The Unintended Consequences of Low Interest Rates

By:  Bob Adelmann
09/12/2012
       
The Unintended Consequences of Low Interest Rates

Keynesian policies allegedly designed (and sold to the American people) to stimulate the economy are actually having the perverse effect of stimulating government spending and putting off the inevitable day of reckoning when interest rates inevitably begin to rise.  The unintended consequence of low interest rates is the transfer of wealth from savers to the government.

Complaints from savers about low rates of return on their money have reached the business page of the New York Times. According to the Times, when Bill Taren, a retiree living near Orlando, Florida, learned that his credit union would pay just 0.4 percent interest on his savings, he decided to take the money out of the bank and put it into his mattress because, he said, “at least there we can see the cash.”

It was worse for Julie Moscove of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Over the last four years, she has watched her interest income drop from $2,000 a month to $400 a month. She said, “It’s ridiculous. I cut coupons now.”

And Dorothy Brooks has been forced to go back to work in order to supplement what’s left of her retirement income, after being retired for the last 10 years:

I got hit a couple of years ago pretty badly in the stock market, so now my savings are weighted mostly toward bonds. Now both investments are terrible. And I can’t put my money in a money-market account because that’s crazy. That just pays nothing.

Keynesian economic policies allegedly designed (and sold to the American people) to stimulate the economy are actually having the perverse effect of stimulating government spending and putting off the inevitable day of reckoning when interest rates inevitably begin to rise. As the Times writer Catherine Rampell noted:

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