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Looking for a spark

Volatility across asset classes looks likely to continue as global economies employ contrasting policies and recover at varying rates, says Claire Bennison

8 May 2015

Western economies have become accustomed to a world of near zero interest rates following years of central bank attempts to stimulate growth.

Base interest rates in the US have been at 0.25 per cent since 2008, 0.5 per cent in the UK since early 2009, and in Europe, they are now at 0.05 per cent.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has gone a step further by reducing its deposit rate (the rate at which it pays banks for storing money with them) to minus 0.2 percent, effectively charging the bank to keep money with the ECB.

The move is aimed at encouraging banks to use their cash to generate a better return (by lending to households and businesses for instance) in the hope that it benefits the broader economy and reduces borrowing costs.

The direction of the ECB can, to a certain extent, be seen as a sign of desperati...

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