Irrt der IWF mit seiner Zins­prognose?

Im aktuellen Jahresbericht erwarten die Analysten des Internationalen Währungsfonds (IWF) eine Rückkehr in die VorCorona-Zeit, also die säkulare Stagnation mit geringem Wachstum, tiefer Inflation und noch tieferen Zinsen.

Doch was ist dran? Roger Bootle von Capital Economics ist skeptisch:

  • „Interest rates seem to move in large waves as the system shifts from one regime to another. I have lived through several distinct interest rate regimes, starting with low single digit rates in the 1950s and 1960s, through the emergence of double digit rates in the 1970s and 1980s, then the establishment of what seemed like a new normality in the 90s and early noughties of rates in the 4-7pc range, followed by the long period of near-zero rates from 2008 to 2021, and then the more recent hiking of rates to the 4-5pc range.“ bto: Es ist gut, sich daran nochmals zu erinnern. Es ist nämlich normal, dass sich das Umfeld ändert, auch wenn wir uns gerade angesichts der hohen Verschuldung nicht vorstellen können, dass die Zinsen lange höher bleiben.
  • „Everyone operating in financial markets and those of us who are subject to their vagaries should have constantly before us a chart of the history of interest rates. It concentrates the mind. The key is to recognise when one regime is about to give way to another.“ – bto: Das ist natürlich besonders schwer. Wie soll man das timen?
  • „That depends upon whether we have fundamentally broken out of the regime that ruled from the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) up until the recent policy tightening. The IMF authors believe that we havent. But we first need to understand the forces that underlay that previous regime.“ bto: Jetzt kommen bekannte Argumente, aber etwas Wiederholung schadet nicht.
  • „If you look at the history of global real interest rates, you see a decided downward trend from about 1990 to the pandemic. Over these years there was an endemic weakness of aggregate demand. Policy-makers countered this weakness with low interest rates, sometimes bolstered by QE, which fed through to lower bond yields.“ – bto: Das mag sein, lag aber vor allem an der bereits hohen Verschuldung und natürlich den stagnierenden Einkommen wegen des Wettbewerbs aus China.
  • „The $64,000 question is what caused this weakness of aggregate demand. The short answer is that against the backdrop of sluggish real investment by companies, there was an inherent tendency towards high saving.“ – bto: In der Tat haben die Unternehmen in den Industrieländern weniger investiert – wozu auch?
  • „Huge persistent surpluses were run by China and a group of other rapidly growing Asian economies, as well as Japan, the oil-producing countries and Germany. The advent of the euro effectively brought the Germanification of much of Europe, such that the euro-zone as a whole became a large surplus area.“ bto: … was natürlich ein wichtiger Aspekt war. Die Frage ist, ob es sich um Ersparnisüberhang oder notwendiges Sparen handelt.
  • „Over and above this, there was a clear demographic influence as a higher proportion of workers moved into the prime saving years of middle age, running up to retirement.“ – bto: In der Tat wäre das berechtigtes Sparen und es ist ein Versagen der Politik, hier nicht für die geeigneten Rahmenbedingungen gesorgt zu haben.
  • „The GFC of 2007/9 added two further twists. First, the aftermath involved tighter regulation of banks which inhibited their inclination to lend. Many potential borrowers also felt wary of resorting to the banks for finance. Second, alarmed by the huge rise in their debt ratios, several governments, including ours, tightened fiscal policy.“ bto: Das widerspricht nicht der Idee der Rahmenbedingungen. Denn die Politiker haben ja nicht daraufgesetzt, die Spargelder sinnvoll zu verwenden, siehe die Regierungen Merkel.
  • „(…) I reckon there are some good reasons why the years to come may not see a return of the previous regime of ultra-low real interest rates. Perhaps the most important factor is demographic.Throughout much of the west and also much of Asia, populations are ageing and in quite a few cases falling. As people move from their late working years into retirement, they move from peak saving into dissaving. This is now going to happen on a significant scale in many countries, including China and much of Europe. Mind you, the danger is that a falling population leads to weaker investment spending, as has happened in Japan.“ bto: Allerdings haben die Japaner im Alter sogar mehr gespart. Und die geringen Investitionen sind wohl eher die Folge der geplatzten Blase.
  • „Moreover, as workforces contract, the global bargaining power of labour should increase, thereby making possible a shift in the distribution of incomes towards real wages.“ – bto: Das denke ich auch.
  • „Furthermore, once the world significantly reduces its use of fossil fuels, then the endemic over-saving and huge current account surpluses of the oil-producing countries will end.“ – bto: Vor allem wirkt die Verteuerung der Energie entsprechend…
  • „Suppose that I am wrong. This would spell a return to the recent policy of ultra-low interest rates and QE, as the IMF suggests. Yet given the distortions and risks created by this policy, blithely returning to it would surely be unwise.“ – bto: … weil es die Vermögensblasen weiter aufpumpen würde.
  • An alternative would be to try to shore up demand through looser fiscal policy, including substantial amounts of infrastructure investment. Admittedly, in most countries in the west, that option is stymied by the already worryingly high levels of public debt. “ – bto: Deshalb springen die Notenbanken dann doch wieder ein und man findet neue Töpfe. Warum sonst geht es immer um mehr gemeinsame EU-Schulden.
  • A third way would be to try to stimulate business investment. Deregulation and radical structural reform of everything from planning systems to the adoption of road pricing schemes, which would revolutionise the market for transport, offers a way forward. “ – bto: Dann doch lieber über zentralistische Planung, sagen da unsere Politiker. Leider.

→ „The IMF is wrong yet again on interest rates“, 16. April 2023