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Interest: Only spending money helps against low interest rates

2019-09-12T07:29:12.361Z

The ECB's zero interest rates endanger prosperity, they say. But they are also the result of supply and demand: The central bank alone can not raise interest rates permanently.



As is well known, Germans are told that they are a nation of 80 million national coaches. What it means is that everyone thinks they know which player line-up and what tactics will bring the next world championship title. Obviously, Germans are also a nation of 80 million central bank governors.

Anyone pursuing the German debate on the European Central Bank must at least come to the conclusion that central bank president Mario Draghi is on the sidelines with his zero-interest rate policy to stay with the football metaphor. The cheap money drives up the rents, paralyzes the companies and expropriates the savers. In the world was even recently read, the low interest rates blew up "the basic rules of our society."

The interest slowdown is a late capitalist prosperity phenomenon

Striking is only that the situation does not quite fit to such horror paintings. A few figures: The unemployment rate is lower than it has been for decades. The economy was in good shape until Donald Trump came up with the idea of ​​starting a trade war. And as far as the assets of the German savers are concerned, they do not fall, they rise. With a total of 6.17 trillion euros, private households had such high financial assets at the end of the first quarter, according to the Bundesbank, than ever before. If Draghi really has a secret plan for the impoverishment of the masses in mind, then this plan has not yet worked out.

Of course, one can argue that the big end is yet to come. That can be quite. Who knows what the future holds. But it may also be that the low interest rate is less damaging than widely assumed - and has not so much to do with the policy of the central bank.

Interest is the price of money, and like any price, it depends on supply and demand. Economists such as the Bonn economist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker argue that the money supply is increasing. Why? Because, for example, people all over the world are getting older and richer and can therefore save more. In other words, the decline in interest rates is a late capitalist prosperity phenomenon. More and more people are overcoming poverty and are able to save money. That is why the financial assets are rising. The age of capital shortage is being replaced by an age of capital surplus. That is not bad news in itself.

The central bank alone can not raise interest rates

This is supported by the fact that interest has not fallen since Mario Draghi took over in Frankfurt. Rather, the real interest rate, ie adjusted for inflation, has been declining for decades. Obviously, more fundamental economic forces are at work here. This is also supported by the fact that interest rates are low not only in the eurozone countries, but also in the USA, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Mario Draghi would be a very powerful man if he was responsible for all that.

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But if the thesis of low interest rates as a result of global savings surplus agrees, then this has an important consequence: the central bank alone can not bring the interest rates permanently to a higher level. This would only be possible if the companies or the states absorb the excess savings - ie spend more money. Not Draghi, but Olaf Scholz makes the interest.

However, it is unlikely that government measures will be able to completely overthrow the oversupply of capital. Therefore, we may need to get used to keeping interest rates low. Just as we have become accustomed to other side effects of economic and social modernization. After all, nobody wants the slide rule back.

Source: zeit

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