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  • Wendell Brock

Should You Take an Interest In Your Interest Rate?

People always ask me where the interest rates are  going. If I knew that, I’d be living on an ivory tower some place making millions. That fact is companies and experts can try and predict, or forecast, where interest rates will go, but there is no way to tell for sure. There are many factors that determine what the interest rate will be including things like Central Bank policy, inflation expectations, national economic conditions, global economic conditions, as well as many other things.


Interest rates are essentially the cost of borrowing money or the rate of  return on investments for lending  money. When you take out a loan you typically pay back more than what you borrowed. That additional amount is the interest. Interest rates are expressed as a percentage of the total amount of borrowed money. These could be fixed rates (meaning they stay the same over the life of the loan) or variable rates (meaning the rate changes based on market conditions). Central banks, like the Federal Reserve, set benchmark interest rates, which influences the rates at which banks lend to each other. Changes in benchmark rates ripple through the economy and affect borrowing and  lending rates for consumers and businesses.





On May 1, 2024, the Federal Reserve made the decision to keep its benchmark rate unchanged. The federal funds rate is the interest rate that banks lend or borrow funds from each other overnight to meet reserve requirements or manage their short-term liquidity needs. When the Fed lowers interest rates, it means that it reduces the target range for the federal funds rate. This latest decision by the Fed is the sixth consecutive in which they have kept its policy rate steady between 5.25% and 5.5%. Rates have not moved since the start of 2024 after eleven rate hikes between 2022 and 2023.


Interest rates can act like a barometer, giving us an idea of how the economy is performing. In an effort to stabilize the economy, the Federal government will adjust the prime interest rate. If the economy is performing well, interest rates will typically be higher, but when there is an economic slowdown, interest rates will come down to stimulate consumer spending and economic growth.


It’s important to understand how interest rates affect your personal financial   economy as well as your community. Interest rates play a crucial role in the financial landscape of our nation and influence everything from the cost of borrowing money to the return on your investments. Whether it’s interest you pay on an auto loan or home mortgage, or interest you earn on your investments, you should always be aware of the interest rates that affect you. Interest rates play a critical role in our lives and are something we should always take an interest in.

 

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