Long before negative interest rates shifted from the monetary twilight zone into the mainstream (with some 30% of global government bonds now trading with a subzero yield), one organization wrote a report warning about the dangers of NIRP. The NY Fed. Back in 2012, NY Fed staffers wrote “If Interest Rates Go Negative . . . Or, Be Careful What You Wish For” it warned “if rates go negative, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing will likely be called upon to print a lot more currency as individuals and small businesses substitute cash for at least some of their bank balances.”
Then, last October, Bank of America looked at the savings rates across European nations which had implemented NIRP and found something disturbing: instead of achieving what what central banks had expected, it was leading to precisely the opposite outcome: “household savings rates have also risen. For Switzerland and Sweden this appears to have happened at the tail end of 2013 (before the oil price decline). As the BIS have highlighted, ultra-low rates may perversely be driving a greater propensity for consumers to save as retirement income becomes more uncertain.”
Which was to be expected by most people exhibiting common sense: NIRP by definition is deflationary, and as such as prompts consumers to delay consumption, and as a result to save as much as possible, if not in the banks where their savings may soon be taxed under NIRP regimes, then in cash.
And nowhere if the failure of NIRP – and unconventional monetary policy in general – more evident than what just happened in Japan, where according to Japan Times, the Finance Ministry plans to increase the number of ¥10,000 bills in circulation, amid signs that more people are hoarding cash.
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