This post was originally written for Credit Writedowns Pro on 12 Jun before Greece defaulted on loans to the IMF. The situation in Greece is not about Greece at all. It is about enforcing an economic framework onto all Eurozone countries. And because the policy goal is primarily about enforcing this economic framework everywhere in the eurozone, there is less policy space available […]
This is going to be a short thought piece. But the takeaway should be that the convergence to zero will continue unabated as the threat of inflation is muted given the combination of excess capacity, high private debt and unfavourable demographics. The subject is monetary policy.
It’s currently very trendy in Italy to blame Angela Merkel, Mario Monti, and austerity measures for the current recession. This column argues that while the severity of the downturn is clearly a cyclical phenomenon, the inability of the country to grow out of it is the legacy of more than a decade of a lack of reforms in credit, product and labour markets. This lack of reform has suffocated innovation and productivity growth, resulting in wage dynamics that are completely decoupled from labour productivity and demand conditions.
What southern Europe needs is a revolution in the mindset and more “better quality” stuff, and no amount of blaming Germany for the situation can get over that. The extractive networks who hold back growth need reforming out of existence. At the same time the under-investment over-saving phenomenon that characterizes Germany bears a remarkable similarity to what has been happening in Japan, with the strange difference that these days Japan is normally sympathized with and not blamed for all the world’s ills.
The gist of the piece here is that, while I see a cyclical recovery that is gathering pace, the Achilles heel of the recovery from a sustainability perspective is wage growth. To the degree the Fed normalizes policy now before wage growth has a chance to make up for its really weak post-recession trajectory, the US will find itself in the same sort of weak stall speed scenario that we now see in Europe. My worry now is that the cyclical recovery has been artificial, fake – goosed up by temporary monetary stimulus. I think that when that stimulus is removed, there will be nothing to support continued growth, and that the US economy will weaken. Here’s how I put it below.
This is an abbreviated post from our subscription series at Credit Writedowns Pro. Before I get into the details today, I want to note that going forward, I may not have the bandwidth to be able to post on a daily basis. I am going to try. But there are definitely going to be weekdays going forward where I won’t […]
Japan needs deep seated cultural changes, especially ones directed to greater female empowerment and more openness towards immigration. Japan needs a series of structural reforms – like those under discussion around the third arrow – but these would be to soften the blow of workforce and population decline, not an attempt to run away from it. Monetary policy has its limits. As Martin Wolf so aptly put it, “you can’t print babies”.
This is an abbreviated post from our subscription series at Credit Writedowns Pro. This post is on the same topic of the US economy that I addressed yesterday. But I want to go a bit deeper and add more colour to my comments. Signs that the US economy’s cyclical outlook are improving are getting ever more numerous, especially when we […]
Russia is signalling de-escalation in Ukraine, at least on economics
The mobile battle is moving to India
The limited window on Abenomics is closing
I am not impressed with macro policy that is managed purely to give a cyclical boost to the economy at the expense of secular sustainability. That makes it hard to look at what’s happening with macro policy now without scepticism and criticism. I would like to say that the upbeat near-turn forecasts are something to celebrate. But I can’t because they are predicated on unsustainable secular trends. A few brief thoughts below
This is an abbreviated post from our subscription series at Credit Writedowns Pro. After a number of years of stall speed growth, the US economy seems to be breaking out, even as the Fed has turned toward a tightening bias. As this cycle continues, we should not underestimate the ability of the US economy to continue moving forward. But we […]
The economic and business paradigm in place in the United States is predicated on a secular increase in household debt that I believe will not last through another cyclical downturn without serious deleveraging. The reason we saw deleveraging during this past downturn was because we are now at a point where the secular increase in household debt has become unsustainable. Some thoughts below