary policy meetings by the US Federal Reserve and Bank of England next week, which are expected to increase key interest rates.
On Thursday, the World Bank said the economy on a global level was in its steepest slowdown following a post-recession recovery since 1970.
According to a study "the world's three largest economies - the US, China and the euro area - have been slowing sharply," it said.
"Under the circumstances, even a moderate hit to the global economy over the next year could tip it into recession."
The World Bank also urged central banks to coordinate their actions and "communicate policy decisions clearly" to "reduce the degree of tightening needed".
After some time of speculation, the Bank of England confirmed interest rate hike last week, by 0.25%. Already we have seen some banks act fast in passing this hike onto the customer, in particular mortgage buyers, as opposed to savings rates.
In this week’s Your Thoughts, Finance Monthly has collated several expert comments from UK based professionals with expert knowledge on this topic.
Richard Haymes, Head of Financial Difficulties, TDX Group:
While an interest rate rise is positive news for people living on their savings income, or holding pensions and investments, it may prove to be the tipping point for those in financial difficulty or struggling with debt.
Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) have reached record levels and we expect the rate of monthly IVAs and Trust Deeds to grow by around 17% this year. A rise in interest rates will make it much harder for people in these arrangements, and there’s a risk they’ll default on their strict requirements.
A large portion of people who are in personal insolvency hold a mortgage (over a fifth according to personal insolvency practice Creditfix), and a rate rise will obviously increase their mortgage repayments. Due to these people’s unfavourable credit circumstances, it’s likely that majority of mortgage holders in insolvency are tied to variable mortgage products, leaving them particularly vulnerable to a higher interest environment.
Holders of a £250,000 mortgage will have to absorb a monthly repayment increase of £31* as a result of this 0.25% hike. Modest as it may appear to many, for people in structured debt management plans or IVAs this could have a very significant impact, even resulting in their debt solution becoming defunct or in need of renegotiation.
Jon Ostler, UK CEO, finder.com:
This rate rise decision comes as no surprise. Our panel of nine leading economists unanimously predicted that the interest rate would rise by 25 base points, and this is a positive sign that the economy is growing stronger.
It’s particularly good news for savers, who have suffered ultra-low interest rates for the past decade. They can expect a rise to their savings, albeit a small one. Now is a good time to consider switching your banking products, as banks will be reviewing their rates. Make sure you keep an eye on which banks are offering the best interest rates as not all of their products will increase by the BoE’s 25 basis points.
On the other hand, borrowers and homeowners with a mortgage are likely to face extra costs. For example, those paying off the UK’s average mortgage debt with a variable rate mortgage face paying an extra £17-£18 per month, which adds up to an extra £200 per year or more than £6,000 over the life of a 30-year loan term.
Angus Dent, CEO, ArchOver:
While banks are likely to pass the rate rise straight onto borrowers, they will be less keen to pass it on immediately to savers. Aspirational borrowing such as mortgages and bank loans will get more expensive – so the man in the street needs to counter that with strong returns on savings. Only 50% of savings account rates changed after last year’s rise, so there’s good reason to be underwhelmed.
But this is certainly a step in the right direction for the cautious Bank of England. While such an incremental rise won’t shake the earth, and probably means business as usual, it nevertheless spells good news for the UK.
The country is still hungry for a stronger economy, ten years after the financial crash. Both savers and investors are now aware that to chase higher returns, they need to open the door to alternative opportunities. Alternative finance options that offer higher yields – without sacrificing security – offer savers a path to higher returns in a still-struggling economy.
Savings accounts still aren’t the safety net they once were. Despite this rate rise, savers still need to cast the net wide in the hunt for higher returns.
Markus Kuger, Senior Economist, Dun & Bradstreet:
This rate hike had been anticipated by the markets, despite inflation having fallen in recent months, as UK growth seems to have recovered from the poor performance in Q1. The effects of the rate rise will be minimal, given the Bank’s forward guidance over the past months. The progress in Brexit talks will remain the most important factor for companies and households in the near to medium term. Dun & Bradstreet maintains its current real GDP and inflation forecasts for 2018-19 and we continue to forecast a modest recovery in 2019, assuming the successful completion of the talks with the EU.
