- What to Expect from the Central Banks in 2017
- The ECB is Clearly NOT Hawkish
- Bank of England On Hold Until November
- Trump’s Proposal “Print the Money” Echoes Franklin and Lincoln
- Japan's Helicopter Money Play
- Brexit and the Derivatives Meltdown
- Central Banks Gaming
- Is that Buzzing Sound Helicopter Money?
- Is the Influence of the Central Banks Fading?
- Reinventing Banking
- Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in
- The Future of Central Bank Monetary Policy
- Jeremy Corbyn’s Controversial Quantitative Easing Proposal
- Central Bank Season Heats Up
- Reserve Bank of New Zealand Rate Decision
- What has the ECB been Buying
- Four Central Banks Meet but FOMC is the Key
- Federal Overnight Reserve Repurchase Repo and Fed Funds Implications for 2015
- BoJ and ECB expected QE policies
- Unfitting Policies Will Not Save the Euro-area or Japan in 2015
- Can the $40 Drop In the Price of Oil Bankrupt the Biggest Banks?
- New G20 Banking Rules
- Central Banks Are Playing the Stock Markets
- A Public Bank Option for Scotland
- Preparing To Asset-strip Local Government The Fed’s Bizarre New Rules
- The Fed could Keep Rates at Zero through 2015
- Are Public Banks Unconstitutional? No. Are Private Banks? Maybe.
- New Challenges for an Old FED
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Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in
In uncertain times, “cash is king,” but central bankers are systematically moving to eliminate that option. Is it really about stimulating the economy? Or is there some deeper, darker threat afoot?
Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . ”?
That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.
Four European central banks – the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, and Denmark’s Nationalbank – have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it’s time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates).
The stated justification for this move is to stimulate “demand” by forcing consumers to withdraw their money and go shopping with it. When an economy is struggling, it is standard practice for a central bank to cut interest rates, making saving less attractive. This is supposed to boost spending and kick-start an economic recovery.
That is the theory, but central banks have already pushed the prime rate to zero, and still their economies are languishing. To the uninitiated observer, that means the theory is wrong and needs to be scrapped. But not to our intrepid central bankers, who are now experimenting with pushing rates below zero.
Locking the Door to Bank Runs: The Cashless Society
The problem with imposing negative interest on savers, as explained in the UK Telegraph, is that “there’s a limit, what economists called the ‘zero lower bound’. Cut rates too deeply, and savers would end up facing negative returns. In that case, this could encourage people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy.”
Again, to the ordinary observer, this would seem to signal that negative interest rates won’t work and the approach needs to be abandoned. But not to our undaunted central bankers, who have chosen instead to plug this hole in their leaky theory by moving to eliminate cash as an option. If your only choice is to keep your money in a digital account in a bank and spend it with a bank card or credit card or checks, negative interest can be imposed with impunity. This is already happening in Sweden, and other countries are close behind. As reported on Wolfstreet.com:
The War on Cash is advancing on all fronts. One region that has hogged the headlines with its war against physical currency is Scandinavia. Sweden became the first country to enlist its own citizens as largely willing guinea pigs in a dystopian economic experiment: negative interest rates in a cashless society. As Credit Suisse reports, no matter where you go or what you want to purchase, you will find a small ubiquitous sign saying “Vi hanterar ej kontanter” (“We don’t accept cash”) . . . .