Savings and CD Rates Steady - Weekly Rate Update Sept. 21

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The big news last week on the rate front was the general lack of inflation in the economy. The Labor Department's CPI numbers rose .4% in August versus July but from a year earlier decreased 1.5%. At this rate, the Fed is under no pressure to raise rates. Speaking at a seminar in Helsinki today, Nobel award winning economist Paul Krugman said that the US has $1.1 trillion in idle capacity. It's hard to see large price increases in the short-term in the face of such a capacity glut. At the same time Krugman did say that "The consequences of that [a downturn that drags on] are that you start to have problems with financing the debt and you start to have social and political problems."

So could we be faced with rising interest rates even as inflation remains low?

As the charts show, there is no significant change to report with savings rates and CD rates. The average savings rate and 1-year CD rate according to the BestCashCow rate tables stayed the same from the prior week. The average 3-year CD rate dropped by 2 basis points to 2.66% while the average 5-year CD rate rose 4 basis points to 3.37%.

Like the economy, rates seem to have pretty much hit bottom. The question now is when they will go back up. It may be some time.

There's no significant change to report in the spread between savings rates and 36-month CDs. The spread ticked down a bit but nothing that isn't within the normal range of the past few months. Notice that the spread between savings and 3-year CDs that we saw widen in the Spring is still there, a hopeful sign that the economy is poised for expansion. One wonders who will blink first: will longer term CD yields come down in the absence of any sign of inflation, or will short term savings and CD accounts rise as the economy strengthens?

Based on this data, it would seem that any rate increases won't come until sometime in 2010. Nevertheless I would stay short-term and wait. An improving economy and a glut of Treasury debt will eventually put some pressure on rates.

The spread between the average BestCashCow savings rates and 36-month CD rates remains steady as the economy stabilizes and investors, banks, and consumers wait to get the next read on where the economy is going.

Sol Nasisi
Sol Nasisi: Sol Nasisi is the co-founder and a past president of BestCashCow, an online resource for comprehensive bank rate information. In this capacity, he closely followed rate trends for all savings-related and loan products and the impact of rate fluctuations on the economy. He specifically focused on how rates impact consumers' ability to borrow and save. He also has authored a wee

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