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UK banks not ready for negative interest rates, says NatWest chairman Oct 17, 2020
 

Howard Davies warns of technical and contractual issues if cost of borrowing cut further

Britain’s banks are not ready for negative interest rates, according to the chairman of NatWest.

“We’re not completely ready for it,” Howard Davies said. “There would be technical issues and many contractual issues.”

The Bank of England said last week it had written to all banks and building societies to check whether they could pass on negative interest rates if the central bank cut the cost of borrowing below the current base rate of 0.1%.

Since the summer, members of the Bank’s rate-setting monetary policy committee have investigated how negative rates would affect banks’ profits and whether they would be passed on to customers.

The Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey, speaking during an evidence session in the House of Lords last week, said he did not know whether high street bank computer systems could cope with minus figures.

Davies said on Thursday he was against the introduction of sub-zero rates, arguing there was little evidence it had encouraged investment in other countries.

“We are really assuming interest rates are pretty well zero for any reasonable planning horizon. It could be worse than that.”

Speaking to Bloomberg, Davies also warned that the finance industry would emerge diminished from the ongoing Brexit talks.

He said British banks were prepared for a no-deal Brexit, but whichever outcome was likely to be a “suboptimal solution”, and that some business would “drift away” from London from next year.



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Source: www.theguardian.com
 
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