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Is the long-term interest rate a policy victim, a policy variable or a policy lodestar?


  • Philip Turner


Few financial variables are more fundamental than the "risk free" real long-term interest rate because it prices the terms of exchange over time. During the past 15 years, it has dropped from a range of 4 to 5% to a range of 0 to 2%. By late 2011, cyclical factors had driven it close to zero. This paper explores why. Possible persistent factors are: the investment of the large savings generated by developing Asia in highly-rated bonds; accounting and valuation rules for institutional investment; and financial sector regulation. The consequences could be far-reaching: cheaper leverage; less pressure to correct fiscal deficits; larger interest rate exposures in the financial industry; and a more cyclical bond market. During the financial crisis, central banks in the advanced countries have made the long-term interest rate a policy variable as Keynes had always advocated. This policy focus will draw more attention to the macroeconomic and financial consequences of government debt management policies. Coordination between central bank balance sheet policies and government debt management is essential. With government debt very high for years to come, bond market volatility could confront central banks with unenviable choices.

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  • Philip Turner, 2011. "Is the long-term interest rate a policy victim, a policy variable or a policy lodestar?," BIS Working Papers 367, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:367

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & M. Belen Sbrancia1, 2015. "The liquidation of government debt," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(82), pages 291-333.
    2. Alessandro Missale, 2012. "Sovereign debt management and fiscal vulnerabilities," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Threat of fiscal dominance?, volume 65, pages 157-176 Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Eric T. Swanson, 2011. "Let's Twist Again: A High-Frequency Event-study Analysis of Operation Twist and Its Implications for QE2," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(1 (Spring), pages 151-207.
    4. Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker, 2012. "Perceptions and Misperceptions of Fiscal Inflation," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 255-299 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jagjit S. Chadha & Sean Holly, 2011. "New Instruments of Monetary Policy," Studies in Economics 1109, School of Economics, University of Kent.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastián Claro & Carola Moreno, 2015. "Long-term rates and the term premium: evidence from Chile," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), What do new forms of finance mean for EM central banks?, volume 83, pages 97-112 Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Ronny Mazzocchi, 2013. "Investment-Saving Imbalances with Endogenous Capital Stock," DEM Discussion Papers 2013/14, Department of Economics and Management.
    3. Gabriel A. Giménez Roche, 2016. "Entrepreneurial ignition of the business cycle: The corporate finance of malinvestment," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 253-276, September.

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    Long-term interest rate; bond market; government debt management; financial regulation; central banks;

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