Nova raziskava: Politika varčevanja kriva za globljo recesijo in višji dolg

Da je politika varčevanja – države – v času ekonomske krize, ko potrošniki ne želijo trošiti, podjetja pa si ne upajo (ali ne morejo) investirati, kaže že zdrava kmečka pamet, tudi če ne poznate definicijske enačbe za BDP. Jasna ni samo ideološkim jastrebom, ki pod pretvezo računovodske logike želijo izkoristiti vsako krizo za zmanjšanje javnih izdatkov. Do zdaj so tudi vse analize za obdobje sedanje krize pokazale, da je bila uradno forsirana politika varčevanja (“fiskalna konsolidacija”) v EU pogubna in da je zgolj še bolj poglobila krizo in povečala javni dolg.

Danes je bila na NBER objavljena nova raziskava House, Proebsting & Tesar (2017) na to temo. Njihove ugotovitve, ki tudi potrjujejo kontraproduktivne učinke politike varčevanja v času krize, je mogoče strniti v štiri točke:

  1. Znižanje javnih izdatkov za 1% BDP zniža BDP za 2%. Negativno pa vpliva tudi na zasebno povpraševanje, investicije in inflacijo, pozitiven vpliv je le na povečanje neto izvoza (prek depreciacije tečaja);
  2. Če EU države ne bi izvajale politike varčevanja, bi bil njihov BDP leta 2014 na ravni predkriznega namesto za 3% nižjega, kot je bil dejansko dosežen. V pet GIPSI državah bi se brez prisile v fiskalno konsolidacijo izguba BDP zmanjšala iz 18% na zgolj 1%;
  3. Zaradi politike varčevanja se je javni dolg glede na BDP še povečal, namesto da bi se zmanjšal, kot je bil proklamirani razlog za varčevanje (ker je pač BDP padel za 2-krat bolj kot deficit);
  4. Če bi države z evrom bile monetarno samostojne, bi bil padec BDP za GIPSI države manjši, ker bi lažje deprecirale svoje nominalne tečaje in stimulirale izvoz.

Več podrobnosti lahko preberete spodaj oziroma v paperju.

Our goal is to document cross-country differences in economic performance since 2010 and to study the extent to which the differences can be explained by macroeconomic policy. We first construct measures of austerity shocks that occurred during the 2010 to 2014 period. We find that austerity in government purchases – defined as a reduction in government purchases that is larger than that implied by reduced-form forecasting regressions – is statistically associated with below-forecast GDP in the cross-section. The cross-sectional multiplier on government purchases is greater than one even after controlling for alternative measures of credit spreads and debt ratios. The negative relationship between austerity in government purchases and GDP is robust to the method used to forecast both GDP and government purchases in the 2010 to 2014 period, and holds for countries with fixed exchange rates as well as those with flexible exchange rates. Austerity in government purchases is also negatively associated with consumption, investment, GDP growth and inflation. In terms of international variables, a shortfall in government purchases is associated with an increase in net exports and a depreciation of the trade-weighted nominal exchange rate. In general, these relationships are robust to the country’s exchange rate regime though, not surprisingly, the impact on exchange rates is smaller and the impact on net exports larger for countries within the euro area and those with exchange rates fixed to the euro.

We develop a multi-country DSGE model to make comparisons between the predictions from our model and macroeconomic data for 2010-2014. The model features trade in intermediate goods, sticky prices, hand-to-mouth consumers, and financial frictions that drive a wedge between the marginal product of capital and the user cost of capital. The model is calibrated to reflect relative country size, trade flows and financial linkages, and the country’s exchange rate regime. The model incorporates shocks to government purchases, the cost of credit, and monetary policy. We focus on these three shocks because there is broad agreement that these factors played an important role in shaping the reaction to the Great Recession.

The benchmark model generates predictions that are consistent with data. In both the cross-sectional data and the model, a one percent reduction in government purchases is associated with a two percent reduction in GDP. As in the data, the model generates a positive relationship between austerity and net exports and a strong negative relationship between austerity and inflation. We use our model to conduct a number of counterfactual experiments. The model suggests that had countries not experienced austerity shocks, aggregate output in the EU10 would have been only roughly equal to its pre-crisis level rather than an output loss of 3 percent. The output losses in the GIIPS economies (Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain) would have been cut from nearly 18 percent below trend by the end of 2014 to only 1 percent below trend.

Allowing European nations to pursue independent monetary policy in the face of austerity shocks helps limit the drop in GDP. Relative to the benchmark model, allowing countries to have independent monetary policy would raise output for the GIIPS economies but would reduce output for the EU10. This is because the nominal exchange rate depreciates in the GIIPS region, stimulating exports and output. In contrast, under the euro, the EU10 already enjoys the export advantage of a relatively weak currency.

Finally, the model also allows us to consider the dynamics of the debt-to-GDP ratio under different conditions. The main rationale for austerity is to reduce debt and bring debt-to-GDP ratios back to historical norms. However, according to our model, reductions in government spending had a sufficiently severe contractionary effect on economic activity that debt-to-GDP ratios in some countries actually increased as a consequence of austerity.

Vir: House, Proebsting & Tesar (2017), Austerity in the Aftermath of the Great Recession, NBER, Februar 2017.

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