CD Rate Trends This Week: Sept. 29

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Recently, TheStreet.com’s Jim Cramer came out on his CNBC television show Mad Money with a “buy” recommendation on certificates of deposit.

Jim told his viewers that longer-term U.S. Treasuries are heading south, thanks to a rise in inflation that’s heading down the pike faster than many on Wall Street might think. As we’ve said before, any decline in U.S. bond prices means a corresponding hike in CD rates. For the next year-and-half, CDs should offer investors a safe haven from higher inflation – Wall Street’s way of saying that prices rise when too much money chases too few goods - and a declining stock market. The fact that CDs are FDIC-insured is a nice bonus, too, Jim adds. By the time a two-year CD matures, the investment landscape should look a lot different, as inflation begins to take center stage.

The corollary to Jim’s case for CDs is that, since CD prices are so low, they really have no place to go but up – especially if inflation becomes such a concern that the Federal Reserve feels compelled to combat the wealth-eroding consequences of rising inflation.

That’s certainly the case this week, as CD rates hover at the lowest rates we’ve seen in more than 20 years.

Take three-month CDs, for example. At 4.84%, about the same as last week’s 4.81%, three-month CDs are at their lowest levels since 1989. Six-month CDs fare no better – at 0.73%, they’re at lows last seen in 1984.

One-year CDs, as measured by the BankingMyWay National CD Rate Tracker, are down to 1.06% - only slightly higher than averages investors last saw in 1983.


At 1.52% for two-year CDs; 2% for four-year CDs; and 2.3% for five-year CDs this week, rates at the longer end of the ladder are sinking to long-term lows, as well.

Increasingly, bank deposit watchers say it’s only a matter of time before the Federal Reserve steps in and raises its key overnight interest rate (the one it charges financial institutions to borrow money from the Fed). Right now, that rate actually has hit bottom, at between 0% and 0.25%, currently. With those rates so low, banks are essentially borrowing cash for free, meaning they are less inclined to hike bank deposit rates, as they can get cash from the Federal Reserve at a better rate than they can from bank CDs.

We’ll likely see CD rates bounce around their current lows for at least a few more weeks, before they begin to rise incrementally, especially on the long end, as the economy improves (at a glacial pace, admittedly) and the resulting inflation will trigger higher bank interest rates.

In shorthand, that means sit tight, and give strong weight to Jim Cramer’s advice about getting into CDs sooner rather than later.

Make no mistake, economic change is coming, albeit on a slow boat steered by the Federal Reserve. That should mean higher rates for CD investors, as the specter of inflation grows more visible.

When you do make the shift to CDs, you’ll likely get your best rates by visiting BankingMyWay and seeing if you can’t dig up any good deals from larger banks.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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