Mittwoch, 1. April 2015

Stagnation und Niedrigzinsen

Ben Bernanke fängt an zu bloggen.

Nach einer "Anstandspause" von einem Jahr hat er einen Blog gestartet und macht sich in den ersten Beiträgen über das Phänomen niedriger Zinsen und die Hypothese der "secular stagnation" als Erklärung Gedanken.

Zu letzterem schreibt er unter anderem:
"Does the U.S. economy face secular stagnation? I am skeptical, and the sources of my skepticism go beyond the fact that the U.S. economy looks to be well on the way to full employment today. First, as I pointed out as a participant on the IMF panel at which Larry first raised the secular stagnation argument, at real interest rates persistently as low as minus 2 percent it’s hard to imagine that there would be a permanent dearth of profitable investment projects. As Larry’s uncle Paul Samuelson taught me in graduate school at MIT, if the real interest rate were expected to be negative indefinitely, almost any investment is profitable. For example, at a negative (or even zero) interest rate, it would pay to level the Rocky Mountains to save even the small amount of fuel expended by trains and cars that currently must climb steep grades. It’s therefore questionable that the economy’s equilibrium real rate can really be negative for an extended period. [...]

Second, I generally agree with the recent critique of secular stagnation by Jim Hamilton, Ethan Harris, Jan Hatzius, and Kenneth West. In particular, they take issue with Larry’s claim that we have never seen full employment during the past several decades without the presence of a financial bubble. [...]

My greatest concern about Larry’s formulation, however, is the lack of attention to the international dimension. He focuses on factors affecting domestic capital investment and household spending. All else equal, however, the availability of profitable capital investments anywhere in the world should help defeat secular stagnation at home. The foreign exchange value of the dollar is one channel through which this could work: If US households and firms invest abroad, the resulting outflows of financial capital would be expected to weaken the dollar, which in turn would promote US exports."
Am Ende schreibt er:
"But this line of thought opens up interesting alternatives to the secular stagnation hypothesis, as I’ll elaborate in my next post."
Ich bin gespannt.

Larry Summers antwortet hier auf Ben Bernankes Ausführungen. Er geht auf verschiedene Fragen ein, die Bernanke stellt und schließt:
"I would like nothing better than to be wrong as Alvin Hansen was with respect to secular stagnation.  It may be that growth will soon take hold in the industrial world and allow interest rates and financial conditions to normalize.  If so, those like Ben who judged slow recovery to be a reflection of temporary headwinds and misguided fiscal contractions will be vindicated and fears of secular stagnation will have been misplaced.

But throughout the industrial world the vast majority of the revisions in growth forecasts have been downwards for many years now.  So, I continue to urge that it is worth taking seriously the possibility that we face a chronic problem of an excess of desired saving relative to investment.  If this is the case, monetary policy will not be able to normalize, there will be a continuing need for expanded public and private investment, and there will be a need for global coordination to assure an adequate level of demand and its appropriate distribution.  Macroeconomists can contribute by moving beyond their traditional models of business cycles to contemplate the possibility of secular stagnation."
Zwar sind die langfristigen Zinsen in den USA nicht mehr ganz so niedrig; aber gerade die Entwicklung im Euroraum wird dafür sorgen, dass die Disussion um Larry Summers Hypothese noch einige Zeit anhalten wird.

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