David Martinez-Miera, Rafael Repullo, 06 August 2020

The question of whether low interest rates foster or hamper financial stability has recently received ample attention both from policy as well as the academic circles,  leading to the development of a large, mostly empirical, literature on the topic. This column presents a framework to analyse the relevance of the financial sector’s market structure in answering this question. It shows that in markets with low competition lower safe rates result in less risk-taking by financial intermediaries, while in highly competitive markets lower safe rates result in higher risk-taking.

Daniel Gros, Angela Capolongo, 03 December 2019

The ECB is running out of options for addressing its twin problems of low inflation and negative interest rates, leading some, including outgoing President, Mario Draghi, to call on fiscal policy measures to be used. This column argues that a fiscal expansion would be ineffective in raising interest rates or inflation for any length of time. Not only would the effect be temporary, but the scale of expansion needed to effect any substantial change would be unfeasible. 

Olli Rehn, 15 October 2019

It has been recently suggested by a group of seasoned central bankers that there has been no danger of a deflationary spiral in the euro area. This column argues instead that the threat of a deflationary spiral was avoided by several reinforcements of the degree of monetary policy accommodation since 2015, and that a key lesson of monetary policy of the last ten years is that timely action is essential to avoid the sort of profoundly harmful equilibrium that might arise from prolonged low inflation and zero interest rates.

Vladimir Asriyan, Luca Fornaro, Alberto Martin, Jaume Ventura, 30 September 2019

We live in a world of low interest rates and volatile asset values. This column argues that in such a bubbly world, we can no longer disregard the role of money as a store of value, and the role of monetary policy as a supplier of stores of value. Indeed, monetary policy plays a key role by expanding and stabilising the supply of unbacked assets at an optimal level.  

Miguel Ampudia, Skander Van den Heuvel, 17 July 2019

The effects of interest rate surprises on banks are different when nominal interest rates are very low. This column reveals how, in ‘normal’ times, policy rate announcements that are below market expectations tend to boost banks’ stock prices on average. When interest rates are very low, however, there is a reversal of this effect, with negative rate surprises reducing banks’ stock prices. This negative impact is larger for banks whose funding relies more on retail deposits than on other sources of funding.

Charles Wyplosz, 17 June 2019

Jagjit Chadha, 29 October 2018

Jagjit Chadha, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, describes the main themes explored in the August 2018 issue of the NIESR Economic Review, dedicated to 'Housing and the Economy'.

Paul Schmelzing, 24 May 2018

Growth rates have been stubbornly low since the financial crisis, and many have noted that the interest rate environment has been weakening since the 1980s. This column places recent episodes in the context of longer-term economic history, going back to the 14th century. Trends over recent decades are generally in line with a long-term ‘suprasecular’ trend of declining real rates. Negative real rates could become a more frequent phenomenon, and indeed constitute a ‘new normal’.

Jan Willem van den End, Marco Hoeberichts, 25 April 2018

Persistent low interest rates prompt the question of whether the natural, or equilibrium, rate of interest has similarly shifted downwards. This column uses data for seven OECD countries to explore how low interest rates have affected potential output. The results lend support to concerns that a prolonged period of low real interest can reduce the natural rate. This causality can run through both real and financial channels.

James Bullard, 30 August 2017

Since the financial crisis, we have seen very low interest rates in advanced economies. In this video, James Bullard discusses the concept of prices as neutral objects. This video was recorded in July 2017 at a macroeconomics conference organised by the Bank of England.

Marco Buti, Nicolas Carnot, 28 November 2016

The European Commission has just called for a fiscal stance that is more supportive of the recovery and of monetary policy in the Eurozone. This column argues that the case is strong for spending now on investment and other targeted programmes supporting growth and employment. However, fiscal space is heterogeneously distributed across the Eurozone, with some countries able to exploit a clear margin, and others needing to pursue a more prudent approach of gradual debt unwinding. A common stabilisation capacity would help for managing shocks that cannot be absorbed by national stabilisers alone.

Ángel Ubide, 11 October 2016

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. 

Gauti Eggertsson, Lawrence H. Summers, 22 July 2016

The secular stagnation hypothesis suggests that low interest rates may be the new normal in years to come. This column argues that this prospect should not only lead to a major rethinking of policy from the perspective of individual economies, but also a major rethinking about monetary and fiscal policy in the international context, the role of international capital flows, and the role of policy coordination across borders. In times of secular stagnation, events such as Brexit or the recent turbulence in Turkey have much larger spillover effects than under normal circumstances.

Łukasz Rachel, Thomas Smith, 15 January 2016

Many candidate explanations for the low level of real interest rates have been put forward. Less progress has been made on bringing together the different hypotheses into a unifying framework, on quantifying their relative importance and on predicting the future path for real interest rates. This column attempts to fill that gap, and suggests that persistent shifts to global desired savings and investment are behind the bulk of the fall in real interest rates. Those trends are unlikely to unwind anytime soon, so that the global equilibrium rate is likely to remain low, perhaps settling at or below 1% in the medium to long-run.


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