Zakaj ameriška politika QE deluje, evropska in japonska pa ne oziroma zakaj evropski in japonski centralni bančniki (še vedno) ne razumejo makroekonomije

Kot pravi kolega Črt, to je tema, ki zanima (ali jo razume) manj kot 10 ljudi  v Sloveniji. Pa vendar. Richard Koo, glavni ekonomist Nomura Research, sicer pa avtor koncepta “bilančne krize” (balance sheet recession) in knjig o japonski krizi ter o politiki QE in ki sem ga tukaj že nekajkrat navajal (tukaj, tukaj in tukaj), v zadnjem research briefu, povzetem v Financial Timesu, pojasnjuje, zakaj politika kvantitativnega sproščanja (QE) na Japonskem, v V. Britaniji in EU ni delovala, za razliko od ZDA.

Koo pravi, da za razliko Bena Bernankeja, prejšnjega predsednika Feda, guvernerji centralnih bank na Japonskem, v VB in evro območju ne razumejo, za kaj v tej krizi pravzaprav gre. Od vsega začetka trdijo, da bodo s politiko QE spodbudili posojilno aktivnost bank (torej povečali efektivno ponudbo denarja), s tem pa spodbudili inflacijo. Izhajajo namreč iz koncepta Miltona Friedmana, da je inflacija vedno in povsod monetarni fenomen, pri tem pa naredijo popolnoma neupravičeno predpostavko, da izdajanje primarnega denarja s strani centralnih bank pomeni tudi avtomatsko povečanje efektivne ponudbe denarja in s tem pospešitev rasti cen. Vendar pa do tega ne pride, ker pač v času bilančne krize vsa ta dodatna likvidnost ostane v poslovnih bankah, saj banke nimajo komu posojati. V bilančni krize se namreč prezadolžena podjetja in gospodinjstva masovno razdolžujejo, torej povečujejo varčevanje namesto najemanja novih kreditov. QE zato ne more dvigniti inflacije. Pika.

Draghi (ECB) je povečal primarni denar (monetarno bazo) za 125%, posojila pa so se povečala le za 0.85%. Kuroda (Bank of Japan) je povečal monetarno bazo za 174%, kreditiranje pa se je povečalo le za 9%. King (Bank of England) je povečal monetarno bazo za 4-krat (400%), pa je kreditiranje bank še vedno 15% izpod predkrizne ravni.

Ključna razlika med Bernankejem in ostalimi centralnimi bankirji, ki eksperimentirajo s politikami QE, je v tem, da se je Bernanke zavedal, da centralna banka nima nobene moči, da poveča efektivno ponudbo denarja, če preostali deli gospodarstva pospešeno varčujejo, namesto da bi se zadolževali. Kadar se v času krize zasebni sektor neto razdolžuje (več varčuje kot se dodatno zadolžuje), mora vskočiti nekdo drug, ki se neto zadolžuje in nadomesti izpad agregatnega povpraševanja. To pa lahko naredi samo država s povečanim deficitnim financiranjem. Država z dodatnim zadolževanjem dejansko poveča efektivno ponudbo denarja (povečana likvidnost, ki jo na trg pumpa centralna banka, iz poslovnih  bank najde pot do gospodarstva).

Zato se je Bernanke od vsega začetka boril proti temu, da bi ameriška vlada začela s fiskalno konsolidacijo (ki so jo zagovarjali republikanci in nekateri konzervativni ekonomisti), boril se je proti temu, da bi ameriško gospodarstvo padlo prek “fiskalnega klifa”. Bernanke je tukaj šel neposredno kontra svojemu učitelju Miltonu Friedmanu, ki je zagovarjal fiskalno konsolidacijo (restriktivno fiskalno politiko) ob ekspanzivni monetarni politiki. Eksplicitno je povedal, da v tem primeru Fed ne more narediti absolutno ničesar, s čimer bi lahko nadomestil ta izpad dodatnega zadolževanja (zmanjšanja efektivne ponudbe denarja).

No, ostali centralni bančniki v EU in na Japonskem so se za razliko od Bernankeja zavzemali za zategovanje pasu (politiko vladnega varčevanja, fiskalno konsolidacijo), s čimer so se ustrelili v koleno oziroma so izničili svoje napore z ekstremnim tiskanjem dodatnega denarja. Lahko so podvojili ali početverili ponudbo denarja poslovnim bankam, toda ker so hkrati zahtevali, da vlade zmanjšujejo deficite, so povzročili, da ta ponudba ni prišla do gospodarstva. S tem pa tudi ni prišlo do inflacije. Ameriška QE je bila uspešna zato, ker je bil Fed edina centralna banka, ki se je javno borila proti politiki zategavanja pasu.

