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Recession, Depression... Do You Know What Financial Repression Is?


To Be or Not to Be an Executor

June 18, 2023

You may have heard of recessions and depressions, but have you ever wondered what financial repression is? In this simple description, we'll explore the intricacies of financial repression, its historical context, causes, and impact on individuals and investments. Let's demystify this topic together.

Financial repression refers to policies implemented by governments and central banks to control interest rates, capital flows, and influence economic growth. These measures are often taken during economic turmoil or when debt levels are high. The objective of financial repression is to direct funds towards government borrowing at interest rates below the market average.

Historical Context Financial repression emerged after World War II when governments sought to reduce debt burdens and stimulate economic growth. In the 1940s and 1950s, interest rates were capped, and capital controls were imposed to steer funds towards government bonds. This strategy was commonly employed in the US, UK, and Japan.

During the 1970s and 1980s, high inflation rates led to the continued use of financial repression. Central banks kept interest rates below inflation, resulting in a decline in the value of savings. This transfer of wealth from savers to borrowers helped alleviate the burden of public debt.

Tactics of Financial Repression Financial repression involves various tactics:

  1. Interest Rate Suppression: Governments and central banks deliberately keep interest rates artificially low to encourage borrowing and stimulate economic activity. This provides cheaper funding for public debt.
  2. Capital Controls: Restrictions are placed on the movement of capital to prevent outflows, ensuring that funds remain within the domestic economy. This creates a captive market for government securities.
  3. Financial Regulation: Policies such as reserve requirements compel financial institutions to hold a significant portion of their assets in government bonds. This increases the demand for government debt.
Impact on Individuals and Investments Financial repression has significant implications for individuals and their investments:

  1. Low Interest Rates: Savers experience reduced returns on conservative investments such as savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and government bonds. This can lead to lower income in retirement and necessitate a search for higher-yielding alternatives.
  2. Inflation Risk: Artificially low interest rates, coupled with inflation, erode the purchasing power of savings. It becomes crucial to consider investments that can outpace inflation and protect wealth.
  3. Limited Investment Choices: Capital controls and regulations impose restrictions on investment options, limiting diversification and hindering long-term growth.
  4. Market Distortions: Financial repression creates imbalances and misallocation of capital. The low interest rates can incentivize excessive borrowing, potentially leading to the formation of asset bubbles.

In conclusion Financial Repression is a policy approach used to manage debt burdens and stimulate economic growth. While it may offer short-term benefits to borrowers and governments, it has long-term implications for savers and investors. Understanding financial repression is crucial for individuals navigating the economic landscape. It empowers informed investment decisions and protects financial well-being. Stay vigilant, adapt your strategies, stay informed in order to overcome the challenges and thrive in an ever-changing world.

If you would like to receive more information on making smart money moves for your future, be sure to contact us today!


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About the author

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Matt Goldstein

Managing Director, Private CFO®

Matt grew up just outside Washington DC in Silver Spring MD. He attended Florida State University and completed The Wharton School of Business executive leadership program. Outside of work Matt is a family man and loves spending time with his wife Michele and his two daughters, Mackenzie a freshman at Emory University, and Lexi a Freshman in high school and his two dogs. Matt is also an avid ultra-endurance athlete and loves training for his next big race. He has completed 17 marathons and qualified and finished the Boston Marathon twice, 3 Ironman triathlons, and multiple Ultra trail marathons including a 100K. In August he will be attempting the Leadville 100 which is one of the toughest ultras in the world.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice. Investor Disclosures:

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

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Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

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