Macroeconomic policy

Fiscal adjustment, growth, and credit constraints

Emanuele Baldacci, Sanjeev Gupta, Carlos Mulas-Granados, 31 March 2014

The recent debate on the link between austerity and growth has focused on the short run. This column discusses recent research into the link between fiscal consolidation and medium-term growth under different financial conditions. If credit is not available to consumers and investors, private demand is less able to compensate for cutbacks in public demand, so large spending cuts can have a negative effect on growth. Difficult financial conditions probably explain why fiscal adjustments that worked in the 1990s have not produced similar beneficial effects on growth in recent years.

Delivering the Eurozone ‘Consistent Trinity’

Marco Buti, Maria Demertzis, João Nogueira Martins, 30 March 2014

Although progress has been made on resolving the Eurozone crisis – vulnerable countries have reduced their current-account deficits and implemented some reforms – more still needs to be done. This column argues for a ‘consistent trinity’ of policies: structural reforms within countries, more symmetric macroeconomic adjustment across countries, and a banking union for the Eurozone.

The ECB should do QE via forex intervention

Jeffrey Frankel, 24 March 2014

The Eurozone needs to further ease monetary policy because under the current low inflation and high unemployment periphery countries need to suffer painful deflation. However, the ECB faces challenges other central banks do not face. This column proposes a way to overcome some of these hurdles. It argues that the ECB should buy US treasury securities, lowering the foreign exchange value of the euro. That would be the best way to restore the export sector of the periphery countries.

EZ fiscal shock absorber: Lessons from insurance economics

Daniel Gros, 19 March 2014

Since the onset of the sovereign debt crisis, the argument for a system of fiscal transfers to offset idiosyncratic shocks in the Eurozone has gained adherents. This column argues that what the Eurozone really needs is not a system which offsets all shocks by some small fraction, but a system which protects against shocks which are rare, but potentially catastrophic. A system of fiscal insurance with a fixed deductible would therefore be preferable to a fiscal shock absorber that offsets a certain percentage of all fiscal shocks.

Making macroprudential stress tests more effective

Viral Acharya, Robert Engle, Diane Pierret, 14 March 2014

Macroprudential stress tests have been employed by regulators in the US and Europe to assess the solvency condition of financial firms in adverse macroeconomic scenarios. The capital required by regulators in such adverse scenarios is strongly dependent on Basel capital standards. This column argues that macro stress tests would be more effective if capital requirements were measured differently from the current regulatory risk weight-based approach, and in particular, were based on total assets and on market risks.

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