Secular stagnation: Facts, causes, and cures – a new Vox eBook
Coen Teulings, Richard Baldwin 15 August 2014
Six years after the Crisis and the recovery is still anaemic despite years of zero interest rates. Is ‘secular stagnation’ to blame? This column introduces an eBook that gathers the views of leading economists including Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Blanchard, Koo, Eichengreen, Caballero, Glaeser, and a dozen others. It is too early to tell whether secular stagnation is really secular, but if it is, current policy tools will be obsolete. Policymakers should start thinking about potential solutions.
Economic growth is still anaemic despite years of zero interest rates.
- Is ‘secular stagnation’ to blame? What does secular stagnation really mean? And if it’s for real, what must be done?
Today, VoxEU.org launches an eBook that gathers the views of leading economists including Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Blanchard, Koo, Eichengreen, Caballero, Glaeser and a dozen others (edited by Coen Teulings and me). Collectively, the chapters suggest that something historic is afoot.
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
interest rates, US, Europe, Japan, investment, macroeconomics, Great Recession, zero lower bound, savings, secular stagnation, SecStag debate
The Great Recession’s long-term damage
Laurence Ball 01 July 2014
Whereas textbook macroeconomic theory suggests that output should return to potential after a recession, there is mounting evidence that deep recessions have highly persistent effects on output. This column reports estimates of the long-term damage caused by the Great Recession. In most countries in the sample, the loss of potential output – 8.4% on average – has been almost as large as the loss of actual output. In the countries hit hardest by the recession, the growth rate of potential output is much lower today than it was before 2008.
According to macroeconomics textbooks, a fall in aggregate demand causes a recession in which output drops below potential output – the normal level of production given the economy’s resources and technology. This effect is temporary, however. A recession is followed by a recovery period in which output returns to potential, and potential itself is not affected significantly by the recession.
growth, unemployment, OECD, potential output, Great Recession, hysteresis
The great British jobs and productivity mystery
João Paulo Pessoa, John Van Reenen 28 June 2014
The fall in productivity in the UK following the Great Recession was particularly bad, whereas the hit to jobs was less severe. This column discusses recent research exploring this puzzle. Although the mystery has not been fully solved, an important part of the explanation lies in the flexibility of wages combined with very low investment.
With some economic recovery having finally got underway, the UK is still feeling the repercussions of the so-called ‘Great Recession’. National output, as measured by GDP, fell by over 7% from its peak in January 2008 – the biggest fall since the inter-war years – and only returned to its pre-crisis level in April 2014 (NIESR 2014). This has been the slowest recovery in this century (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. The profile of recession and recovery
Europe's nations and regions
unemployment, productivity growth, UK, Great Recession
Trade policy through 2013: Signs of improvement but new policy concerns
Chad P Bown 27 June 2014
Temporary trade barriers have become more than an important bellwether for contemporary protectionism; with persistent tariff levels, they are now a primary obstacle to free trade. The World Bank’s newly updated Temporary Trade Barriers Database suggests that the Great Recession-era increases in import protection may be levelling off. Now policymakers begin to face the daunting task of dismantling all of those temporary barriers they imposed during the early phase of the crisis.
How countries apply their trade policies has been of heightened interest since the early days of the Great Recession (Baldwin and Evenett 2009). While applied import tariffs have proven resilient to change, the temporary trade barriers of antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties have become important to understanding the year-to-year churning that arises under modern commercial policy. Here we summarise evidence from the World Bank’s Temporary Trade Barriers Database – that has been newly updated with data through 2013 – for more than 25 major economies.
G20, protectionism, Trade barriers, Great Recession, TTBs
Falling real wages in the UK
David Blanchflower, Stephen Machin 12 May 2014
The pain of the UK’s Great Recession has been spread more evenly than previous downturns, with falling real wages across the distribution. This column asks why this happened, how it compares with the US experience, and what the prospects are for recovering lost wage gains.
There have been unprecedented falls in real wages in the UK since the start of the recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2008. This did not happen in previous economic downturns – median real wage growth slowed down or stalled, but it did not fall. Indeed, in past recessions, almost all workers in both the lowest and highest deciles of the wage distribution experienced growing real wages. It was the unemployed who experienced almost all the pain – they lost their jobs and much of their incomes, and many were unemployed for a long time.
