Negative-interest-rate policies (NIRP) have been criticized by some (me included) and pursued by others, including Europeans aligned with former European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi. However, growing numbers of Europeans are becoming disenchanted with NIRP, and some are now shifting away from it. In our view, negative rates have, predictably, damaged growth for over five years. The ECB’s new president, Christine Lagarde, seems to understand that she faces a daunting task in extricating ECB policy from reliance upon negative rates.
Here is an excerpt from her first speech:
“In my view, since our challenges are common ones, we must meet them with a common response. This involves moving towards a new European policy mix, which has a number of key elements. The first is monetary policy, which I start with because it is my area of responsibility and which will undergo a strategic review due to begin in the near future.”
Hat tip to Kevin Humphreys for the reference. Kevin is manager, European money markets, for BGC Partners. He is based in London. Kevin has kindly given us permission to share his observations with our readers. We completely agree with his view.
“Having had a few references of late from board members to potential side-effects of European Central Bank monetary policy, it was perhaps of little surprise that the ECB in their financial stability report should highlight that sub-zero interest rates have forced large investors to take on more risks and businesses to take on more debt. Equally unremarkable were the other two main observations, that bank profitability prospects have weakened and that mispriced assets may represent a vulnerability.