German Of The Day: Strafzins

That means “punitive interest rate” and refers to a rates below zero.

Strafzins

It’s an accurate word invention. The ECB has cut rates again and those who save are punished.

The German term “Strafzins”, or “punishment rate” is widely used in the country’s media to refer to interest rates below zero. And a day after the ECB cut rates for the first time since the spring of 2016, it is back in the news.

This is despite the fact there is an alternative German word for negative rates: negativzins (as Michael Steen, formerly of the FT and ECB global media chief, pointed out on Twitter).

Admittedly negativ also has . . . negative connotations. But the use of “straf”, or “punitive”, reflects a widespread perception across Germany that the ECB is penalising savers through its monetary policy.

“They want to pump us up with the credit drug.”

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