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Negative interest rates: incentive or hindrance for the banking system?


  • Christophe Blot

    (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques)

  • Paul Hubert

    (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques)


Since 2014, the ECB has applied a negative interest rate on the excess reserves (and deposit facilities) of commercial banks. This policy is complementary to Quantitative Easing (QE), a program whereby the ECB purchases securities on financial markets. Indeed, the QE provides liquidity to the banks and negative interest rates encourage them to reallocate this liquidity. The negative reserve rate amplifies the fall in short-term and long-term market rates and reinforces the incentive for commercial banks to operate reallocation on their portfolios towards riskier assets. The total amount of liquidity subject to a negative interest rate is 1047 billion euros. Negative interest rates should reduce interest rate margins but the impact on profitability is mitigated by the capital gains banks realise when selling securities to the ECB under QE, by the possibility banks have to finance themselves at negative rates, by a decrease in the risk of default and by the possibility to raise non-interest income.

Suggested Citation

  • Christophe Blot & Paul Hubert, 2016. "Negative interest rates: incentive or hindrance for the banking system?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4becfeb5av9, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/4becfeb5av97abu32kpfiu3srd

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Buiter, Willem H., 2009. "Negative nominal interest rates: Three ways to overcome the zero lower bound," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 213-238, December.
    2. Buiter, Willem H. & Panigirtzoglou, Nikolaos, 1999. "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them," CEPR Discussion Papers 2203, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Andries, Natalia & Billon, Steve, 2016. "Retail bank interest rate pass-through in the euro area: An empirical survey," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 170-194.
    4. Harriet Jackson, 2015. "The International Experience with Negative Policy Rates," Discussion Papers 15-13, Bank of Canada.
    5. Christophe Blot & Paul Hubert, 2016. "Causes et conséquences des taux d’intérêt négatifs," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(4), pages 219-245.
    6. Piti Disyatat, 2008. "Monetary policy implementation: Misconceptions and their consequences," BIS Working Papers 269, Bank for International Settlements.
    7. Andreas Jobst & Huidan Huidan Lin, 2016. "Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP); Implications for Monetary Transmission and Bank Profitability in the Euro Area," IMF Working Papers 16/172, International Monetary Fund.
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    JEL classification:

    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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