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Online Savings & Money Market Account Rates 2020

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What is Jerome Powell Really Afraid Of?

Jerome Powell has been testifying in front of Congress for the last two days.   You have no doubt heard snippets of his testimony on the evening news or in the financial media.   Of note, if Trump calls him to fire him, he will say “no, … the law clearly gives me a four year term and four year term and I fully intend to serve”.

However, when Powell is done playing tough guy and testifies about his view of the economy, it is in fact clear that his views have evolved and he is succumbing to Presidential harassment.

Powell is a student of the economy and he believed when he came to be Federal Reserve Chairman that a neutral Fed Funds rate would be just under 3%.   In fact, this time last year, he insisted that his intention was to bring the short term Fed Funds rate temporarily just above 3%.   Powell reasoned that with a neutral rate at that level, the Fed would have the bullets to shoot in order to fight the next economic slowdown.

The economic slowdown never came, yet the Fed never got above a near term target between 2.25% to 2.50%.     Rather, the President and his allies (Larry Ludlow, etc.) began calling for an immediate cut of as much as one full percentage point.   CNBC and Bloomberg became full of pundits (know-nothings) explaining that the Fed had overshot.   Even the NY Times editorial board today called for the Fed to cut rates.  

Powell is too smart to really believe that we should be cutting rates.   But, he is afraid of confrontation, especially with the President.  (I, incidentally, believe that the President may have the legal right to fire the Fed Chairman).   He, therefore, is testifying about how he is afraid of every economic risk imaginable in order to lay the foundation for cutting rates.

The economic risks that Powell cites are (excluding Brexit) general and always present risks to the economy.   They were just as present a year ago when Powell wanted to normalize the Fed funds rate higher than where it is today. Powell knows that.

And so, he is going to sit by and let’s the Republicans try to juice the economy into some sort of unsustainable 3% growth rate over the next year.   He has decided that casinos can be fun (perhaps even Trump casinos).

However, by lowering rates right now, Powell just may make the US the new Japan of the last 30 years or Europe of the last decade.   We have not had a normalized neutral Fed Funds rate since the 2008 financial crisis; failure to get there and the loss of independence of the Fed are likely to have real consequences down the road.


July 2019 Savings and CD Update – Interest Rates Are Falling; How To Continue to Earn A Decent Return on Cash

Rate information contained on this page may have changed. Please find latest savings rates.

We have experienced a dramatic fall in interest rates in the US and following the Fed’s most recent meeting in June, CD rates greater than 1-year have come in dramatically.   Most recently one-year CD rates and even some online savings rates have begun to fall.

There are three different strategies that you can mix-and-match to continue to earn interest on cash against the backdrop of a likely 25 basis point cut by the Fed at the end of the month.

First, we continue to like No Penalty CDs.   We wrote about the benefits of No Penalty CDs over savings rates here.   In June, we highlighted the No Penalty CD products of Purepoint, Marcus and Ally.   As of this writing, those products are all still be offered with the same rates and minimums.   Purepoint continues to have the highest rate for these products at 2.50%, but Marcus has the lowest minimum deposit ($500). [Editor's Note: On the day of publication, Purepoint cut their 13-Month No Penalty CD rate to 2.00%.   Depositors should look at the No Penalty CDs offered by Ally and Marcus before considering Purepoint.]

We list all No Penalty CDs and other special term CDs here.

Second, we think that it makes sense to consider locking up money that you will not need in 1-year CDs.   Even if the Fed does not lower the Fed funds rate in July since Chinese trade relations may be improving, it is very unlikely that it will raise the rate more than once over the next 12 months.  Therefore, we don’t see prevailing savings rates going over 2.70% before the end of June 2020; yet, you can still lock in that rate between now and then at several online banks.   To mitigate the risks of rising rates or needing to access your cash, we suggest limiting your CDs to those banks with early withdrawal penalties of 3 months interest or less.   As of this writing, there are at least 5 online banks with 3 months early withdrawal penalties that are still offering rates of 2.70% on 1-year CDs.

You can see the complete list of 1-year CDs here.

Third, you can ride this interest rate uncertainty out by staying in savings and money market accounts, but you should fully expect that your interest rate will fall if the Fed lowers the Fed funds rate at the end of the month.   You might want to focus new deposits on those banks that are new entrants in the online market (as they will want to stay competitive as long as they are in asset accumulation mode) and those that are keeping their rates high prior to the Fed’s move.

We list all of the best online savings rates here, and you may also want to consider local savings rates and savings and money market offerings from credit unions.


The Fed Funds Rate is Unchanged at 2.25 to 2.50%; Savings And CD Rates Likely to Firm

The Federal Reserve concluded its 2-day June meeting leaving the Fed Funds rate unchanged.    As it tries to remain independent of an unrestrained Executive branch that is compaigning for sharp cuts, it removed the word “patient” from its rate outlook.   While the Fed has not committed to a July cut, eight members polled indicated that the next move will be down while one indicated that it may be up.

Online savings rates continue to be attractive and will likely firm in the wake of the Fed’s decision today.   One-year CD rates offer a nice premium over the best savings rate and could be a good place to put much of the money that you may want to keep out of other assets and do not expect to need to access over the next 12 months.