Evropske države se pripravljajo, da bi v stopnjevanju sankcij proti Rusiji prenehale uvažati energente iz Rusije. (Mimogrede, tukaj je števec, koliko so evropske države plačale za ruske energente po začetku ruske invazije na Ukrajino. V tem trenutku smo pri 10 milijardah evrov). Lahko da se bodo za ta korak odločile, …vendar po zaključku kurilne sezone in ko najdejo nadomestne vire, če nočejo, da njihova industrija poklekne zaradi izpada energije in če nočejo, da so njihovi prebivalci naslednjo jesen in zimo na mrazu in v temi.
V spodnjem tvitu je struktura porabe energije v Nemčiiji v 2021. Kot lahko vidite, Nemčija zagotavlja le 16% porabljene energije iz obnovljivih virov (pa še od tega je več kot polovica iz biomase, le 5.2% iz sonca in vetra), več kot tri četrtine energije je iz fosilnih virov (premog, nafta, plin). In če seštejete deleže uvoza slednjih iz Rusije, lahko vidite, da Nemčija kar 30% svoje porabljene energije pridobiva iz uvoženih energentov iz Rusije.
Nemčija je zaradi svoje velikosti (količinsko velikega uvoza energije) in napačnega energetskega modela v zadnjih dveh desetletjih (stava na OVE vetra in sonca, zapiranje jedrskih elektrarn ter proizvodnja treh četrtin energetskih potreb s fosilnimi viri, od tega 30% z ruskimi viri) v najtežjem položaju. Težko bo našla zadovoljive nadomestne količine energentov izven Rusije. Glavni problem so plinovodi, ki seveda vodijo v Rusijo in bi Nemčija morala investirati v nove plinovode proti južni Evropi, da bi lahko prišla do severnoafriškega plina. To pa traja leta. Prav tako postavitev terminalov za LNG (utekočinjen zemeljski plin).
Si lahko Nemčija privošči, da takoj in povsem preneha z uvozom ruskih energentov? Na papirju ja.
Spodaj je povzetek ekonomskih analiz (vir: Adam Tooze), ki so bile predstavljene v prejšnjem tednu. Modelske ocene kažejo, da prenehanje uvoza ruskih energentov za Nemčijo niti ne bi bil tako dramatičen – ocene segajo med padcem BDP v 2022 za nekaj nad 0% do 5%. Torej med “manageable” in šokom na ravni Covid krize.
Naj povem, da so mnenja nemških ekonomistov med seboj zelo divergentna in da obstaja velika skepsa do analiz, ki kažejo zelo nizke ekonomske “stroške” prenehanja uvoza ruskih energentov. Še večja pa je skepsa nemških ministrstev za gospodarstvo in finance do vseh analiz.
Še precej večja pa je moja skepsa do teh analiz. Zakaj? Kot nekdo, ki uporablja tovrstne makroekonomske modele (ki temeljijo na “computable general equilibrium” (CGE) osnovi) za oceno ukrepov ekonomskih politik, lahko rečem, da takšnega šoka, kot je zaprtje uvoza ruskih energentov, v takšnih modelih sploh ni mogoče realistično oceniti. Preprosto zato, ker ti modeli niso narejeni za to, da bi z njimi lahko ocenjevali učinke tega, da nekega produkcijskega faktorja ni več na voljo.
