Bubbels in de soep

NEW YORK – Terwijl een bbp groei beneden de trend en hoge werkloosheid de meeste ontwikkelde  economieën blijven plagen, hebben hun centrale banken zich gewend tot steeds onconventioneler monetair beleid. Er wordt een alfabetsoep aan maatregels opgediend: ZIRP (zero-interest-rate policy), QE (quantitative easing, of het aankopen van private activa gericht op het verlagen van de kapitaalkosten van de private sector) en FG (forward guidance, ofwel het engagement om QE of ZIRP vol te houden tot bijvoorbeeld de werkloosheidscijfers een bepaald getal bereikt hebben). Sommigen hebben zelfs NIPR (negative interest-rate-policy) voorgesteld.

En toch, ondanks dit alles, blijven de groeicijfers laag en de werkloosheidscijfers onacceptabel hoog, gedeeltelijk omdat de verhoging van de geldtoevoer als gevolg van QE niet heeft geleid tot het creëren van krediet om consumptie of investeringen te financieren. In plaats daarvan hebben de banken de vergroting van hun monetaire basis gehamsterd in de vorm van grotere onnutte reserves. Er is sprake van een credit crunch, omdat banken die niet genoeg kapitaal hebben niet willen lenen aan riskante leners, terwijl langzame groei en hoge niveaus van schulden in huishoudens de vraag naar krediet ook hebben doen afnemen.

Als resultaat hiervan, vloeit al deze extra liquiditeit naar de financiële sector in plaats van de echte economie. Het beleid van bijna nultarieven moedigt z.g. carry trades aan; door schulden gefinancierde investeringen in meer opbrengende risicovolle activa zoals lange termijn en privé obligaties, eigen vermogen, goederen en valuta van landen met hoge rentetarieven. Het gevolg hiervan zijn schuimende financiële markten die uiteindelijk bubbelig kunnen worden.

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