US Federal Reserve Karen Bleier / Getty Images

Tijd voor een beleid van negatieve rentes

CAMBRIDGE – De markten zijn er vandaag de dag op gefixeerd hoe hoog de US Federal Reserve (de Fed, het federale stelsel van Amerikaanse centrale banken) de rente de komende twaalf maanden zal laten oplopen. Dit is gevaarlijk kortzichtig: de werkelijke zorgen zouden moeten gaan over de vraag in hoeverre de Fed de rente in de volgende diepe recessie kan laten dalen. Gezien het feit dat het lastig zou kunnen zijn de basisrente het komende jaar op te trekken naar 2%, zal er zeer weinig manoeuvreerruimte zijn als zich een nieuwe recessie aandient.

Fed-voorzitter Janet Yellen heeft eind augustus in een toespraak geprobeerd de markten gerust te stellen, door te opperen dat een combinatie van massale aankopen van staatsobligaties en openheid over het te verwachten rentebeleid eenzelfde impuls teweeg zouden kunnen brengen als het terugdringen van de kortetermijnrente naar minus 6%, als negatieve rentes mogelijk zouden zijn. Ze zou gelijk kunnen hebben, maar de meeste economen zijn sceptisch dat de onconventionele beleidsinstrumenten van de Fed zo effectief zullen blijken.

Er zijn andere ideeën die kunnen worden beproefd. De Fed zou bijvoorbeeld de recente stap van de Bank of Japan kunnen volgen om zich op de langetermijnrente te richten in plaats van op de kortetermijnrente, waar zij gewoonlijk de nadruk op legt. Het idee is dat zelfs als de kortetermijnrente nul bedraagt, de langetermijnrente nog steeds positief kan zijn. Eind oktober stond de rente op Amerikaanse staatsobligaties met een looptijd van tien jaar op ongeveer 1,8%.

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