Negative interest rates cash managementWhile treasurershave been dealing with low interest rates for years, they're nowfacing negative rates on bank deposits in some parts of the world. Theprospect of paying a bank to hold company funds has an Alice inWonderland feel to it, but central banks in a number of countrieshave implemented monetary policies that charge negative rates on the depositsthat banks hold with the central banks. Banks in turn are passingthose negative rates on to commercial depositors.

Where rates are negative.

Negative rates were seen first in Europe, where the central banks of Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland set benchmarkrates below zero as they tried to spark economic growth andlimit the appreciation of their currencies. The European CentralBank (ECB) moved to a -0.2% deposit rate in two steps in 2014 andthen pushed its rate to -0.3% in December. In January, the Bank of Japan joined in, setting a rate of -0.1% on the excessreserves it holds for financial institutions. The market is waitingto see whether the ECB goes still more negative at Thursday'smeeting. The central banks that have imposed negative ratesgenerally charge them on only a portion of the reserves they holdfor financial institutions.

It's not likely to happen in theU.S.

The shift to negative rates by the ECB and the Bank of Japan ledto talk that the Federal Reserve might be the next to adopt a negative ratepolicy. But recent data suggest the U.S. economy is continuingto recover and the Federal Reserve need not experiment withbelow-zero rates.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.