A few days ago we noted that the ECB may well be contemplating the monetary neutron bomb, which would see it lower rates to below zero, ushering in a Negative Interest Rate Policy. Today, Mario Draghi cut such speculation short promising the ECB has not discussed this. Yet one bank which certainly has is the Danish Central Bank, which just lowered its Discount Rate to 0%, joining China, England, the ECB, and, of course, Kenya in easing, but also went one step further and cut its deposit rate to negative 0.2%. Keep a note of this: NIRP is coming to a central bank, and shortly thereafter to a bank deposit branch, near you very soon.
Denmark’s central bank cut its main borrowing costs to record lows and brought the rate it offers on certificates of deposit below zero, as policy makers test uncharted territory to fight a capital influx.
The benchmark lending rate was cut to 0.2 percent from 0.45 percent, while the deposit rate was reduced to minus 0.2 percent from 0.05 percent, Copenhagen-based Nationalbanken said in a statement today. The move followed a quarter of a percentage point cut in the European Central Bank’s main rate to 0.75 percent. Nationalbanken doesn’t hold scheduled meetings and only adjusts rates to defend the krone’s peg to the euro.
“There’s no experience of how negative deposit rates will affect the financial markets and the krone,” Jacob Graven, chief economist at Sydbank A/S, said in a phone interview today before the decision was announced. “It’s a sign of the strong Danish economy. This is good. The opposite situation would be far worse, if the central bank would have to hike rates to defend the krone. We have a luxury problem.”
Denmark has stepped up its battle to prevent the krone from strengthening beyond its currency band as the nation’s haven status attracts investors. Danske Bank A/S, the country’s biggest lender, said last week it now has a risk scenario that envisages Denmark abandoning the peg should the cost of fighting currency appreciation grow too high. The bank doesn’t view this as a likely outcome, it said.
The liquidity trap has been sprung. Soon everyone will be paying their banks for the privilege of holding their cash for them.