Bernanke je razumel makroekonomijo, ostali centralni bankirji pač ne. Bernanke je razumel, da sta v takšni bilančni krizi potrebni tako ekspanzivna monetarna kot ekspanzivna fiskalna politika. Zavedal se je, da ključ do inflacije ne leži zgolj v tiskanju denarja, pač pa v spodbuditvi okrevanja gospodarstva. Samo rastoče gospodarstvo (dovolj veliko agregatno povpraševanje) lahko kot stranski produkt proizvede inflacijo, ne more pa tega narediti cetralna banka. Seveda se tukaj nahajamo na preseku razumevanja makroekonomije in ideologije. Slednja pač mnogim zamegli razum in pogled do te mere, da ne morejo več objektivno presojati.

Zanimivo, tudi Paul Krugman je bil še leta 1999 na strani monetaristov. Kot pravi Koo, se je v dveurni razpravi z njim postavil absolutno na stran Miltona Friedmana in da centralna banka lahko kadarkoli poveča (ali zmanjša) inflacijo. No, nekaj mesecev kasneje je, ko je izpeljeval formalni model likvidnostne pasti in razdolževanja naletel na mino: ugotovil je, da mu model kaže drugače, kot je prej trdil, zato je spremenil mnenje in od takrat zagovarja podobna stališča kot Koo.

Vsi se motimo, vsi imamo omejene informacije ali znanje in vsi lahko na tej osnovi napačno sklepamo. Toda pomembno je, da znamo v trenutku, ko vidimo, da so naši argumenti šibki v primerjavi z dejstvi ali nasprotnimi argumenti, priznati zmoto in sprejeti – dejstvom in argumentom – bolj ustrezno razlago (koncept, teorijo). Problem pa je, kadar vztrajamo na ideoloških prepričanjih, ki nimajo realne podlage. Na žalost je v makroekonomiji in ekonomski politiki tega ogromno. Ekstremno preveč.

Spodaj je nekaj odlomkov iz Koojevega komentarja, priporočam, da preberete celega v originalu.

All of these countries, however, have been in severe balance sheet recessions with the private sector as a group deleveraging massively in spite of zero or negative interest rates since the bursting of the asset bubbles in 2008 (1990 in the case of Japan). They have been deleveraging because the collapse of debt-financed bubbles left them with a huge debt overhang.

Even though a central bank can always inject as much liquidity as it wants into the banking sector via QE, for that money to actually enter the real economy the banks must lend money: the banks cannot give away money because those funds actually belong to the depositors. But if the private sector as a group is deleveraging, this liquidity cannot enter the real economy because of an absence of borrowers. This means the liquidity remains trapped within the financial system, leaving the central bank with no way to expand the money supply in the real economy.*

More specifically, money supply consists mostly of bank deposits, which is the liability of the banking system. But for the liability of the banking system to grow, the asset side of the banks must grow also—i.e., more lending. If the private sector is not borrowing, the banks cannot increase lending. Consequently, growth in both the money supply and bank lending in all of these countries has been modest at best.

In the UK, where Mr. Fisher boldly declared his country would not repeat Japan’s mistakes and increased the monetary base 400 per cent, lending remains nearly 15 per cent below pre-Lehman levels, and the nation’s economy continues to seesaw between periods of no inflation and periods of outright deflation, much like Japan.

In the Eurozone, where Mr. Draghi increased the monetary base by 125 per cent since he introduced QE in 2015, bank lending grew only 0.85 per cent, and the inflation rate has remained around zero.

In Japan, Mr. Kuroda increased the monetary base by 174 per cent since he introduced QE in 2013, but bank lending only increased by 9 per cent. That 9 per cent growth represents zero acceleration from that of his predecessor Mr. Shirakawa, and the inflation rate remains at zero.

The above demonstrates that the argument that “inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon,” as submitted by Mr. Friedman and Mr. Krugman, may be valid when there is strong private-sector demand for funds, but is basically nonsense during a balance sheet recession, when the private sector refuses to borrow despite zero or even negative interest rates.

While it can be argued that realized inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon, it makes no sense to say the central bank can always create inflation by expanding the money supply.

Bernanke and Yellen both understood this, and they used the expression “fiscal cliff” to warn the public about the danger posed by fiscal consolidation, which the Republicans and many orthodox economists supported.

The depth of Mr. Bernanke’s fear of fiscal consolidation can be gleaned from his press conference on April 25, 2012 when he was asked about what the Fed would do in case the Congress pushed the US economy off the fiscal cliff. His response was: “There is … absolutely no chance that the Federal Reserve could or would have any ability whatsoever to offset that effect on the economy.”

Even though the US came mighty close to falling off the fiscal cliff on a number of occasions including government shut downs, sequester and debt-ceiling debates, it managed to stay away from it thanks to the efforts of those at the Fed. And that is why it is doing much better than Europe where virtually everyone fell off the fiscal cliff.

Mr. Bernanke had previously stated that he was a direct disciple of Milton Friedman, who was stridently opposed to fiscal stimulus, but in the end he saved the US economy by supporting a policy that ran contrary to the views of his teacher.

In short, he understood that the economy in balance sheet recession is doomed without government acting as borrower of last resort and that the impact of quantitative easing is limited to portfolio rebalancing effects, which would be far from sufficient to offset the headwind that would come from fiscal austerity. The US economy is doing better because Mr. Bernanke prevented the government from abdicating its responsibility as the borrower of last resort.

Other central banks supported austerity

This sets him apart from his counterparts in Japan, the UK and Europe. In the UK, the then BOE Governor Mervyn King strongly supported David Cameron’s rather draconian austerity measures, arguing that his bank’s QE policy would support the UK economy. At that time the UK private sector was saving a whopping 10 per cent of GDP at the lowest interest rate in 300 years. That decision led to the disastrous UK economy during the first two years of the Cameron administration and prompted George Osborne, Cameron’s Chancellor of Exchequer, to ask a Canadian to head the BOE.

The BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda also argued strongly in favor of hiking the consumption tax rate, believing that the Japanese economy supported by his QE is strong enough to withstand the shock. This is in spite of the fact that the Japanese private sector at that time was saving close to 7 per cent of GDP at zero interest rates. The hike, which was implemented in April 2014, threw the Japanese economy back into a recession, and the global enthusiasm for Abenomics evaporated completely thereafter.

President Draghi of ECB has been insisting on member governments meeting the austerity target imposed by the Growth and Stability Pact at every press conference he holds since he got the top job, even though his forecasts on inflation have been revised downwards almost every time a new forecast is announced. He seems to be completely unaware of the danger posed by fiscal austerity when the Eurozone private sector has been saving on average 5 per cent of GDP since 2008 at zero or even negative interest rates.

These consistent failures suggest that these central bankers do not (or did not in the case of Mervyn King) have the correct model of their economies in their heads. In particular, they not only did not realize that their private sectors have been saving so much, but also pushed their governments to abdicate their responsibilities as borrower of last resort.

The US is doing better than the rest not because its QE worked better, but because it is the only country with a central bank that openly argued against fiscal austerity.

How do people outside the rarefied world of central banking view quantitative easing? Households and business executives in the real economies of Japan, the US, the UK and Europe are either in the process of repairing their balance sheets or are still suffering from the after-effect of debt trauma. As a result, quantitative easing has not prompted any change in their behaviour. If it had, they would have resumed borrowing money, which should have resulted in measurable growth in both bank lending and the money supply.

In other words, households and businesses facing balance sheet problems all understood that the argument made by Friedman and Krugman—that there were always people willing to borrow money as long as real interest rates were low enough—simply did not apply in today’s world.

Vir: Richard Koo, Financial times

2 responses

  1. Spomnim se seje slovenske vlade kjer je Finančni minister Križanič po tem ko je prišel iz sestanka euoskupine razlagal kolegom kaj je problem evropskega soočanja s finančno krizo. Govoril je točno to kar govori Richrad Koo. No njegovi kolegi, da slovenskih ekonomistov niti ne omenjam, so ga nabili na sramotni steber….

  2. V bistvu gre za navadno razredno vojno. Politiki in centralni bankirji, ki podpirajo t.i. fiskalno konsolidacijo dobro vedo, da v takem okolju delo izgublja vrednost, delavske pravice se nižajo, visoka brezposelnost vztraja, obupani proletariat pa je vir sedanjih in bodočih dobičkov. To delajo namerno, ne zaradi kakega pomanjkanja strokovne presoje.

    Razlika med EU in ZDA je v tem, da so tam delavske pravice že tako ali tako nižje, delavci še bolj izkoriščani, delavniki so daljši, neenakost je večja, t.i. fiskalna konsolidacija pa bi res lahko pripeljala do nevarne ljudske eksplozije. Pa še mandat njihove centralne banke je bolj progresiven. Izvajalce t.i. fiskalne konsolidacije je pač treba preko ulice nagnati, ker strokovno gledano zagotovo dobro razumejo kaj se dogaja, ampak pri tem vztrajajo.

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