There’s no economic constraint on the fiscal space available to fight the next recession

对于应对下一次经济衰退的财政空间没有经济上的限制

2019/05/21 06:25
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下一次衰退还没有开始——甚至可能还没有那么近——但人们谈论下一次衰退的活动肯定已经开始了。我们上个月共同赞助的关于下一次经济衰退的活动和小组成员的文章可以在这里看到。它值得一看。一个亮点是……

The next recession has not begun—and might not even be all that close at hand—but events where people are talking about the Next Recession have definitely started.

下一次衰退还没有开始——甚至可能还没有那么近——但人们谈论下一次衰退的活动肯定已经开始了。

The event we co-sponsored last month on the next recession and essays from the panelists can be seen here. It’s worth checking out. A highlight was the keynote by Christina Romer, who served as the first chief economist for the Obama administration as it was taking office in the face of the Great Recession. Romer established a reputation as a firm advocate for fighting the recession with aggressive and sustained fiscal stimulus. In retrospect, her recommendations were clearly right, and if politics had let them win the day, tens of millions of Americans would have suffered far less in the past decade.

我们上个月共同赞助的关于下一次经济衰退的活动和小组成员的文章可以在这里看到。它值得一看。其中一个亮点是克里斯蒂娜•罗默(Christina Romer)的主题演讲。罗默在奥巴马政府面对大萧条(Great Recession)上台时,曾担任奥巴马政府的首位首席经济学家。罗默以积极和持续的财政刺激措施对抗经济衰退而闻名。回想起来,她的建议显然是正确的,如果政治让他们获胜,数千万美国人在过去10年遭受的痛苦就会少得多。

A conventional wisdom has emerged in recent years that an aggressive and sustained fiscal stimulus won’t be possible during the next recession. This argument is that the U.S. lacks the “fiscal space” needed to undertake this type of fiscal stimulus because its debt-to-GDP ratio is too high. During the first panel, a number of panelists and I made the case that this conventional wisdom is wrong; there is nothing to stop policymakers from undertaking needed fiscal stimulus during the next recession – except their own potential errors in judgment (this argument was also a theme of a paper I wrote for the event).

近年来,人们普遍认为,在下一次经济衰退期间,不可能出台激进而持续的财政刺激措施。这种观点认为,美国缺乏实施此类财政刺激所需的“财政空间”,因为其债务与gdp之比过高。在第一次小组讨论中,我和许多小组成员都认为这种传统观点是错误的;没有什么能阻止政策制定者在下一次衰退期间实施必要的财政刺激——除了他们自己潜在的判断失误(这一论点也是我为此次会议撰写的一篇论文的主题)。

During her speech, Professor Romer made an argument that may have surprised some; she pointed to recent work she had done showing evidence that, in the past, high debt-to-GDP ratios really were associated with less-aggressive fiscal stimulus following financial crises. She pointed to this evidence for why she advocates reining in the growth of public debt as a key strategy for preparing for the next recession. She singled out the 2017 tax cut as a key example of what not to do when preparing for the next recession.

在演讲中,罗默教授的论点可能让一些人感到惊讶;她指出,她最近所做的工作表明,在过去,高债务与gdp之比确实与金融危机后力度较小的财政刺激有关。她指出,这就是为什么她主张将控制公共债务增长作为为下一次衰退做准备的一项关键战略的原因。她特别指出,2017年的减税政策是一个关键的例子,说明在为下一次衰退做准备时不应做什么。

It would easy to think there was a disagreement between the evidence cited in Romer’s keynote about high debt-to-GDP ratios muffling fiscal stimulus and my own claim that the U.S. currently faces no shortage of fiscal space to fight the next recession. But, there really is no substantive disagreement here on the economics. What the Romer research finds is that in a large sample of rich countries, “policymakers’ ideas” are the key factor linking high debt-to-GDP ratios and the failure to provide fiscal stimulus following a debt crisis, rather than genuine economic constraints. Quoting directly from this paper:

人们很容易认为,罗默在主题演讲中提到的高债务与国内生产总值(gdp)之比抑制财政刺激的证据,与我自己的观点存在分歧。我本人认为,美国目前并不缺乏对抗下一场衰退的财政空间。但是,在经济上确实没有实质性的分歧。罗默的研究发现,在富裕国家的大量样本中,“政策制定者的想法”是导致高债务与gdp之比、以及债务危机后未能提供财政刺激的关键因素,而非真正的经济约束。直接引用本文:

Our primary goal in this paper is to understand why a country’s fiscal response to a crisis depends on it prior debt-to-GDP ratio. One possibility is that it reflects constraints imposed by market access… Alternatively, the link between the fiscal response to a crisis and a country’s debt-to-GDP ratio may reflect choices by the country or international organizations. For example, policymakers’ ideas may lead them to tighten fiscal policy after a crisis if the debt ratio is high, but not otherwise.

