Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What if you could buy a house with a 0% mortgage interest rate?

The Republicans have managed to scare much of the country into not investing in jobs or our country's future because of our deficit. Never mind that the Bush wars and tax cuts are the major culprit in creating that deficit. But there's another question we need to be asking ourselves about that issue. What is the risk involved with deficit spending?

Some colleges that are online have Economics courses for people who want to delve deeper into topics like this. Sometimes it takes even more knowledge about the inner workings of politics and economics to fully understand.

One way to answer that question is to think about a major factor most people consider when making their own long-term investment decisions...like taking out a loan to buy a house. Amongst other things, one item to consider is the interest rate you'll have to pay on that mortgage. We don't have to wonder what kind of decision we'd make if we needed a secure roof over our heads and mortgage rates were 0%. I happen to be old enough to remember when mortgage interest rates were in the double digits back in the late 70's. That was NOT a good time to be making such a major investment. But even at the low rate I'm paying now, I'd perhaps upgrade or at least re-finance if rates were 0%.

That's essentially the question that faces the United States today when it comes to investing in jobs and our future. The truth is - its even a little better than that. The cost for the U.S. to borrow money is below O% right now. Here's how Ezra Klein describes it.

The real yield on Treasury debt has, in recent months, turned negative. Sound impenetrably dull? Sure. But here’s what it means: free money!

Let’s start by defining some terms: The “yield” on Treasury debt is how much the government pays to borrow money. The “real yield” is how much it pays to borrow money after accounting for inflation. When the “real yield” turns negative, it means the government isn’t paying to borrow money anymore. Rather, the situation has flipped, and the government is getting paid to keep money safe...

Right now, the interest rate is 1.52 percent, or minus-0.34 percent after accounting for inflation.

Here’s what this means: If we can think of any investments we can make over the next seven years that have a return of zero percent — yes, you read that right — or more, it would be foolish not to borrow this money and make them.

The case is even stronger with investments we know we will need to make over the next decade. The economy will get better, and as it gets better, the cost of borrowing will rise. The longer we wait, in other words, the more expensive those investments will become.

The only reason we wouldn’t take advantage of these rates is that we have no worthwhile investments to make. But that’s clearly not true.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, and we know we’ll have to rebuild it in the coming years. Why do it later, when it will cost us more and we very likely won’t have massive unemployment in the construction sector, as opposed to now, when the market will pay us to invest in our infrastructure and we have an unemployment crisis to address?

Of course the trick is that the Republicans are still stuck on their message about having to reduce the deficit. But if you ask them why this is important, and can ever get a straight answer from them about that, they'll tell you that the danger of deficit spending is that it could drive up interest rates.

And that's when you'd have to shake your head and go..."Whaaaaa?"

1 comment:

  1. 0% interest rate? Hmmm, maybe it's possible. But I think only a handful of homeowners will accept that rate because they also need the money. But that rate will help many buyers pay for the house easily.

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