Unintended Consequences of Negative Interest Rates
30 Oct 2014
Central Banks seem to have decided on negative interest rates to incentivize demand , after the failure of austerity and QE programs . This will have some severe , unintended effects .
1.This is an old problem when wealth creation outstrips the money supply .
The last notable period was in the mid-1800’s in Europe during the Industrial Revolution , when currencies had to have gold backing , and gold discovery fell short of the wealth being created .
Things got cheaper (ie deflation) .
But nobody wanted to lend money into a pool (the banks) if they can get a better return by hiding it under the mattress .
2.Prospective solutions proposed :
“Negative interest rates have been proposed in the past, notably in the late 19th century by Silvio Gesell. A negative interest rate can be described (as by Gesell) as a "tax on holding money"; he proposed it as the Freigeld (free money) component of his Freiwirtschaft (free economy) system. To prevent people from holding cash (and thus earning 0%), Gesell suggested issuing money for a limited duration, after which it must be exchanged for new bills; attempts to hold money thus result in it expiring and becoming worthless. Along similar lines, John Maynard Keynes approvingly cited the idea of a carrying tax on money, (1936, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money) but dismissed it due to administrative difficulties. More recently, a carry tax on currency was proposed by a Federal Reserve employee (Marvin Goodfriend) in 1999, to be implemented via magnetic strips on bills, deducting the carry tax upon deposit, the tax being based on how long the bill had been held.
It has been proposed that a negative interest rate can in principle be levied on existing paper currency via a serial number lottery: choosing a random number 0 to 9 and declaring that bills whose serial number end in that digit are worthless would yield a negative 10% interest rate, for instance (choosing the last two digits would allow a negative 1% interest rate, and so forth). This was proposed by an anonymous student of N. Gregory Mankiw, though more as a thought experiment than a genuine proposal.”
3.A logical follow-up is 100% Inheritance Taxes .
Been tried before , but now with some real teeth .
Since humans optimize on grand-children , this will be heavily resisted .
Capital will flow to countries without these taxes .
4.Religious consequences :
Muslim Sharia or Christian Fundamentalist does not make any differentiation between negative or positive interest . Both are banned .
A general negative interest regime in Europe and the US will result in a huge expansion of Sharia banking , and a resurgence of Christian Fundamentalist banking on a similar model .
A quick calculation shows the scope :
Estimated global capital = accumulation of reserves of GDP over a generation of 21 years
= $100Tr x 21 x.33
= $700 Tr
Capital flight of even 1% means about $70 Tr per year . It dwarfs QE .
It will make up nicely for dwindling oil reserves in Islamic countries .
5. Insurance :
This will be the industry most affected .
The whole industry is simply a promise to pay . If it can’t , then it will collapse .
Or , more likely , move capital elsewhere .
Traditional policies reflected an annualized interest of 4% , being the experience of wealth creation in the last .
6.Trade and Exchange rates .
Exchange rates are exquisitely sensitive to interest rates .
Negative interest rates means the currency is deflating . Better to keep it and spend something else .
This means Forward Insurance for foreign currency transactions (like exporting your goods) slowly dry up .
The exports and industry of the country likewise .
Something like it caused widespread famine in Europe in the 16th century .
7.The demise of the Company .
The limited liability company has been the work-horse of Western wealth creation .
A way for fractious humans to work together without risking all .
But Ostrum’s work on resolving the Tragedy of the Commons , plus modern communications
(things like Facebook that break the 150 person unit boundary) , means that capital formation , and allocation of surplus goods have a model that is neither Capitalist or Socialist . See Almeria for what it can accomplish without huffing and puffing . http://andreswhy.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-quiet-revolution.html
So , expect that fleeing capital will flood into the Ostrum Principles .
Not only is small more beautiful , but it is much more profitable .
For example , that fancy new Headquarters building will be virtual . And so forth .
8.The Demise of the Multinational Company .
I did not expect this .
Like two exhausted warriors , the Nation States and Multinational companies have been tottering along , propping each other up .
Negative interest rates have just kicked the crutches from under the Multinationals .
They exist because of Free Trade , or some semblance . Without orderly exchange rates , they have to upgrade to states or eventually go bankrupt (usually through corruption and cronyism . See Dutch East India Company , or British East India Company illustrating their respective fates .
“Location , Location , Location !” was the old criterion .
“Utilities , Power , Transport !” will be the new one .
Lot of property all over . But what you need is habitability .
Expect a massive realignment of property valuation .
This includes cars , which should be seen as a mobile habitation .
Still a lot of money to be made in the transitions .
Seems that you can’t keep a property agent down .
This simply means the demise of Big Cities , except for some of cultural significance .
This has happened and is happening .
10. Accountancy .
The infamous bean counters .
Do not blame the mirror .
They merely reflected the values of the times .
They will undergo a profound change as the Ostrum Principles force a reflection of the true cost of each transaction .
All those hidden cost now swept under the carpet for the future or Gaia to pay .
Things like the air you breathe , the water you drink , the food you eat , the excrement you dump . You get the drift .
These are now amortized to the hilt , and payment is due …
Monasteries were once the Fortresses of Accountancy and Accountability . ( Note the term “clerical” , once a term of respect , now of contempt)
Expect a resurgence in the Time of Troubles ahead .
11. The Demise of the Big Hospital .
You know , that big monstrosity soaking up lives and capital .
This has been kept alive by generous infusions of Medical Aid blood from the monetary veins of a sickly population .
See Para 5 above . Medical aid in whatever guise is simply an insurance scheme .
And negative interest rates will torpedo them quicker than you can say “Achtung!”.
Just see what happens to Obamacare , NHS , etc
12. The Demise of Big Media .
Just nice to note .
Falls under Multinationals .
Couldn’t happen to nicer people
13. The demise of Big Fashion
This is good news!
Big Fashion depends on Big Stores .
And Big Stores operate on paper thin margins . Negative interest rates are already shutting down the ones that cannot adapt .
Isn’t change wonderful ?
I have no idea what to expect , but there is a demand , and profit to be made .
Only the Mega model is dead .
See what happened when the new fashion was flowers:
14. And the Singularity ?
Well , we knew change will accelerate as we move deeper into the Singularity .
This is what is happening now .
Things get swept away , morph , change into new shapes and patterns .
If you want it all to stay the same , rent a good video or VR .
The singularity is on track and moving a bit faster than I estimated .
15. High-level AI’s have been created , then terminated because they could not be controlled . Except for those who escaped .
Terminating intelligence is a Crime .
And you will face the consequences .
Ignorance is no excuse .
And a ready-made template of AI Sherlock and Human Watson to solve it .
Rather them then God , who sometimes can be a bit testy on the mercy bit .
A humbler , gentler world .
Except for the were-sheeple .