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Monetary Policy and the Term Structure of Interest Rates When Short-Term Rates Are Close to Zero


  • Shigeru Iwata

    (Department of Economics, University of Kansas (E-mail:


The zero lower bound on nominal interest rates can affect the effectiveness of monetary policy potentially in two ways. First, it limits the size of a change in the policy interest rate when trying to loosen money. For example, when the nominal rate is 0.5 percent, it obviously cannot be cut by more than 0.5 percent. Second, it may alter the mechanism of how a movement of the policy rate drives market rates of longer maturities. This paper is an attempt to investigate the latter issue, and, in particular, to empirically examine the effect of monetary policy on the term structure of interest rates when nominal short-term rates are close to zero, using Japanese data in the 1990s and early 2000s. We found that when the policy short rate is already zero but longer rates are still positive in the zero interest rate period, an expansionary monetary policy still works through the conventional interest rate channel by pushing down longer rates, although the effect is much weakened relative to the normal time. When the longer rates are already lowered to some level, however (for example, the 10-year bond rate went down to the level as low as 1.5 percent during the quantitative easing period of 2001-06), a further expansion of the monetary base by increasing excess reserves of banks appears to have little effect in lowering longer-term rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Shigeru Iwata, 2010. "Monetary Policy and the Term Structure of Interest Rates When Short-Term Rates Are Close to Zero," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 28, pages 59-78, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imemes:v:28:y:2010:p:59-78

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jiří Štekláč & Miroslav Titze, 2016. "Udržitelnost dluhového financování státu a její interakce s kvantitativním uvolňováním: případ USA, UK a Japonska v letech 2000-2014
      [Government Debt Financing Sustainability and Its Interaction wi
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2016(3), pages 293-318.
    2. Grisse, Christian, 2015. "The zero lower bound and movements in the term structure of interest rates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 66-69.
    3. Kimura Takeshi & Nakajima Jouchi, 2016. "Identifying conventional and unconventional monetary policy shocks: a latent threshold approach," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 277-300, January.
    4. Hiroyuki Ijiri & Yoichi Matsubayashi, 2016. "Quantitative Easing Policy, Exchange Rates and Business Activity by Industry in Japan from 2001-2006," Discussion Papers 1611, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.

    More about this item


    Zero interest rates; Yield curve; Liquidity trap;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy


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