Max Lehrain, Chief Operating Officer, Relendex:
The increase in interest rates is a significant moment as it is the first time the Bank of England has raised interest rates above 0.5 in nearly a decade. However, for savers, this change should act as a wakeup call as it is not likely to have a material impact on their investment meaning that those stuck in standard savings accounts are still missing out.
This is in large part down to the rate of inflation far outstripping interest rates, even with today's increase. In simple terms this means that if your savings earn 0.75% interest they are being eaten into by the effects of inflation.
With traditional lenders offering low returns on their savings accounts and cash ISA products, savers who are looking to achieve higher rates of returns should still consider alternative options. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending for example, can offer substantially higher returns, giving a good income boost when interest rates are still relatively low.
Innovative savers will identity these options to take this interest rate rise out of the equation. In real terms, over a three year period investing £5,000 in a cash ISA is likely to render a return ranging from £15 to £113, whereas P2P providers offer prospective returns far exceeding that. For example, investing £5,000 in a provider that offers 8%, would see returns of approximately £1,300 over a three year period.
Nigel Green, CEO, deVere Group:
Hiking interest rates now – for only the second time since the financial crash – is, to my mind, premature.
At just above the Bank’s target of 2%, inflation is not currently a key issue. In addition, major uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the looming threat of international trade wars, and absolutely average economic growth, business and consumer confidence are on the slide.
As such, there seems little real justification to increase interest rates now.
Against this back drop, why is the Bank of England raising rates today?
Has the decision been motivated in order to protect reputations and credibility after the Bank’s Governor and some of the committee had effectively already said the rise would happen?
Whilst today’s decision to hike rates is unnecessary, I think that the Bank is likely to refrain from any more increases until after Brexit.
Paul Mumford, Cavendish Asset Management:
The decision on balance might be the wrong one. While all agree that rates need to return to normality eventually, panicking and doing it for the sake of it - or just because other countries are doing it - will only make things worse.
The idea, as in these other regions, is to start incrementally escalating rates in a managed way as growth and inflation tick up. But the UK is in quite a distinct situation. To borrow some terminology from the Tories, the economy is stable, but far from strong - and certainly not booming. Higher interest rates could have very disruptive effects on sectors such as housing, where it could trigger a rush to buy at fixed rates, and motors and retail, which are performing OK but contain a lot of highly geared companies. This does not look like the sort of economy you want - or can afford - to remove demand from. Meanwhile the pound is holding firm at its lower base, so there is no immediate impetus to shore up the currency.
And of course looming behind all this is Brexit. Interest rates may be needed as a weapon to combat sudden inflation from tariffs should the worst happen and we crash out of Europe without a deal. It would make more sense to save the powder until there is more clarity on this front, and we now what sort of economic environment we're all heading into. The last thing we want is to be in a situation where we are stuck with higher and higher rates to combat inflation, while growth remains anaemic or stagnant.
These things are all swings and roundabouts, of course - one big plus from rate rises is that they will ease our mounting problem with big pension fund deficits. Whether this will make it worth the risk remains to be seen.
Stuart Law, CEO, Assetz Capital:
It looks like savers will be disappointed once again. Although the rate has risen slightly, this is unlikely to be passed on to savers, with many banks having form for just applying increases to borrowers.
What’s more, the Bank of England's statement that future increases will be at a 'gradual pace' implies that savers won't see returns that outstrip inflation for months - and potentially even years.
Rob Douglas, VP of UKI and Nordics, Adaptive Insights:
Ultimately, it is the companies that do not currently have sound financial planning processes in place that are likely to be impacted when changes like this occur, as it can upend budgeting and forecasting, making it difficult for finance and management teams to develop accurate financial plans and make business-critical decisions.
The 0.25% extra interest rate is being announced at an already uncertain time, when many fear the long-term effects of a possible no-deal Brexit or a potential trade war with the US on their business, organisations across the country will need to once again adjust their financial plans accordingly. To do this, companies must plan in real-time, with current data from across the organisation, so that they can mitigate potentially damaging consequences, such as a negative impact on profit margins.
