Negative interest rates, which central banks in several countries have implemented as a way to spur economic growth, is a radical move. In this three-part series, ‘Negative Thinking,’ commentator Satyajit Das examines this policy and the risk it carries.

Several of the world’s central banks have crossed the Rubicon, commencing a high-risk experiment with negative interest rates. The intent is clear: reduce debt by confiscation and transfer wealth from savers to borrowers. This is ultimately an admission of defeat, as traditional means of bringing excessive debt under control have failed.

More than $26 trillion of government bonds now trade at yields of below 1%, with around $7 trillion currently yielding less than 0%. Government bonds in Germany with a maturity of seven years are trading at negative yields, while Swiss and Japanese government bonds out to 10 years trade at negative yields.

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