How does raising interest rates affect inflation? Interest rates can have a real impact on inflation. Learn how it works and what changing interest rates could mean for you. October 3, 2023 When inflation is on the rise, everything from groceries to gas can get more expensive. And while a little inflation is normal, the Federal Reserve Board (also known as “the Fed”) tries to prevent steep increases in prices. Inflationary spikes can occur due to several factors, including supply chain issues, a booming labor market, and a low interest rate environment. The Fed monitors inflation by tracking the average costs of goods and services. One of the most relied-upon measures of inflation is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which looks at common expenses like food, energy, transportation, shelter, and health care. When inflation is high, as it was in 2021 and 2022—with the headline number peaking in June 2022 at 9.1%, per a Bankrate article citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—consumers’ dollars don’t go as far because goods and services are more expensive. This not-so-fun reality tends to put a damper on economic growth, and people with a lower income are disproportionately burdened because they cannot afford higher prices. But it’s not a great situation for anyone. So, how does raising interest rates affect inflation? Let’s start with why inflation can happen in the first place. Why is inflation so high? The pandemic sparked a chain of events—including supply chain disruptions, disruptions in production, and pandemic stimulus packages, per Bankrate—that helped lead to the inflationary spike between 2021 and 2022. First, the global supply chain, which encompasses all stages of manufacturing, assembly, and logistics that make it possible for goods to be delivered around the globe in a timely fashion, was severely impacted by illness, business closures, and travel restrictions, per Bankrate. Simultaneously, demand for goods increased as people—many working from home—began ordering more things online to be shipped directly to their front doors. It’s economics 101: When demand goes up and supply goes down, prices rise. And that causes inflation. Then, as the pandemic started to ease, another event that would lead to price shocks occurred: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia is a major supplier of the world’s oil. As more countries placed war-related sanctions on Russia, oil prices rose—a lot. According to Bankrate, the price of a barrel of oil nearly doubled from February 2022 (when the war began) to July 2022. Meanwhile, the upward trajectory of a robust job market and a roaring stock market in the U.S. meant that many consumers could afford to pay higher prices at the stores and the pumps. This combination of forces can propel prices even higher and keep economists and policymakers at the Fed up at night. Luckily, the Fed has a tool to combat runaway inflation: interest rates. What happens to inflation when interest rates rise? The Federal Reserve’s job is to keep inflation manageable so that consumers are encouraged to spend and save. Interest rates—which represent the cost of borrowing money—are reflected in the annual percentage yields (APYs) of savings accounts and mortgage rates. (Learn more about how the Federal Reserve can affect mortgage rates.) How does raising interest rates affect inflation? When interest rates go up, borrowing money gets more expensive. How does this increase in interest rates affect you? Mortgages, car loans, and business loans aren’t as attractive. As a result, fewer consumers are willing to take out loans to buy or invest in things. Higher interest rates tamp down demand, which usually leads to a dip in prices as well. Consumers are affected in other ways, too. Because interest rates on savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts tend to increase, people move more of their money into these savings products to reap the benefits. Here’s how raised interest rates can affect those different accounts: Savings Accounts Banks’ interest rates typically track what the Federal Reserve is doing. So if you’re wondering when savings account interest rates will go up, it’s usually after a Fed rate hike. Money in a high-yield savings account during periods of higher interest rates will yield more returns as your funds compound over time. CDs CDs offer a guaranteed interest rate for the entire term of the CD, no matter what is happening in the stock market or if interest rates are rising (or falling). That said, these savings vehicles are especially beneficial when CD rates are high because you can lock in that rate over a set period—typically between three months and 10 years. Choose your term, lock in your rate, and watch your CD grow Learn more Discover Bank, Member FDIC Money Market Accounts Money market accounts also benefit from higher interest rates. They can feature an APY that’s competitive with savings accounts, but they can also include a debit card like a checking account for easy access to your money. To get the most out of a money market account, choose one with a high APY that doesn’t include fees. “When demand goes up and supply goes down, prices rise. And that causes inflation.” When will inflation go down? Inflation doesn’t last forever. In fact, after a series of interest rate hikes by the Fed, inflation had simmered down to 3% by June 2023, its lowest since March 2021, according to the BLS. Economic experts predict, however, that inflation could continue through 2024, according to Bankrate. And the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates at least once or twice more, according to a Bankrate poll. Keep saving through the ups and downs of inflation Though no one knows for sure when inflation will go up or down, here’s one piece of advice that’s always wise during uncertain economic times: Stay the course. That means continuing to save for retirement and spend money wisely to make your financial goals a reality. Looking for a safe place to keep your savings that also offers a high interest rate so your money can grow over time? Look no further than a high-yield online savings account. Articles may contain information from third parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third party or information. Share article on facebook. Share article on twitter. 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