Tags: central bank | policy | savers | easing

SwissRe Study: Central Bank Easing Has Cost US Savers $470 Billion

By    |   Friday, 27 March 2015 08:00 AM

Anyone receiving interest payments in the last seven years undoubtedly has noticed their shrinkage. And the Federal Reserve's massive easing program is responsible for much of that shrinkage.

A study by Swiss Reinsurance, the world's second largest reinsurer, seeks to quantify the damage.

"Since the global financial crisis, U.S. savers alone have lost a whopping $470 billion in interest rate income, net of lower debt costs," the study states.

"This is just one upshot of central banks' unconventional monetary policies initially enacted to manage the crisis."

The Fed has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008, and its balance sheet has ballooned to $4.5 trillion through multiple quantitative easing operations.

As for private households, low interest rates result in a "tax" on savers because they do not earn interest on deposits that they otherwise would, according to the study. In the case of negative interest rates, they even experience a devaluation of their savings.

The authors have no bone to pick with central bank stimulus immediately after last decade's credit meltdown. "Policymakers did a commendable job of managing the 2007-2008 financial crisis," the report says.

"Their creative use of unorthodox monetary policies stabilized financial markets and restored economic confidence. But seven years later, the unconventional is becoming the norm."

The ramifications aren't pretty. "This current state of financial repression brings with it a whole host of unintended consequences: asset price bubbles, an impaired credit intermediation channel and increasing economic inequality are just a few," the report states.

The Fed ended its last round of quantitative easing in October and is expected to begin raising interest rates in September.

Scott Minerd, chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners, also is worried that global central bank stimulus will end in no good.

"New monetary orthodoxy is likely to permanently impair living standards for generations to come, while creating a false perception of reviving prosperity," he writes in the Financial Times. "The prospect of improvement in economic growth is largely a monetary illusion."

The near-zero interest rates created by central banks are penalizing many savers, Minerd notes. "The depressed returns available on fixed income securities, largely as a result of QE [quantitative easing], are acting as a tax on investors, including individual savers, pension funds and insurance companies," he says.

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Anyone receiving interest payments in the last seven years undoubtedly has noticed their shrinkage. And the Federal Reserve's massive easing program is responsible for much of that shrinkage.
central bank, policy, savers, easing
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2015-00-27
Friday, 27 March 2015 08:00 AM
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