Vsi modeli namreč predpostavljajo možnost substitucije enega vira z drugim (pri čemer načeloma lahko (s precejšnjimi težavam sicer, ker je potrebno na novo kalibrirati model) variiramo parameter elastičnosti substitucije). Če se torej dvigne cena energenta iz ene države ali če ustrezno povišamo “iceberg transportni strošek” iz te države, bodo v modelu podjetja in potrošniki avtomatsko uporabljali ustrezno dražji vir (energent) iz druge države. In potem samo z modelom ocenimo, kakšen bo vpliv tega dražjega vira na BDP, cene itd
Toda prav ta modelska lastnost splošnega ravnotežja in substitucije preprečuje, da bi lahko realistično ocenili, kaj se zgodi v gospodarstvu in pri potrošnikih, če nekega proizvodnega faktorja (energetskega vira) preprosto ni več na voljo v zadovoljivih količinah (njegovega izpada ni mogoče od nikoder nadomestiti). Kako bo Nemčija prišla do zadovoljivih količin plina, če pa nima dovolj plinskih skladišč in plinovodov do njih iz alternativnih virov in če nima terminalov za LNG? Kje bo dobila zadovoljive količine nafte (in kje jih bo skladiščila? Kje bo dobila dovolj premoga, če bodo tudi vsi ostali v Evropi iskali nadomestilo za ruski premog
Drugače povedano, kako modelirati učinek, da ključnega proizvodnega faktorja preprosto ni več na voljo (ni problem cena, pač pa ga ni mogoče od nikoder vzeti)? Resnici na ljubo obstaja en način modeliranja tega, to je uporaba t.i. Leontiefove produkcijske funkcije, ki namesto substitucije predvideva fiksne tehnološke parametre (produkcijski faktorji med seboj niso nadomestljivi). No, Bachmann et al so ekonomski šok na podlagi takšne predpostavke zavrnili kot ekscesivno dramatičen – ob 10% padcu ponudbe energije, ki je ni mogoče od nikoder vzeti, bi BDP upadel tudi za 10%.
Toda ali je tak primer res nerealističen na krajši in srednji rok?
Ne bi se smeli izogibati oceni, za koliko bi se zmanjšala proizvodnja, če bi se ponudba energije kot ključnega inputa zmanjšala za 10, 15, 20 ali več odstotkov. In ne bi se smeli izogibati ocenam izgubljene blaginje za ljudi, če bi morali porabo energije naslednjo jesen in zimo zreducirati za 10, 15, 20 ali več odstotkov. Slednje pomeni, da je potrebno oceniti “politične stroške” za vladno koalicijo, ki je sprejela odločitev s takšnimi posledicami za ljudi.
To niso nerealistični scenariji in politiki morajo imeti odgovore nanje, preden za odločijo za takšne ukrepe. In če kje, tukaj ekonomskim modelom ne gre zaupati. Situacija je bistveno preveč resna, da bi se lahko zanesli na simplificirane modelske ocene.
So far the Economics Ministry has taken a cautious position. Habeck has described the consequence for the German economy of boycotting Russian energy as being of the “heaviest proportions” (schwersten Ausmaßes).
That sounds dramatic and the scale of dependence is clearly large. But how do we actually calibrate the likely cost? Only economic expertise can give us any idea as to the orders of magnitude.
The German economics profession, it cannot be repeated too often, is no monolith. It is a world in motion. The problem of an energy boycott is not one that can easily be resolved by reference to familiar positions on inflation, long-term fiscal sustainability etc.
No doubt the analysts in the German economics ministry are burning midnight oil. So far, their calculations have remained behind closed doors. But in the last week the expert debate has spilled into the public sphere.
On March 8 the Leopoldina National Academy of Science published a paper focusing on the technical possibilities of substituting non-Russian sources of energy. They offered a practical to do list of measures with the conclusion that
Even an immediate supply stop of Russian gas could be “handled” by the German economy (handhabbar). There may be shortages in the coming winter, but there are options, through the immediate implementation of a package of measures, to limit the negative effects and to cushion the social impact. .
The authors of the Leopoldina memo were in the main Professors in STEM fields. Economists (Grimm, Schmidt, Wagner … apologies to anyone else I missed) were in a small minority and the memo offered no estimate of the likely costs of the measures they suggested.
The economic question was mapped the same day by a paper co-authored by a distinguished group of economists working both inside and outside Germany.
The team consists of Rüdiger Bachmann: University of Notre Dame, David Baqaee: University of California, Los Angeles; Christian Bayer: Universität Bonn; Moritz Kuhn: Universität Bonn und ECONtribute; Andreas Löschel: Ruhr University Bochum; Benjamin Moll: London School of Economics; Andreas Peichl: ifo Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Universität München; Karen Pittel: ifo Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Universität München; Moritz Schularick: Sciences Po Paris, Universität Bonn und ECONtribute with research support from Sven Eis.
