Asta Pravilonytė

Every manager can call him or herself a good strategist if he or she only works within an environment that is favourable; however, it is only in times of stress that one truly learns what one's capabilities are!

















Thursday, 19 July 2012

Are negative interest rates a signal of excessive liquidity?


International Monetary Fund warned on increased risks to financial stability in the Global Financial Stability Report released on 16 July, 2012. Excessive European sovereign debts and concerns about the quality of banks assets were mentioned as the main threat to financial stability alongside with the uncertainties on the fiscal outlook and federal debt ceiling in the United States. Financial risks are understood as possibility of losing assets. So, shouldn’t quality of assets remain the main focus and concern?

It could be mentioned that prominent features of June and the first part of July involved further easing of global monetary policies. According to the Monetary Policy Meeting held in June 15, Bank of Japan will encourage the uncollateralized overnight call rate at around 0 to 0.1 percent. The US Federal Open Market Committee decided to continue purchasing Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 6 years to 30 years at the current pace and to sell or redeem an equal amount of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of approximately 3 years or less. The news about the expended operational twist by $269 billion through 2012 was announced on 20 June. The key ECB interest rates were cut by 25 basis points to 0.75% on 5 July. Monetary Policy Committee of Bank of England decided to increase size of Asset Purchase Programme by £50 billion to £375 billion on 5 July. The People’s Bank of China decided to cut one year RMB benchmark deposit and loan rates by 0.25 and 0.31 percentage points to 3% and 6% respectively on 6 July.

Similar remarks could be addressed to the quality of decisions in financial sector. Single supervisory mechanism for euro area banks and the concept to recapitalize banks directly through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) may fail if banks’ business models are dysfunctional and they cannot sustain financial shocks. Banks’ insolvency arose due to inaccurate assets management and failed estimations. So, additional banks capitalization and facilitated access to attractive borrowing costs will hardly improve the assessment of viability of business plans/investment opportunities.

Moreover, could negative interest rates signal that liquidity is enough in the markets? Investors demand for credibility allowed Germany, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and France to borrow at negative interest rates. When investors chose sovereign bonds with negative interest rates they sink their savings. So, maybe liquidity is already enough and the main concern is to employ existing capital efficiently.
















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