By Andrea Terzi originally published at Social Europe and republished with consent of Author The anti-austerity vote in the European elections reflected two different kinds of discontent. One is a feeling of frustration, which is invigorating nationalism: the vote for “less Europe.” The other is a lack of confidence in current EU policies: the vote for “another Europe.” In both […]
By Michael Pettis Debate about the global savings glut hypothesis is mired in confusion, a fundamental one of which is the seemingly obvious but false claim that a global savings glut must lead to higher global savings. Here, for example, is a recent piece by one of my favorite economists, Barry Eichengreen: There is only one problem: the data show […]
This is a loaded topic. This entry, however, is not intended to be political. Very few things in economics are good or bad in themselves, but rather can be good under certain conditions or bad under others. I want to try to tease out as logically as I can the conditions under which rising income inequality can be good or bad for the economy.
In order to understand much of what is happening in China it is important to understand how financial systems operate under condition of financial repression. Because most of what we know about economics is derived from economists whose operating environment is the classical “anglo-saxon” economies, we underrate important economists that don’t follow this tradition, like the German Freidrich List or the American Albert O. Hirschman. And it leads us into mistaken assumptions, like the belief that higher interest rates lead automatically to higher savings rates.
The German-language media have been voicing concerns over the ECB’s low interest-rate policy and its effect on savings and investment in the euro zone. This makes sense given the state of the economy in Germany and Austria is significantly more robust than in the eurozone periphery. The German Bundesbank has already warned of overheated housing markets. Another warning on housing from Ireland crystallizes for me the risks with using monetary policy for reflation.
debt matters, even if it is possible to pretend for many years that it doesn’t (and this pretense was made possible by the implicit capitalization of debt-servicing costs). Japan never really wrote down all or even most of its investment misallocation of the 1980s and simply rolled it forward in the form of rising government debt. For a long time it was able to service this growing debt burden by keeping interest rates very low as a response to very slow growth and by effectively capitalizing interest payments, but if Abenomics is “successful”, ironically, it will no longer be able to play this game.
“Not all government debt is created equal. We have bad deficits and good deficits. Good deficits are used to fund investments that will have a positive rate of return, properly determined. Those contribute to GDP.”
It is still too early for all of these predictions either to have materialized or to have failed, but I thought it might be useful to review them to see whether or not they have been reasonably accurate in describing unfolding events and, if not, how my model for thinking about global imbalances should be revised. My reason for doing this is not so much to keep score but rather that these predictions were almost necessary or logical outcomes of the savings imbalance model I implicitly use to understand the world, and so to the extent that my model is valid it should show up in the evolution of these predictions.
Recent developments in the Eurozone, specifically Cyprus where the first EU-dictated bail-in of bank depositors took place, brought to light an important issue which had been hiding in the shadows: the flawed nature of current deposit insurance schemes. In this article we present and develop a scheme which will address the need of depositors for safety without creating distorted incentives, while simultaneously helping to ensure the viability and stability of the banking sector in time of crisis.
Once again, savers are punished – they either have to take risk (such as rate or credit risk) or live with 5bp (or less). Money markets simply have not benefited from higher interest rates.
Economic growth is good. But what we want to see is job and wage growth to complement the asset-price growth. Without this catch up on the job and income front, the economy is on an unsustainable course.
One of the reasons that it is been so hard for a lot of analysts, even trained economists, to understand the imbalances that were at the root of the current crisis is that we too easily confuse national savings with household savings. By coincidence there was recently a very interesting debate on the subject involving several economists, and it is pretty clear from the debate that even accounting identities can lead to confusion.