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Secular Drivers of the Global Real Interest Rate

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  • Lukasz Rachel

    () (Department of Economics, London School of Economics (LSE)
    Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM)
    Bank of England)

  • Thomas Smith

    () (Bank of England)

Abstract

Long-term real interest rates across the world have fallen by about 450 basis points over the past 30 years. The co-movement in rates across both advanced and emerging economies suggests a common driver: the global neutral real rate may have fallen. In this paper we attempt to identify which secular trends could have driven such a fall. Although there is huge uncertainty, under plausible assumptions we think we can account for around 400 basis points of the 450 basis points fall. Our quantitative analysis highlights slowing global growth as one force that may have pushed down on real rates recently, but shifts in saving and investment preferences appear more important in explaining the long-term decline. We think the global saving schedule has shifted out in recent decades due to demographic forces, higher inequality and to a lesser extent the glut of precautionary saving by emerging markets. Meanwhile, desired levels of investment have fallen as a result of the falling relative price of capital, lower public investment, and due to an increase in the spread between risk-free and actual interest rates. Moreover, most of these forces look set to persist and some may even build further. This suggests that the global neutral rate may remain low and perhaps settle at (or slightly below) 1% in the medium to long run. If true, this will have widespread implications for policymakers — not least in how to manage the business cycle if monetary policy is frequently constrained by the zero lower bound.

Suggested Citation

  • Lukasz Rachel & Thomas Smith, 2015. "Secular Drivers of the Global Real Interest Rate," Discussion Papers 1605, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
  • Handle: RePEc:cfm:wpaper:1605
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Equilibrium Interest Rate; Long-term Yields; Global Saving and Investment; Global Trend;

    JEL classification:

    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • F00 - International Economics - - General - - - General
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • F47 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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