DP11969 Negative interest rates in Switzerland: What have we learned?

Author(s): Jean-Pierre Danthine
Publication Date: April 2017
Keyword(s): Cashless economy, Negative Interest Rates, Zero-Lower-Bound
JEL(s):
Programme Areas: Financial Economics, International Macroeconomics and Finance
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11969

The Swiss National Bank has introduced negative interest rates of minus 75bp in mid-January 2015. Large exemptions on commercial bank holdings at the SNB result in the average rate being significantly less negative than the marginal rate. With this constellation the policy transmission to the real economy is asymmetric. It fully satisfies the needs of a SOE in search of a negative interest differential, not those of an economy aiming at "classical" monetary stimulus at the zero bound. While the Swiss design would make it possible to impose rates that are significantly more negative with modest complementary features, the unpopularity of negative rates makes it likely that the ambition to totally free monetary policy of the ZLB will be thwarted by democratic realities in the near future.