Cena varčevanja: fiskalno stiskanje uničuje tudi banke

Chris Dillow opozarja na – s strani lastnikov kapitala in njihovih medijskih izpostav – prezrto dejstvo: politika fiskalnega varčevanja oziroma zategovanje pasu ni neposredno škodljiva zgolj za javne uslužbence in prejemnike socialnih transferjev (in za gospodarsko rast), pač pa tudi uničuje banke. Posledica politike varčevanja je namreč nižja gospodarska rast in (pre)nizka (ali negativna) inflacija, proti kateri se države borijo z zalivanjem trgov s presežno likvidnostjo in ničelnimi obrestnimi merami. Vendar pa tudi to ne deluje, zato sedaj centralne banke v obupu eksperimentirajo z negativnimi obrestnimi merami, da bi tako prisilile banke, da začnejo posojati gore denarja, ki so jih dobile od centralne banke. Toda ničelne obrestne mere so davek na banke, s čimer najedajo samo substanco bank (njihove dobičke in vrednost njihovih delnic) oziroma kapital njihovih lastnikov. Drugače rečeno, bogati (lastniki kapitala), ki stiskajo reveže prek vplivanja na vlade, naj šparajo (klestijo proračune), s tem uničujejo tudi svoje premoženje.

Kako to, da tega do sedaj še niso dojeli?

The FT reports that the sharp fall in banking stocks so far this year is due in part to fears of more negative interest rates.  This is because negative rates are in effect a tax on banks: banks have to pay the ECB and BoJ to deposit with it. JP Koning might be right to say that banks will eventually find a way of passing this tax onto others – say, by charging customers for deposits – but stock markets don’t agree with him (yet?).

The link between this and austerity should be obvious. Negative rates are a response to weak economic growth. But growth is weak because fiscal policy isn’t loose enough. A looser fiscal policy would prevent the need for negative rates, thus removing the potential pressure on banks’ profits.

In this sense, the costs of fiscal austerity are widespread. Not only do they fall upon public sector workers and benefit recipients, but they are also being suffered by savers who face nugatory interest rates and bank shareholders (and bankers themselves!) who are hit by fears of a de facto tax.

This poses the question: why isn’t this more widely realized? Why is anti-austerity seen as a minority left-wing position when it would in fact have wider benefits?

One reason, as I’ve said, is that people are lousy at making connections: they just don’t join the dots between fiscal austerity and low interest rates. And our illiterate media don’t help them.

A second reason is that anti-austerity comes as part of a package. A fiscal expansion might be good for bankers. But in many countries, this would come with policies they don’t fancy so much, such as higher taxes and more regulation. For some reason, right-wing anti-austerity isn’t on the table. 

Vir: Chris Dillow

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