The recent news about negative interest rates in Europe may sound far away, but it affects you too. Banks throughout Europe have seen their bottom lines pinched by the -.4% rate on all deposits they keep at the European Central Bank. The idea behind the policy was to force banks to loan money out to boost the economy instead of holding it in reserve.
The unintended side effect is that businesses and some individuals are now having the negative rates passed along to their current accounts. This means that in leading economic countries, you have to pay to keep your savings in the bank while they use it to make money.
It started at the end of 2014 with major German bank Commerzbank. They passed along these negative rates to their business clients who kept balances over 10 million euros in on demand accounts. As with every creeping change, it never stops there.
A regional German bank Raiffeisen Gmund made headlines earlier this month when it announced its intentions to begin charging negative rates to individual depositors. This will apply to those who keep 100,000 euros or more in current accounts. Other regional German Sparkasse savings banks are also going to roll out the negative interest rates on major deposits from their business customers.
Private Banking Chief Christian Sewing at the largest German banking group Deutsche Bank has ruled out these negative rates. Instead they are going to simply raise the “administration fees” for holders of accounts. This will be their back door method of passing along the extra costs to the customers.
Don’t think this is just limited to Germany either. Royal Bank of Scotland has now become the first British bank to hit its business customers with negative interest rates starting this week. For the moment, they are limiting this to deposits held in Euros. If the Bank of England cuts its interest rates any further, they will reach 0% or go negative as well.
Charging negative rates on British pound accounts would impact huge numbers. RBS last month wrote a million business account holders to tell them it may have to start charging them for deposits should the Bank of England move to negative interest rates. This looks more likely with the hit the British economy has taken after their vote to leave the European Union upset the British economy.
The negative interest rates are not only limited to Europe. Six central banks around the globe have instituted negative rates, including both the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan.
Negative interest rates are not only impacting European current bank accounts either. Five year government bonds in Japan now pay a loss of -.2% if you hold them till they mature.
This does not take into account inflation or even the possibility of Japan (with its 230% debt to GDP ratio) defaulting. Despite this, the size of the Japanese bond market tells you that it ranks among the more popular global investments.
You may say that negative interest rates for bank accounts and bonds could never happen in the United States. Thanks to U.S. inflation at near 2 percent, real interest rates of half a percent are already significantly negative here. The paltry amount you are receiving from your bank or government bonds is costing you money as inflation eats it away.
Now is the time to protect your portfolio against negative returns and uncertain economic times
There is no reason to lose sleep at night over negative interest rates and returns. Putting a portion of your money into gold will help to protect you against these financial interest rate tricks and manipulation of the world monetary system. Gold is the ultimate safe haven and hedge in times of financial instability like these. Click here to request your free gold IRA investment kit from Regal Assets today to learn how you can diversify and protect your retirement savings.