The interest rate hike, while expected, is a reminder why businesses need to be able to continuously update their financial forecasts in real-time. Manual spreadsheets and processes simply don’t cut it anymore and finance teams need to be able to respond to economic changes such as this efficiently and effectively. With a modern, active approach to planning and forecasting, businesses will have the foresight and visibility to make better decisions faster, minimising the impact of unexpected government, regulatory or economic changes.
Paddy Osborn, Academic Dean, London Academy of Trading (LAT):
As widely expected, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) raised the UK base rate by 0.25% today, stating that the low GDP data in Q1 2018 was just a blip, the UK labour market has tightened further and wage growth is increasing. This is the highest level of interest rates in the UK in more than nine years, and the MPC’s vote to raise rates was actually 9-0, against expectations of 8-1 or even 7-2.
There was also an unanimous vote to keep the level of government bond purchases at £435 billion, although the MPC remains cautious about the potential reactions of households, businesses and financial markets to future Brexit developments.
Assuming the economy develops in line with current projections, they stated that any future increases in the Bank rate (to return inflation to the 2% target) are likely to be “at a gradual pace and to a limited extent”.
In currency markets, GBP/USD spiked 50 pips higher from 1.3070 within 10 minutes of the announcement, but has since collapsed back below 1.3100. The longer term view for GBP/USD remains bearish, although there are a number of political and fundamental factors which may affect Cable in the coming weeks, namely Brexit developments, the developing trade war, and US interest rates.
The stock market, having fallen over 200 points since yesterday morning, failed to find any solace in the MPC comments and is currently trading at its 1-month lows around 7550. Higher interest rates mean higher cost of debt for companies, and this will often encourage investors to take some money out of their (more risky) stock market investments.
Feel free to offer Your Thoughts in the comment box below and tell us what you think.
Analysts currently expect the Bank of England to hike interest rates in May, but some are opposed, claiming the market is misjudging the BoE’s plans. Bond market guru Mohamed El-Erian says the potential rate hike is "far from a done deal."
Last week the BoE left interest rates on hold, adding to suspicious they may raise them in May. After all, the BoE has been hinting at increased rates since last November’s hike.
This week Finance Monthly asked experts: What are the indications? What's the BoE's plan? What are your thoughts on future implications?
John Goldie, FX Dealer & Analyst, Argentex:
Carney and Co. were not expected to spring any surprises last week, opting to keep interest rates on hold again, much as the consensus had suggested. While the vote to retain the current status of the asset purchase facility was unanimous, there were dissenting votes from serial hawks, McCafferty and Saunders, who saw that the time was right for the Bank to raise interest rates to 0.75%. Many of the major banks have brought forward their forecast for a hike to May, though Bloomberg's interest rate probability tool sets this likelihood still at only around 65%. Commentators are certainly warming to the idea, but most believe that it will be almost another year before a subsequent hike is carried out.
This may be underestimating the path of inflation, wage prices and - importantly – overstating Brexit concerns. Carney has repeatedly suggested that Brexit remains one of the greatest challenges to their forecast models, however, the price action in Sterling already belies a growing optimism, or acceptance, that the economic impact of the 2016 referendum is far less negative than suggested by the major players prior to the event. With a transition agreement in place, a move into the critical trade negotiations is a huge step forward even if it brings us to a position with the greatest potential for deadlock.
With headline inflation remaining high and now wage prices heading in the same direction, the UK's second hike in just over a decade will indeed come next time around. Furthermore, with a May hike enacted, the door will then open for a second hike of the year in Q4, an eventuality that the market is yet to price in. With Brexit concerns reducing on the growing optimism that a transition agreement will provide the time and space for a trade arrangement to be thrashed out, the prospect remains for Sterling to trend higher in the weeks and months to come.
We have been bullish on GBPUSD for more than a year now and even with such a consistent trend higher in the last 12 months, the pound remains historical cheap by nearly any measure. There will be times when negotiations with the EU falter, and with it Sterling will stutter, but with a focus on the policy outlook from the central banks and a long-term chart to hand, the medium-term future continues to look bright for the pound.
