Je moderna monetarna teorija mimo oziroma je financiranje državnih deficitov s strani centralne banke res pogubno?

Peter Bofinger, nekdanji razumni del nemške skupine modrecev (sveta ekonomskih svetovalcev) je napisal zelo razumno razlago, zakaj moderna monetarna teorija (MMT) ni lunatična, kot trdijo nekateri znani ekonomisti. Na kratko, ta veja neortodoksnih MMT ekonomistov, ki jo mainstream ekonomisti tiščijo na margino, trdi, da bi bil miks politik, kjer bi ekpanzivno fiskalno politiko (povečane deficite držav) financirali neposredno z odkupom državnih obveznic s strani centralne banke (z ekpanzivno monetarno politiko), precej bolj učinkovit. Gre za monetarno financiranje fiskalne politike, katere ena izmed oblik je helikopterski denar. Mainstream ekonomisti (med njimi tudi Krugman in Summers) trdijo, da je to slaba ideja in da bi centralnobančno financiranje državnih deficitov vodilo v hiperinflacijo.

Preden se dogmatski in ortodoskni verniki neoklasike, neomonetarizma in neokeynesianizma razhudijo, je potrebno razčistiti troje. Prvič, monetarno financiranje fiskalne politike se uporablja zgolj v skrajnih primerih, denimo v času likvidnostne pasti (nizke inflacije in ničelnih obrestnih mer). Drugič, to lahko počnejo zgolj države, ki so monetarno avtonomne (izdajajo dolg v svoji valuti). In tretjič, tovrstno monetarno financiranje fiskalne politike centralne banke že de facto počnejo v okviru politike kvantitativnega sproščanja (QE). Razlika je le v tem, da pri QE centralne banke državne obveznice odkupujejo na (sekundarnem) kapitalskem trgu (od finančnih institucij), pri monetarnem financiranju pa neposredno od vlade v primarni emisiji. Razlika je de facto zgolj formalna, vsebinsko pa gre za isto zadevo.

Bolj pomembno pa je, kar Bofinger lepo pedagoško razloži v okviru standardnega IS-LM modela, da je monetarno financiranje fiskalne politike neprimerno bolj učinkovito kot navadno deficitno financiranje fiskalne politike. Medtem ko bi pri deficitnem financiranju izdaja novih državnih obveznic lahko vplivala na dvig obrestne mere in s tem na izrivanje zasebnih investicij (crowding out), pa pri monetarnem financiranju tega učinka ni. Saj z odkupom državnih obveznic centralne banke povečajo tudi ponudbo denarja in pride do nevtralizacije dviga obrestne mere. Lahko pride celo do znižanja obrestne mere, kar bi imelo vpliv na privabitev zasebnih investicij (crowding in). Miks obeh (fiskalne in monetarne) ekpanzivnih politik je mnogo bolj učinkovit kot ločeno delovanje obeh.

V glavnem, v razmerah (pre)nizke inflacije in ničelnih obrestnih mer (likvidnostna past), ni potrebe po bojazni, da bi neposredno monetarno financiranje fiskalne politike vodilo v hiperinflacijo. Je celo neprimerno bolj odgovorno kot odkupovanje vrednostnih papirjev od finančnih institucij in podjetij, kjer kupnine nato končajo v obliki močno povečanih, neizkoriščenih depozitov na bankah. Nekdanji predsednih FED Ben Bernanke je ta način financiranja (helikopterski denar) pozdravil in kot pogoj postavil, da mora centralna banka ohraniti neodvisnost pri odločanju, kolikšne količine državnih obveznic bo odkupila.

Modern monetary theory (MMT) has in recent weeks been strongly criticised by leading Keynesian macroeconomists: Paul Krugman (here too), Kenneth Rogoff and Larry Summers. This reaction is surprising, as the theoretical core of MMT can be easily reconciled with standard macroeconomic principles.

If one focuses on the macroeconomics of MMT—leaving aside the associated proposal of a universal job guarantee—its core idea is that government deficits can be financed directly by the central bank. Conventionally, governments have financed their deficits by issuing bonds sold on the capital market.

The confusion can be explained by the fact that, so far, the mechanisms of MMT have not been presented in a simple macroeconomic model. A framework which allows the basic mechanics of MMT to be described is provided by the textbook ‘IS/LM’ model.

If one assumes that a deficit is caused by additional government spending, the higher demand for goods shifts the IS curve to the right (Figures 1 and 2). This effect is independent of the financing of the deficit. If the deficit is financed traditionally, by issuing bonds, the money supply remains constant and the LM curve is unchanged. Together with the upward shift of the IS curve the interest rate then goes up (Figure 1) and the higher public expenditures ‘crowd out’ private investments.

In the case of MMT—where the additional government spending is directly financed by the central bank—the LM curve shifts too. Suppose the government pays an invoice to a construction company. To do so, it makes a transfer from its central-bank account to the account of the construction company with a commercial bank. This transaction increases the reserves of the bank as well as the deposits of the construction company. Thus, the monetary base (reserves of commercial banks with the central bank) and the money stock M1 (deposits of private households or companies with commercial banks) increase. In the IS/LM model, the resulting increase in money supply causes a downward shift in the LM curve.

