TheStreet.com quoted me in Odds of Negative Interest Rates in the U.S. Are Slim. It reads, in part,
The odds of the U.S. lowering interest rates to negative levels remain low, because other forms of monetary policy such as quantitative easing could be adopted first.
The odds of utilizing quantitative easing are “quite high” or policies such as the use of repurchase agreements and the term deposit facility, said Michael Kramer, a portfolio manager on Covestor, the online investing marketplace and founder of Mott Capital Management, a registered investment advisor in Garden City, NY.
Choosing a negative interest rate policy (NIRP) in the U.S. would also affect the stock markets immensely and hinder bank profits.
“Due to the size of treasury and money markets, it could have some very severe ramifications,” he said. “In my view, our treasury markets are the safest and most liquid in the world.”
Investors would seek a higher return on capital elsewhere such as higher paying bonds which carry more risk, Kramer said.
“This could become problematic for the US government which is dependent on issuing debt to fund the government operation,” he said.
Negative rates in the U.S. would result in too much risk and backlash and would only occur if all other attempts by the Fed failed.
“At this point, the Fed has a few other tools it can use before it has to use the tool of last resort,” Kramer said.
The use of negative rates remains divisive despite the growing adoption of them in the central banks of the Eurozone along with Denmark, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland. In countries such as Japan and Germany, investors are forced to pay a fee instead of earning interest.
Lowering current interest rates to negative ones “would not be a panacea,” said former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, now a distinguished fellow in residence at a meeting hosted by the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings last week. He also said the effect on consumers would be nominal.
During periods of low inflation, negative interest rates are now a more likely option to policymakers, but they have not proved to be a solution to boosting lackluster economies. The use of negative rates has not proven that they are an effective monetary tool, said Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank, at the meeting.
Negative rates have produced anxiousness among investors who are seeking greater yield.
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The probability of U.S. banks paying consumers interest on their mortgages even though Danish banks are paying borrowers interest on them remains scant, said David Reiss, a law professor at the Brooklyn Law School. The interest rates of adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) are typically set for the first five or seven year and resets to a new rate. The new interest rate is the combination of an index and a spread with the index often being the London Inter Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which has flirted with 0%.
The majority of ARMs have a clause which limits the amount the interest rate can be changed annually, including ones offered by Fannie Mae.