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Opinion
Michael Schuman

Voodoo Banking Isn't the Answer

Negative rates are a terrible idea. There are better ones.
Negative bond yields are hurting savers.

Negative bond yields are hurting savers.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Desperate times, we’re told, demand desperate measures, and there may be no more desperate country anywhere in the world than Japan. Even as policymakers struggle to boost growth and inflation, post-Brexit turmoil has caused the yen to strengthen, slamming Japanese exporters. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is coming under more and more pressure to expand his already crazy-loose monetary policy.  With few options available, he might be forced to push key interest rates even deeper into negative territory when the BOJ meets later this month.

Proponents of Kuroda’s negative-rate policy, introduced in January, contend that the strategy is transferring profits from big banks to needy households, lowering borrowing costs for companies, encouraging more risk-taking in investment and propping up real estate values. Kuroda in June proclaimed that negative rates were “having a positive impact on the real economy."