What was going on here? In a modern economy, consumer spending accounts for the vast majority of economic output. But with median incomes growing slowly, if at all, ever-increasing household debt was necessary to sustain aggregate demand. As household debt mounted, the Fed had to keep lowering interest rates to induce greater and greater borrowing (see Graph 3). In theory, that’s not much of a problem—so long as you can keep dialing down interest rates. But here’s the thing: you can’t.
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The first is to push interest rates below zero. The idea here is fairly simple. If the problem with our economy is framed in terms of people trying to save too much relative to their spending, then negative interest rates would make saving money expensive. If you kept cash in a savings account with a negative interest rate, you would actually lose money. There are a few major problems with this idea, one of which is cultural. We Americans consider saving virtuous; a Fed policy that punished savers would simply not go over well. Another problem is that if interest rates on money were sharply negative, investors might just pour their money into commodities like wheat, oil, or copper as a store of value, which would keep those raw materials from socially positive uses and be tough to regulate. Yet another problem, which the economist Miles Kimball (an advocate of this idea) points out, is that if we really wanted to make this work, all money would have to be subject to interest rate fluctuations, which means we’d have to get rid of paper money. (If everything were electronic, there would be nowhere for savers to hide.) Free Money Horoscopes

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