Skip to main content

Recession Insurance

The IMF's Chief Economist, Olivier Blanchard, and several IMF economists have recent proposed that governments offer businesses and/or individuals “recession insurance.” This might work, since it would reduce uncertainty, which has placed a lot of spending decisions – by businesses (on higher output) and by consumers (on the items that businesses produce) – on hold.

NEW HAVEN – The Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, Olivier Blanchard, and several IMF economists have proposed in a recent paper that governments should offer what they call “recession insurance.” Companies and/or individuals would buy insurance policies, pay a regular premium for them, and receive a benefit if some measure of the economy, such as GDP growth, dropped below a specified level. Such insurance, they argue, would help firms and people deal with the “extreme uncertainty” of the current economic environment.

Recession insurance might, indeed, help alleviate the economic crisis by reducing uncertainty. After all, the real problem that we are currently facing is one of paralysis: uncertainty has placed many spending decisions – by businesses (on higher output) and by consumers (on the items that businesses produce) – on hold. Reducing uncertainty might augment, or even be superior to, fiscal stimulus programs, for it would address the root cause of the unwillingness to spend.

Moreover, recession insurance might, in contrast to fiscal policy, impose no costs on the government, for if it stimulates confidence, then the risk being insured against is prevented. The government’s ability to offer such insurance on a scale sufficient to make it costless is one reason to favor a public scheme over private insurers.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/mhrZh9h;
  1. haass105_Gustavo BassoNurPhoto via Getty Images_amazon Gustavo Basso/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    The Amazon and You

    Richard N. Haass

    Sovereignty entails obligations as well as rights, and where compliance cannot be induced, pressure must be applied. And though positive incentives to encourage and enable compliance would be preferable, Brazil's government is showing that there must be sticks where carrots are not enough.

    2
  2. GettyImages-1151170958 ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

    The Meritocracy Muddle

    Eric Posner

    Although populism in Western democracies is nothing new, resentment toward elites and experts has certainly been on the rise. Does this trend reflect a breakdown in the system, or a system that is actually working too well?

    11

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions