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Historic Interest Rates Post WWII and Growth

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Chart showing each month's time point for central bank rates from 1951 onwards.  Whilst you can see a pattern it's difficult to discern.


This is a 10 year moving average which smooths out the data points.  The last 5 years of data is more variable as there are fewer data points.  The basic methodology is to take 120 interest rate points, add them up and divide by 120.  When you don't have the 120 data points it's a countdown so it's divide by 119,118,117 etc...

There are some more charts to follow with regards to growth / debt.

Eight centuries of global real interest rates, R-G, and the ‘suprasecular’ decline, 1311–2018



Published on 03 January 2020

Staff Working Paper No. 845

By Paul Schmelzing

With recourse to archival, printed primary, and secondary sources, this paper reconstructs global real interest rates on an annual basis going back to the 14th century, covering 78% of advanced economy GDP over time. I show that across successive monetary and fiscal regimes, and a variety of asset classes, real interest rates have not been ‘stable’, and that since the major monetary upheavals of the late middle ages, a trend decline between 0.6–1.6 basis points per annum has prevailed. A gradual increase in real negative‑yielding rates in advanced economies over the same horizon is identified, despite important temporary reversals such as the 17th Century Crisis. Against their long‑term context, currently depressed sovereign real rates are in fact converging ‘back to historical trend’ — a trend that makes narratives about a ‘secular stagnation’ environment entirely misleading, and suggests that — irrespective of particular monetary and fiscal responses — real rates could soon enter permanently negative territory. I also posit that the return data here reflects a substantial share of ‘non‑human wealth’ over time: the resulting R-G series derived from this data show a downward trend over the same timeframe: suggestions about the ‘virtual stability’ of capital returns, and the policy implications advanced by Piketty (2014) are in consequence equally unsubstantiated by the historical record.


A BoE paper which also reflects what the charts are showing.  However Schmelzing I think went with 7 years, rather than my 10, although overall I doubt it makes much of a difference.

However with my charts the 10 year moving average shows that up to the 1980's interest rates where increasing, and since the debt explosion across the world interest rates have consistently been declining and heading towards zero and even negative.


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These are excellent graphs, I'm almost embarrassed to quibble, but but I'm having severe trouble reading them :(;. If possible, please could you double (or maybe triple!) the font size used on the X and Y axis, and also in the legends? It's way too small. It needn't make the graphics physically bigger, just the font sizes used within the same area. Also they look like jpegs, if they were pngs the quality would be a lot higher.  Thanks :)

ps (I am already viewing the full size graphics which you get when you click on the previews in the post)

pps the jpeg problem could be the forum's fault, I've seen it before


Edited by mrtickle
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Raw data, however what is interesting is that apart from the US and Aus everyone else see's growth starting to decline 2017 / 2018.  Perhaps the global economy was already heading into choppy waters before the virus came.

Although for people who like Kindleberger, a financial crisis was imminent anyway.


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When people live longer, you can afford to offer lower interest rates as they have longer to pay the loan back.

Additionally, as worker productivity soars and production security increases, you can be more assured that the debtor will be able to generate the capital to repay the debt.

In truth, until we we see a system where we are not enslaved by governments we won't know what the natural rate of interest would be.


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