Living With the Lowest Interest Rates in History

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- How low are interest rates?

They are “the lowest in history, from the Code of Hammurabi to Babylon civilization, Greek and Roman civilization, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and early modern history, right up until the present. I can assure listeners that the rates we have now are the lowest in human history.”

So says this week's guest on Masters in Business, Richard Sylla, professor emeritus of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and author of several books, most notably “A History of Interest Rates.” He says rates during the past decade simply have no precedent.

These are not the rantings of a gold bug or foe of the Federal Reserve. Sylla has spent his career studying and teaching financial history. A professor at NYU since 1990, he is also chairman of the Museum of American Finance, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum's mission is to preserve, exhibit and teach about U.S. financial history.

He was one of the first students to major in economics at Harvard; his post-graduate studies took him to the Indian Statistical Institute at Calcutta, before returning to Harvard to earn his masters and doctorate in economics.

A few favorite books are cited here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunesBloombergOvercast and Stitcher. Earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunesStitcherOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week, we speak with venture capitalist Bill Janeway, former Warburg Pincus banker.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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