What should we think about negative interest rates? What kind of Alice-in-Wonderland world are we living in when companies and households are paid to borrow and charged if they save?
Seemingly crazy, negative interest rates are spreading nonetheless. Implemented by central banks in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, they now apply in countries accounting for a quarter of the global economy. Should we be worried? Could we see negative rates in Britain?
“I’m sorry Liam, we’re losing you,” said John Humphreys on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week. “Oh what a shame, we can’t hear him,” the grand inquisitor continued. “It’s a very bad line”.
Explaining the implications of “negative interest rates” on the UK’s most influential news bulletin is tough at the best of times. Doing so when the communication link between you and the studio drops out, making you incommunicado 15 seconds after you’ve started speaking, makes the task more difficult still.