What drives interest rates? Central bank policy rates or something else?

Òscar Jordà and Alan M. Taylor in this short paper look at evidence from Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

People generally attribute a great deal of discretion to a central bank’s ability to set interest rates. This might be an overstatement. Our analysis suggests that most of the variation in interest rates can be explained by conditions beyond the central bank’s control: the aging of the population, declining rates of productivity growth, and other slow-moving factors known to affect the neutral rate of interest globally and domestically. From this perspective, fears that policy stances are increasingly diverging across advanced economies and that this divergence may have adverse consequences for the international financial system may be overblown.

Hmm..

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