How the Next Fed Rate Hike Will Affect You

We expect the Federal Reserve to raise its federal funds interest rate from 0.25% to 0.5% at its meeting on December 14. This will have a domino effect, boosting some loan and deposit rates for consumers, but not all of them.

How the Fed Rate Hike Will Affect Your Loan Rates

When the Fed raises, the bank prime rate will immediately jump by the same quarter percentage point. Interest rates on home equity lines of credit will also rise by the same amount, to a minimum of 3.75%. Auto and personal loan rates should rise, too. In fact, auto lenders may nudge their rates up a tick more in the months to come as delinquencies on subprime auto loans creep up.

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Billions’ Worth of Merchandise Stranded at Sea

The collapse of one of the world’s largest ocean carriers has marooned more than half a million cargo containers in international waters. As much as $14 billion worth of cargo is stuck in limbo awaiting the fate of bankrupt Hanjin Shipping, with dozens of vessels anchored offshore filled with toys, shoes, computers, couches, dishwashers, etc. Port operators and cargo handlers refuse to unload the ships until they are paid.

Hanjin’s global creditors have impounded at least eight vessels, and about 80 are still at sea until captains are assured ships and cargo won’t be seized. It isn’t clear whether Hanjin’s parent company will be able to secure the $90 million it pledged to ease the carrier’s financial woes, or whether that will be enough to dent Hanjin’s $5.5-billion debt. The company has resorted to selling off ships from its 149-vessel fleet, after signs that the South Korean government won’t bail out its largest ocean carrier.

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Trade Deficit Increases in Listless World Economy

Widening 4% in ’16, after a 6.2% increase in ’15

Weak global growth combined with a relatively strong U.S. dollar will drive the U.S. trade deficit up 4% this year, as American exporters struggle to stay competitive in key trading nations. The drag on exports is likely to continue into next year. Continue reading “Trade Deficit Increases in Listless World Economy”

Consumers Rev Up Spending

4% growth in ’16, compared with 4.8% in ’15 (excluding gas)

Feeling more confident about the economy, the job market and their own financial stability, shoppers dialed up spending in June. The third consecutive month of gains marks a strong end to the second quarter of 2016, though challenges remain as retailers grapple with changing industry trends—more online shopping, free shipping demands, etc. Continue reading “Consumers Rev Up Spending”

Brexit Vote Puts Damper on Interest Rates

10-year T-notes at 1.4% by end ’16

The vote by Britain to leave the European Union has completely changed the outlook for interest rates. Rates should stay low for an extended period of time as U.S. Treasury notes and bonds remain important safe haven investments in the face of uncertainty over growth in Europe and Japan.
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