White’s INET working paper is cited in the Balance

“But ultra-low interest rates may be doing more harm than good, economist William White says in a working paper published last month by the Institute for New Economic Thinking. White, a former economic adviser at the Bank for International Settlements, has a number of arguments against this central bank policy. First, while lower borrowing costs do initially accomplish their goal of spurring spending, much of it is on “unproductive purchases” by both households and corporations that only wind up increasing the debt burden. Second, low interest rates can actually destabilize financial markets and the institutions surrounding them, either through inflated prices, encouraging fund managers to take on riskier investments, or hindering how banks and lenders are supposed to do business, White argues. And then there’s the exit problem. Once central banks lower interest rates, it’s very hard to tighten the flow of easy money. “Each cycle of monetary easing contributes to a buildup of undesired side effects that raises the likelihood of future instability,” White writes. “Central banks are then lured into a ‘debt trap’ where they refrain from tightening, to avoid triggering the crisis that they wish to avoid, but that restraint only makes the underlying problems worse.” — Diccon Hyatt, The Balance

Buy Now, Regret Later? New Financing Option Faces Skeptics