THE ECONOMIST.- To live safely in a low-rate world, it is time to move beyond a reliance on central banks. Structural reforms to increase underlying growth rates have a vital role. But their effects materialise only slowly and economies need succour now. The most urgent priority is to enlist fiscal policy. The main tool for fighting recessions has to shift from central banks to governments.Más...
To anyone who remembers the 1960s and 1970s, that idea will seem both familiar and worrying. Back then governments took it for granted that it was their responsibility to pep up demand. The problem was that politicians were good at cutting taxes and increasing spending to boost the economy, but hopeless at reversing course when such a boost was no longer needed. Fiscal stimulus became synonymous with an ever-bigger state. The task today is to find a form of fiscal policy that can revive the economy in the bad times without entrenching government in the good.
That means going beyond the standard response to calls for more public spending: namely, infrastructure investment. To be clear, spending on productive infrastructure is a good thing. Much of the rich world could do with new toll roads, railways and airports, and it will never be cheaper to build them. To manage the risk of white-elephant projects, private-sector partners should be involved from the start. Pension and insurance funds are desperate for long-lasting assets that will generate the steady income they have promised to retirees. Specialist pension funds can advise on a project’s merits, with one eye on eventually buying the assets in question.
But infrastructure spending is not the best way to prop up weak demand. Ambitious capital projects cannot be turned on and off to fine-tune the economy. They are a nightmare to plan, take ages to deliver and risk becoming bogged down in politics. To be effective as a countercyclical tool, fiscal policy must mimic the best features of modern-day monetary policy, whereby independent central banks can act immediately to loosen or tighten as circumstances require.
Politicians will not—and should not—hand over big budget decisions to technocrats. Yet there are ways to make fiscal policy less politicised and more responsive. Independent fiscal councils, like Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility, can help depoliticise public-spending decisions, but they do nothing to speed up fiscal action. For that, more automaticity is needed, binding some spending to changes in the economic cycle. The duration and generosity of unemployment benefits could be linked to the overall joblessness rate in the economy, for example. Sales taxes, income-tax deductions or tax-free allowances on saving could similarly vary in line with the state of the economy, using the unemployment rate as the lodestar.
El BCE crea un Grupo de Trabajo para definir las reformas económicas que los gobiernos deberían hacer
BLOOMBERG.- European Central Bank officials have time and again griped that governments aren’t doing enough to strengthen the euro-area economy. Now they’re going a step further.Más...
The Frankfurt-based ECB has created a task force of national central bank staff to consider economic reforms, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the initiative hasn’t been publicly announced. The group, which was set up in the spring and has yet to meet, was established in response to unhappiness that governments are dragging their feet, two of the people said.
The euro area’s slow recovery means the ECB’s Governing Council, which holds a non-monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, has been forced to implement stimulus measures so large that its quantitative-easing program risks running out of bonds to buy. President Mario Draghi has repeatedly urged governments to support him with structural efforts and his frustration showed in April -- about the time the task force was created -- when he intensified his warnings.
“The ECB has no particular expertise in structural reforms but it can certainly contribute to the debate as economic growth and the supply side of the economy matter for achieving its mandate,” said Christian Odendahl, chief economist of the London-based Center for European Reform. “It should place emphasis on what kind of macro-economic impact reforms may have -- that’s what it can do best.’’
CNBC.- "Should we criticize what they have done till now? I do not believe so. I think they have done a proper job, and of course we welcome it...Because if we didn't have what they have done, the situation could be worse. We need to be much aware of this," he said in exclusive interview with CNBC aired on Tuesday.
"[But] now, time has come probably for a different mix. The support of the economy cannot only be in the hands of the central banks. Governments have to move forward," he added.
While acknowledging the role of central bankers in stabilizing the precarious world economy, Lemierre also addressed the downside of such policies, such as the risks posted by negative interest rate policy.
"It hasn't been proven yet (that) it works efficiently; we need to monitor this carefully. And it has negative impacts, so we need to be careful about this. My main concern is the risk of bubbles, the risk of poor allocation of credit; and that would be further damaged to the economy and this has to be avoided," he said, adding that it was important "not to go too far" with the negative rates.