It is a truly broad church group with no obvious political or institutional alignment in Germany’s spectrum of foundations and think tanks.
Everyone interested should check out the paper. It is technically sophisticated, using a state of the art global trade model, but it is written both in English and German and it is, as far as I am able to judge, comprehensible in its basic logic. We are very much in their debt for the speed and sophistication of this preliminary estimate.
I’ll do my best here to relay some of their key points.
What happens if you cut off Russia as a source of supply depends on whether you can substitute other sources of energy and how far you can economize on energy use.
Bachmann et al take as their main scenario the case in which total gas supplies fall by 30 percent with the result that Germany loses roughly 8 percent of its primary energy supply. What will be the impact on industry, households and the service sector?
To provide a benchmark estimate they start from the multi-sectoral model of trade published by David Baqaee & Emmanuel Farhi in 2019. That model is a very ambitious attempt to model global trade as a set of general equilibrium flows.
One of the striking conclusions from the model is that the gains from trade may be much larger than is suggested by many standard models.
This is important for the Russia sanctions debate because many trade models generate very modest gains from trade and correspondingly small effects from any interruption to trade. Indeed, if I read the Baqaee and Farhi paper correctly, it would also allows us to assess the impact of sanctions on Russia. I hope someone will soon perform the same kind of calculation that Bachmann et al have performed for Germany for the Russian side.
In choosing the Baqaee and Farhi model as their workhorse, Bachmann et al presumably hope to ensure that they capture the full effect of any trade interruption. Nevertheless, the results, in all scenarios, are surprisingly modest.
The workings of the Baqaee-Farhi model are very complicated, but the basic intuition is easy enough to follow.
Energy is vital but it does not make up a huge share of expenditure (GNE, Gross National Expenditure). The only scenario in which an energy shock causes catastrophic damage is one in which there is literally no way of substituting or switching economic activities impacted by the loss of energy supply. This would be the case if the basic parameters of production are unalterably fixed – the so-called Leontief case. Taken at face value, that scenario would yield implausibly dramatic results.
As soon as one assumes even a very small degree of substitutability, the effect of the energy supply shock is much more muted. According to the calculations by Bachmann et al, even in a worst case scenario the impact on GDP would come to 3 percent, which is less than the 4 percent shock that the German economy suffered in the COVID crisis.
As Bachmann et al remark
Purely in the spirit of being conservative, we therefore postulate a worst-case scenario that doubles the number without input-output linkages from 1.5% to 3% or €1,200 per year per German citizen. This number is an order of magnitude higher than the 0.2-0.3% or €80-120 implied by the Baqaee-Farhi model. We should emphasize that this is an extreme scenario and we consider economic losses as predicted by the Baqaee-Farhi model to be the more likely outcome
Bachmann et al also provide some pointers as to the distributional impact of any measures. As a share of income, heating and fuel costs do vary by income but not by as much as one might anticipate.
A severe spike in gas and oil prices is likely to cause serious hardship only at the bottom end of the income pyramid, where support should be targeted.
The Bachmann et al paper refrained from declaring the measures “manageable”, as the Leopoldina paper had done. But the scale of the losses they calculated certainly suggested that if sanctions were politically necessary they would be economically feasible. They recommended a cost mitigation strategy that cushioned low income consumers, but otherwise allowed the surge in energy prices to drive the search for energy efficiency. They also recommended that if sanctions were to be applied, they should be applied as soon as possible, so as to enable households and businesses to begin adaptation well before the fall and winter of 2022-2023, when supply difficulties will become most severe.
Taken together the Leopoldina and Bachmann et al papers tended to increase the pressure for action. If alternatives to Russian oil and gas were technological feasible and the economic cost was no more than a few percentage points of GDP, the onus was on the politicians to make the choice. Was it not time for Germany to be brave?
