Central Banks Spook The Markets With Rate Rise Talk

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Do comments from leading central bankers just spook the markets or are they helpful hints that oil the wheels and let markets run smoother?

The will-they, won’t they raise interest rates game has been going on for years.

Top of the current leader board are Janet Yellon, chair of the US Federal Reserve and Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

Both have hinted at official interest rate rises on both sides of the Atlantic.

Yellon explained to the US Congress that she is expecting rates to increase before the end of 2015.

Shock waves

Previous announcements by the Federal Reserve have sent shock waves around the world and led to markets falling abruptly and losses for investors.

So far, despite her pronouncement, markets are holding well. This could mean investors have hear the Fed cry wolf too many times and are playing a waiting game to see what happens before making any moves.

In Britain, Carney has made off the cuff and scripted remarks about interest rate rises since he took his chair at the Bank of England.

His latest speech hinted a rate rise could come ‘at the turn of the year’.

Of course, he said this last year and borrowers are still enjoying their sixth year of record low interest rates of 0.5%.

Carney also explained he expected the rate to float up over three years to about 2.25%.

The historical average is around 5%, so the Bank obviously feels that figure is too high.

But will a rate rise make any real difference to borrowers and investors.

Buy to let poser

Retirement savers may benefit the most as the returns on gilts is likely to increase, but mortgage and lending rates have decoupled from the official base rate with lenders setting their own standard variable rates which are all way above the official interest rate in the UK.

When Carney says the official rate will settle at 2.25% or so, the real rate borrowers will pay will be higher.

Current buy to let mortgage rates for property investors are around 4.25% – or base rate plus 3.75%. If that differential is maintained, expect to see investment mortgages rise to nearer 6%.

That’s why Carney has warned buy to let lending rules are too lax and lenders need to tighten them up.

Speaking before MPs at a meeting of Parliament’s Treasury Committee, Carney admitted the Bank is reviewing the buy to let mortgage market but declined to comment on the scope of the inquiry as he did not want to pre-empt any discussion or recommendations.

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