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Will we see negative interest rates in the US?

Interest rates in Europe on a variety of debt instruments actually reached negative levels this year, a bizarre economic environment with a lasting impact on the Eurozone’s economy. Essentially this means that investors in debt instruments are receiving less than their original investment over time.

The reason is simple: to encourage spending and ward off deflationary concerns. It’s a case of basic supply and demand – investors seeking a safe haven for their money invest in bonds. As demand grows, interest rates drop. Ideally, the rate would bottom out at zero, but with a heavy demand for safety, debt rates turned negative instead. Adding to the demand is the potential for currency appreciation. Even if the debt instrument returns a negative yield, the inherent currency could appreciate relative to the euro creating a gain overall for the investor.

The state of the US economy and bond yields

One of the biggest concerns for US investors is whether the atmosphere of negative yields will spill over into the domestic economy. The results for the first quarter in 2015 were disappointing, but inclement winter weather was partially blamed for the lackluster data. Economists believe the rest of the year should show a robust and growth oriented economy.

Yields on US debt instruments are still near all time lows, but the Federal Reserve has made several statements this year that indicate a rate hike is very likely to happen. While the European Central Bank (ECB) is prepared to begin a quantitative easing program intended to stimulate growth, the Fed officially ended its program late in 2014. It’s very unlikely that the US will actually see negative interest rates. Evidence suggests that US interest rates may currently be as low as they’re going to be before heading back up again later this year.

One major impact that negative rates would have in the US that makes it even more unlikely is the fact that consumers would essentially be paying banks just to hold their money. It’s a situation that the Fed wouldn’t let happen as consumers would simply hoard cash at home rather than make deposits. If that were to occur, it could create a liquidity crisis and halt lending activity.

As the US economy continues to gain strength, interest rates will rise as the demand for investment increases. For the US, negative yields won’t be a concern.

How to travel with large amounts of cash

When traveling with a large amount of cash, or other monetary instruments like travelers checks, money orders, and bearer bonds, you should take common sense steps to protect yourself from unwanted attention, and you should also be aware of what legal issues you may have to address.

Travel within the United States
The US has some odd rules about traveling with money. While it is legal for anyone to travel with as much money on their person as they please, there are a variety of laws that were designed to stop criminal transfers of money that may put you at risk to having your money confiscated. Basically, many law enforcement authorities can confiscate cash is they believe that it may be involved with a criminal transaction. It does not matter if there is no real evidence of a crime, it is up to the opinion of the law enforcement representative. The only ways to avoid this kind of hassle is to either avoid traveling with large amounts of cash, or to have along with the cash documentation, for example business receipts from US Money Reserve, or banking transaction records, with you that provides a reasonable explanation for the cash.

Travel to or from the United States
If you are departing or arriving the US, there are no limits as to the amount of money a passenger can carry. However, passengers who are carrying currency, endorsed personal checks, travelers checks, gold or silver coins or bars, or securities that are valued at $10,000 or more must report the amount that they are carrying to US customs officials. Failure to do so can result in fines or confiscation of the money. This reporting requirement applies all the travelers in your group, for example a family. For example, if a family of three is traveling together, and they have $10,000 or more between them, they must to report these amounts.

Travel outside of the United States
When leaving the US, review the customs requirements of your destination country before you travel. Rules will vary by country, so be sure to check those laws and regulations before you fly, and if necessary make alternative plans before you fly.

Protecting your money from theft or other losses
When you carry cash with you on an airline trip, you should take some very basic steps to keep from becoming a victim of theft, or from losing your money by accident.

  • Avoid traveling with large amounts of cash.
  • Keep your cash and other valuables out of public view.
  • Keep your baggage and belongings in sight when passing through a security checkpoint.
  • If your baggage must be searched, insist on keeping your bag in sight.
  • If asked about the amount of money in your baggage by a responsible authority, tell the truth.
  • If you suspect that you have been a victim of theft, contact a law enforcement representative immediately