Saturday, October 25, 2014
3

非常嫌疑

伯克利—在整个欧洲-大西洋地区,2008—2009年衰退后的复苏一直步履蹒跚,将本可治愈的周期性失业拖成了结构性失业。而资本积累过程中的小趔趄也演变成了旷日持久的投资短缺,也就是说,不光是在复苏不力的当下存在资本存量和真实GDP下降的问题,未来数十年可能都将如此。

西欧20世纪80年代的经验留给我们一条拇指规则:在任何一年,只要劳动力工作时间和资本存量因投资的下降而下降,从而导致产出比正常水平低了1 000亿美元,那么在未来年份中,充分就业的生产潜能就会比正常情况的预计值低100亿美元。

这条拇指规则的财政效应相当令人吃惊。试想一下,美国或西欧核心经济体明年增加1 000亿美元政府购买。再进一步试想一下,它们的中央银行尽管不愿意继续采取非常规货币政策进一步扩大规模,但也不愿意妨碍当选政府的经济刺激措施,让它们难堪。果真如此的话,简单的恒定货币条件乘数表明,我们将能看到GDP增加大约1 500亿美元。如此规模的提振反过来会带来500亿美元的税收增量,而国民财富水平将仅增加500亿美元。

美国或西欧核心经济体需要为这笔500亿美元的新增债务付出怎样的真实(经通胀调整的)利率?如果利率为1%,那么在明年提振1 500亿美元的需求和生产意味着在未来需要每年拿出5亿美元来保证这笔债务的真实价值不会增加。如果利率为3%,那么年税收额必须增加15亿美元。如果利率为5%,政府每年需要拿出25亿美元的额外开支。

假设持续低于正常水平的产出会导致未来潜在产出水平下降10%,那么这1 500亿美元新增产量意味着在未来经济实现复苏时,产出会增加150亿美元,税收会增加50亿美元。政府将不必通过增税来为财政刺激所造成的债务融资。相反,在长期,扩张性财政政策带来的供给端潜在产出的提振很可能不但能够偿还因提振支出而产生的额外债务,而且能够在不影响预算平衡的前提下创造未来减税空间。

让我们再退一步:这是相当反常的情形。在正常情况下,政府购买扩张乘数要远小于1.5,这是因为中央银行不会在政府支出扩张的同时维持货币条件不变,而是会采取行动纠正经济运行,使之与货币当局的通胀目标相协调。更常见的乘数应该是货币政策抵消乘数,大小为0.5或0。

此外,在正常情况下,政府——即使是美国和西欧政府——不可能在国民债务高涨的同时还能享受1%的真实利率,甚至3%也难以达到。常规政府支出增加算术告诉我们,当下产出的微小或可疑提振会增加未来融资负担,照这么说来,债务融资的财政扩征绝不是好主意。

但当下的状态并不是正常状态。用麻省理工学院的卡比列罗(Robert Cabellero)的话说,如今,全球经济仍然极度缺乏安全资产。全世界的投资者都愿意出极高的价格、接受极低的利率以获得核心经济体债券,因为他们把获得可用于抵押品的安全资产视为无上的好处。

在当下,投资者对安全的偏好使得增加政府债务的成本不同寻常地低,而产出和就业持续低于正常水平所造成的长期前景阴影会使目前陷入停顿的复苏变得代价高昂。我们需要在短期动员闲置资源,以保持长期生产潜力,因此,正如美国首任财政部长亚历山大·汉密尔顿所言,增加国民债务利国利民。

Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (3)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. Portrait of Gregor Schubert

    CommentedGregor Schubert

    The thrust of the argument proposed here can be summarised as saying the following: Fiscal policy is very effective at bringing GDP back to trend in a situation where central banks are "unwilling to extend themselves further in unconventional monetary policy". While the rest of the article further details the exact implications of this situation, this is the crux of the argument, as otherwise, the central bank would "act to keep the economy on track to meet the monetary authority’s inflation target".

    Unfortunately, this is also where the argument is most lacking: It presents hardly any evidence that the special situation it relies on is currently in existence: Central banks seem as concerned as ever about their inflation target. In Europe, the ECB is notorious for raising its interest rates last spring even in the face of a severe financial crisis unfolding in the sputhern countries, because it was concerned about inflation. At the same time, statements by FOMC members and the public discourse in the US attribute great importance to recent upticks in headline inflation, often blaming the Fed for what is (incorrectly) viewed as a negative development. Why blame the Fed if inflation was out of its control?

    To summarize: there seems little evidence that central banks have stopped caring about, or are unable to influence, inflation. Thus, their response to fiscal policy attempts to raise output and inflation still matters, making fiscal attempts to raise inflation and output futile unless they are accommodated by complementary loosening of monetary policy. Consequently, in the face of a reluctant central bank the "more usual multiplier is the monetary-policy offset multiplier of 0.5 or zero". Thus the relevance of DeLong's argument in the current environment is questionable.

  2. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    The article strikes a chord on tweaking with multipliers while the world of investors would be watching with baited breath on the denouement as one would bet against the other; the jury is still out on the very definition of a safe asset. Every investor is also a consumer-spender, while every consumer is also an investor. The behavior as an investor cannot be completely out of sync with the behavior that we demonstrate as a consumer. This belies the rhetoric that the theory of ‘drawing from the future’ with multipliers of our choice envisions; how so ever efficient the markets are, or inefficient, whether as a herd or as an outlier, we the consumers-investors of the future must make a choice that is based on sustainable principles and we cannot draw from the future without an insurance that future generations can rely on. This insurance perhaps lies in our ability to make shared sacrifice and in investing in those assets that create sustainable long term value for the entire humanity; safe or unsafe is a myopic view.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  3. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    I hope we arrive to the point as soon as possible, when respected experts, political and financial leaders stop repeating their own mantras, and pull their heads out of their subjective, introverted boxes and start looking around.

    We are talking about highly qualified, educated, experienced people but since they are buried under their own subjective opinion they are simply incapable of seeing the true reality around us.

    Of course we are in unusual conditions as the article suggest, since we have run into such a dead end we have never been before. We are not in a crisis, but our whole human, political, economical system is collapsing as it has become unsustainable.

    The whole foundation of the expansive constant growth system is false. It is based on producing excessive amount of unnecessary goods, products that masses of people are brainwashed, tricked to consume through the marketing machinery, forcing people to take on credit way above their means making them slaves to the system on multiple count. On the other hand manufacturing is based on "near slave" labour, exploiting less developed countries as long as possible, also exploiting our natural resources and environment beyond tipping points.

    This is all objectively, well documented today.

    Beyond the false foundations we have also evolved into a closed, interdependent system, where all the above mentioned practices are now blowing up in our face as in such an integral system any negative effect I introduce into the system comes back at me with multiple force.

    So why are there still experts suggesting even more spending, stimulus or bailout, pretending further growth is still possible exhausting even our last assessts we could use for a recovery?

    Instead of stubbornly pushing on with the dead horse, we should stop, examine, analize our situation, the system we live in and then adapt to the new conditions and start building a new system that is suitable for the global world of the 21st century.

    We are badly in need of visionary people, who are capable of sharing the available factual, scientific information with the public, helping them to understand the need for change so people could enter a new system willingly, without any coercion, where these visionary leaders could create such a mutually responsible, equal, and considerate governing system that couldelevate all 7 billion people to a sustainable level.

Featured