Summary of Are Negative Rates a “Calamitous Misadventure"? ECB Economists Say No

Brookings Institution,

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Are Negative Rates a “Calamitous Misadventure
Negative interest rates might yield positive benefits.


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The European Central Bank, along with the central banks of countries like Switzerland and Japan, is deploying an accommodative monetary policy that has pushed interest rates below zero. In this clearly presented article, David Wessel and Peter Olson of the Brookings Institution argue that negative rates might yield positive benefits, despite criticism that negative rates are policy gone awry. getAbstract recommends Wessel and Olson’s fresh look at this unsettling new practice to policy makers, investors and business executives.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What benefits have resulted from negative interest rates and
  • Why accommodative monetary policy should eventually raise interest rates.


In 2014, the European Central Bank introduced negative interest rates; European banks now pay the ECB to hold their reserves. Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Japan are also in negative territory. The policy has faced severe criticism, but the ECB’s experience shows that, rather than being a “calamitous...
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About the Authors

David Wessel is a director at the Brookings Institution, where Peter Olson is a research analyst .

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