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The dangerous ineffectiveness of negative interest rates: the case of Switzerland

Sergio Rossi

Keywords: negative interest rates; Swiss monetary policy; Tobin tax

This paper argues that the negative interest rate adopted by the Swiss National Bank in 2015 has elicited a series of negative consequences across the Swiss economy. It has led an increasing number of agents to invest their savings in the real-estate market, whose prices have overheated, threatening the eruption of a housing crisis. It has also induced a number of financial institutions to turn to riskier businesses in an attempt to continue to earn some returns, thereby increasing financial fragility at systemic level. The paper suggests that a small Tobin tax on all Swiss-franc purchases may contribute to the support of domestic economic activities much better than negative rates of interest.

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