Why Keynes is important today
Peter Temin, David Vines 14 November 2014
The current debate on the efficacy of Keynesian stimulus mirrors the resistance Keynes met with when initially advocating his theory. This column explains the original controversy and casts today’s policy debate in that context. Now that concepts of Ricardian equivalence and the fiscal multiplier are formally defined, we are better able to frame the arguments. The authors argue that a simple model of the short-run economy can substantiate the argument for stimulus.
Macroeconomists have largely failed in explaining and recommending policies since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Today when thinking about fiscal policy they cite Ricardian Equivalence to deny the efficacy of Keynesian analysis (which was abandoned in the turbulent 1970s that signaled the end of rapid growth). They seem unaware that they have revived the views of Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, in 1930.
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy
stimulus, Ricardian equivalence, Keynesianism
Another look at Ricardian equivalence: The case of the European Union
Thomas Grennes, Andris Strazds 28 February 2013
Can European countries share their debts? This column argues that higher government indebtedness means larger household net financial assets. Thus, any pooling of European legacy debt would be considered unacceptable by countries with less government debt unless it also involved the pooling of households’ financial assets. Yet, this would be legally and technically insurmountable. The EU must face forced Ricardian equivalence: the countries with the largest legacy-debt burdens must reduce them by increasing the tax burden or, alternatively, reduce their budget expenditure.
The so-called Ricardian equivalence suggests that a government will have the same effect on private spending whether it raises taxes or takes on additional debt to finance higher government spending. The logic behind it is that as the government gets more indebted, people would put aside more money in expectation of higher taxes in the future. However, there is no consensus on the empirical validity of Ricardian equivalence (see Seater 1993 for a comprehensive review).
Europe's nations and regions
Germany, Spain, UK, Greece, Eurozone crisis, Ricardian equivalence