Wednesday, July 6, 2016

This 5,000 Year Low Is Ruining Your Retirement

By Justin Spittler

The global banking system, and your financial future, are at serious risk right now. To understand why, just look at what's going on with the government's latest radical policy. Regular Dispatch readers know we're talking about rock bottom interest rates. According to MarketWatch, global interest rates are at the lowest level in 5,000 years. Credit is cheaper right now than at any point since the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt, around the 32nd century BC. Today, we'll explain what this means and how to protect yourself going forward..…

Interest rates didn’t get this low “naturally.” They’re at record lows because central bankers put them there..…
In 2008, the Federal Reserve dropped its key rate to near zero to fight the financial crisis. It’s kept rates there for eight years to encourage borrowing and spending. Other major central banks did the same thing. According to MarketWatch, there have been more than 650 rate cuts since September 2008. Rates in Canada and England are also near zero. In Europe and Japan, rates are below zero.

As we’ve explained before, negative interest rates basically tax your bank account. Instead of earning interest on the money in your bank account, you pay the bank. Not long ago, negative rates were unheard of. Today, more than $12 trillion worth of government bonds pay negative rates, up from $6 trillion in February. 

They’ve even seeped into the corporate debt market. According to Bloomberg Business, more than $300 billion worth of corporate bonds now “tax” bondholders. Central bankers told us low and negative rates would “stimulate” the economy. But, as you’re about to see, they’ve done far more harm than good.

Central bankers made it much harder to retire..…
That’s because rock bottom rates don’t just make it cheap to borrow money. They make it tough to earn a decent return. From 1962 to 2007, a U.S. 10 year Treasury paid an average annual interest rate of 7.0%. Today, a U.S. 10 year Treasury yields just 1.5%, an all time low. It’s the same story around the world. Last week, 10 year bonds in Ireland, England, Germany, France, and Japan all fell to record lows. In Japan, you actually have to pay the government 0.23% every year you own one of its 10 year bonds.

This is a serious problem for hundreds of millions of people. For decades, retirees could earn a safe, decent return owning these bonds. Some folks even lived off the interest they earned from these bonds. These days, you have to own riskier assets like stocks to have any shot at a decent return. Central bankers have effectively forced retirees to gamble with their life savings. Rock bottom rates are a serious threat to major financial institutions too.

According to U.S. banking giant Citigroup (C), low and negative rates are “poison” to the global financial system..…
They could make pension funds, insurance companies, and banks “no longer viable in the long term.” Business Insider reported last week:
As Citi notes: "Viability in its strong sense means profitability (a rate of return on equity at least equal to the cost of capital). In its weak sense, viability means solvency." Basically, Citi is warning that the negative rates may stop institutions being able to make money, which in turn would hit their ability to pay out on things like pensions and insurance policies.
This is a major risk even if you don’t have a pension or life insurance policy. That’s because pension and insurance companies oversee trillions of dollars. They’re pillars of the global financial system…and negative rates are destroying them.

Rock bottom rates could also put some of the world’s biggest banks out of business..…
You see, banks earn most of their money making loans. When rates are high, they make more on each loan. When rates are at record lows, like they are today, banks often lose money. Business Insider explains how today’s record-low rates are starving banks of income:
Citi points out that: "Banks in large part live off the differentials between lending and borrowing rates or between investment returns and funding rates." Persistently low interest rates could hit these differentials, lowering profitability and seriously harming banks in the long run.
Profits at America’s four biggest banks fell by an average of 13% during the first quarter…
This group includes Citigroup, Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC), and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM). European banks are doing even worse. Swiss bank UBS’s (UBS) profits plunged 64% during the first quarter. Profits at Deutsche Bank (DB), Germany’s biggest lender, fell 58%. Spanish banking giant BBVA’s (BBVA) earnings fell 54%. The CEO of Deutsche Bank warned last month:
In the banking world, we are currently struggling with negative interest rates.
We will struggle more as the effect of those negative interest rates plays out into our deposit books.
Dispatch readers know some of Europe’s most important financial institutions are looking for ways to get around negative rates..…
Commerzbank, one of Germany’s largest banks, said last month that it was thinking of pulling money out of Europe’s banking system to avoid paying negative rates. Other banks have started making riskier loans and buying riskier assets to offset rock-bottom rates. The Financial Times reported in March:
Gonzalo Gortázar, chief executive at Spain’s Caixabank, expressed concerns about a build up of risk in the banking system as a whole. “In a world of low or negative interest rates, that is a possible consequence; you could see banks taking more risk,” he said.
Longtime readers know excessive risk-taking by banks contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. As a result, the S&P 500 plunged 57% from 2007 to 2009. And the U.S. entered its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Bank stocks are already trading like a financial crisis has begun..…
Swiss bank Credit Suisse (CS) has plummeted 63% over the past year. Deutsche Bank is down 60%. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is down 59%. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU), Japan’s biggest bank, is down 39%. These are huge drops in short periods. Remember, these are some of the most important financial institutions on the planet.

We encourage you to take action now..…
Our first recommendation is to avoid bank stocks. Low and negative rates are eating these companies alive right now. And it could be years before governments abandon these failed policies. According to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, low interest rates are the “new normal.” We also encourage you to own physical gold. As we like to remind readers, gold is real money. It’s preserved wealth for centuries because it has a rare set of characteristics: It’s durable, easy to transport, and easily divisible. A gold coin is valuable anywhere in the world.

This year, gold has jumped 26%. It’s trading at its highest price in two years. But Casey Research founder Doug Casey says this rally is just getting started. According to Doug, gold could soar 500% or more in the coming years. If you’re nervous that central bankers will take this interest rate experiment too far, own gold. It’s the best way to protect yourself from desperate governments.

We also encourage you to watch this short presentation. It explains how these failed monetary policies could spark something much worse than a banking crisis. As you’ll see, this is a threat to you even if you don’t a have a single penny in the stock market. Click here to watch this free video.

Chart of the Day

Deutsche Bank is trading like a financial crisis has begun. Today’s chart shows the performance of the German banking giant. You can see its stock is down more than 50% over the past year. Last Thursday, it hit it a new record low. Like other European lenders, low rates are killing Deutsche Bank. Last year, the company lost $7.5 billion. It was its first annual loss since the 2008 financial crisis. And yet, its plunging stock suggests more bad results are on the way.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Deutsche Bank is the world’s riskiest financial institution. That’s a problem even if you don’t keep money with Deutsche Bank or own its shares. The Wall Street Journal reported last week:
The IMF also said the German banking system poses a higher degree of possible outward contagion compared with the risks it poses internally. “In particular, Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S. have the highest degree of outward spillovers as measured by the average percentage of capital loss of other banking systems due to banking sector shock in the source country,” the IMF added.
In other words, problems at Deutsche Bank could spread to other banks around the world. It’s another reason why you should avoid bank stocks and own gold right now.




The article This 5,000-Year Low Is Ruining Your Retirement was originally published at caseyresearch.com.


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