The world’s tentative experiment with negative interest rates got off to an unremarkable start. Sweden’s Riksbank – the world’s oldest central bank – became the first major monetary authority to cross the rubicon and take its main policy rate into the red exactly a year ago to the month (see map above). The Riksbank’s move followed the likes of Switzerland and Denmark, who had turned negative in a bid to stimulate flagging inflation and halt the punishing appreciation of their currencies.
But the introduction of sub-zero rates caused no immediate panic in financial markets that central bankers were “losing control”. Neither did they seem to produce deleterious economic effects in their host countries, as savers continued to keep their money deposited in banks rather than fleeing for the safety of cash. Commercial lenders, meanwhile, adjusted their business models to help maintain profitability. READ MORE