Dr. Lorenz Weimann
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Unlike the state, the private sector has taken the last few years as an opportunity to whittle down its debt level. In relation to economic output, private debt in the eurozone has dropped back by no less than 16 percentage points since reaching its peak in 2009. So does this mean that the corporate sector and private households are in a position to stomach a return to higher interest rates? This is the question that this paper seeks to explore by simulating three different scenarios for an interest rate turnaround over the next years leading up to 2022, and analyzing its impact on debt service payments (by use of regression analyses). Let's start with the most important conclusion: even though a return to rising interest rates will pose a challenge to many companies and households - the additional burden remains moderate on the whole. Generally, the expense associated with debt service payments not only remains lower than the values seen when the credit boom was at its peak; it also lags behind the values for the pre-crisis years. The extra burden is certainly not an excuse to continue to print money: from this perspective, there is nothing standing in the way of a return to normal monetary policy.