Dolg in povpraševanje: čas za spremembo teorije?

Zanimivo debato med progresivnimi makroekonomisti (neokeynesianci) in progresivnimi monetaristi (pripadniki endogene teorije denarja) o tem, ali centralne banke tiskajo denar “iz zraka” (namesto iz depozitov), o kateri je večkrat pisal Aleš Praprotnik, je dopolnila debata o tem, ali ima dolg res nevtralen učinek na povpraševanje. Zadnja debata o sekularni stagnaciji, o kateri sem pisal pred enim mesecem, je namreč razkrila tudi to, da se je ob stagnirajočih dohodkih večine prebivalstva v ZDA agregatno povpraševanje povečevalo zaradi rastočega dolga gospodinjstev.

To je zanimiv fenomen, saj bi pomenilo priznanje, da lahko ne samo vlade kreirajo dodatno povpraševanje z dodatnim javnim zadolževanjem (predvsem v kriznih razmerah) , pač pa da lahko enako delajo tudi banke z odobravanjem kreditov v “mirnih časih”. To bi zahtevalo popravke teorij. Vse lepo in prav, toda nekje vmes so baloni, ki nastopijo, če banke ekscesno posojajo. Ali drugače povedano, če v mirnih časih povpraševanje ne more rasti brez balonov, je nekaj narobe s prerazdelitvijo dohodkov. Očitno velika večina “spodaj” dobi premajhen kos kolača. In da bi to uvideli, niso potrebne nove teorije.

Spodaj je izsek iz zapisa Steva Keena, prvega govorca struje endogene teorije denarja:

What a difference a year (and three-quarters) makes. Back in March of 2012, Paul Krugman rejected the argument I make that new debt creates additional demand:

“Keen then goes on to assert that lending is, by definition (at least as I understand it), an addition to aggregate demand. I guess I don’t get that at all. If I decide to cut back on my spending and stash the funds in a bank, which lends them out to someone else, this doesn’t have to represent a net increase in demand. Yes, in some (many) cases lending is associated with higher demand, because resources are being transferred to people with a higher propensity to spend; but Keen seems to be saying something else, and I’m not sure what. I think it has something to do with the notion that creating money = creating demand, but again that isn’t right in any model I understand.” (Minsky and Methodology (Wonkish), March 27, 2012)

Then earlier this month, this argument turned up in his musings about the secular stagnation hypothesis:

“Start with the point I’ve raised several times, and others have raised as well: underneath the apparent stability of the Great Moderation lurked a rapid rise in debt that is now being unwound … Debt was rising by around 2 per cent of GDP annually; that’s not going to happen in future, which a naïve calculation suggests means a reduction in demand, other things equal, of around 2 percent of GDP.” (Secular Stagnation Arithmetic, December 7, 2013)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that Krugman may finally be starting to support the case that I (and some other endogenous money theorists like Michael Hudson and Dirk Bezemer) have been making for many years: that rising debt directly adds to aggregate demand. If he is, then welcome aboard. Though there’s doubt as to whether John Maynard Keynes ever uttered the words attributed to him that “when the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do sir?”, I’m happy to accept this shift in that spirit.

But I don’t want to see this change in analysis sneak under the radar either: it deserves acknowledgement as a major shift in the thinking of a major figure in contemporary economics.

It also calls for a theory in which this is possible: a theory in which an increase in debt causes a commensurate increase in demand. As Krugman put it himself back in March of 2012, the argument that rising debt directly adds to demand “has something to do with the notion that creating money = creating demand, but again that isn’t right in any model I understand.” And that’s true, because the model Krugman understood back then was the model of ‘loanable funds’, in which increasing debt can’t add much to aggregate demand, because debt simply transfers spending power from a lender to a borrower.

In a Loanable Funds universe, only if the lender is a miser and the borrower a spendthrift will demand rise all that much – and generally, mainstream economists downplay this possibility. As Ben Bernanke put it when he downplayed Irving Fisher’s Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions, “Absent implausibly large differences in marginal spending propensities among the groups … pure redistributions should have no significant macro-economic effects…” (Essays on the Great Depression, 2000) And as Krugman himself put it just a year ago, “the overall level of debt makes no difference to aggregate net worth – one person’s liability is another person’s asset. It follows that the level of debt matters only if the distribution of net worth matters.” (End This Depression Now!, 2012)

Yet here we have Krugman suggesting that change in the aggregate level of debt matters in its own right, and proposing a one-for-one correspondence between the change in aggregate private debt and aggregate demand: “Debt was rising by around 2 per cent of GDP annually; that’s not going to happen in future, which a naïve calculation suggests means a reduction in demand, other things equal, of around 2 per cent of GDP.”

