Fear Rising Rates?

Bill Parrott |

Investors fear rising interest rates. Since the start of the year, the 10-Year US Treasury yield is up 66% to 1.54%. It's still low, but the speed at which it climbed is worrying investors. For the past fourteen years, the yield on the 10-Year averaged 2.33%. The high was 4.01%, the low was .52%. Does it make sense to sell stocks as rates are climbing? Maybe.

Let's look at rate spikes during this cycle. Despite several rate spurts, the S&P is up 373% since 2008. If you bought stocks during the previous rate spikes, you're probably sitting on nice gains today. Though we have experienced volatility in the bond market, the trend for interest rates over the years has been down.

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  • The yield soared 67% from December 2008 to June 2009.
  • The yield jumped 50% from October 2010 to February 2011.
  • The yield climbed 49% from May 2013 to September 2013.
  • The yield rose 68% from July 2016 to January 2017.
  • The yield increased 54% from August 2017 to November 2018.

During the above rate spikes, stocks rose with an average gain of 11% - counter to what typically happens when rates rise.

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Stocks are sensitive to interest rates. When they rise, stocks fall, and vice versa. It's been this way for centuries. Rates threaten stocks when elevated because investors can buy bonds to realize a safe and sometimes guaranteed return. When will rates be a menace for stocks? I believe the rate threshold is 5%. A 5% guaranteed return for many will be difficult to pass up, and investors will sell stocks to buy bonds.

Additional buyers for our bonds are wealthy foreign investors and foreign governments since our rates are high relative to other countries. Here's a look at global 10-year government bonds.[1]

  • Germany = -.274%
  • UK = .755%
  • Japan = .0122%
  • Australia = 1.786%
  • China = 3.27%
  • France = -.036%
  • Italy = .75%
  • Spain = .406%

Our rates are in line with Australia's, but lower than China's. However, foreign governments and wealthy investors likely will choose our market because of our safety and liquidity. As our rates climb, the money will flow into our bond market, keeping a lid on rising rates.

Rising rates may benefit your portfolio, especially if you carry a large cash balance. As rates rise, so will the yield on your money market or savings accounts. Another way to benefit is through a bond ladder. Buying bonds with different maturities can preserve your liquidity while capturing higher yields. Also, if interest rates are rising, it means our economy is doing well. And, a strong economy will benefit many.

If stocks fall because our rates are rising, I recommend buying the dip as a correction may be short-lived.

Don't fear rising rates – for now!

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. ~ Jack Canfield

March 8, 2021

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM's custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

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