Helikopterski denar in amortizacijski pristop k beleženju javnih investicij

Laura Tyson (nekdanja vodja ekonomskih svetovalcev predsednika Billa Clintona) in Eric Labaye (McKinsey Global Institute) sta zadnja v seriji, ki sta se pridružila klubu (nenemških) ekonomistov, ki pravijo, da so vse druge opcije ekonomske politike bodisi že izčrpane ali pa ne delujejo v sedanji situaciji likvidnostne pasti, ničelnih (negativnih) obrestnih mer in stagnantnega povpraševanja. Ostane le še helikopterski denar, torej monetarno financiranje fiskalnih deficitov za spodbujanje rasti. Ob direktni razdelitvi transferjev (znižanju davkov) gospodinjstvom zagovarjata, seveda, predvsem javne investicije v javno infrastrukturo. Slednje imajo to lepo lastnost, da kratkoročno prek multiplikativnih učinkov spodbujajo gospodarsko rast, dolgoročno pa povečujejo produktivnost in gospodarski potencial. In v času likvidnostne pasti seveda ne izrinjajo zasebnih investicij. Nasprotno, nadomeščajo zasebne investicije, ker podjetja nočejo/si ne upajo investirati.

Kjučno pri njunem razmišljanju pa je predlog, o katerem se sicer se sicer že nekaj časa sramežljivo pogovarjajo tudi v Evropski komisiji, o spremembi računovodskih pravil BDP v smeri podjetniškega računovodskega pristopa k beleženju javnih investicij. Kapitalske investicije podjetij ne gredo v celoti v letne stroške, pač pa se beležijo in odpišejo kot amortizacija osnovnih sredstev v daljšem časovnem obdobju (med 2 in 30 let, v odvisnosti od vrste osnovnega sredstva). Če bi tudi infrastrukturne investicije države beležili na enak način, bi jih lahko izvzeli iz fiskalnih pravil in proračunski deficiti bi nenadoma postali bistveno manj problematični.

Seveda pa je v primeru “helikopterskega financiranja” javnih investicij to manj pomembno, saj državi javnega dolga, ki ga izda (obveznic, ki jih proda centralni banki) načeloma ni treba nikoli poplačati. Zato je način računovodskega zajemanja v ta namen nastalega dodatnega proračunskega deficita zgolj in samo lepotne narave.

The wave of corporate investment that was supposed to be unleashed by a combination of fiscal restraint (to rein in government debt) and monetary easing (to generate ultra-low interest rates) has never materialized. Instead, European companies slashed annual investment by more than €100 billion ($113 billion) a year from 2008 to 2015, and have stockpiled some €700 billion of cash on their balance sheets.

This is not surprising – businesses invest when they are confident about future demand and output growth. Even before the Brexit vote, European and other global companies were not confident in Europe’s prospects. Now they are confronting elevated risks of a European recession and the real possibility that both the UK and the EU could break up if populist contagion takes hold. Business investors hate uncertainty and the Brexit vote has created a dramatically more uncertain world in Europe and beyond.

Fiscal austerity and ultra-low interest rates have also proven ineffective at stimulating household demand – and they may be backfiring. When individuals cannot find decent yields, they may actually increase their savings to achieve their retirement goals. And in the typical European city, where land and affordable housing are in short supply, lower interest rates have been driving property prices higher rather than stimulating construction.

Proponents of helicopter money – directly crediting citizens with central bank funds, or crediting national treasuries to finance infrastructure and other demand-generating activities – rightly argue that it has the advantage of putting money directly into the hands of those who will spend it. An appropriately sized helicopter-money program might also raise inflation in a measured way, heading off the possibility of a Japanese-style deflationary trap.

A less risky and time-tested route for stimulating demand would be a significant increase in public infrastructure investment funded by government debt. It is well documented that Europe and the United States have underinvested in infrastructure. From a macroeconomic perspective, infrastructure investment is a “twofer”– it strengthens productivity and competitiveness in the long run and, where there is unused capacity, it boosts demand, output, and employment with significant multiplier effects in the short run.

Yet governments across Europe have clamped down on infrastructure spending for years, giving precedence to fiscal austerity and debt reduction in the misguided belief that government borrowing crowds out private investment and reduces growth. But the crowding-out logic applies only to conditions of full employment, conditions that clearly do not exist in most of Europe today.

In addition, infrastructure investment cannot be deferred forever. A new reckoning is warranted, one that accounts for the full costs of underinvestment in terms of foregone employment and growth.

One way to break the stalemate is a change in public accounting standards. Specifically, if governments were able to treat infrastructure investment just as companies treat capital expenditure – as balance-sheet assets that are depreciated over their lifecycle, rather than as one-off expenses – such investment could then be exempted from Europe’s deficit rules without opening the door to profligate spending or easing the pressure for credible plans for long-term fiscal-consolidation. Of course, it would be crucial to improve the planning and oversight of infrastructure projects simultaneously, as MGI has argued.

Vir: Laura Tyson & Eric Labaye, Project Syndicate

2 responses

  1. Kot mačka okoli vroče kaše……tj. glavnega problema: prerazdelitve. Gornji sloj si vzame preveč, zato spodnji sloji (ki so mimogrede v večini razvitih držav prezadolženi) ne morejo več trošiti.
    Javne investicije, vse lepo in prav, vendar to ne bo panacea.

    • Še veliko večji problem kot odsotnost prerazdeljevanja, je upadanje investicij, ponekog pravi štrajk investicij, ker lastniki kapitala s težavo najdejo dovolj profitabilne naložbe. Prerazdeljevanje jih ne bo spodbudilo k investicijam, sicer pa nihče ne ve kako prerazdeljevanje sploh izvesti, ker je kapital tako močan.

      Od vseh povezav tukaj zraven še toplo priporočam blog britanskega avtorja Michaela Robertsa, ki mislim, da res prepričljivo piše o tem v kakšnem sranju se je znašel globalni kapitalizem in o tem, da so nam dnevi do nove globalne recesije samo še šteti.

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