Five things you need to know about tapering

Shaun Port

read 2 min

For months now, everyone’s been keeping a keen eye on the US for an indication of when it will cut back its bond buying programme – the process that’s been used to stimulate the economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, has now finally announced it will begin this easing off – known as ‘tapering’. So what does this mean for investors?

New York Stock Exchange

1)      Economic recovery, at last

Tapering is a strong sign of recovery in the most influential economy in the world – the United States – and is a clear indication that the financial system no longer needs extraordinary measures to support economic activity. There is a concern that tapering could unsettle stock markets in the short term, but a more stable growth outlook is ultimately good news. It leads to rising company sales, better margins and higher returns for equity investors.

2)      Savers unlikely to benefit from better interest rates

Tapering is not a sign that interest rates are going to return to normal levels and, in fact, the Federal Reserve has been clear to state its commitment to ultra-low interest rates as we go through the recovery. We think interest rates on savings accounts are likely to stay below inflation well into 2015, which means that savers are likely to continue to lose money in real terms if they keep their money in the bank.

3)      The good times are not here again – yet

While this announcement is positive news, the pace of growth will be a lot more subdued than it was just before the 2008 crash, for a number of reasons: there are budget deficits in the developed markets and there’s still pressure to reduce them, banks around the world are still cautious in their lending practices, and quite a lot of economic restructuring is needed in emerging markets.

4)      Tapering will be a gradual process

We expect that the Federal Reserve will strive for sustained and steady growth over a long period. So, sudden and dramatic moves are not on the agenda. It seems most likely that the Federal Reserve will continue to be very cautious, weighing up the potential damage of being ‘behind the curve’ against moving too fast on further tapering.

5)     The UK ‘tapered’ a while back

It was back in March that the Bank of England last bought government bonds. However, the situation in the UK is somewhat different to that in the US. The Bank of England still owns 43% of conventional gilts so the overall picture of bond holdings is skewed by that – and selling these bonds any time soon is very unlikely.

Risk warning: As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past or future performance indicators are not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Shaun Port
Shaun is the chief investment officer at Nutmeg. He has over 25 years’ experience developing and implementing investment strategies for clients ranging from central banks to pension schemes to charities and private individuals. Shaun holds a degree in Mathematical Economics from the University of Birmingham and is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst. He can be found tweeting @ShaunPort.

Other posts by