Have you heard the old joke that an economist is someone who, seeing that something works in practice, then says “Ah! But does it work in theory?”. I’m not going to pull that swifty here: as I noted last week, I see the role of debt adding to aggregate demand as an empirical reality that economists have to explain – not something that can’t exist unless economists have a model that explains it. But just as physics could only progress at the end of the 19th century after it had developed a model that explained the peculiar properties of ‘black-body’ radiation (see Figure 1), economics will only progress in the 21st if it can explain how and why an increase in debt adds to aggregate demand.

Vir: Steve Keen

2 responses

  1. Osebno mislim, da je večini ekonomistov precej jasno, da danes centralne banke ustvarjajo (oz. kot se ponavadi reče ’tiskajo’) iz nič. Kar je precej manj znano pa je, da tudi banke na enak način ustvarjajo kupno moč (denar) na bilancah ne da bi za to potrebovale predhodne depozite (so pa ti bančni depoziti nižje v hierarhiji denarja kot depoziti centralne banke – centralnobančne rezerve). Slednje precej dobro poznajo praktiki v centralnih bankah (čeravno mnogokrat ne ljudje na samih vodstvenih položajih, kamor jih postavlja politika). Kot je dejal Alan Holmes, podpredsednik New York Fed že konec šestdesetih let:

    “The idea of a regular injection of reserves-in some approaches at least-also suffers from a naive assumption that the banking system only expands loans after the System (or market factors) have put reserves in the banking system. In the real world, banks extend credit, creating deposits in the process, and look for the reserves later. The question then becomes one of whether and how the
    Federal Reserve will accommodate the demand for reserves. In the very short run, the Federal Reserve has little or no choice about accommodating that demand; …” (str. 9)

    http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/conf/conf1/conf1i.pdf

    Zanimivo je tudi to, da sta neoklasična avtorja realnih poslovnih ciklov Kydland in Prescott leta 1990 prišla do enake ugotovitve:

    “‘There is no evidence that either the monetary base or M1 leads the [credit cycle], although some economists still believe this monetary myth. Both the monetary base and M1 series are generally procyclical and, if anything, the monetary base lags the [credit cycle] slightly.’ (str. 14)

    http://www.minneapolisfed.org/research/qr/qr1421.pdf

  2. Mogoče še nekaj razmišljanja na to temo. Glede na to, da imata oba subjekta možnost kreacije denarja, lahko vlade ustvarjajo povpraševanje tudi v ‘mirnih’ časih, kot tudi banke ustvarjajo povpraševanje v kriznih. Gre samo za to, da je v mirnih časih fokus na zasebnem bančnem sistemu, v kriznih pa bi moral biti na vladi. Namreč, tudi banke, ki v kriznih časih posojajo, ustvarjajo povpraševanje, vendar je skupni učinek posojajnja zaradi previdnosti in nezaupanja premajhen. Banka tako potencialno povpraševanje pretvori v realno. Npr. jaz odidem na banko z željo po novem avtomobilu. Banka mi zaupa, odobri kredit in (z novoustvarjenim denarjem) kreditira moj račun. Tako lahko potencialno povpraševanje spremenim v realno in odidem v avtohišo kupit nov avto in doprinesem k BDP. Banke kot vse kaže imajo to moč, zato je po moje pomembno, kako in kam se jo usmerja.

    Ampak ne pomeni pa že vsako posojanje tudi že začetek napihovanja balona. Večina balonov se pojavlja v sferi finančnih papirjev (zaradi pohlepa finančnih institucij in posameznikov). Po moje lahko povpraševanje raste tudi brez napihovanja balona. Sta pa tu dve vprašanji: ali in kako zgodaj lahko eksces uvidimo in ali imamo potrebna orodja (in voljo) da ga ustavimo oz. korigiramo? In, ali se gospodarstvo lahko neskončno prilagaja v nove panoge, tržne niše in produkte in neskončno raste? Odgovor na drugo vprašanje je: verjetno ne. Če drugega ne, smo omejeni z s sfero našega planeta in končnostjo resursov.

    Del odgovora na prvo pa ponuja Keen, ko razlaga , da je ta temeljna distinkcija med ‘loanable funds’ oz. posojanju iz depozitov in ‘endogenous money’ oz. ustvarjanju denarja, bistvena za vso nadaljno teorijo. In ima prav, kajti, če drži prvo, potem lahko nivo zasebnega dolga zanemarimo oz. ga ne upoštevamo. Če pa drži drugo, potem je nivo zasebnega dolga ena bistvenih spremenljivk, ki jih moramo spremljati. Konec koncev pa je tako, da v praksi stvari delujejo kot delujejo. Operacionalna realnost monetarnih operacij je, kakršna je. Ne moremo imeti dveh različnih razlag. Stvar je samo v tem, da pogledamo, kako stvari delujejo v praksi. In tu pogrešam študije slovenskih avtorjev.

%d bloggers like this: