Twice in the second half of the twentieth century, in the midst of a robust economy, economists optimistically talked about the taming and even “the death of the business cycle” based on the belief that advances in macroeconomics had reached a point of perfection. Yet, both times, the economy underwent serious turbulence and the policies that seemed to have “solved the problem” proved inadequate to the challenges presented by unexpected realities. In the 1970s, the “neo-classical synthesis,” with its faith in forecasting and macroeconomic “fine tuning,” succumbed to stagflation and a new theory, the Monetarist paradigm, came to prominence. By the 1990s, Monetarists and their descendants— the rational expectations and New Keynesian models—had convinced themselves, and policy makers, that they could stabilize the economy for good and that policy intervention beyond interest rate adjustments and inflation targeting was no longer necessary. The Financial Crisis of 2007-8 and the subsequent “Great Recession” should have been a wake-up call that, just as in the 1970s, instability was not gone and that a new paradigm for running the economy was needed.
Yet, as of today, the orthodoxy continues to dominate the policy debate in the United States and in Europe shaping inadequate policy responses to the main problem of contemporary capitalism: the persistence of private debt overhangs and their impact on both short run and long run growth. However, rather than examining these issues, OECD countries—Europe in particular—and many emerging markets have continued to embrace a framework under which central banks setting the “price” of money, or setting the quantity of the “monetary base”, is the only game in town. Accordingly, the world’s central bankers have launched a series of ad hoc stabilization programs, driven by extensions of the Monetarist/New-Keynesian paradigm, which evidently do little to address the consequences of the financial crisis.
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In his piece on helicopter money, Lord Adair Turner seemed to argue that:
1) The money multiplier provides the needed boost to expansionary fiscal policy, yet this boost could generate inflation.
2) The risk of inflation could be managed by raising reserve requirements as needed.
Both statements are incorrect.
And this is the slightly expanded version of my Letter to the Financial Times (FT.COM published an abridged version)
In ‘The helicopter money drop demands balance’ (May 22), Lord Adair Turner defends the notion that bigger fiscal deficits are needed to end the current stagnation, but leaves one question unanswered: Why should a money-financed deficit be more powerful than a traditional debt-financed deficit?
This is an updated chart of the flow of financial savings and debt in the euro area (EA).
For each quarter, the red bars (when positive) measure the flow of financial savings to resident households (dark red) and financial corporations (light red).
The flow of financial savings has been consistently positive throughout the period, reflecting the quarterly addition to the stock of private savings. Notice the recent decline of financial savings of financial corporations.
Here is my answer on Quora:
This would simply be equivalent to a tax cut. At the end of the day, every adult American would find $1,000 more in her pocket.
If the Fed does it directly, this would not be counted as government “debt”.
Some people call this “helicopter money”. It is a form of fiscal policy in disguise.
A tax cut would be a good idea today in the U.S.
Also, here is Joerg Bibow’s letter to the Financial Times on helicopter money.
As long as the Euro area enforces balanced budget constraints at ALL levels of government, the Euro area will not be sustainable.
I have summarized here the argument behind the statement above.
What follows is a simple model that shows the logic of the argument.
1. In a monetary economy where the private sector demands financial assets as a vehicle to store wealth (aka ‘financial savings’), spending (by the private sector) can be assumed to depend on saving desires. Specifically, in any given period of reference, the change in total spending (ΔE) is a function (α) of the difference between the available stock of financial assets (FA) and the desired stock of financial savings (FAd):
The intuition is that if the value of available financial assets exceeds the desired stock, spending will increase, and vice versa.