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Is monetary policy less effective when interest rates are persistently low?

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  • Claudio Borio
  • Boris Hofmann

Abstract

Is monetary policy less effective in boosting aggregate demand and output during periods of persistently low interest rates? This paper reviews the reasons why this might be the case and the corresponding empirical evidence. Transmission could be weaker for two main reasons: (i) headwinds, which would typically arise in the wake of balance sheet recessions, when interest rates are low; and (ii) inherent non-linearities, which would kick in when interest rates are persistently low and would dampen their impact on spending. Our review of the evidence suggests that headwinds during the recovery from balance-sheet recessions tend to reduce monetary policy effectiveness. At the same time, there is also evidence of inherent non-linearities. That said, disentangling the two types of effect is very hard, not least given the limited extant work on this issue. In addition, there appears to be an independent role for nominal rates in the transmission process, regardless of the level of real (inflation-adjusted) rates.

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  • Claudio Borio & Boris Hofmann, 2017. "Is monetary policy less effective when interest rates are persistently low?," BIS Working Papers 628, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:628
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    Cited by:

    1. Hesse, Henning & Hofmann, Boris & Weber, James Michael, 2018. "The macroeconomic effects of asset purchases revisited," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 115-138.
    2. Ademmer, Martin & Boysen-Hogrefe, Jens & Fiedler, Salomon & Gern, Klaus-Jürgen & Groll, Dominik & Jannsen, Nils & Kooths, Stefan & Mösle, Saskia & Potjagailo, Galina & Stolzenburg, Ulrich, 2019. "Mittelfristprojektion für Deutschland im Herbst 2019 - Potenzialwachstum kommt in die Jahre," Kieler Konjunkturberichte 60, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Naoko Hara & Ryuzo Miyao & Tatsuyoshi Okimoto, 2019. "The Effects of Asset Purchases and Normalization of US Monetary Policy," IMES Discussion Paper Series 19-E-16, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
    4. Jeremy Kronick & Steve Ambler, 2019. "Do demographics affect monetary policy transmission in Canada?," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 787-811, April.
    5. Raffaella Barone & Donato Masciandaro, 2017. "Crime, Money Laundering, And Credit Markets: Can Usury Exist At The Zero Lower Bound?," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 1761, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    6. 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.
    7. Gregor, Jiří & Melecký, Martin, 2018. "The pass-through of monetary policy rate to lending rates: The role of macro-financial factors," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 71-88.
    8. Yuto Iwasaki & Nao Sudo, 2017. "Myths and Observations on Unconventional Monetary Policy -- Takeaways from Post-Bubble Japan --," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 17-E-11, Bank of Japan.
    9. Raffaella Barone & Donato Masciandaro, 2019. "Cryptocurrency or usury? Crime and alternative money laundering techniques," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 233-254, April.
    10. Andrew Filardo & Pierre Siklos, 2018. "The cross-border credit channel and lending standards surveys," BIS Working Papers 723, Bank for International Settlements.
    11. Bevan Cook & Daan Steenkamp, 2018. "Funding cost pass-through to mortgage rates," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Analytical Notes series AN2018/02, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

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    Keywords

    monetary policy; low interest rates; balance-sheet recession; monetary transmission;

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