The fiscal response to COVID-19: The time to act is now

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the fiscal response to COVID-19 in Europe and the United States will fall massively short. Policymakers are, as yet, not up to the task.

The “principle of effective demand,” the cornerstone of immediate post-war macroeconomics, requires that the government spends when the private sector might otherwise refuse—preventing a depression in spending and unemployment that would otherwise emerge. In so doing, the government ensures that employment and income across the community remains higher than individual spending choices alone would deliver. Government spending reasonably offsets private prudence. Continue reading “The fiscal response to COVID-19: The time to act is now”

Macroeconomics and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 shock continues to fan out across the global economy, policymakers are contemplating the correct response. Curiously, though the shock is of a different character to that during the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) the policy response should be broadly similar—monetary easing, (where possible) liquidity provision by central banks, and fiscal expansion. Whether policymakers react in the correct manner is crucial; the biggest danger facing the global economy right now is that they take the view that a different shock requires a different policy response. This is not the case—with an important caveat. Here we briefly frame the challenge of responding to COVID-19.

Macroeconomics and the COVID.

The UK’s Referendum on the European Union: What Happens Next? [throwback from June 2016]

[Having just reviewed what I imagined to be the outcome in the event of Leave in the week before the Brexit referendum, I thought I’d drop it online for posterity. This is an abridged version (nothing added, only the scenarios that did not emerge and irrelevant details removed) from that written during the week between the devastating murder of MP Jo Cox and the referendum in 2016. With hindsight, the strength of public finances and the economy is clearly wrong and remains a puzzle to resolve; the business cycle more generally has held up–something to ponder in the period ahead; the prediction of a new PM in Bojo was also (thankfully) wrong; while I completely failed to foresee the recalcitrance of Labour to push back meaningfully against Brexit alongside a few other details… but still, our current predicament was in broad brush terms there to foresee. As to Article 50 extension, which i thought would not be granted, it now seems more a question of whether the UK asks rather if the EU grants, but let’s wait and see. I give myself 6/10, perhaps optimistically.]

*** Continue reading “The UK’s Referendum on the European Union: What Happens Next? [throwback from June 2016]”

On the prospects for global macroeconomic policy coordination

AS NEW ECONOMIC Counsellor and Director of Research Department (RES), Gita Gopinath, settles into her new role at the IMF, what might her priorities be to make an imprint on the world’s premier monetary institution? Here’s a suggestion. She might begin by taking control of the IMF’s global forecasts—and do so with a view to rekindling the prospects for global macroeconomic policy coordination. Continue reading “On the prospects for global macroeconomic policy coordination”

Germany’s Missing €500 billion

THE PERCEPTIVE Simon Tilford of the Centre for European Reform has noticed a curious feature of Germany’s external accounts: her net international investment position (NIIP) reveals net “foreign assets have risen much less rapidly than the accumulated current account surpluses, leading to … losses: around €580 billion since 1999.” Continue reading “Germany’s Missing €500 billion”