Trajnejši vpliv korona krize na znižanje povpraševanja in nevarnost depresije

Zaprtje dela gospodarstva zaradi korona krize in predvsem psihološki učinki zaradi povečane negotovosti po izbruhu epidemije imajo lahko trajnejši negativni učinek na trošenje posameznikov. S tem pa tudi na kratkoročno in srednjeročno agregatno povpraševanje. Na žalost uradna statistika ni zelo uporabna pri spremljanju dinamike povpraševanja v realnem času, saj podatke o industrijski prodaji dobimo z zamikom približno meseca in pol, podatke o prodaji storitev (prek podatkov o četrtletnem BDP) pa dobimo šele skoraj 2 meseca po koncu četrtletja. Za spremljanje gospodarske dinamike v realnem času si raziskovalci tako pomagamo z različnimi proxy spremenljivkami, kot so poraba električne energije in Google mobility data. Za spremljanje dinamike povpraševanja pa so se kot koristni pokazali podatki o nakupih s plačilnimi karticami (študija za Dansko) ter različne ankete med potrošniki, kot je nova študija za ZDA (Coibion, Gorodnichenko & Weber, 2020).

Medtem ko je študija za Dansko pokazala, da so nakupi potrošnikov v aprilu upadli za četrtino, najbolj pa seveda trajnih potrošnih dobrin, pa študija Coibiona in kolegov omogoča tudi vpogled v pričakovanja potrošnikov. Medtem ko ugotavljajo, da so ameriška gospodinjstva med januarjem in aprilom zmanjšala potrošnjo za dobrih 30%, pa ugotavljajo, da so potrošniki za dobro četrtino sklestili načrte glede nakupov večjih trajnih dobrin v naslednjih 12 mesecih. Ob povečanju tveganj glede zaposlitve, se povečuje negotovost. To nakazuje trajnejši šok za agregatno povpraševanje tudi na srednji rok. Hkrati pa študija ugotavlja,  da so potrošniki začeli zaostajati s plačili anuitet kreditov, kar nakazuje na povečano tveganje glede osebnih bankrotov in povečana tveganja za bančni sektor.

Ključni nauk iz teh podatkov, kot ugotavljajo tudi avtorji, je nevarnost trajnejše recesije, kar bi prek učinka histereze (negativni učinek traja tudi zatem, ko so bili vzroki za šok že odpravljeni) povzročilo dolgotrajnejšo luknjo v agregatnem povpraševanju (depresijo). Avtorji, tudi v skladu z mojimi pogledi, priporočajo uporabo nekonvencionalnih ukrepov za zmanjšanje tega šoka, da se ne razvije v trajnejšo depresijo, in sicer trajnejši fiskalni stimulus, oprostitev (dela) dolgov ranljivih skupin, državni prevzemi najbolj prizadetih podjetij in še bolj agresivno odkupovanje državnih obveznic s strani centralnih bank.

Ne glede na to, ali so takšni ukrepi komu všeč ali ne, konvencionalni ukrepi v tej situaciji ne delujejo. Monetarna politika (prek zniževanja obresti in povečevanja likvidnosti v finančnem sistemu) v času ničelnih obrestnih mer in velike negotovosti pač ne deluje. Tokrat je treba spodbujati trošenje gospodinjstev in države (investicije), in to hitro, preden se recesija razvleče v trajnejšo depresijo.

Using several waves of a customised survey on all households participating in the Kilts Nielsen Consumer Panel (KNCP) that elicit beliefs, employment status, spending, and portfolio allocations both before and during the COVID-19 crisis, we are able to provide new real-time estimates on the changing economic landscape and identify the role of lockdown policies in contributing to the downturn. In Coibion et al. (2020b), we report aggregate statistics across survey waves to suggest how the arrival of COVID-19 affected spending patterns and expectations on average between the pre-crisis wave in January 2020 and April 2020. Consistent with earlier work (Bick and Blandin 2020, Coibion et al. 2020a) documenting a sharp decline in employment, we find that consumer spending for a typical US household dropped by $1,000 per month between January and April, which corresponds to a 31% drop in overall spending.

At the extensive margin, respondents under lockdown are less likely to purchase larger ticket items in the next 12 months and, even if they plan to do so, they expect to spend almost 26% less. Taken together, these results indicate a persistent drop in future aggregate demand, reflecting lower expected income, heightened uncertainty, and supply restrictions.

Strikingly, we find one of the largest drops occurring for debt payments such as mortgages, student, and auto loans. This result highlights the possibility of a wave of defaults over the next few months, which could ultimately affect the financial system, slow the economic recovery, and explain the recent increase in loan provisions by major US banks. Households also spent substantially less on discretionary expenses (such as transportation, travel, recreation, entertainment, clothing, and housing-related expenses) and decreased their planned spending on durables, with an average drop in spending on durables of almost $1,000, consistent with evidence by Carvalho et al. (2020) and Chronopoulos et al. (2020).

In line with these negative outcomes at the individual level, households’ macroeconomic expectations have become far more pessimistic. Average perceptions of the current unemployment rate increased by 11 percentage points, with similar magnitudes for expectations of unemployment one year from now. Unemployment expectations over the next three to five years also increased, indicating that households expect the downturn to have persistently negative effects on the labour market in accordance with increased anxiety (see Fetzer at al. 2020). Consistent with this view, inflation expectations over the next twelve months dropped sharply on average while uncertainty increased. Current mortgage rate perceptions as well as expectations for the end of 2021 dropped on average by about 0.4 percentage points, with even larger drops in average expectations over the next five to ten years. Hence, the pandemic has resulted in a level shift in the term structure of mortgage rates. The negative effect on long-run expectations suggests that the lower bound on nominal interest rates might be a binding constraint for monetary policy makers for the foreseeable future. Increased uncertainty at the household level and the large drop in planned spending point toward some form of liquidity insurance to curb the desire for precautionary spending and stimulate demand once local lockdowns are lifted (D’Acunto et al. 2020).

In summary, we find that the declines in employment and spending can be largely attributed to lockdowns rather than to the share of the population infected by the coronavirus. We cannot establish whether this economic cost is sufficiently small to justify lockdown policies that likely save many thousands of lives. However, our analysis should inform policymakers about at least one part of the trade-off they face, because these costs are relevant in thinking about how long to maintain lockdown policies, especially since the costs are likely increasing with duration. The significant costs that we identify suggest that policymakers should be wary of focusing only on the benefits of lockdown policies and not carefully weighing them against their costs. Our analysis should also provide input for policies aimed at mitigating the consequences of the COVID recession. For example, we document that many households effectively default on their debt payments and rents which may start a wave of bankruptcies and evictions and thus delay the recovery. Low expectations for inflation and mortgage interest rates will likely limit the power of monetary policy.

While households expect normalcy to return within six months, the ferocity and speed of this storm is such that the damage may be persistent. To avoid adverse hysteresis-like scenarios, policymakers may have to consider less conventional measures such as extended periods of fiscal stimulus, debt forgiveness, taking stakes in businesses (including financial institutions), and more aggressive quantitative easing.

Vir: Coibion et al, 2020, VoxEU

 

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