Overall, direct central-bank financing magnifies the expansionary effects of additional government spending (Figure 2). It avoids, at least in part, the rise in interest rates that is caused by capital-market financing (unchanged LM curve) in this model. The financial crowding out of private investors that Krugman fears can be at least partly avoided (LM1). Depending on the extent of the shifts in the IS and LM curves, crowding out can be fully avoided (LM2) and the result may even be an interest-rate decline (LM3), which would lead to more private investment. Abba Lerner, the 1943 inventor of functional finance, explicitly addressed this possibility of a ‘crowding in’.

Interpreted in this way, the effects of MMT financing do not fundamentally differ from the monetary policy pursued in Japan for many years. There, the government financed huge deficits traditionally, issuing sovereign bonds on the capital market. By purchasing these bonds from non-banks—insurance companies, for instance—in its large ‘quantitative easing’ programmes, the central bank generated an increase in the money supply (higher bank deposits on the part of non-banks) and the monetary base (higher reserves of commercial banks with the central bank as a corollary of its increased liabilities with non-banks).

This combination of traditional capital-market financing of deficits with QE purchases by the central bank leads to the same result as the direct financing of deficits by the central bank which MMT supporters advocate. The LM curve shifts downwards.

Of course, MMT financing can be also considered in the context of a horizontal LM curve, which implies that the central bank targets the interest rate. In this case the central bank has to sterilise the impact of the increase of MMT financing on the monetary base and the money stock. This requires that the central bank sells bonds to non-banks, which can be regarded as reverse quantitative easing. With such a policy, a financial crowding out of private investment can be prevented.

As with any therapy, so with MMT—the dose makes the poison. The example of Japan makes it clear that such a policy can be carried out even in a fairly high dosage without leading to inflation. In fact Japan is still in a deflationary environment. In addition, there was never an indication that the record high government debt had a detrimental effect on the trust of international investors in the Japanese currency.  On the contrary, the exchange rate was too strong for most of the time, rather than too weak.

In essence, MMT differs from the macroeconomic policy operated in Japan for years only in that it provides for a coupling of expansive monetary and fiscal policies. In Japan, by contrast, the two policies are effected separately, albeit in a quite co-ordinated manner.

Surprisingly aggressive

Given such a sober look at MMT financing, it is surprising that leading economists have responded so aggressively to this concept. Rogoff speaks of ‘all the nonsense about MMT’. He quotes the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell—‘The idea that deficits don’t matter for countries that can borrow in their own currency I think is just wrong’—and adds that the deficit idea is ‘just nuts’.

But it’s always a question of the right dose. Especially in the years 2009-12, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States were running very high deficits, which obviously did not matter to them. And, with massive bond purchases from non-banks, the central banks of these countries provided the parallel expansion of the money stock which kept interest rates at very low levels.

And both sides should also be able to agree that the combination of expansive fiscal policy and expansive monetary policy is a very powerful tool, which should be used if needed and at the same time handled with great care. Once again: it is the dose that makes the poison.

Vir: Peter Bofinger, Social Europe

 

4 responses

  1. Gre za opis politike , ki poteka v Evropi že nekaj časa v večjem ali manjšem obsegu.

    Gre pa še za en faktor, ki je le mimogrede omenjen – deflacijo. Le to poganjata presežna ponudba na svetovnih trgih in izjemno povečanje produktivnosti zaradi tehnološkega napredka. Centralne banke bi morale ta efekt nevtralizirati v vsakem primeru.

    Ima pa ta politika nek problem, ki ga avtorji ne omenjajo. Nizke obrestne mere in obilica investicijskih sredstev vplivajo na (nižjo) kvaliteto investicij oz. na precenjenost finančnih naložb (glej samo P/E; ki je 2x večji od zgodovinskega povprečja).

    Kako bi lahko rešili ta problem? Mogoče na način, ki danes pomeni čisto bogoskrunstvo (v svetu svetih krav – nedotakljivih, neodvisnih oz. nikomur odgovornih centralnih bank). Tako, da centralne banke direktno financirajo strateške državne infrastrukturne investicije. S tem bi se izognili direktnemu vplivu na finančne trge. Posledica bi bilo povečanje agregatnega povpraševanja, pozitivni vpliv na proračun države in to, da finančni sektor (predvsem privatne banke) pri tem ne bi služile.

    Se vam zdi to nemogoče? Verjetno imate prav. Prav to je naredila Nemčija po letu 1933 z izjemnim vplivom na ponovno rast ekonomije.
    Včasih se sprašujem, če ni bilo tudi to eno izmed manj znanih razlogov za vojno….

  2. Pred kratkim sem v prispevku o problematiki emisij toplogrednih plinov v Evropi na tem blogu predlagal, da se na nivoju EU ustanovi Podnebna banka, ki bi financirala projekte za zmanjševanje emisij toplogrednih plinov s potencialom 200 mrd letno. To bi lahko zagotovila ECB na način, naveden v tem članku. Bi to šlo?

  3. Drago,
    Bistveno bolj enostavno je, da EIB izda (podnebne, infrastrukturne, …) obveznice, ki jih odkupi ECB v okviru asset purchase programa (QE), namesto nesmiselnega odkupovanja državnih obveznic od bank in drugih finančnih institucij.

    Bo pa problem tega, da (1) dogmatiki na EU ravni tega ne bodo dopustili, in (2) tudi če bi, bi šibke države tukaj potegnile kratko, ker bi države dobile kvote po BDP ključu, ne pa po dejanskih potrebah.

%d bloggers like this: