The threat of negative interest rates is looming large for savers.
This week, a government bond auction saw UK gilts sold at a negative rate for the first time, while Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey refused to rule out the base rate flipping below zero.
But could you end up with a negative rate on your savings account?
On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost look at the weird world of negative rates – an upside down where investors effectively pay to lend the government money, banks are charged interest for depositing funds with the Bank of England, and you’d end up being stung rather than rewarded for saving.
Not that there’s much reward for saving in many places right now: a This is Money investigation this week revealed that 235 savings accounts now pay 0.01 per cent interest.
That is 10p per year on £1,000 saved and some may prefer not to be insulted in that way and have their bank or building society join the six accounts where absolutely zero is paid.
The best accounts pay just over 1 per cent and while that’s not much, at least savers are getting a real return on their money, with inflation at 0.8 per cent.
But another warning has been sounded and it’s that the end game of through-the-looking-glass monetary policy could be inflation soaring. The team look at what the argument is and whether it stacks up.
The base rate is at 0.1 per cent (and could go negative) and bond yields are on the floor, because of the economic destruction of the coronavirus crisis.
The furlough scheme is one of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s flagship efforts to combat this, but another This is Money investigation this week revealed companies that have taken advantage of the taxpayer’s offer to pay 80 per cent of their staff’s wages are now threatening to make them redundant anyway.
And finally, on a lighter note, if you’re feeling brave then you might decide now is the time to buy a home, while house prices and confidence have taken a knock, but is the estate agent allowed to tell you what others have offered?