Financial salvation not repression

There have been a lot of investors and commentators talking about financial repression. The fact that nominal interest rates are set at or close to zero, and the subsequent transmission of these low returns along the yield curve means that returns in both nominal and particularly real terms are historically scant. This is seen as a government and central bank policy that is punishing savers.

However, in many cases savers have been helped  and not punished by governments. Whether that be the humble saver in Northern Rock who was bailed out, or at the other extreme sophisticated funds who loaded up on debt issued by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in the US. These savers were not repressed but were saved as governments and central bank actions (like the implicit subsidy of banks) protected the value of their capital investments. Total returns have been boosted to savers versus a free market outcome which would have resulted in significant losses.

Commentators seem to have forgotten how much savers have been and continue to be protected by the authorities, which are providing financial salvation and not repression.  Unfortunately we may now be coming to the point where some authorities are no longer able to save the savers. Investors would then be faced with actually losing capital as opposed to getting a meagre return. That is when the salvation gets replaced with repression.

The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause prices to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

Richard Woolnough

Job Title: Fund Manager

Specialist Subjects: Government and corporate bonds

Likes: Running, cycling

Heroes: Mohammed Ali, Winston Churchill

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