pretzel economics

QE3 and Low Interest Rates Help Savers? Bernanke Thinks So

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wants you to believe his cheap money, low interest policies like QE3 actually have benefits for savers.

America's savers, many of whom are retired or nearing retirement, would beg to differ.

You see, low rates at the Fed - which has pledged to keep its interest rates near zero at least through 2015 - means low rates on conventional savings vehicles like bank accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market funds.

Those rates affect $10 trillion in savings-like products, costing savers billions of dollars.

For example, if a saver had $100 in a savings account in 2008 that paid 0.35% interest, she'd have just $102 today. But with inflation, $100 worth of goods in 2008 now costs $107.

That's a loss of 5% in four years, the sort of math that eats away at a retiree's standard of living.

And the rates of 2008 look fantastic compared to what's available now.

The Fed's actions have pushed down interest rates to microscopic levels. The average savings account interest rate has fallen one-third in the last year alone, to 0.08%.

The average yield on five-year CDs last month dropped below 1% for the first time ever. Back in 2007, five-year CDs provided a yield of 4%.

And yet in a speech he gave at the Economic Club of Indiana on Monday, Bernanke said his policies are helping savers.

Here's why.

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