One of the world’s most important interest rates flirted this week with levels not seen in more than 16 years, putting pressure on the economy and the stock market.
The 10-year Treasury yield, a measure of how much it costs the U.S. government to borrow and widely used as a benchmark for all types of loans, was below 5 percent for the first time since mid-2007, before the Week ended at around 4.9 percent.
The steep rise in the 10-year yield in recent months has caught the attention of investors, economists and policymakers. This “sudden, rapid increase” has shaken faith in the economy’s continued resilience, said economists at ratings agency Moody’s, and threatens to “derail U.S. economic expansion.”
The Federal Reserve controls short-term interest rates, which affect the economy through market-based rates, such as Treasury yields, and through the cost of borrowing on longer-term debt, such as mortgages and corporate bonds.
But unlike the Fed’s gradual, deliberate interest rate changes, movements in longer-term market interest rates, such as the 10-year Treasury yield, are less predictable and dependent on many factors. These measures are important for the economy and can change the behavior of consumers and businesses faced with suddenly higher borrowing costs.
As the 10-year yield rose, the rally that lifted the S&P 500 earlier this year has stalled, and the benchmark stock market index ended the week down 2.4 percent.
The yield on 10-year government bonds also influences important consumer interest rates: the average 30-year mortgage has recently been approaching the 8 percent mark and credit card interest rates are now over 20 percent.
Borrowing costs around the world also tend to rise along with government bond yields. The effect is particularly pronounced for emerging markets, which face twin pressures of higher yields and a strengthening U.S. dollar, making debt payments more expensive for countries with dollar-denominated debt.
Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell recently highlighted the rapid rise in market interest rates and the potential impact it could have on the economy, including the central bank’s decision to raise its key interest rate again or keep it stable.
“A number of old and new uncertainties complicate our task of balancing the risk of tightening monetary policy too much against the risk of tightening too little,” he said on Thursday.
Source : www.nytimes.com