Blanchard: Fiscal Policy under Low Interest Rates

Olivier Blanchard, nekdanji profesor na MIT in nato desetletje glavni ekonomist na IMF, sicer pa nedvomno eden izmed top 3 makroekonomistov na svetu, je prejšnji teden predstavil novo knjigo (glejte naslov) o fiskalni politiki v času nizkih obrestnih mer. S to knjigo se Blanchard navezuje na svoje članke izpred treh let, ko je nakazal, da se je s strukturnim znižanjem obrestnih mer, ko je ta nižja od stopnje gospodarske rasti (r < g), fundamentalno spremenila vloga fiskalne politike. Medtem ko je v zadnjih treh desetletjih bila dana prednost monetarni politiki pri stabilizaciji gospodarskih ciklov (t.i. monetarna dominanca), se z znižanjem  obrestne mere težišče ekonomske politike obrača v smeri dominantne vloge fiskalne politike. Ker se bodo tudi po tem inflacijskem šoku obrestne mere vrnile nazaj na nizko raven, bo mogoče fiskalno politiko bolj aktivno uporabljati tudi za stabilizacijo gospodarskih ciklov (prek financiranja javnih investicij in transferjev). V času, ko so obrestne mere nižje od stopnje gospodarske rasti, tudi visoke stopnje zadolženosti in financiranje dolga niso problematični, saj se ob r < g in izravnanem proračunu stopnja zadolženosti glede na BDP samodejno znižuje (v primeru deficita v proračunu, pa je pomembna razlika med r in g; denimo v primeru r-g=-2%si lahko država privošči primarni deficit v višini 2% BDP, pa se dolg/BDP ne bo povečal).

Spodaj je posnetek zanimive predstavitve knjige in diskusije na PIIE ter kratek povzetek za tiste, ki posnetka ne bodo pogledali.

Policymakers in advanced economies find themselves in an unusual fiscal environment: Debt ratios are historically high, and—once the fight against inflation is won—real interest rates will likely be very low again.  This combination calls for a rethinking of the role of fiscal and monetary policy—and this is just what Olivier Blanchard proposes in Fiscal Policy under Low Interest Rates.

There is a wide set of opinions about the direction that fiscal policy should take. Some, pointing to high debt levels, make debt reduction an absolute priority. Others, pointing to low future interest rates, are less worried; they suggest that there is still fiscal space, and, if justified, further increases in debt should not be ruled out. Blanchard argues that low interest rates decrease not only the fiscal costs of debt but also the welfare costs of debt. At the same time, he shows how low rates decrease the room to maneuver in monetary policy—and thus increase the benefits of using fiscal policy, including deficits and debt, for macroeconomic stabilization. In short, low rates imply lower costs and higher benefits of debt.

Blanchard considers three examples of fiscal policy in action: fiscal consolidation in the wake of the global financial crisis, the large increase in debt in Japan, and the current US fiscal and monetary policy mix. His conclusions hold practical implications for economic and fiscal policymakers, bankers, and politicians around the world.

Presentation: Fiscal Policy under Low Interest Rates

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