Zadnji slab argument za politiko varčevanja

Če se je Ken Rogoff z zadnjo kolumno v Financial Timesu hotel intelektualno rehabilitirati po fiasku z razkrinkanjem napak v njegovi raziskavi o vplivu zadolženosti na gospodarsko rast, se je z njo še bolj ustrelil v koleno. Prejšnji teden sem navedel nekaj odzivov na njegovo kolumno. Spodaj sta še dva odziva. Brad DeLong je zelo ciničen in pravi, da je britanska vlada v modri previdnosti – če bi slučajno utegnilo priti do povečane inflacije in posledičnega zmanjšanega interesa finančnih trgov po njenih državnih obveznicah – gospodarstvo udarila s kladivom (varčevanja) po glavi in povečanjem brezposelnosti. Čeprav ni bilo nobenega znaka o povečani inflaciji. Za vsak primer pač. Matthew Klein pa pravi, da so argumenti Rogoffa deplasirani, saj, prvič, ima Britanija za razliko od Španije in Grčije svojo monetarno politiko, in drugič, po drugi svetovni vojni je Britanija uporabila inflacijo kot učinkovit instrument za olajšanje poplačila vojnih dolgov.

Brad DeLong: Kenneth Rogoff’s Hooverismo…:

About the Rogoff argument: If markets stop buying government debt, then they are buying something else: by Walras’s Law, excess supply of government debt is excess demand for currently-produced goods and services and labor. That is not continued deflation and depression, that is a boom–it may well be a destructive inflationary boom, and it may be a costly boom, but it is the opposite problem of an deflationary depression

So, by continuity, somewhere between policies of austerity that that produce deflationary depression due to an excess demand for safe assets and policies of fiscal license that produce inflationary boom caused by an excess supply of government debt, there must be a sweet spot: enough new issues of government debt to eliminate the excess demand for safe assets and so cure the depression, but not so much in the way of new issues of government debt to produce destructive inflation, right? Why not aim for that sweet spot? Certainly Cameron-Osborne-Clegg were not aiming for that sweet spot, and the John Stuart Millian using the government’s powers to issue money and debt to balance supply and demand for financial assets and so make Say’s Law true in practice even though it is not true and theory?

More urgent and important: In the spring of 2010 there was no sign of an inflationary boom with rising interest rates. There was no sign that there was going to be an inflationary boom soon. There was no sign that anybody in financial markets whose money moved market prices at the margin placed a weight greater than zero on any prospect of an inflationary boom at any time horizon out to thirty years.

Thus the question is: what do you do if there is no boom, are no signs of a boom, is no expectation that there will be a boom, is no excess supply of government debt right now, is no sign in the term structure of interest rates that people expect an excess supply of government debt in the near-future–if in fact looking out thirty years into the future via the term structure there is no sign that there will ever be any significant chance of an excess supply of government debt?

Ken Rogoff thinks that the answer is obvious: that you must then hit the economy on the head with the hammer of austerity to raise unemployment in order to guard against the threat of the invisible bond-market vigilantes, even though there is no sign of them–for, he says, they are invisible and silent as well. We must not try to infer expectations, probabilities, scenarios, and risks from market prices, but rather have St. Paul’s faith that austerity is necessary because of “the evidence of things not seen”.

Therefore, Rogoff argues, in order to guard against the possibility of a destructive fiscal dominance-inflation in the future, the Cameron-Osborne-Clegg government was wise to hit the British economy on the head with the austerity hammer and produce a longer, deeper, more destructive depression now.

Maybe the argument is really that the big policy mistake was made by Governor of the Bank of England–that Britain was in conditions of fiscal dominance, in which the Exchequer needed to balance the budget to preserve price stability and the Bank of England should have engaged in massive quantitative easing, aggressive forward interest- and exchange-rate guidance, and explicit raising of the inflation target in order to balance aggregate demand and potential supply, and that the unforgivable policy blunders were not Cameron-Osborne-Cleggs’ but King’s. But if that is what Rogoff means, it is not what he says.

So I am still left puzzled.

Matthew C. Klein: Ken Rogoff’s Latest Bad Argument for Austerity:

It’s been more than three years since the U.K.’s coalition government began aggressively raising taxes and cutting spending in an effort to reduce its deficit. Many economists now agree that this program retarded the recovery, producing a slump worse than the Great Depression. Yet Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, in a column in the Financial Times, argues that those measures made sense as a form of insurance against the sort of crisis that has afflicted countries in the euro area such as Spain and Italy. His case has two parts, neither of which is convincing.

First, Rogoff implies that the U.K. was vulnerable to the same sorts of shocks that battered Spain and Italy…. The comparison is misleading, however. Unlike the 17 countries of the euro area, which share a single currency, the U.K. uses its own… totally different from the euro area….

Rogoff’s second point is that previous episodes of high indebtedness in the U.K. were special cases that should not inform today’s policy makers…. Rogoff dismisses the gradual repayment of the U.K.’s World War II-era debts because it was only made possible by persistent rapid inflation. That’s true, but Rogoff himself has repeatedly argued that the rich world needs more inflation, rather than less. In fact, at the bottom of his most recent column, Rogoff says that it was a mistake not to have pursued “even more aggressive monetary policy.”

%d bloggers like this: