Since August of last year, the interest rates charged by banks for loans to individuals and firms have dropped less than the official benchmark interest rate (Selic) set by the Central Bank.
This is the conclusion of a study of banks, loan companies, and credit card administrators conducted by the National Association of Financial, Administrative, and Accountancy Executives (ANEFAC).
In the area of personal loans, for example, interests rates through February fell only 1.88 percentage points, as against 2.5 percentage points in the Selic. Interest rates on loans to firms dropped 0.19 percentage points.
According to Miguel José de Oliveira, vice-president of the ANEFAC, seasonal factors are behind the slow decline of interest rates.
"The first quarter of the year is always like this. Banks and loan companies don’t need to make an effort to attract customers, who, carrying a big debt burden, are more prone to seek loans.
"The banks and loan companies don’t have to lower their rates to get more clients. Moreover, it is a period of a lot of bad checks. This risk is included in the higher rates that are charged," he commented.
Since August, according to the study, the interest rate charged on checking accounts that permit overdrafts has remained at 8.19%, while the monthly rate charged for late credit card payments has decreased from 10.30% to 10.24%.
In the area of direct consumer credit, which banks offer mainly to finance car loans, the average interest rate, which stood at 3.55% in August, decreased to 3.42%.
In the area of personal loans offered by banks, monthly interest rates declined from 5.72% to 5.69%, while for personal loans offered by credit outfits, the interest rates went down from 11.79% to 11.56%. Overall, interest rates fell from 7.61% to 7.54%.
The Selic annualized rate is used by the financial market as a benchmark in matters of loans and investments in general. Between August, 2005, and February, 2006, the Central Bank has lowered the Selic from 19.75% to 17.25%.
According to Oliveira, in light of the prospects that the Selic will be reduced further and changes in the situation of the financial market, it is possible that interest rates will fall somewhat more as of April.