In the week that the European Central Bank cut its deposit rate for banks from zero to -0.1%, economist Martin Armstrong warns that negative interest rates are coming to the United States, meaning that Americans will be forced to pay just to keep their money in the bank.

In a move described as unprecedented, the ECB became the first central bank in history to cut any main interest rate to negative yesterday, part of a package of measures designed to encourage banks to provide more loans to businesses and households. Many view the policy as a desperate sign of Europe’s faltering economic recovery.

Critics claim that the action will do little to spur growth while threatening to cause inflation and unemployment. While banks in the EU have not indicated whether or not the costs will be passed on to consumers, the New York Times’ Neil Irwin asserts that this is inevitable.

“Banks will most likely pass these negative interest rates on to consumers, or at least try to. They may try to do so not by explicitly charging a negative interest rate, but by paying no interest and charging a fee for account maintenance,” he writes.

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