The 12 Effects of Federal Reserve Interest Rate Changes

The 12 Effects of Federal Reserve Interest Rate Changes


When the economy starts to falter, why does the Federal Reserve lower interest rates? According to the hypothesis, lowering interest rates lowers borrowing costs, which encourages companies to take out loans to grow their workforce and increase output. When the economy is booming, the reasoning is reversed.

Interest rate changes have a practical impact on how consumers and businesses obtain loans to organize their finances and make essential expenditures. Certain life insurance policies are even impacted by it.


Here, we examine how interest rate adjustments by the Federal Reserve affect the lending and borrowing sectors, consumer spending, and the stock market. This article looks at how customers pay more for the capital needed to make purchases and why when the Fed adjusts rates, firms will have to pay more for operating expenses and payroll. But as this article demonstrates, increasing expenses affect more than only the companies mentioned above.

Rates of Interest and Borrowing

The bond market is immediately impacted by lower interest rates since they tend to make corporate and U.S. Treasury bond yields less appealing to new investors. Bond prices grow in tandem with falling interest rates since they are negatively correlated.

Similarly, a rise in interest rates depresses bond prices, which hurts fixed-income investors. Because it costs more to borrow money or refinance current debt, consumers are also less likely to do so when interest rates rise.

The rate of prime

The prime rate, also known as the Bank Prime Loan Rate, rises in response to an increase in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate. The credit rate that banks offer to their most credit-worthy clients is known as the prime rate.


Other types of consumer credit are predicated on this rate since higher prime indicates that banks would charge more fixed- and variable-rate borrowing charges when evaluating risk on less creditworthy individuals and businesses.

Rates for Credit Cards

Banks use the prime rate as a benchmark to assess the creditworthiness of other people according to their risk profile. Rates for credit cards and other loans are impacted since they both demand a thorough risk assessment of the people applying for credit to make purchases. The rates for short-term borrowing will be greater than those for long-term borrowing.


The increase in the prime rate drives up the money market and certificate of deposit (CD) rates. In principle, since they can get a larger return on their savings, it ought to encourage savings among businesses and consumers alike.


However, the result could be that those who are heavily in debt would instead want to pay off their debt to offset the higher variable rates associated with debt instruments like credit cards and home loans.

U.S. National Debt 

An increase in interest rates drives up the cost of borrowing for the US government, contributing to rising budget deficits and the nation’s debt. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget projects a $12.7 trillion overall budget deficit between 2022 and 2031. A just 0.5 percent rate increase would result in a $1 trillion rise in the deficit.

In 2031, the national debt is projected to represent 107.5% of GDP. A 50 basis point increase in rates would increase to 110.6% of GDP.

Business Profits

The banking industry often sees an increase in earnings as interest rates rise because they can charge higher interest rates on the money they lend out. However, a rate increase reduces profitability for the remainder of the world’s business community.

This is because expanding requires larger capital costs. That might be bad news for a market that is experiencing a slump in earnings right now. Many firms should see an increase in earnings as a result of lower interest rates since it will be more affordable for them to access money and make operational expenditures.

Auto Loan Rates

The Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy was extremely beneficial to the auto industry; but, rising benchmark rates will have a cumulative effect. Although buying a car should be encouraged by lower auto loan interest rates in theory, big-ticket purchases might not be as sensitive as credit card debt for more urgent requirements.

Rates on Mortgages

Borrowers may rush to close on a fixed loan rate on a new home if there is a hint of an impending rate hike. However, because interest rates have a major influence on the yield of domestic 10-year Treasury notes, mortgage rates typically move more in lockstep with that yield. Consequently, mortgage rates will decrease in tandem with a decrease in interest rates. The cost of purchasing a property decreases with lower mortgage rates.

Household Sales

In general, rising inflation and interest rates reduce demand for housing. For instance, homeowners should budget at least 60% for interest payments throughout their investment on a 30-year loan at 4.65%.

However, the same house for the same purchase price will have lower monthly payments and less interest paid overall throughout the mortgage if interest rates drop. The same home becomes cheaper when mortgage rates decline, therefore buyers should be more motivated to make purchases.

Consumer Spending

Traditionally, rising borrowing prices hurt consumer expenditure. An increase in credit card rates and savings rates brought on by improved bank rates both contribute to a decline in impulsive consumer purchases. Consumers can purchase goods on credit at a reduced cost as interest rates decline. This can include everything from appliances bought with store credit to cars financed by loans to credit card purchases.


When the overall cost of goods and services increases in an economy, it’s referred to as inflation. This can happen when the value of a country’s currency declines or when the economy grows too quickly, pushing up prices because demand exceeds supply.

Interest rates are frequently raised in tandem with rising inflation to help the central bank control inflation, which it targets at 2% annually. However, if interest rates decline, consumers who are purchasing on credit at low rates may start driving up prices once more, which might cause inflation to pick up speed.

The Stock Market

While interest rates can hurt profitability overall, companies primarily operating in the US usually benefit from an increase in rates. This is a result of the stronger US dollar making local goods more appealing.

Businesses that conduct a large amount of business on foreign markets suffer from the strengthening dollar. Real sales for international corporations decrease as the U.S. currency appreciates versus other currencies due to the support of higher interest rates.

At one point or another, businesses including Microsoft, Hershey, Caterpillar, and Johnson & Johnson have issued warnings about how the strengthening dollar might affect their bottom line. Increases in interest rates are usually advantageous to the financial industry. Bank stocks often do well during periods of increasing rate hikes.

The stock market and interest rates have a fairly inverse relationship, but they generally move in different directions. Generally speaking, the stock market rises when the Fed raises interest rates, while the stock market falls when the Fed lowers interest rates. However, there’s no guarantee the market will respond to any particular interest rate adjustment the Fed decides to make.

What Is Interest Rate Changes’ Overall Impact?

The cost of borrowing money rises in tandem with interest rates. This raises the price of purchasing particular products and services, such as homes and cars. This thus lowers consumer spending, which lowers the demand for products and services. Businesses reduce production in response to a decline in demand for their products and services, which results in employee layoffs and more unemployment. Interest rate increases generally cause the economy to slow down. Interest rate reductions have the opposite impact.

How Do Increases in Interest Rates Impact Inflation?

Inflation declines in response to interest rate increases. A rise in interest rates drives up the cost of products and services since it makes borrowing money more expensive. A higher loan rate will result in higher costs for a car or property. As a result, there is less demand for products and services since customers spend less. Prices fall along with a decline in demand, which lowers inflation.

Interest rates are set by who?

Interest rates are regulated by a country’s central bank. Monetary policy, which is the purview of a central bank, includes modifying interest rates to either accelerate or decelerate the economy. Tax adjustments are part of fiscal policy, which is the province of governments.

The Final Word

The central bank can intervene and lower interest rates if the economy falters. To keep the economy growing steadily, the Federal Reserve is eager to utilize this weapon to cut borrowing costs in response to increasing inflation or a recession. This will allow businesses and individuals to spend more and make investments.


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