Ever since my days of playing the board game of Monopoly, I have wanted to beat the bank. Remember drawing the card that said “Bank Error in Your Favor”? Collect $10…. 10 bucks – sweet and no jail time either.
Nowadays, it seems nearly impossible to beat the bank — unless you are talking about their interest rates paid to a saver!
Retirees have been pummeled by an artificially depressed rate environment which filters down to interest offered by banks. Good thing, there are alternatives to traditional bank rates paying next to nothing. Insurance companies and the payments on annuities have also dropped off, although they still manage to consistently offer substantially better yields than their bank counterparts.
So, do fixed annuities beat bank interest rates? Simply compare and you will see that they do quite handily!
Is now a good time to place money into an annuity? Watch as the Annuity Guys® -Dick and Eric, discuss how the political and economic decisions of today impact annuities and retirees.
**Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values. During this segment, Dick and Eric are referring to Fixed Annuities unless otherwise specified.
The Annuity Guys® believe a lot of the future economic impact will be based upon the decisions of Janet Yellen, read more about her in this Washington Post Ariticle.
Janet Yellen will be appointed Fed chair tomorrow. Neil and Ylan already wrote the definitive profile of her, but here are the main things you ought to know going into her confirmation hearings.
1. She is perhaps the most qualified Fed chair in history.
Paul Volcker is the only Fed chair who even comes close to Janet Yellen’s level of experience.
Just look at the competition. When he was appointed chairman, Ben Bernanke’s only prior government service was three years on the Fed board and six months as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). Alan Greenspan had three years as CEA chair.
Yellen, by contrast, has served for three years as vice chair, headed up the San Francisco Fed for six years, ran the CEA for two years, and before that did a three year stint on the Fed Board of Governors. She also did a stint as an economist at the board in the late 1970s, for good measure.
Only Paul Volcker — who had a multi-decade career at the New York Fed and the Treasury — even comes close to that, and he had nowhere near as much exposure to the highest echelons of the Fed system as Yellen has. If experience is your main criterion, Yellen is hard to beat.
2. She’s been a powerful voice for the unemployment hawks on the Fed.
In various speeches — perhaps most notably at the AFL-CIO — and in Fed deliberations, Yellen has been clear that she thinks subpar growth and too high unemployment are the biggest problems facing the Federal Reserve. “Maximum employment,” she has emphasized, is the main goal of the Fed at this point in time. In her words, “With employment so far from its maximum level and with inflation currently running, and expected to continue to run, at or below the [Federal Open Markets] Committee’s 2 percent longer-term objective, it is entirely appropriate for progress in attaining maximum employment to take center stage in determining the Committee’s policy stance.”
3. But she’s more than willing to crack down on inflation when the situation requires it.
As Evan Soltas and Matt O’Brien have noted, Yellen is plenty hawkish when the situation requires it. In the mid-1990s, when she served on the Fed Board of Governors, she made it clear that she thought unemployment was dangerously low, low enough that employers have to hike wages, which in turn leads to higher prices, i.e. inflation. “We have an economy operating at a level where we need to be nervous about rising inflation,” she said at one meeting. “We can’t dismiss the possibility that compensation growth will drift upward, raising core inflation and in turn inflationary expectations. This is a major risk. Obviously, we need to be vigilant in scrutinizing the data for signs of rising wages and salaries.”
So inflation hawks, take heart — if and when it’s actually worth worrying about inflation, Yellen will be ready to handle it.
4. She’s pretty darn good at predicting where the economy’s headed.
Yellen’s predictive record is the envy of the Fed. As Ezra noted, she was one of the few voices at the Fed in December 2007 warning that recession could be around the corner. At a time when most thought the worst of the subprime crisis was over, she was skeptical. “The possibilities of a credit crunch developing and of the economy slipping into a recession seem all too real,” she warned.
It was far from the only time she got it right when her colleagues didn’t. Indeed, an analysis by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Yellen had the best predictions of any Fed policymaker in recent years. [… Read More at the Washington Post]
Eric: Hi, I’m Eric.
Dick: And I’m Dick. We’re the annuity guys.
Eric: And we’re going to examine today whether or not fixed annuity rates, will they’ve really beat bank interest rates?
Dick: You know Eric, to set the stage for that a little bit, we’ve got a nomination coming up here of Janet Yellen…
Eric: Ohh, so Uncle Ben, we’re throwing out Uncle Ben way and bringing her in?
Dick: New Federal Reserve Chairman and I think that we have to talk about where interest rates have been and where I think that they’re going to go, and then answer that question.
Eric: My general belief and I’ll start with – typically you see annuities are paying a higher return than banks are.
Dick: Well, historically.
Eric: Historically. So you’re fees are here and traditionally annuities are going to pay somewhat higher
Dick: But right now; the savers, the retirees, the folks that have been diligent in putting their money away – preparing for this time in their life…
Eric: welcome to the penalty mess… you no longer being treated like royalty.
Dick: So, we got this upside down world now where you’ve done everything right and now you get penalized with very, very low interest rates; and it would appear appearances that we’re building a nice bubble up into the stock market and just a very securities where that money is flowing instead of into savings nationally. Who would want to put money in a bank account that’s getting…
Eric: That’s getting zero…
Dick: Half of percent, a percent…
Eric: And people don’t really think about these terms but when put money into a CD or a money market account, you’re actually losing money because the effect of inflation is actually eroding what’s there. Your spending power is decreasing every year.
Dick: And folks who would maybe otherwise not put money in the market? They have no place to put their money that can earn anything. So, they’ll maybe take more chances and go a securities route. And that’s where we do find a lot of folks will turn to annuities and again looking for “hey, what’s got at least some comparison in terms of safety but gets a better interest rate?”
Eric: There’s a misnomer a little bit about fixed annuity rates because a lot of times; it’s going back to the term fixed; they tend to think the annuity rate is the same every year when they start out. It’s not necessarily always that case. Your first year rate is fixed and then the insurance company goes back to the next year with another year fixed-rate. Now, those rates can change already at all-time lows, would not be advantageous to say select an annuity where the rates could actually…
Dick: where you get a good initial rate. We call it a teaser rate or introduction rate. But they ask the idea that your rates could increase that does have an attraction to some; and then to others, they want that concrete, that absolute **guarantee that if I put my money in here I’m going to at least get XYZ. And, it would be the CD style or the multi-year **guaranteed annuity.
Eric: The nice thing is annuities have that flexibility in saying “hey, if you want that same rate **guarantee over a period of time, that’s an option.” If you think that interest rates are going to come up and you just don’t have another place to go, well, here’s a place where you can park money and get a market return each year based on what the companies willing to offer based on the market condition.
Dick: Yes. So, it can go up, but conversely, it can also go down. Well and back to that we’ve started with originally discussing where rates are going; with Janet Yellen, being the nominee for the Federal Reserve Chairman to replace Ben Bernanke; the concern is that she has a lot of the same strategies and thoughts, she’s going to follow that same line to pumping a lot of money into the economy, artificially holding rates down trying to pump up employment; and this is the biggest experiment we’ve ever done with monetary policy on this level that could really backfire on us in a big way. It does appear it’s going to hold rates down for a long time.
Eric: Well and I think the statement that’s been made by the Fed that says “until we get to an unemployment level of 6.5, below that level we’re going to keep rates where they’re at.
Dick: That could be a long, long time.
Eric: And we’ve talked to people consistently. They’re on the sideline; they’re park in cash, they’re park in zero percent basically returns because they expect rates to go up. They just can’t foresee this poor rate environment lasting but we’ve got people that are basically in charge of all rates telling us they’re going to keep them here until we get to this.
Dick: And Eric, this is why it does make sense, I believe, just financially – just doing this simple math; that if you keep money parked at a half of a percent and you got the opportunity to earn 3 percent or three and a half percent or something of that nature; by putting it in a shorter term type of an annuity and you made all those gains for the next year or two to three years before that rates tend to go back up; so, now if they do go up a little bit higher than your three, three and a half percent; at least you didn’t lose anything during those years. You had your money working and there’s just that nice offset to getting your money working today and then knowing that you can still do something later.
Eric: Well and I’m a big fan of laddering. I talked about laddering. In fact, I talk about laddering MYGA’S in the terms multi-year **guarantee annuities. We’ve got decent rates at five, six, seven percent. Well, five, six, seven years…
Dick: I was waiting where you’re going on that one.
Eric: But looking at those, by staggering those terms, you have money becoming available. It may take some shorter terms now but always having kind of that circular nature. Rates when they change are not just like flipping a switch and all of a sudden it’s going to be 5 percent tomorrow…
Eric: You’re going to see gradual changes. It’s best to get money in a place right now where you’re getting at least a competitive return to combat inflation and having that ability to kind of just keep recycling those ladders as they come available.
Dick: I agree and a lot of folks who have done that for many years have CDs and other types of banking instruments; and so, using them with annuities should not be anything unusual. And right now, it is a fact that annuities are considerably higher than bank rates, and there are some shorter-term annuities that give you a little more flexibility in the event that the rates do eventually take off.
Eric: I look at the average 5-year CD before we started. We are at one point three is the average.
Dick: And we’ve seen recently three, three and a half percent from five year annuity.
Eric: MYGA style. So, there are better options available…
Dick: Than the banks.
Eric: In my opinion.
Dick: Thank you.