Negativ­zinsen sind die falsche Antwort

Eigentlich kann es nur die glühendsten Bewunderer der EZB überraschen: Die Politik der Negativzinsen ist nicht klug. Tröstlich für die EZB ist höchstens, dass trotz des offensichtlichen Scheiterns der Politik andere Notenbanken dem Weg folgen werden. Warum? Zum einen, weil sie mit ihrem Latein am Ende sind, zum anderen, weil es bei dem ganzen Spiel vor allem darum gehen dürfte, eine Aufwertung der eigenen Währung zu verhindern.

Da die Bank of England über Negativzinsen nachdenkt, ist es nicht verwunderlich, dass die Kommentatoren dort die Folgen der Politik genauer beleuchten. Die Kernaussagen:

  • This is what the Bank of England had to say about negative interest rates as recently as its August Monetary Policy Report: “Risks to banks’ balance sheets are likely to be rising at the moment. The impact of Covid-19 on the economy will result in losses for lenders, as some businesses fail and some households lose their jobs. As a result, implementing negative policy rates might be less effective in providing stimulus to the economy at the current juncture than at a time when banks’ balance sheets are improving.“ – bto: einfach deshalb, weil Negativzinsen die Ertragskraft der Banken schmälern und sie deshalb noch weniger in der Lage sind, Kredite zu vergeben, was sie aber eigentlich sollten.
  • The purpose of any cut in official interest rates, whether into negative territory or simply a normal, common all-garden cut, is both to reduce the attractions of holding cash, driving savings into riskier assets, and to cut the cost of credit in a way that encourages banks to lend more to the economy.“ – bto: Es soll die Verschuldung ankurbeln in einer Welt, die schon zu viele Schulden hat.
  • Cheaper borrowing costs are unlikely to persuade firms to borrow more to stay afloat when their chief concern is not about the costs of the extra borrowing but how they are ever going to repay the money when there is no end in sight to the measures deemed necessary to contain the pandemic. Banks should not be forcing companies and households to borrow what can never be repaid.“ – bto: Deshalb brauchen wir einen Schuldenschnitt und nicht noch mehr Schulden.
  • The chief problem with cutting below the so-called “lower bound” is its effect on the profitability of banks. Broadly, banks make their money on the margin between deposit and lending rates. But in practice, it is difficult-to-impossible to charge retail depositors on their cash balances (…) you potentially have a situation where the debtor is paid to borrowwhile the creditor is charged to deposit. (…) if it badly impacts profitability, then perversely banks may end up lending less to the economy, not more.“ – bto: Es ist halt die finale Phase der Zombifizierung.
  • The European Central Bank (…) claims it has encouraged banks to provide more credit to the economy while through its mitigation strategies protecting the profitability of the banks.”
  • Maybe, maybe not, but the eurozone economy has hardly been a rip-roaring success over the past six years. I’ve not seen any evidence to suggest the effect is anything other than marginal at best.“ – bto: So kann man es sagen. Die Frage ist natürlich, ob das nur an den Zinsen lag und wir wissen, dass dem nicht so ist.
  • „The Swedish Riksbank abandoned its foray earlier this year. It gamely claimed that negative rates had helped to stave off deflation but global recovery did that for everybody, until Covid hit. In reality the negligible gains were overwhelmed by a catalogue of side-effects, not least the slow destruction of price-signalling and the ecosystem of market capitalism.“ – bto: Das wiederum kümmert in Europa immer weniger Politiker und Bürger. Der Kapitalismus wird doch sturmreif geschossen, macht man ihn doch für alles Schlechte verantwortlich, obwohl man bei genauerem Hinsehen leicht erkennt, dass es die politischen Eingriffe sind, die zu den Fehlentwicklungen führen.
  • The Bank for International Settlements says negative rates – or NIRP – are chiefly intended to drive down the exchange rate. The central banks of Switzerland, Denmark, and Japan openly admitted as much.“ – bto: Und deshalb kann es gut sein, dass es noch andere Notenbanken tun werden.
  • The trouble with debasement in a world of near deflation and deficient demand is that everybody wants more stimulus from a cheaper currency. To embrace NIRP takes on the character of 1930s beggar-thy-neighbour devaluation. The US Treasury warned the Bank of Japan (BoJ) that further cuts into negative territory would be deemed currency manipulation, a message heeded in Tokyo.“ – bto: Und die Frage ist, wie lange die Amerikaner dem Treiben der Europäer noch zuschauen. Zurzeit ist der Euro relativ stark, aber dies muss nicht von Dauer sein.
  • Former BoJ board member Sayuri Shirai said it cut across QE by creating a shortage of bonds on the market. It eroded the net interest margin for lenders. ‘There was a direct adverse impact on commercial banks’ profitability. Financial conditions deteriorated for institutional investors. Bond market liquidity deteriorated. Money market funds shrank quite substantially,” she told a post-mortem on the NIRP misadventure.’ – bto: Aber es gilt als Wunderwaffe – gerade auch für die hoch verschuldeten Staaten. Dabei sollte die EZB den Banken ihre Einlage gut verzinsen, damit diese ihre Bilanzen bereinigen können.
  • A paper last month for the San Francisco Fed issued a withering verdict on Europe’s experiment. ‘Both bank profitability and bank lending activity erode more the longer such negative policy rates continue, it said. Its review of 5,300 banks found that there may be an initial bounce but then lending declines over the next two years, more than reversing any initial gains. As negative rates persist, they drag on bank profitability even more,(…).” – bto: Und es fördert damit auch die Zombifizierung, die wiederum den deflationären Druck verstärkt.
  • „(…) even the European Central Bank itself published a paper in 2018 concluding that NIRP tightens economic conditions, is a ‘negative shock to the net worth of banks’, and ‘could pose a risk to financial stability. It found that banks dared not pass on negative rates to their savers from fear of deposit withdrawals. Those lenders that depend heavily on stable savings deposits – as opposed to more fickle capital markets – tried to compensate for the hit to profit margins by doing two things: they cut lending; and they dabbled in gambling on high-risk markets. In short, they made the whole system more dangerous and dysfunctional.“ – bto: Wenn ich das als Zentralbanker lesen würde, würde ich sofort entsprechend handeln. Schluss mit dem Quatsch!
  • Professor Richard Werner, a bank expert at Oxford University, said the outcome is progressively ruinous for Germany’s 1,250 savings banks and cooperative lenders, which rely on deposits from savers and have intricate ties with local business. These banks account for 90pc of lending to small firms (SMEs). They provide credit for much of the  Mittelstand engineering and machine tool family firms. Prof Werner said they are the lifeblood of the Wirtschaftswunder, arguably the reason why Germany has had such a successful industrial economy for over 200 years.‘What do negative rates do? They kill the banks. Smaller firms are being gradually frozen out of the lending markets,’ he said. ‘When you get into the nitty gritty, the policy is just a tax on lenders. The ECB has introduced ‘tiering’ to reduce the blow but that does not change the logic at all.’“ – bto: Und gerade am Erhalt der lokalen Banken sollten wir in Deutschland höchst interessiert sein!
  • The NIRP structure favours mega-banks with no local or intimate ties to the productive economy, and which have a strong incentive to pump up the parasitic property market and to make their living from speculative capitalism. »What’s more, central banks have a conflict of interest since they want to step into the arena themselves as a player by offering current accounts, which they call a ‘digital currency’ to confuse everybody. This is how we end up with centrally-planned credit and the Sovietisation of banking he said.“ – bto: So ist es! Es geht in Richtung Vollgeld.
  • Christine Lagarde wants to go even further. She has floated the prospect of minus 2pc. But to do that you have to start taking coercive measures to ban cash and outlaw safe-deposit boxes. There are good arguments for or against quantitative easing. But steeply negative rates are something quite different. They are a cancerous tumour on the free enterprise system.“ – bto: Dies führt zur Frage, warum will Frau Lagarde das? Will sie den deutschen Mittelstand zerstören? (Anmeldung erforderlich):”Negative interest rates have failed everywhere and are the path to Soviet-style banking”, 13. Oktober 2020