Samuel Leach, FX trader and Founder, Samuel & Co. Trading:
When the BoE begins to hike interest rates the main concern I see is the impact this will have on over indebted consumers. I have been paying close attention to UK unsecured consumer debt, which is currently at all-time highs of more than £200bn. Furthermore, the annual growth rate in UK consumer credit is 10% a year which is considerably higher than household income growth (2%), therefore a very concerning place to be. These are unsustainable levels now and an interest rate hike could tip these consumers over the edge. Particularly, those on interest rate tracker mortgages. This will then have a ripple effect on businesses as consumers rein in spending to pay off their debts.
For entrepreneurs it is damaging because funding is an issue as it is, let alone with higher interest rates as it will put off potential investors. The first thing businesses cut back on is risky investments and purchases, so entrepreneurs and small businesses will see the biggest brunt of it in my opinion. For the financial markets we should see strength come into GBP. That, combined with the soft Brexit announcement we had earlier last week could push GBP back towards 1.5 – 1.6 against the USD.
Markus Kuger, Senior Economist, Dun & Bradstreet:
The Bank of England vote to hold interest rates is not surprising, as recent figures indicate a moderation in inflationary pressures. However, with wage growth finally picking up, our analysis suggests that interest rates are likely to increase later in 2018, despite the tepid real GDP growth figures.
Based on our current data and analysis, we are maintaining a ‘deteriorating’ risk outlook for the UK but this could change to ‘stable’ depending on the outcomes of the EU summit this week. If the 28 EU leaders agree on the much-needed transition period until December 2020, the risk of a hard Brexit in March 2019 will drop significantly. That said, implementation risks remain high and the long-term future of EU-UK trade relations are still unclear. Against this backdrop, a careful and measured approach to managing relationships with suppliers, customers, prospects and partners is key to navigating through these uncertain times.
Jonathan Watson, Market Analyst, Foreign Currency Direct:
The Pound spiked up following the latest UK interest rate decision which saw GBPEUR and GBPUSD touch fresh levels as the recent improved expectations were realised. Whilst Inflation had fallen slightly lower than expected it remains above target and rising wage growth too has given the Bank of England a freer hand in raising interest rates.
Rising growth forecasts for the UK also add to the increasingly rosy picture for the UK, progress on Brexit with the agreement of the transitional phase has also added to the buoyant mood. Whilst the current stance of the Bank is for a rate hike in May any serious changes in economic data could derail that.
A rate hike in May is now very likely but with that looking so likely, the Pound may not move much higher. The next 6 weeks of economic data ahead of the decision on May 10th will now be pored over for any signs of either caution from, or indeed signs of further hikes down the line. It would seem likely that with the UK and global economy forecast to grow further in 2018 and 2019, the Bank of England will continue to need to manage rising Inflation as the economy grows.
In my role as a specialist foreign exchange dealer my clients have been quick to utilise the forward contract option to lock in on the spikes and moves higher for the Pound. Whilst the longer-term forecast has improved lately, the uncertainty over Brexit and the fact the UK remains behind other leading economies in the growth stakes, indicates a risk averse approach. Locking in the higher levels still remains the most sensible option to manage your currency exposure and volatility from the Bank of England and interest rate changes.
Robert Vaudry, Investments Managing Director, Wesleyan:
With two members of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee voting to raise interest rates it is becoming more likely that at least one increase will take place this year, probably as early as May.
Whether the era of ‘cheap money’ has finally come to an end remains to be seen. Any rise will be welcomed by savers who will potentially see an increase in rates on saving accounts, but the cost of borrowing will increase too. Those on variable mortgages could experience higher interest rates for the first time and need to understand the financial implications this could have. However, it is important to remember that even with the interest rate rises expected, interest rates remain low by historical measures and below the rate of inflation.
It’s also important to not become complacent and we’d advise everyone to remain mindful that there may be uncertainty in the months ahead, especially as stock markets remain volatile.
If you have thoughts on this, please feel free to comment below and let us know Your Thoughts.
Below Dan North, Chief Economist at Euler Hermes North America, lists several updates and thoughts on the latest matter surrounding the US federal reserve.
Today reports indicate the FTSE closed on a record high yesterday, outperforming its already high record from Friday last week, following the Bank of England’s anticipated decision to raise interest rates from 0.25 to 0.5% last week.
The truth is, this changes a lot, from mortgages to bonds. Below Finance Monthly hears from many sources on Your Thoughts, how consumers should behave, how banking may evolve, how profits can change, what might happen to the pound in weeks to come and so forth.
Anthony Morrow, Co-Founder, evestor.co.uk:
In theory, the rise in the interest base rate should mean that consumers get higher interest rates on their savings. However, people shouldn’t get too excited about this. It often takes many months for the changes to be felt in savings accounts, and even then, the increases in savings rates can be marginal and may take years to build into noticeable rates of anything over 3%.
Consumers should also consider that the increase in base rate still means that their cash savings are playing catch-up. The past decade of interest-rate squeezes has meant that the value of cash savings have dropped instead of increasing in value.
The best course of action is for consumers to spread their savings and investments, and to look for alternatives to the traditional high street savings accounts and cash ISAs. It’s now easier than ever for consumers to invest money via the internet in stocks, shares and global investment funds that could generate average returns of between 5% - 7%. The key thing though is to ensure people get advice about what to do with their money before they part with their cash – this isn’t always readily available – and to check any charges that they’re likely to incur for making investments. In some cases, excessive fees can eat massively into the investment returns, sometimes by as much as half.
Gianluca Corradi, Head of Banking, Simon-Kucher:
Investors with shares in UK banks can cheer as the rate increase will boost the operating profits in the retail banking industry by £274 million over the next 12 months. This 3.1% increase in the operating profit of the banks will be positive news for the shareholders as the U.K. banks have had their profitability squeezed in a low rate environment despite numerous cost cuts and efficiency increase measures.
The gain for shareholders is expected to come as banks increase the lending rates immediately but deposit rates only gradually and by a lower amount. We can expect the banks to immediately increase the interest charged on new loans and those on variable rates by the full 25 basis points (bps), giving a boost of about £1.26 billion in their interest income for the coming year. Concurrently, the interest expense on deposits is likely to rise by just under £1 billion as the rates for savers rise over time.
Consumers can expect modest returns on their deposits as rates, though higher, will still be low in absolute terms. For instance, a saver who manages to get the entire 25bps increase on £10,000 of deposits, would stand to make an additional £25 over a year.
Paresh Raja, CEO, MFS:
In light of rising inflation and stagnating economic growth, the decision to increase interest rates for the first time in a decade comes as no surprise. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the rise in interest rates will place an added financial pressure on first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors needing to borrow money. While the impact on the UK property market may not be immediately obvious, there is no question that this month’s upcoming Autumn Budget now takes on greater significance as it must find ways of alleviating stress and providing support for property buyers. With the interest rate now sitting at 0.5%, this is a prime opportunity for the Government to address issues like real estate demand and Stamp Duty to ensure the market remains buoyant and readily accessible for homebuyers and investors alike.
Angus Dent, CEO, ArchOver:
This rate rise of 0.25% is largely symbolic. At the same time, it’s also a year too late. Dropping the interest rate below 0.5% was the wrong decision in the first place. The Bank should have pushed rates up to 0.75% as a show of strength that would have driven inflation down as the pound rose.
Although this rise is unlikely to have any major material effects, it is a return to the trajectory we should have been on for the past year, and a good sign for a bolder policy. For many, the move towards a higher interest rate will simply mean business as usual.
Following the financial crash, there is a hunger to make up for ten lost years and UK savers and investors are finally waking up to the realisation that they need to chase higher returns. With interest rates remaining below 1%, this means looking for opportunities to branch out beyond traditional vehicles and introduce greater diversity into portfolios to secure a higher yield.
Emmanuel Lumineau, CEO, BrickVest:
This announcement is momentous for the UK economy and should signal the start of a series of gradual increases. The Bank of England has decided that inflation is potentially getting out of control and the economy now requires higher borrowing costs. The decision also signals that the UK economy has not performed as weakly as the Bank predicted last year.
