Wise Bread Picks
In a matter of weeks, America will have a new President, and people are already speculating as to what a new man in the White House will mean for the economy.
Donald Trump outlined a series of policy proposals on the campaign trail, including some that, according to economists, may impact inflation and interest rates. This comes at a time when the Federal Reserve has been hinting at raising interest rates for a while. So if all of this happens, what should you do with your money? Here are some ideas.
If There’s Inflation
Ifd the federal government opens up the fiscal spigot, inflation is sure to follow.
1. Take a Look at Gold
Gold has long been a popular investment for those seeking protection against inflation, especially during times of political and global uncertainty. Prices for gold spiked in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election, but are still quite low from a historical standpoint.
There are several ways to purchase gold. You can buy gold bars or bullion and store it, or purchase shares of companies involved in gold mining. There are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the performance of gold or gold-related industries.
2. Get Into TIPS
The U.S. Treasury offers something called Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. These are pegged to the Consumer Price Index, so when the index rises, the value of the investment rises with it. These are solid, low-risk investments that are perfect for when inflation is a possibility, and they are exempt from state and local income taxes. It’s also possible to own TIPS in a retirement fund, via an ETF or mutual fund.
3. Invest in Commodities
In addition to gold, there are other commodities that can be used as a hedge against inflation. Many commodities, including oil, wheat, and even live cattle naturally rise with inflation. If you’re unsure of which commodities to buy, consider looking at a fund or ETF that invests in commodities broadly. The PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund [NYSE: DBC]) and the Fidelity Series Commodity Strategy Fund [NYSE: FCSSX] are two examples.
4. Get Real With Real Estate
Real estate is another area that often does well during an inflationary period. There are many ways to obtain real estate, either by purchasing property directly, or by buying shares of real estate investment trusts, or REITs. The caveat here is that if interest rates rise, then the cost of a mortgage to purchase real estate will also go up. So it may be smart to get in now while interest rates are still at historic lows.
If Interest Rates Rise
The Federal Reserve is expected to tick interest rates up a bit soon, while Trump’s economic proposals could accelerate that process.
1. Invest in Banks
Banks generally do better when interest rates are higher than they are now. Right now, these companies have a low “net interest margin” — the difference between the interest they earn and the interest they pay out. Higher rates will increase this margin, thus increasing the bank’s profitability.
2. Lock in a Fixed Rate
If you have a mortgage with an adjustable rate, now is the time to lock into something more stable, before interest rates rise. Convert your mortgage to a fixed-rate loan now, while interest rates are low. If you don’t do this, your rate could adjust upward to a level that you may find unsustainable.
3. Switch to Short-Term Bonds
If interest rates are about to go up, you don’t want your money tied up in something that’s not paying a high rate. Placing your money in shorter term bonds and bond funds will allow you to remove your money earlier and then reinvest it in something with a higher return once rates rise. Long-term bonds do pay a higher rate than short-term bonds, but you lose flexibility.
4. Bolster Your Cash Holdings
With interest rates at ultralow levels, there hasn’t been much incentive to hold on to a lot of cash. But if interest rates rise, you may find it’s worth it to have a little more cash on hand, as it will generate some income for you. Stocks and other investments will probably still be more lucrative, but higher interest rates means there won’t be as much downside to having more liquid savings, and it may give you more peace of mind.