US-CHINA TRADE WAR DRIVES DOWN RATES… FOR NOW
The US-China trade war has caused global interest rates to drop as investors divert capital away from the stock market and into the bond market. The 25% tariff recently placed on Chinese imports into the US means that these products could potentially cost 25% more than what they cost last year, driving up consumer prices on those goods and services. It remains to be seen whether companies will pass on the higher costs to their customers, or whether they’ll absorb the cost increases themselves. Either way, corporations are likely to earn less profit, which is the main reason why stock prices have tumbled recently.
In the meantime, bonds have benefited as investors have shifted their funds into the safety of the bond market to ride out the storm. This has caused interest rates on government bonds as well as mortgages to go down. In fact, mortgage rates are at their best levels of the year. But how long will this last?
Generally, tariffs and trade wars are bad for both stocks and bonds. That’s because tariffs carry with them the risk of higher inflation. Whenever there is inflation (higher prices), interest rates also go up. That’s because inflation erodes the purchasing power of the interest that’s being paid to the one lending the money. For example, if you pay 5% interest to a lender who lends you $100,000, that lender is earning $5,000 each year. But if that $5,000 has less purchasing power due to inflation, the lender may ask you to pay 6% instead.
That’s the long-term risk with tariffs and trade wars. Although interest rates are very low right now, market conditions could change at any time. If you’re thinking of buying a new house or refinancing your mortgage, you may want to get moving on it now, because the longer you wait, the bigger the risk you’re taking that interest rates could go higher. Do not wait!
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