我们在本文中的主要目标是理解为什么一个国家对危机的财政反应取决于它之前的债务与gdp之比。一种可能性是,它反映了市场准入带来的限制……另一种可能性是,危机财政应对措施与一国债务与国内生产总值(gdp)之比之间的联系,可能反映了该国或国际组织的选择。例如,如果债务比率高企,政策制定者的想法可能会导致他们在危机过后收紧财政政策,但反之则不然。

This distinction between market access and policymakers’ ideas is key. The classic case for why high debt-to-GDP ratios impede the ability to undertake fiscal stimulus hinges on market access—the fear being that stimulus will lead to rising interest rates which crowd-out any useful effect of the stimulus (or, in some cases even lead to a debt crisis). Restricted financial market access and crowding out based on spiking interest rates would represent genuine economic constraints on the fiscal space available to a country.

市场准入与政策制定者想法之间的这种区别是关键。高债务与gdp之比阻碍实施财政刺激的能力,一个经典的例子就是市场准入——人们担心,刺激将导致利率上升,抵消刺激的任何有用效果(在某些情况下,甚至会导致债务危机)。限制金融市场准入和因利率飙升而被挤出市场,将对一国可用的财政空间构成真正的经济约束。

However, policymakers might just have ideas about debt—whether informed by evidence or not—that cause them to forego needed fiscal stimulus when debt to GDP ratios are high. This certainly better-describes the most recent episode in U.S. economic history, when the U.S. Congress undertook extraordinary austerity measures even as the economy remained clearly depressed and interest rates were at historic lows.

然而,政策制定者可能只是对债务有一些想法——不管是否得到证据的支持——在债务与GDP之比高企的情况下,这些想法会导致他们放弃必要的财政刺激。这当然更好地描述了美国经济史上最近的一段时期,当时美国国会在经济明显低迷、利率处于历史低点的情况下采取了非常严厉的紧缩措施。

In the end, Romer finds that for the large sample of countries studied, the statistical analysis indicates that ideas matter more for driving countries away from undertaking needed fiscal stimulus when debt ratios are high:

最后,罗默发现,对于所研究的大量国家样本,统计分析表明,在债务率高企的情况下,想法对于促使国家放弃实施必要的财政刺激更为重要:

This paper seeks to understand why the prior debt-to-GDP ratio appears to matter for the fiscal response to crises. We find that including direct measures of sovereign market access, such as long-term government bond rates or sovereign credit ratings, does not eliminate, or even greatly attenuate, the estimated impact of the debt-to-GDP ratio on the high-employment surplus following crises. This strongly suggests that the debt ratio does not matter simply through its impact on current market access or because it is a proxy for market access. Rather, an important part of why it matters appears to be through its impact on policymaker choices.

本文试图理解,为何先前的债务与gdp之比似乎对财政应对危机至关重要。我们发现,包括长期政府债券利率或主权信用评级等直接衡量主权市场准入的措施,并没有消除、甚至大大削弱债务与gdp之比对危机后高就业盈余的估计影响。这有力地表明,债务比率的重要性并不仅仅在于它对当前市场准入的影响,也不在于它是市场准入的代表。相反,它之所以重要,一个重要原因似乎在于它对政策制定者选择的影响。

In disaggregated investigations, Romer finds that for the U.S., ideas have always been the key factor linking either fiscal stimulus or fiscal contraction to debt ratios and crisis response.

在分门别类的调查中,罗默发现,对美国而言,想法一直是将财政刺激或财政紧缩与债务比率和危机应对联系起来的关键因素。

Finally, it is important to note that the Romer paper assesses episodes of financial crises or “financial distress,” not recessions per se. Financial distress and recession are not the same thing, so this research does not map perfectly onto thinking about the next recession. For example, the Romer data starts in 1967, yet the only episodes of “financial distress” identified for the United States are after 1985—despite the terrible early 1980s recession that saw the unemployment rate peak at 10.8 percent in 1982. Further, one episode of financial distress identified for the U.S. in this data occurred in 1998, a year when the economy grew rapidly and saw unemployment hit 4.4 percent. In short, “financial distress” is a different phenomenon than “recession” in this research.

最后,值得注意的是,罗默的论文评估的是金融危机或“金融危机”的发作,而不是衰退本身。金融危机和经济衰退不是一回事,所以这项研究并不能完美地映射到对下一次经济衰退的思考上。例如,罗默的数据始于1967年,但美国唯一确定的“金融危机”发生在1985年之后——尽管上世纪80年代初经历了可怕的经济衰退,失业率在1982年达到10.8%的峰值。此外,在这些数据中发现的美国金融危机发生在1998年,当时美国经济快速增长,失业率达到4.4%。总之,在本研究中,“财务困境”与“衰退”是不同的现象。

The research presented by Romer during our keynote is incredibly valuable and clearly highlighted the most valuable preparation we can do before the next recession hits: educating our policymakers to think more sensibly about debt and recession-fighting—much like I argued in my original paper the event.

罗默在我们的主题演讲中所做的研究非常有价值,并清楚地强调了我们在下一次衰退来临之前所能做的最有价值的准备:教育我们的政策制定者更理智地思考债务和对抗衰退的问题——就像我在我的第一篇论文《事件》中所说的那样。

Tagged Recession/stimulus Macroeconomics Economic Growth Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment Budget Stimulus/stabilization policy

经济增长预算、税收和公共投资预算刺激/稳定政策

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