And if we assume there’s no hidden agenda, what he’s proposing isn’t unreasonable.
But before floating his idea, Summers starts with some skepticism about more easy-money policy from the Fed.
Many in the United States and Europe are arguing for further quantitative easing to bring down longer-term interest rates. …However, one has to wonder how much investment businesses are unwilling to undertake at extraordinarily low interest rates that they would be willing to undertake with rates reduced by yet another 25 or 50 basis points. It is also worth querying the quality of projects that businesses judge unprofitable at a -60 basis point real interest rate but choose to undertake at a still more negative rate. There is also the question of whether extremely low, safe, real interest rates promote bubbles of various kinds.
This is intuitively appealing. I try to stay away from monetary policy issues, but whenever I get sucked into a discussion with an advocate of easy money/quantitative easing, I always ask for a common-sense explanation of how dumping more liquidity into the economy is going to help.
Maybe it’s possible to push interest rates even lower, but it certainly doesn’t seem like there’s any evidence showing that the economy is being held back because today’s interest rates are too high.