Tips for investors and savers in times of crisis

vA little over a year ago, savers with bank accounts had a chance to beat inflation—that’s over. Despite the low-interest phase, 0.9 percent inflation in January 2021 could still be surpassed with fixed-term deposit accounts if you switch to somewhat more exotic banks or park the money at a car bank for a little longer.

Now, however, Max Herbst from FHM-Finanzberatung has to pass: The current inflation rate in Germany of 7.3 percent can no longer be beaten with the best will in the world with overnight and fixed-term deposit accounts, the interest rates of which he constantly compares. The Swedish fintech Klarna offers 1.05 percent for fixed deposits for one year – the Italian FCA Bank still lures with 2 percent annually if you invest your money there for three years. “I don’t have anything else to offer,” says Herbst.

High stock market returns realistic for the next few years?

For savers, the situation is anything but pleasant. Inflation has risen so much that it is becoming difficult to beat it with conventional investment products. Of course, investors can hope that the sharp rise in prices is only “transitory”, i.e. it will soon disappear on its own, as the European Central Bank put it. But what if not? There are still investments that promise to compensate for such high inflation. But they often come with breakneck risks. Other offers, on the other hand, promise a higher return “definitely” – but come from dubious providers. So is the saver left with the “controlled loss” of purchasing power of their assets, as some already resignedly think?

“In order not to lose money in real terms, you have to take a risk,” emphasizes Ulrich Stephan, Deutsche Bank’s chief investment strategist for private and corporate customers. In any case, gold, which its fans like to see as the ultimate protection against inflation, is having its difficulties at the moment. If you are lucky and bought it at a good time, you could beat inflation recently: the price in euros rose more than 20 percent over a period of twelve months. But for now, the prospect of tightening monetary policy is severely holding back the gold price. Frank Schallenberger, gold expert at Bank LBBW, expects a price of 1850 dollars per troy ounce (31.1 grams) at the end of the year – that would be less than at the moment. Therefore, gold is perhaps “currently not the ultimate tip for inflation protection”.

Bonds can even be a dangerous thing when interest rates on the capital market rise – and thus price losses eat up the assets. There are currently papers with a return of more than 7.3 percent. However, this is always an expression of a special risk with regard to the country or the issuer. Russian government bonds with a term of ten years, for example, have a yield of more than 10 percent – ​​those of Venezuela even almost 90 percent. But do you want them? On average, even “high-yield” bonds, i.e. those with an above-average risk of default, currently only have a yield to maturity of 5 percent in Europe, 6.7 percent in the United States and 6.9 percent in dollars in the emerging countries , as the fund company Franklin Templeton emphasizes. So that’s not enough.