Friday, April 17, 2009

Central Banks and current global economic crisis (I)

While the discussion about the current global economy crisis goes on, there are tough evaluations about the implications of Central Bank decisions concerning interest rate, in the previous years (2001-2005). In particular, the effect of a longer than necessary easy monetary policy, applied in the USA economy after 2001, and how it ignited the housing bubble. On this regards some annalist have suggested that Central Bank approach to economy policy, is driven in such way , that regardless of macro economic conditions, this institution seek to support the next bubble, rather than its traditional stand on inflation growth and employment.-
On the other side , the tools available for Central Banks might also be under scrutiny to prevent future crisis. The connection between price stability and financial stability, has not been addressed to the full extent of its significance for economic policy decisions. The normative macroeconomic and rules for policy making (Taylor Rule), is just one side of the problem, as long as it also matters the missing variables from that equation ,specially in the case of financial variables such as the ratio of private debt to GDP. To consider this parameter it would mean that as long as inflation ,and gdp above long run trend justify higher interest rate , so it would when the private debt / GDP ratio, increase above long run trend . An adjustment in interest rate, is necessary to prevent falling into the area of higher systemic risk . In this case ,given all other variables , this deviation from long run trends, might justify an increase in interest rate early that real fundamentals might suggest, preventing the bubble to go out of control.
The question about the responsibility of Central Bank (The Federal Reserve) in the housing bubble will not be easily settle down either. However, it is important to keep in mind that price stability is not disconnected from real variables performances, such as productivity level. Let assume that there is no housing bubbles, because people has the proper information to anticipate rationally the final outcome of such a bubble. Thus, if productivity increase , it means that any demand pressure on prices, is counterbalanced by supply factors, allowing for better price performance within the Central bank target than otherwise. In fact, the productivity level in the USA economy between 2000 and 2008 averaged 2,5 %, such that it was possible to have low interest rate longer than expected .Inflation started to be an higher risk beyond the mid of the year 2000 , not just for demand factor but because of supply shock .(food prices and oil prices increase).-
On this regard , it might be plausible that when Central Bank (USA), started to raise interest rate at a stronger pace(2005- 2006), it was not that much late to do so, as long as inflationary level is concern , because productivity was increasing. Given the way the Taylor rule is defined ,which excludes financial variables, then the key problem might be about the proper specification of the rule.In other word ,it was a misspecification of the tool which mislead Central bank not to raise interest rate stronlgy before when private debt was probably moving above its long run trend. -

Friday, April 03, 2009

Innovation and current economic crisis (II)

Schumpeter said ,behind every economic crisis ,there is also historical forces explaining them , such that a better understanding of its causes, requires models more complex than those based on a partial equilibrium , which do not includes qualitative variables . Thus, in the current situation, of global economic crisis , the historical factor it might be related to the anticipated transition from the post industrial economies, to the global economy. Alvin Toffler ,Lester Thurow Robert Reich ,Guy Sorman,Paul Krugman , explained quite well where the post industrial economy was moving to. However perhaps the missing point (as far as I can recall) ,was the fact that the risk tolerance were different ,as the global economy replaced the post industrial economy order. Therefore a key difference between them ,aside from the market size, and the regulations requirement , is the risk preferences underlying market decisions . While post industrial economies had an higher risk propensity, global economy has a lower risk propensity. Just to mention three areas where these differences stand quite clear, and has moved the global economy away from its initial equlibrium :
a.- Environment protection .The post industrial economy did not give too much attention to the Kyoto protocol, and others call for better environment polices, quite the opposite to the importance that global warming has on the global economy agenda a new arrangement for global environment protection.-
b.- Automobile industry technological profile. The collapse of traditional automobile industry, goes side by side with the old standard for environment protection, as a constraint for technological purposes. As the constraint has changed at the global scale, so it changed the technological profile, which the Big three were not sufficiently prepared for.-
c.- Global Financial flows. The current global economic crisis is the result of a perverse mix of variables, policies and events ,but it has a single element behind : The preference for risky behaviour ,essential to the traditional post industrial economy, which is the path the western industrialized economies, chose to make its way to the era of economic prosperity in the XX century. There was not constraint on energy sources, human capital resources ,raw material resources, and environment resources. The global economy which means the virtuous mix of different economic policies, to support global markets, take unregulated financial flows , as a threat for growth rather than a blessing . The argument that such flows act like a filter for bad domestic polices design, goes against empirical evidence since the late nineties ,which shows that bad economic policies effects, might stay quite a while with unregulated financial flows, without preventing its correction .-
Aside form these historical factors ,there are industrial variables related to business decisions to innovate production process , within the framework of the so called “creative destruction” ,which imply a downward shift in the production fucntion. Economic cycles are related to specific development on the industry , such that when a new technology is applied ,it destroy the old one; and it allow the arising of a new cycle. initiating the next cycle. The implication for policy makers, goes on the side of not interfering these process ,but supporting them with polices aimed at keeping the right incentives working within a flexible framework.-