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Why Have Interest Rates Fallen far Below the Return on Capital

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  • M. Marx
  • B. Mojon
  • F. Velde

Abstract

Risk-free rates have been falling since the 1980s. The return on capital, defined here as the profits over the stock of capital, has not. We analyze these trends in a calibrated OLG model designed to encompass many of the "usual suspects" cited in the debate on secular stagnation. Declining labor force and productivity growth imply a limited decline in real interest rates and deleveraging cannot account for the joint decline in the risk free rate and increase in the risk premium. If we allow for a change in the (perceived) risk to productivity growth to fit the data, we find that the decline in the risk-free rate requires an increase in the borrowing capacity of the indebted agents in the model, consistent with the increase in the sum of public and private debt since the crisis but at odds with a deleveraging-based explanation put forth in Eggertsson and Krugman (2012).

Suggested Citation

  • M. Marx & B. Mojon & F. Velde, 2017. "Why Have Interest Rates Fallen far Below the Return on Capital," Working papers 630, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:630
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    2. Noëmie LISACK & Rana SAJEDI & Gregory THWAITES, 2019. "Les impacts macroéconomiques du vieillissement de la population," Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 223, pages 1-8.
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    4. Andrew Filardo & Jouchi Nakajima, 2018. "Effectiveness of unconventional monetary policies in a low interest rate environment," BIS Working Papers 691, Bank for International Settlements.
    5. Marco Bassetto & Wei Cui, 2018. "The Fiscal Theory of the Price Level in an Environment of Low Interest Rates," 2018 Meeting Papers 574, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Bassetto, Marco & Cui, Wei, 2018. "The fiscal theory of the price level in a world of low interest rates," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 5-22.
    7. Borio, Claudio & Disyatat, Piti & Juselius, Mikael & Rungcharoenkitkul, Phurichai, 2017. "Why so low for so long? A long-term view of real interest rates," Research Discussion Papers 36/2017, Bank of Finland.
    8. Brand, Claus & Bielecki, Marcin & Penalver, Adrian, 2018. "The natural rate of interest: estimates, drivers, and challenges to monetary policy JEL Classification: E52, E43," Occasional Paper Series 217, European Central Bank.
    9. repec:chb:bcchec:v:21:y:2018:i:2:p:004-044 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat & Mikael Juselius & Phurichai Rungcharoenkitkul, 2019. "Monetary Policy in the Grip of a Pincer Movement," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Álvaro Aguirre & Markus Brunnermeier & Diego Saravia (ed.), Monetary Policy and Financial Stability: Transmission Mechanisms and Policy Implications, edition 1, volume 26, chapter 10, pages 311-356, Central Bank of Chile.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    secular stagnation; interest rates; risk; return on capital.;

    JEL classification:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General

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