Counting the Cost

Inside the murky world of negative interest rates

What are the potential consequences of sub-zero interest rates for the global economy and people across the world?

Every year, bankers from the US Central Bank and leading economists gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to discuss the state of the global economy and its future.

Ever since the financial crisis in 2008, central banks have been trying to plug monetary holes – pumping trillions of dollars into the global financial system.

Among other measures, a growing number of central banks around the world have cut key interest rates below zero, which means that commercial banks have to pay to keep their funds on deposit with a central bank.

Nearly 500 million people are now living in countries with negative interest rates, which are meant to get people spending money and boost economic growth. But a recent in-depth study from Standard and Poor’s on the impact of sub-zero interest rates warns that they could have unintended consequences for the global economy and could possibly lead to cash hoarding by consumers.

It also means that the “have-nots” are not even getting the chance of becoming the “haves” – creating a wider wealth gap than ever before.

So what is the impact of negative interest rates? And what are the challenges, benefits and long-term consequences?

We talk to Maximilian Kunkel, an investment strategist with UBS, to discuss interest rates, driving economic growth across the globe, and monetary policies in the US.

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

EU-nity? Life after Brexit: As European leaders meet on an aircraft carrier off the Italian coast to discuss the future of the EU post-Brexit, it seems that Europe can’t wait for the UK to work out what Brexit means. But how acute is the European problem? And what will happen after Britain’s exit? Bernhard Bauhofer, the founder and CEO of Sparring Partners, talks about the European crisis and the effect on EU countries and their people.

Solar rush: Good news from the world of renewable energy: there’s new data suggesting we are generating more energy from the sun and winds than ever before. We find out what has changed in the past few years, what’s made the difference and how to keep track. Vicente Lopez-Ibor Mayor, from Lightsource Renewable Energy, talks about the latest developments in the renewable energy sector.

Nature and livelihoods on the line: The cloud forests of Costa Rica are being threatened by rising global temperatures and could soon be gone. That’s the stark warning from scientists who have studied the region for decades. Andy Gallagher reports from Costa Rica.