Critique of Accommodating Central Bank Policies and the ‘Expropriation of the Saver’
64 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2015
Date Written: May 2015
In parts of the German media, with the support of a number of German economists, the ECB’s low nominal interest rate policy is criticised as unnecessary, ineffective and as expropriating the German saver. This paper provides a review of the relevant arguments. It is recalled that returns on savings are anchored to the real rate of return on capital. Good monetary policy tries to avoid being a source of disturbance in itself, and may be able to smooth the effects of temporary external shocks, but beyond that cannot structurally improve the real rate of return on capital. Against this general background, the paper critically analyses a number of recent arguments as to why low interest rate policies could actually be counterproductive. Finally, the paper reviews what can be done about the medium to long-term real rate of return on capital, which remains in any case the basic issue for the saver, focusing on the specific case of Germany. The key policies identified relate to demographics, education, labour markets, infrastructure and technology. Low growth dynamics in the coming decades and correspondingly low real rates of return on investments are not inevitable.
Keywords: Real interest rate, natural rate, zero lower bound, growth
JEL Classification: E43, E52, O40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation