How interest rates affect stock markets and what may happen in an interest rate rise
Interest rates are at all-time lows around the world, however it’s been said they’re ‘lower for longer’ – not ‘lower forever’.
Ask yourself this – how much would someone have to give you in a year’s time for you to hand over $100 today?
Assuming it is guaranteed they will pay you back, is it $105? $107? $110?
The amount that would make you ambivalent about whether you had the cash today or received it in the future is known as the ‘time value’ of money.
The percentage difference between the two numbers, meanwhile, is known as the ‘discount rate’.
The discount rate vs interest rate
There is an extremely strong link between the discount rate and the interest rate and this is because, if you had $100 today, you could put it in a bank account and earn interest over the coming year.
The more you can earn in interest, therefore, the greater the amount you need to receive in the future to compensate you for not receiving that interest.
If, for example, interest rates were currently 10%, you would not accept less than $110 in a year’s time as, obviously enough, you would otherwise be better off taking your $100 as it is now and stashing it away in a bank account.
When interest rates are 0%, however – as they effectively are today – the future amount you would accept for your $100 now is likely to be lower. In this scenario, perhaps $102 would suffice.
We can also turn this question around
If we know we want to receive $110 in three years’ time, say, how much would we need to set aside now?
The answer to that question would again depend on where interest rates stood. If interest rates were high, you might only need to set aside $100. If they were low, however, the amount might be closer to $108.
Why interest rates move stock prices
This, in effect, is the sum the stock market is trying to solve – and why interest rates move share prices.
While the value of a theoretical company in, say, 2030, may not move in itself, a reduction in discount rates triggered by a reduction in interest rates will have an effect.
If, then, that company was seen as worth $110 in 2030, with interest rates high, the share price today may be $100.
With interest rates low, the company may be worth $108.
Impact around the world
The reduction in interest rates that has been seen around the world has had precisely this impact on stock markets globally.
It should, in other words, come as no surprise that share prices have seen a succession of all-time highs in different countries – at a time of historically low interest rates, such moves are totally understandable and justified.
That said, investors need to remember the mantra intoned by central bankers around the world as they responded to the credit crunch by cutting rates to these levels was ‘lower for longer’ – not ‘lower for ever’.
What we think about rate rises
While the impact that will have on markets is impossible for anyone to predict with any certainty, we believe we can say two things with some confidence.
- A market that has become used to low rates is likely to have some adjustments to make.
- In the process of making those adjustments, the market is likely to overreact in some areas, creating opportunities for stock picking investors.
We sincerely hope the adjustments to come do not prove too painful.
That said, our value-oriented investment process is specifically designed to take advantage of emotion and overreaction within the wider market and more than a century of history suggests that we and our investors should benefit from the sort of environment likely to prevail as and when interest rates start to rise. Past performance though is, as ever, not a guide to future performance.
Our financial advisers Bruno Tjelder and Damon Zischke and OBT Financial Planning Pty Ltd are Authorised Representatives of Lonsdale Financial Group Ltd ABN 76 006 637 225 | AFSL 246934.
This is general advice only and does not take into account your financial circumstances, needs and objectives. Before making any decision based on this document, you should assess your own circumstances or seek advice from a financial planner and seek tax advice from a registered tax agent. Information is current at the date of issue and may change. This information and certain references, where indicated, are taken from sources believed to be accurate and correct. To the extent permitted by the Law, Lonsdale, its representatives, officers and employees accept no liability for any person that relies upon the information contained herein. Information is current at the date of issue and may change.