In a recent research paper we argue that interest rates have very different consequences for current versus future financial stability. In the short run, lower real rates mean higher asset prices and hence higher net worth for financial institutions. In the long run, lower real rates lead intermediaries to shift their portfolios toward risky assets, making them more vulnerable over time. In this post, we use a model to highlight the challenging trade-offs faced by policymakers in setting interest rates.
What is the effect of a hike in interest rates on the economy? Building on recent research, we argue in this post that the answer to this question very much depends on how vulnerable the financial system is. We measure financial vulnerability using a novel concept—the financial stability interest rate r** (or “r-double-star”)—and show that, empirically, the economy is more sensitive to shocks when the gap between r** and current real rates is small or negative.