The pre-crisis consensus was, and remains, very strong – the business cycle would be managed by monetary policy, while fiscal policy would focus solely on debt sustainability. In a world of zero interest rates, however, fiscal policy has to contribute to supporting aggregate demand and protecting against deflationary risks. This column outlines three ways in which a well-designed expansionary fiscal policy stance can contribute to better economic outcomes.
Ángel Ubide, 11 October 2016
Carlos Arteta, M Ayhan Kose, Marc Stocker, Temel Taskin, 26 September 2016
Against a background of persistently weak growth and low inflation expectations, a number of central banks have implemented negative interest rate policies over the past few years. This column argues that such policies could help provide additional monetary policy stimulus, as long as policy interest rates are only modestly negative and do not stay negative for too long to avoid adverse effects on the financial sector. While these policies do have a place in the policymaker’s toolkit, they need to be handled with care to secure their benefits while mitigating risks.
Mark Cliffe, 26 February 2016
As doubts grow about the effectiveness of quantitative easing, monetary policymakers are leaning towards cutting interest rates further into negative territory as their preferred mode of easing. But this begs crucial and untested questions of whether banks will be willing to pass on the cost to their retail depositors, and of how depositors might react if they did so. This column notes a recently published survey in which a large majority of respondents said that they would withdraw their savings, and yet few would spend more. Although it could be argued that savers might react less negatively when confronted with the reality of negative rates, their powerful aversion to the prospect raises troubling questions about the potential effectiveness of this policy tool.
Angus Armstrong, Francesco Caselli, Jagjit Chadha, Wouter den Haan, 02 August 2015
Does monetary policy really face a zero lower bound or could policy rates be pushed materially below zero per cent? And would the benefits of reforms to achieve negative policy rates outweigh the costs? This column, which reports the views of the leading UK-based macroeconomists, suggests that there is no strong support for reforming the monetary system to allow policy rates to be set at negative levels.
Willem Buiter, 04 June 2009
Some economists are arguing that central banks should set negative nominal interest rates. This column explains the basics by describing three ways of removing the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates: abolish currency, tax currency holding, or decouple the unit of account from the currency by introducing a new currency.