The upside of higher interest rates


Interest rates have jumped higher over the last few years, in some cases to levels not seen in many years. National average mortgage borrowing costs, for instance, are recently at levels not seen since the early 2000s.

Higher rates, understandably, have a bad reputation. But there is also an upside that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

The downside

Higher interest rates have a direct negative influence on equity market valuations and can hinder corporate profit performance in costing businesses more in interest expense. Higher rates also have a direct negative impact on bond market returns as the value of bonds moves inversely with yields. Of course, higher rates slow economic activity as they negatively affect borrowing, spending and investment.

The upside

Often overlooked, however, is the positive effect of higher rates on consumer income: 

  • Personal interest income: This is income from fixed income and cash investments with yields that generally move in tandem with Federal Reserve rates. (For example, high-interest savings accounts and money market funds.) As shown below, this income easily outstrips interest expense as households hold significantly greater financial assets than liabilities.
  • Fixed-rate mortgages: Mortgages are by far the largest liability for households in aggregate. Yet more than 95% of U.S. mortgages are currently fixed rate, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, thus protecting mortgagees from the rising rates.
Source: FactSet. This illustration is shown for illustrative purposes only and is not guaranteed. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Your financial advisor can help identify investment opportunities when rates are high

While interest rates are high, it’s worth considering whether you’d benefit from certain investment opportunities, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), investment certificates and Treasury bills. Your Ameriprise financial advisor will review how these investments may fit into your overall strategy, considering your risk tolerance, time horizon and the level of liquidity you need to feel comfortable and more secure in your current lifestyle.