By Keith Weiner
Further to our ongoing theme of capital destruction, let’s look at a topic which is currently out of favor in the present market correction. Keynes called for pushing the interest rate down near to zero, as a way of killing the savers, whom be believed are functionless parasites. The interest rate has been falling since 1981.
It did not merely fall near to zero. Nor even to zero. It has gone beyond zero, into negativeland. This alone ought to wipe out the mainstream notions of how interest rates are set in our very model of a modern monetary system. You know, the rubbish about bond vigilantes, inflation expectations, real interest rates, risk, etc. Might as well add unicorns, dragons, and leprechauns!
Instead of this rubbish, the world needs a non-linear theory of interest and prices in irredeemable currency.
In recent years, rates have plunged below zero in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and other countries. Despite the current global uptick in rates, all Swiss government bonds out to 8-year maturity have a negative yield. Hey, at least that’s a recovery from when the 20-year had a negative yield. In Germany, bunds out to 5 years are negative, as they are in Japan.
This is pathological (in fact, due to negative long bond yields in Switzerland, Keith wrote a paper arguing that the Swiss franc will collapse).
As an aside, we note that when people hear our arguments, they go through a process akin to the well-known stages of grief. These include denial, anger, bargaining, and then finally acceptance and hope. It is much easier to think about rising quantity of dollars, and the presumed linear effect of rising consumer prices. And more pleasant, too.