Is there a silver lining to be found if interest rates rise?
February 10, 2022
Many observers are worried about the return of higher interest rates. It will cost more, they warn, to renew a mortgage, or get a car loan. It may create a stock market downturn because the cost of borrowing (for corporations) will increase.
But is there any sort of silver lining to watch for in a higher-interest rate environment? Save with SPP took a quick look-see.
Noted Globe and Mail columnist Rob Carrick sees a couple of good things about higher rates.
First, he writes, “one thing higher rates can do is tamp down inflation, which lately hit a 30-year high at 4.8 per cent.” A higher rate, the article continues, may “encourage saving and discourage borrowing, and in turn spending,” all factors that slow the growth of inflation. In fact, those of us with greyer hair remember a time when the federal government tried to wrestle inflation to the ground by limiting wage and price increases to six per cent in year one, and five per cent in year two! Those rates now look sky-high, but at the time, you could get a Canada Savings Bond that paid interest in the teens.
Carrick notes that higher interest rates may stop the runaway growth of housing prices, and feels might prompt more of us to pay off our record-high household debts. “Higher rates should be a prompt to reduce debt levels and thereby put households in stronger shape for financial challenges ahead,” he writes.
Finally, Carrick reports, higher interest rates will be a boost to savers. “Rates for savers have been suppressed by the Bank of Canada as part of its efforts to support the economy. When the central bank starts raising rates, savers will gradually receive a better return on their money,” he notes.
Over at Sapling, writer Victoria Duff makes a similar argument. She notes that higher interest rates actually make things easier for large pension funds and insurance companies. “Retirement funds, insurance companies and educational endowments benefit from higher interest rates, as does anyone who depends on bond investments for his income. These funds, as well as banks and other lending institutions, can meet their target investment returns through more conservative credit quality portfolios,” she explains.
Also important, she writes, is that countries with higher government-set interest rates “attract investment from other countries,” which can strengthen their currency. Similarly, governments that issue bonds to pay down debt will get a better return, which ought to help them retire debts more quickly, she notes.
Finally, higher interest rates are great for anyone shopping around for an annuity. According to the Get Smarter About Money blog, “if interest rates are high when you buy your annuity, your annuity payments will be higher than if interest rates were low. That’s because the financial institution predicts it can earn more (through higher rates) by investing your money.” This is a complicated thought, but an important thing to know. If you are thinking of buying an annuity when you retire, your monthly income from it will be higher if interest rates are high at the time of purchase. Monthly income is lower if interests are low at the time of purchase.
Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can, at retirement, choose to convert some or all of their savings into one of many annuity options. All of them are designed to provide you with monthly income for life, and there’s also an option that provides lifetime income for your spouse should you die before they do. Annuities are a great way to ensure you don’t run out of money before you run out of time to spend it! Check out SPP today!
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Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.