Vprašljiva logika v ozadju Fedovega dviga obrestnih mer

Če kitajski borzni zlom oziroma delni pok balona povezujete s Fedovim dvigom obrestnih mer, imate najbrž prav. Tak strah je v svetu globalne mobilnosti kapitala in do skrajnosti napolnjenih kapitalskih in nepremičninskih balonov v hitro rastočih državah v razvoju več kot upravičen. Prav tako kot strah, da bo prehiter dvig obrestnih mer zavrl domače okrevanje.

Katera logika torej žene Fed, da se tako boji galopirajoče inflacije? Da bodo zaradi nizke stopnje brezposelnosti oziroma polne zaposlenosti plače ponorele, inflacija plač pa bo pognala še inflacijo cen? Toda v Fedu pozabljajo, da ameriški trg dela danes (zaradi prekarnosti delovnih mest in ekstremno nizke moči sindikatov) že zdavnaj in niti približno ni več takšen, kot je bil pred štirimi desetletji, ko je pustošila visoka inflacija. The Economist ima tukaj zelo dober point:

Why might the Fed need to tighten abruptly? The only reason to do so would be for fear that tightening gradually in the face of rising inflation would not prevent the emergence of an inflationary spiral between wages and prices, pushed ahead by rising inflation expectations. Most of the members of the Fed’s monetary-policy committee began their professional careers in the 1970s or early 1980s, a period characterised by high inflation—and, eventually, by Fed-induced recessions intended to wring inflationary pressures out of the economy. Central bankers frequently cite the credibility won by monetary-policy makers of the day as a hard-earned, near-sacred thing, which they dare not put at risk.

But today’s economy looks nothing like the economy of the 1970s. Then, labour markets were far more organised; private-sector union density, which peaked at 36% in 1945 and remained above 20% until the mid-1980s, now stands at just 7%. Then, many more workers laboured within large corporations, on contracts with built-in cost-of-living increases tied to the rate of inflation. Then, the world was far less globalised and the automation of the digital age was only beginning to ramp up, leaving employers with many fewer options to adjust the structure of production to accommodate higher wages. Then, crucially, it was not clear that central banks could rein in inflation, nor was it at all obvious that the central banks of the 1970s particularly wanted to rein in inflation.

Things are very different now. The typical American worker is in effect a price-taker; workers of modest skill levels have very little bargaining power in comparison with their peers a generation ago. Unsurprisingly, wage growth has been remarkably subdued during the last three recoveries, despite very low unemployment rates. Were workers nonetheless able to secure faster wage increases, firms have many ways to reduce reliance on less-skilled labour. Were firms nonetheless forced by high wages to begin raising prices, those higher prices would not feed automatically into wage increases. And given the hawkish bias of the Fed over the last generation, even a true wage-price spiral would be highly unlikely to translate into a sustained rise in longer-term inflation expectations, unless the Fed explicitly indicated it wanted such a thing to occur.

Indeed, the problem throughout the recovery has been that Americans seem very disinclined to believe that the Fed really wants higher inflation. The Fed seems not to realise that it is risking America’s recovery out of fear of an inflationary dynamic that it ruthlessly and utterly eliminated three decades ago.

Vir: The Economist

%d bloggers like this: