Warum es gut ist, wenn die Zinsen länger hoch bleiben

Die Zinsen steigen und steigen. Gestern erreichten die zweijährigen US-Anleihen den höchsten Zinssatz seit 17 Jahren. Auch die langlaufenden Anleihen wurden billiger – die Zinsen stiegen.

Es gibt aber führende Vertreter der These, dass das mit den höheren Zinsen „eine gute Sache sei“. So der frühere Chef der US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in einem Gastbeitrag für die FINANCIAL TIMES (FT). Ich finde es deshalb interessant, da gerade er um die Verletzlichkeit des Finanzsystems wissen sollte:

  • They say the good things in life are free. That may be true of walks on the beach or picnics in the park. It is not true of money. The US Federal Reserve kept money free for nearly 14 years in the name of stimulating the economy. This period of ‚zero-interest rate policy‘, or ‚Zirp‘, was characterised by tepid growth, increased market concentrations, low productivity and yawning wealth inequality. Now that the Fed has shifted to a ‚higher for longer‘ stance to combat inflation, our economy will have to make painful adjustments to the rising cost of money. But we need to hold our course. Ultimately, higher rates will lead to a fairer, more productive and resilient economy.“ – bto: Da bin ich theoretisch voll an Bord. Die Frage ist (leider) nur, wie dieser Übergang sich gestaltet. Denn der könnte unangenehm sein.
  • Economists have struggled to find a correlation between low interest rates and economic growth. Some studies suggest that higher rates are associated with higher economic growth. This is consistent with the US experience. Take the ‚boom‘ years of 1982-1990 and 1991-2001, when annual gross domestic product growth of 4 per cent was typical, in comparison with the 2 per cent Zirp norm. In most of those boom years, short and long-term interest rates far exceeded the levels we see today. Households and businesses still borrowed. The economy hummed.“ – bto: Es gab viele lohnende Projekte.
  • Free money can actually undermine growth by making an economy less efficient. The more money costs, the more disciplined its allocation. If it’s costless to borrow, money flows into all sorts of unproductive uses. It flows into rampant speculation characterised by the crypto and meme stock crazes. It flows into zombie companies from indiscriminate investors seeking any decent yield. It harms competition by feeding industry concentrations.“ – bto: Alles, was Chancellor im Buch “The price of time” gut beschrieben hat. Er war in meinem Podcast zu Gast.
  • Research shows that larger companies disproportionately benefit from the lower rates, which they use to make acquisitions and other investments that increase their market dominance. As their market power grows, they lose incentives to remain agile and competitive as their smaller competitors fall further behind. I’m all for vigorous antitrust enforcement against anti-competitive behaviour.“ – bto: Wer ist das nicht? Aber sicherlich hat das billige Geld genau dazu geführt.
  • Free money also exacerbates wealth inequality which is detrimental to an economy like ours in the US, which relies on middle class consumption to thrive. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a few diminishes the purchasing power of the rest. Zirp has done little for real wage growth, but it has done wonders in boosting asset prices mostly owned by rich people.“ – bto: Auch das stimmt, wird aber komischerweise bei uns nie thematisiert.
  • Free money contributes to financial instability, risking crises when inflation inevitably raises its ugly head, and the Fed has to tighten. It encourages excessive levels of borrowing, while incentivising risk taking and speculation among investors searching for yield. As rates rise, bubbles pop, over-extended borrowers default. Even safe, low-yielding assets lose market value.“ – bto: Genau das ist es, was zur großen Falle führt. Denn wer will die große Bereinigungskrise zulassen?
  • Higher rates will help our economy, but a financial crisis could devastate it. Once we get through this transition, the Fed should fundamentally reassess its belief that a single-minded pursuit of 2 per cent inflation is good for the economy. Any level of inflation erodes real wages, while free money has undercut productivity and sustainable growth. Better that we abandon Zirp for good and rely less on central bankers to run our economies in the future. History, research and plain common sense suggest that we will be better off.“ – bto: Das stimmt sicherlich.

ft.com (Anmeldung erforderlich): „Higher rates for longer are a good thing“, 10. Oktober 2023