Now here’s an interesting idea put forth by none other than President Barack Obama’s former chief economic adviser Larry Summers to get the large banks to invest the money in the economy, charge the banks for not spending. At a recent International Monetary Fund conference, Summers proposed that the Federal Reserve should charge banks a negative interest rate for stashing cash, much like the European Central Bank is considering, as a way to ward off another recession or sinking further into a full blown economic depression. Supposedly, this would force the banks to put the money to work in the economy. Some economic writers consider this an act of desperation but as Marl Gongloff at Huffington Post explains the times are already getting desperate
Slashing rates well below zero to make it painful not to spend money is the desperate approach to avoiding an economic depression recently endorsed by Larry Summers, President Obama’s former top economic advisor and one-time pick to run the Federal Reserve. With economic growth likely to be weak for the next infinity, the job market stubbornly awful and inflation disappearing, central bankers around the world have been toying with the idea for a while. Every day it gets closer to being a reality. [..]
. . . St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Bloomberg TV he thought the Fed should consider making U.S. banks pay money to park cash, too. He’s been saying this for more than a year, but the idea is slowly gaining more credence.
That is because, even though the Fed has had a ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) in place for nearly five years now, that has not been enough to get the economy up to full speed. [..]
But even that might not be enough: Some economists think interest rates should be much, much lower than zero: Maybe negative four percent, before adjusting for inflation. Summers recently warned that the U.S. and other big economies could be in a near-permanent state of malaise — like Japan since the 1990s — because interest rates are still too high even at zero. Many liberal economists, including Paul Krugman, think sharply negative interest rates could be the only way to deal with this.
There may be some loud noise emanating from the banks and Wall Street but since congress is stuck on the austerity train wreck, this could be a way for the Federal Reserve to kick start some stimulus. With Summers behind it, it just might be the last desperate solution.