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Why Are Real Interest Rates So Low?

Author

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  • Francois Velde

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

  • Benoït Mojon
  • Magali Marx

    (banque de france)

Abstract

Risk-free rates have been falling since the 1980s while the return on 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

  • Francois Velde & Benoït Mojon & Magali Marx, 2017. "Why Are Real Interest Rates So Low?," 2017 Meeting Papers 1292, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed017:1292
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    Cited by:

    1. Ferrero, Giuseppe & Gross, Marco & Neri, Stefano, 2017. "On secular stagnation and low interest rates: demography matters," Working Paper Series 2088, European Central Bank.

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