Before I start with this morning’s article, I want to ask you to vote for me in the Free Money Finance March Madness contest. The best personal finance article will win the right to give $1,000 (generously provided by FMM) to a charity of your choice. I have selected a charity that helps children. Please comment on this post with the word “figures”. Thx a million!
The Prime Rate, or Prime Lending Rate, is a term used in many countries to describe an interest rate  reference used by Central Banks. This key rate has been a major discussion for the past 6 months, as we realized that the sky is not falling and soon talk about economic growth and prosperity will dominate again. The prime rate is the starting point for all discussions involving mortgage rates (especially variable rates that are directly linked to prime). When discussing interest rates, we usually address debt management and how tough it would be if mortgage rates would climb to 6%+ again …
I don’t really like to play Nostradamus with regards to market trends or interest rates and I’ll show you why today. Recently, Bloomberg asked several economists their opinion on the Canadian Prime Rate and at where it would be at the end of 2010. You can see their predictions in the following table:
|Bank||Prime Rate At the end of 2010|
Out of 8 highly paid and hopefully knowledgeable economists, we notice predictions of a Canadian Prime Rate between 0.25% (no change) and 2.25% (an increase of 2.00% within one year… or should I say 10 months!) for an average prediction of 1.18%.
So my question is quite simple: how can someone predict no change and another (with the same level of knowledge/competence/tools of analysis) forecast a rate that is 9 times higher? I even read that some economists from Desjardins see the Prime Rate at 7% in 5 years… I guess I should call them to know which stocks will give me a 20% annualized return over the next 5 years. They probably have it written in their black book of prophecy 😉 This is why I spoke about Nostradamus!
So what is the point of this post if it’s not to predict the Prime Rate?
The point is to tell you that you will read a lot of apocalyptical scenarios about the interest rate going up since semsationalism sells. The very same people that were convinced that capitalism was dead 12 months ago will try to convince you that we are going to back to 12% interest rates as seen in the 80’s.
In fact, you will probably see a smooth increase in the interest rate as the economy gains its second wind. However, it won’t happen overnight 😉
We still have a fragile economy, high unemployment rate (8.3%) and job creation doesn’t reflect reality as most of them are part time or under paid compared to the lost jobs. In addition to that, do I have to mention that the loonie is strong enough compared to the US dollar that we don’t really need interest rates to give it the final push to parity?
What if we see 10 years of near to zero economic growth as Japan experienced? Oh shoot…. That’s it! I am writing about another apocalyptic scenario on the other side… see how easy it is to predict the future based on rationale?
image source: Xurdle Google+