Labour markets Poverty and income inequality
US, unemployment, wages, Inequality, UK, Great Recession, real wages
Has US household deleveraging ended? A model-based estimate of equilibrium debt
Bruno Albuquerque, Ursel Baumann, Georgi Krustev 18 April 2014
Household deleveraging in the US has impeded consumption and market activity in recent years, holding back the recovery. Despite substantial progress in balance sheet repair, a key question is whether deleveraging has ended or whether further adjustment is needed. This column presents time-varying equilibrium estimates of the household debt-to-income ratio determined by economic fundamentals. Taking into account the latest available data, the estimates suggest that the household deleveraging process may have ended at the end of 2013.
The balance sheet adjustment in the household sector has been a prominent feature of the last US recession and subsequent recovery. The beginning of the economic downturn in late 2007 broadly coincided with a sustained reduction in household liabilities relative to income – that is, household deleveraging – which contrasted with the strong build-up of debt before the crisis. From a peak of around 129% in the fourth quarter of 2007, the household debt-to-income ratio fell by 26 percentage points to around 104% in the fourth quarter of 2013, led by sustained declines in mortgage debt.
Great Recession, household debt, household deleveraging
The US manufacturing recovery: Uptick or renaissance?
Oya Celasun, Gabriel Di Bella, Tim Mahedy, Chris Papageorgiou 24 February 2014
The strong rebound of manufacturing production following the Great Recession of 2008–09 has generated renewed interest in the sector among analysts and policymakers. This column argues that a detailed look at the data suggests that claims of a US manufacturing renaissance are unwarranted. Yet, there remain factors that could support a greater contribution from the manufacturing sector to overall US growth in the years ahead.
Amid increasing anecdotes of a ‘renaissance’ in US manufacturing, many commentators have argued that the sector may contribute more significantly to domestic GDP and global industrial output in future (e.g. Financial Times 2012, New York Times 2012, McKinsey Global Institute 2012, Citi Research 2013).
US, growth, manufacturing, Great Recession
How did household balance sheets affect consumption during the Great Recession?
Scott Ross Baker 19 January 2014
The dramatic fall in consumption during the Great Recession was accompanied by an equally dramatic increase in household debt in the years preceding it. This column examines the relationship between household debt and consumption behaviour, and the channels through which this link operates. The column concludes that the relationship is driven almost entirely by the presence of financial constraints, such as liquidity or borrowing limits.
The presence of substantial amounts of household debt in 2007 has prompted many economists and policymakers to link debt to the depth of the recession in the following years. The possibility that higher levels of household debt induce deeper or longer recessions has important implications for both financial regulation and the size of the social safety net. More broadly, a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between a household's spending decisions, income process, and balance sheet is imperative to accurately describe microeconomic drivers of business cycles.
consumption, Great Recession, household debt
Job losses from the credit crunch during the Great Recession
Samuel Bentolila, Marcel Jansen 01 February 2014
The evidence about the effect of declined lending during the Great Recession on the employment is quite limited. This column presents new research on the problem focusing on the case of Spain. A large part of credit to non-financial firms before the crisis came from weak banks, which solvency was strongly eroded during the crisis. As a result, firms that relied heavily on loans from such weak banks displayed significantly higher employment reduction in comparison to similar, less exposed firms. The bulk of employment destruction was driven by firm closures, which carries higher economic costs than downsizing, and could potentially make the recession more protracted.
Policymakers in both Europe and the US are concerned about the economic implications of the current shortage of credit. As the International Monetary Fund put it recently, “policymakers want to support markets because the decline in lending is seen to be a primary factor in the slow recovery” (IMF 2013).
Spain, Credit crunch, Great Recession, job losses
Crisis-proof services: Why trade in services did not suffer during the 2008-09 collapse
Andrea Ariu 24 December 2013
The Global Crisis saw a sudden and synchronised fall in exports worldwide. One quirk in this Great Trade Collapse was the surprisingly robust performance of service exports. This column investigates the differences using Belgian firm-level data, finding that most of the differences stem from business-service exports. These services fell less mainly due to demand-side factors as their demand reacted to the macro fluctuations more like consumables than durables.
Following the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, international trade in goods collapsed by 30%. This dramatic collapse was highly synchronised across countries and mostly concentrated in the category of durable goods (Baldwin 2009). Surprisingly, international trade in services barely reacted to the crisis. Many service industries continued to grow at a brisk pace, with the only exception being transport services which experienced a modest decline (Borchert and Mattoo 2009, Francois and Woerz 2009).
trade in services, Great Recession