Increasing interest rates has a direct impact on real estate. Higher interest rates and rising inflation make borrowing and construction more expensive for owners, which can have a constraining effect on the market but can also lead to an increase in property prices. There has certainly been an abundance of international capital flowing into real estate, almost every major institutional investor globally has been increasing their portfolio allocation to real estate over the last five years mainly because of lack of alternatives.
We continue to see the highest level of volatility from the office sector as many international firms currently headquartered in the UK put decisions on hold over their long-term office space requirements. If the UK no longer gives businesses access to the European market, they may need to spread their staff across multiple locations to more efficiently access both the UK and European market. Indeed our recent research showed that 34% of institutional investors believe the biggest real estate investment opportunities will be found in the office sector and the same number in the hotel & hospitality industry over the next 12 months.
Uma Rajah, CEO, CapitalRise:
The Bank of England’s decision to raise its base rate of interest from 0.25% to 0.5% might superficially look like good news for savers, who have had to live with near non-existent returns on their deposits for some time. But in reality it is highly unlikely that banks will actually pass on much — if any — of the rate rise to their customers. It’s more likely they will act to increase their margins, focusing on improving their own profitability rather than doing what’s best for customers. Savers should take note and look for alternative, more lucrative, ways to grow their pot with minimal additional risk. While the base rate will continue to rise over the next 12 to 18 months, it could be some time before banks pass on the benefits.
Meanwhile, the rate rise is bad news for property developers and borrowers that are using banks to finance their loans. Banks charge based on a margin to LIBOR, which will go up in line with the base rate rises. Combine this with other longstanding challenges in securing finance from banks for real estate projects in the current climate, and property borrowers will be much better off looking at more innovative sources that can deliver finance more quickly and offer better value — particularly if the rate continues to rise over the next 12 to 18 months.
James Bentley, Trader, Learn to Trade:
Following the Bank of England’s announcement that interest rates are rising by 0.25%, the British central bank will hike borrowing costs for the first time in more than 10 years due to the recent surge in inflation.
Many economists have warned that the time is not right for a hike as recent data has painted a subdued picture of the economy while uncertainty over how Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will play out remains. With Brexit negotiations still underway, British consumers should prepare themselves for further fluctuations to interest rates over the next year.
The pound has pushed higher against the dollar in early trade, while London's FTSE100 searched for direction ahead of the announcement. Although the announcement has created uncertainty, we expect inflation to drop to 2.2% by 2020 - where the rate will stagnate and hold for a period of time.
Paul Davies, Director, Menzies LLP:
Even though the rate rise was well signposted by Mark Carney, it will bring hardship for businesses that rely on consumer spending.
Consumers are always wary of a rise in interest rates and we may see the retail industry experiencing a bumpy ride as UK shoppers tighten their purse strings. Businesses can defend against the effects of turbulence by ensuring cash management is a top priority, managing creditor payments and adapting to changes across the supply chain.
Consumers and businesses will be hoping that after the announcement, any further interest rate rises will be staved off until well into the New Year.
Mihir Kapadia, CEO and Founder, Sun Global Investments:
The Bank of England has given in to the rising inflation, which has been above their 2% target and peaking at 3%, by raising interest rates for the first time in a decade. While the interest rate hike bodes well to support the pound, it also increases the borrowing costs for consumers and business. It will mean an increased squeeze on consumers with loans and mortgages, thus nipping their spending and in turn affect the economy. It may well turn out to be a vicious loop, especially as Brexit woes continue to weigh down on the UK’s economy.
The last the time the Bank of England had increased the interest rates was in July 2007, when it pushed the cost of borrowing to 5.75% months before cutting them during the onset of the financial crash of 2008. This increase comes at a time when the economic framework has stabilised and careful credit scrutiny is in place to prevent another crash. The interest rate hike may well deter consumers from accessing cheap credit, which will bode well for the financial watchdogs.
The next interest rate hike may well take a while, until further clarity emerges on Brexit’s impact on the UK economy. Until then 0.5% is the only sword to battle 3% inflation, and curtail it from strengthening any further.
Frazer Fearnhead, Founder and CEO, The House Crowd:
I sincerely hope all the banks will have given as much thought and effort to increasing interest rates for investors as they will have given to helping people maintain their mortgage repayments and loan agreements”. He added “For the past decade investors have been forgotten and suffered derisory levels of returns on their savings. So, it is crucial that banks, increase interest rates on savings just as quickly as they increase interest charges to borrowers.
Gregg Davies, Company Director, IMA Financial Solutions:
We all talk about the winners and losers when Bank of England interest rates are mentioned. Of course, if you have savings on deposit in variable rate accounts, or a variable rate mortgage you could be affected directly.
Many are asking, will the rate rise make my mortgage more expensive? Most mortgage lenders offer fixed or variable rate mortgages, and many have already adjusted their fixed rate deals ahead of the speculation over an interest rate rise. Variable rates are either based on a lender’s own set variable rate or linked directly to the Bank of England – called trackers.
We have now had nearly eight years of unprecedently low rates - for a generation of first time buyers, low interest rates are all they have known.
Mortgage holders have taken the low rates on board, and today it is estimated that over 70% of mortgages are fixed rate deals – compared with a low of under 40% in 2001. On a day to day basis this is reflected in my own clients’ decisions.
Rob Douglas, VP of United Kingdom and Ireland, Adaptive Insights:
For many businesses across the UK, the rise in interest rates and subsequent fall of the pound will require action. Companies are operating in the midst of a volatile market, where the sterling went from being at its strongest since the Brexit vote, to taking an immediate tumble after the rise in interest rates was announced. This market instability can upend budgeting and forecasting, making it difficult for finance and management teams to devise an accurate financial plan and make business-critical decisions.
Economic and market volatility require businesses to be as agile and adaptable as possible to ensure their financial planning models reflect changing assumptions and conditions. To do this, companies must plan in real-time, with current data from across the organisation, so that they can mitigate potentially damaging consequences, such as a negative impact on profit margins. What’s more, businesses should prepare to be more responsive by running ‘what if’ scenarios in advance that will, for example, reveal the impact the rise in interest rates could have on their business, allowing them to make better, faster decisions.
Ultimately, it is the companies with sound financial planning processes in place that will have a better chance at success when volatility strikes.
Johan Rewilak, Economics Expert, Aston Business School:
Since the crisis of 2007, interest rates have been at record lows, and whilst this hike has only moved them back to pre-Brexit levels, the larger worry is about any future potential rises.
Since the decision has been made, Mark Carney and the MPC have already faced lengthy criticism about how the rate hike will impact the economy. There are those who believe recession is around the corner and that there was a desperate need to maintain interest rates at the 0.25% level to prevent this.
Those advocating the rise have done so by optimistically looking at data that shows unemployment has fallen to levels unseen since the 1970s and that the rate of underemployment (those working part-time who wish to work longer hours) has dropped. Nevertheless, wage growth (a metric of longer term inflation) has remained subdued.
My concern is and will be surrounding financial stability. Household indebtedness and mortgage to income ratios are at troublesome levels and any hikes in interest rates mean higher repayments. If the interest rate hikes lead to recession, this will only magnify these issues and have cataclysmic effects on the financial system as it did in 2007. Whilst, higher rates may put people off from future borrowing, there is a tricky trade-off surrounding those already highly indebted.
The upshot of this rate rise is that at least Mark Carney has two rolls of the dice if Brexit negotiations or the economy starts to sour before negative interest rates become a possibility. That being said, why would anyone raise interest rates that may create a recession just so they have the ability to lower interest rates and to try cure the problem
John William Gunn, Executive Chairman, SynerGIS Capital PLC:
This was widely anticipated by the wholesale markets following the language of the MPC’s September statement. The main question mark was over any Brexit-related outlook uncertainty. As the market had been positioned for this rise a failure to follow through could have caused the MPC credibility issues and sparked yet more speculation around Brexit headwinds to the economy.
For the general public, the good news is that more people are on fixed rate mortgages than ever so the effects for homeowners should be subdued. More people are renting and many households are lucky enough to be mortgage-free. As mentioned in the MPC statement, debt servicing costs paid by British households would remain "historically very low" despite this hike.
It’s not so great for first time homebuyers (many mortgage deals were withdrawn in anticipation of the BoE’s move) but attention now turns to whether the Chancellor can offer any stamp-duty concessions in the Budget on 22nd November.
It's good news for neglected savers and the retired. While still low, retirees shopping around for annuities should already be seeing improved rates. Not all high street banks will be passing this rate rise onto their savers. Some committed ahead of the decision but they were in the minority.
As with the FOMC (the Federal Open Market Committee = equivalent of the MPC) in the US, the first interest rise is psychologically important, as it reminds borrowers that base rates for the last 10 years are not at “normal” levels. It should not be forgotten that for the U.K this is just a reversal of the post-Brexit-result emergency cut in Aug 2016. Any pre-Christmas consumer sentiment change may affect spending at high street retailers who have had mixed trading results recently. As with the U.S central bank guidance, we expect any rate rises over the coming years to be on a slow and gradual basis.
Given the modest growth forecasts issued by the MPC and their expectation that inflation with peak at 3.2% in the October CPI release, we do not anticipate any further tightening from the MPC until Q3 2018. The Brexit influence is unlikely to go away soon, as noted by the MPC in their statement.
Duncan Donald, CEO and Head of Trading, London Academy of Trading:
Last week we saw the UK MPC and Mark Carney deliver a rate hike in the UK to 0.5%, the first hike since the financial crisis in 2007.
It came as little surprise, with the market pricing in a 90% probability of this action prior to the announcement on “Super Thursday”. The act of hiking rates is perceived as ‘Hawkish’ and would typically drive the currency higher, but the price action reflected this was all but priced in.
The other positive element of the meeting, was the split of the voting members of the committee. The result was 7-2, showing that 7 members of the committee were in favour of the hike, with just 2 members dissenting. Forecasters had thought the split may be tighter, with a 6-3 or 5-4 majority to hike. These being the first two factors announced to the market, saw the pound appreciate half a cent against the dollar from 1.3220 to 1.3270. This move was sharply unwound as the market plunged over 2 cents to 1.3040.
The driver was the announcement that Mark Carney and his committee anticipates just two subsequent hikes, and not in the next year but over the next 3 years. This signified that in the short term we are very much looking at the ‘one and done’ scenario. The fears of Brexit and the unknown have perhaps rightly got the committee apprehensive of doing too much too soon. This was further underlined at the weekend, with comments from Mark Carney regarding fears of inflationary pressures that could be caused if we were to leave the EU without a deal.
Market traders and investors still question Carney’s ability to actually deliver what he says he will, in this case to raise interest rates. This was the market opinion in the UK and in his previous position in Canada. He delivered on the interest rate hike, but as the markets reflect, it was done in the most dovish of manners.
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Growth expectations for 2017 remain subject to both upside and downside risks from potential policy changes as the Federal Reserve considers raising interest rates for the second time in three months, according to the Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group's March 2017 Economic and Housing Outlook. Full-year economic growth is projected at 2.0 percent, unchanged from last month, while the forecast for current quarter growth is down slightly due to weaker-than-expected consumer spending data. Still, general business and economic sentiment remain strong despite policy uncertainty.
Thanks to rising household net worth and healthy jobs data, consumer spending should remain the primary driver of growth. A pickup in the Fed's favoured measure of inflation in January supported several Fed officials' hawkish speeches, which led the market to fully price in a rate hike at the conclusion of the Fed meeting later today. The ESR Group expects today's target rate increase to be followed by two additional hikes in the second half of the year. Home sales should continue to improve this year despite affordability challenges, including continued strong home price appreciation due to scarce inventory.
"Our economic forecast remains in a conservative holding pattern as we await word on the particulars of the new Administration's plans for fiscal stimulus," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. "In the meantime, economic sentiment from most industry stakeholders continues to reach new heights: consumers, as demonstrated by our National Housing Survey, are more positive than at any time since the survey's inception in 2010 about the direction of the economy, while homebuilders' optimism remains near an eleven-year high."
"Tight inventory remains a boon to home prices and Americans' net worth, but it also continues to price out many would-be first-time homebuyers. However, our research suggests that aging millennials, now boasting higher real wages, are beginning to narrow the homeownership attainment gap," said Duncan.
(Source: Fannie Mae)