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Explaining Interest Rates to a Middle SchoolerSubmitted by Sound Foundation Wealth Advisors on April 25th, 2023
The Federal Reserve, or "the Fed," is the central bank of the United States. One of its primary goals is to maintain price stability, which means keeping inflation at a moderate and stable rate. To achieve this, the Fed uses various tools, including adjusting interest rates. In this post, we'll explore how increasing interest rates can help with inflation.
First, let's define what we mean by inflation. Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, and subsequently, the purchasing power of currency is decreasing. In other words, when inflation is high, it costs more to buy the same things than it did before.
When the economy is growing too quickly and inflation is rising too fast, the Fed may decide to increase interest rates. This has the effect of making it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow money. As a result, people and businesses may be less likely to spend money and invest in new projects, which can slow down economic growth and, in turn, slow down inflation.
Another way that increasing interest rates can help with inflation is by strengthening the value of the dollar. When interest rates are higher, foreign investors may be more likely to invest in U.S. bonds, which can drive up demand for dollars. This increased demand for dollars can make the dollar stronger relative to other currencies, which can lower the price of imported goods and services. Since many of the goods and services we buy are imported, a stronger dollar can help keep inflation in check.
However, it's important to note that raising interest rates can also have some negative consequences. For example, higher interest rates can make it more difficult for businesses to borrow money to invest in new projects, which can slow down economic growth. Additionally, higher interest rates can make it more difficult for people to afford loans for big-ticket purchases like homes and cars, which can also slow down economic growth.
Let's explore these potential negative consequences in more detail. When interest rates are high, businesses may be less likely to invest in new projects because it's more expensive to borrow money. This can lead to a decrease in economic growth and job creation. Additionally, high interest rates can make it more difficult for people to afford loans for big-ticket purchases like homes and cars, which can also slow down economic growth.
Higher interest rates can also lead to an increase in the value of the dollar, which can make U.S. exports more expensive and less competitive in global markets. This can lead to a decrease in demand for U.S. goods and services, which can also slow down economic growth and job creation.
It's important to note that the Fed is aware of these potential negative consequences of raising interest rates, and it carefully considers these factors when making decisions about monetary policy. The Fed aims to strike a balance between keeping inflation in check and supporting economic growth and job creation.
The Fed uses a variety of tools to manage inflation, including adjusting interest rates. When inflation is rising too quickly, the Fed may decide to raise interest rates to slow down economic growth and strengthen the dollar. While this can help keep inflation in check, it's important to consider the potential negative consequences of raising interest rates, such as slower economic growth and decreased access to credit.
The information contained herein is intended to be used for educational purposes only and is not exhaustive. Diversification and/or any strategy that may be discussed does not guarantee against investment losses but are intended to help manage risk and return. If applicable, historical discussions and/or opinions are not predictive of future events. The content is presented in good faith and has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The content is not intended to be legal, tax or financial advice. Please consult a legal, tax or financial professional for information specific to your individual situation.
This content not reviewed by FINRA
Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Sound Foundation Wealth Advisors, and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. are not affiliated.