Certificate of deposit rates continue their slide this week, the financial equivalent of a death march for weary bank interest rate investors.
We have the exact numbers below, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker, but the reasons for the slow-motion cliff dive for CD rates remain pretty much the same — with a potentially frightening new ingredient tossed into the pot from the Federal Reserve.
The latter data point comes from the Royal Bank of Scotland (Stock Quote: RBS) in two spots, via its U.S. Weekly Economic Update for June 21, and also through a separate June letter to investors from chief economist Andrew Roberts.
First, it looks a lot like the global recession, which was supposed to be herded out the door by global economic policy makers, is back lurking on the doorstep. A big reason why is that the key indicators pointing to a recession, especially the absence of inflation, are back on the table.
Says the RBS in last week’s update: "'Dis-inflation' remained the theme in the May inflation release. Consumer price inflation dipped to 2% y/y in May, from 2.2% in April, maintaining the downward trend that started in January. Volatile movements in energy prices were behind the change — they were almost 15% higher than last year — whilst core CPI, which excludes energy, was just 0.9%, highlighting that deflation (outright declines in consumer prices) remains a real risk if the pace of the recovery slackens."
More threatening is the outlook from RBS’s Roberts, who told his clients last week that a steep fall back into recession might be imminent.
Writes Roberts: “We cannot stress enough how strongly we believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner, for the global banking system (particularly in Europe) and for the global economy. Think the unthinkable.”
Roberts predicts that the Federal Reserve will have to open up one of its last powerful weapons against the specter of a deep recession — its printing press. He says that the Fed will have to pull the lever on “monster” quantitative easing, i.e. flooding the economy with U.S. dollars, to thwart a global economic downturn.
That prediction trails back to a line first uttered by the current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speech in 2002, entitled "Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here." Said Bernanke at the time: "The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press, that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost."
With interest rates already close to zero, and the appetite for spending more taxpayer money not particularly strong in Washington, D.C., rolling out the printing presses to fight deflation — and a possible economic calamity — is one of the few weapons the Fed has left.
For bank interest rate investors, such a scenario is a sobering one. All that talk earlier in the year that the Fed would lift interest rates to fight off inflation as the economy grew stronger was just that — talk. As RBS’s Roberts points out, deflation is now the looming threat. Consequently, the economic battlefield has shifted, and not necessarily in favor of certificate of deposit holders.
For the week, CD rates continued to slide. Here is a glance, as calculated by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker:
Description This Week Last Week
60-Month CD 2.064% 2.064%
48-Month CD 1.755% 1.758%
24-Month CD 1.177% 1.186%
12-Month CD 0.734% 0.742%
Six-Month CD 0.476% 0.484%
Three-Month CD 0.306% 0.309%
Chronic low rates are discouraging, but even more discouraging is not taking steps to do something about them. The first step is to check out BankingMyWay’s CD Rate Search. Week-to-week, it’s the most thorough review of bank CD rates in the market.
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.