When he was asked about the Bachmann et al study Minister Habeck responded that his Ministry estimated the likely impact of sanctions as far more serious.
But how much more serious? The answer Habeck gave to journalists was a contraction of 5 percent. The significance of that figure is that it was worse than COVID.
Where did it come from?
In the days that followed the Leopoldina and Bachmann et al papers, other experts pushed back, expressing caution and even out-right skepticism about the estimates provided by their colleagues.
Michael Hüther Director of the business-backed private research center Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft in Cologne took issue vociferously with the conclusions of the Leopoldina report. Declaring that a certain policy was “manageable” was a matter of value judgement Hüther insisted.
Later in the week two analysts from the Institute – Thilo Schäfer and Malte Küper – published a comment rebutting the idea that a gas and price stop was manageable. They insisted that it would involve “incalculable risks” and the certainty of a severe price shock with damaging effects for industry.
But “incalculable” is not the same as 5 percent.
It was not just the Leopoldina report that was coming under fire. As reported by Handelsblatt, the Bachmann et al paper was criticized in a confidential paper for the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate authored by Tom Krebs and Sebastian Dullien. Whereas the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft was business-aligned, Krebs and Dullien are aligned with the SPD and the trade union movement. When Olaf Scholz headed the Finance Ministry, Krebs took leave from his chair at Mannheim University to serve as a visiting professor. In April 2019 Dullien succeeded Gustav Horn as scientific Director of the Institut für Makroökonomie und Konjunkturforschung (IMK) the macro think tank of the Hans Böckler Foundation of the German trade union movement.
In a paper presented to Habeck’s Ministry Dullien and Krebs apparently argued that Bachmann et al underestimated the likely impact of the shock. According to their calculations they thought a contraction of 4-5 percent of GDP more likely.
As Ben Moll one of the co-authors of the Bachmann et al paper pointed out, Krebs and Dullien did not offer a model to support their estimate. And, as Moll put it, “it takes a model to beat a model”. In fact, the Dullien and Krebs paper had never been intended for public discussion. It was leaked to the Handelsblatt. The IMK is now racing to run its own simulations to back up the initial estimate.
Meanwhile, Dullien and Krebs found themselves in an unfamiliar alignment with Hüther and the team at the Cologne Institute.
Though the line between the two camps seemed clearly drawn, the striking thing is that the Krebs and Dullien estimate of 4-5 percent was not, in fact, dramatically different from the higher estimate by Bachmann et al.
Given the uncertainties involved in the calculation, the divergence is not significant.
After all, the point of the Bachmann et al paper was not to provide a very precise figure, but to gauge the likelihood of extreme negative outcomes. A 4-5 percent fall in GDP would be higher than their modeling suggested and much higher than any outcome suggested by the Baqaee and Farhi model, but it confirmed their broader conclusion that a catastrophe was unlikely.
As Moll pointed out, Goldman and Sachs analysts had also arrived at a similar conclusion. Germany would be hit hard, but its economy would not suffer anything like a catastrophic shock.
So, if Krebs and Dullien felt they were at odds with Bachmann et al, the difference did not in fact lie in their estimate of the economic outcome to be expected, but in their evaluation, in political, social or other terms, of that outcome.
As Moritz Schularick another co-author of the Bachmann et al paper told Handelsblatt: „The conclusion to be drawn should only be really be completely different, if we were talking about 20 or 30 percent.” That is, unless your premises in political, economic and social terms are different, or if beneath the apparent convergence on a prediction of 3-5 percent in GDP contraction you actually imagine very different realities.
Beyond the immediate protagonists in the four-way exchange, one senses other influential figures in the German economics scene aligning themselves on the question of sanctions. Clemens Füst, who heads the IFO institute in Munich, agreed with Krebs in warning of the possibility of cascade effects which result from single firms in production chains suffering sudden stoppages. If this was to occur on a large-scale the contraction in production would be larger than if the effect impacted evenly across the entire economy.
Vir: Adam Tooze