Friday, January 23, 2015

Dirk Ehnts — IMF’s Blanchard: fiscal policy part of the solution against stagnation

In a modern economy with a sovereign currency, both banks and the government can create additional deposits for the private sector. Banks achieve that through lending, and the government through bond issuance. A third way, which doesn’t work for everybody, is to have exports higher than imports, which must result in a net inflow of net financial assets, among them deposits (ex-post). In the euro zone, the private sector does not want to borrow even though interest rates are at zero. If you want a cause, then name it confidence: the firms and households are pretty confident that in this situation of weak demand, high unemployment and falling prices they do not want to more borrow. 
It seems like the only way to get the monetary circuit going in Europe is through the creation of private sector deposits by a) cutting taxes (for those who can reasonable expected to use the additional deposits for spending) or b) increasing government spending (which directly creates deposits for the private sector). What this does not mean is a) government has to be bigger (let them hire private companies to do public jobs if you think that it is welfare-improving) or b) that this will become a permanent feature of the economy. As long as the private sector does not spend, government jumps in. When aggregate demand runs hot, taxes can be increased and the central bank’s interest rate hiked up. This would constitute a return to normal. No mass unemployment, the usual bickering about higher taxes, and savers getting money for nothing.
The problem lies in the insistence on "structural reform" (lower public spending and instituting wages "flexibility") in order to become "more competitive" globally, which is a race to the bottom that is deflationary.

econoblog 101
IMF’s Blanchard: fiscal policy part of the solution against stagnation
Dirk Ehnts | Berlin School for Economics and Law