Macroeconomic policy

Christiane Baumeister, Lutz Kilian, 18 May 2017

The sluggish growth of the US economy after the 2014-2016 decline in the oil price surprised many economists. This column argues that it should have been expected. The modest stimulus to private consumption and non-oil business investment was largely offset by a large decline in investment by the oil sector. Growth was further slowed by a simultaneous global economic slowdown, reflected in lower US exports. 

Marco Buti, José Leandro, Katia Berti, 12 May 2017

As the recovery in the Eurozone approaches its fifth year, this column presents the latest economic forecast from the European Commission, which projects a continuation of the recovery at a steady pace (1.7% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018). Nevertheless, over the next two years, wage growth is expected to remain constrained, the investment gap is expected to persist, the current account surplus is forecast to remain high, and core inflation to stay subdued. This suggests that there is still scope for higher growth without triggering inflationary pressures, and the Spring forecast shows that maintaining the current supportive macroeconomic policy environment is the right approach, while implementing comprehensive and productivity-enhancing structural reforms. The main immediate priority should be cleaning up the banking sector.

Andrew Fieldhouse, Karel Mertens, Morten Ravn, 02 May 2017

Despite the significant role of housing government-sponsored enterprises in the US mortgage markets, their activities have not been subject to much scrutiny by macroeconomists. Using a monthly sample covering 40 years, this column asks how portfolio mortgage purchase activities have affected the availability of housing credit and key aggregate variables. The results indicate a key role for the agencies in shaping the US economy, as well as significant interactions and similarities between housing credit policies and conventional monetary policy.

Keiichiro Kobayashi, 02 May 2017

There is concern about the persistent slowdown of economic growth in the aftermath of financial crises. This column presents a framework which shows that excessive debt accumulated by firms and households during a crisis can cause persistent stagnation. Relief from excessive debt has a direct impact on economic growth, whereas unconventional monetary and fiscal policies cannot directly solve the fundamental debt problem.

Ed Balls, Anna Stansbury, 01 May 2017

Until recently, the independence granted to the Bank of England 20 years ago had gone unchallenged. But the financial crisis has raised questions over whether central bank independence is necessary, feasible, and democratic. This column revisits the relationship between inflation and the operational and political independence of the central bank in advanced economies. The findings support the Bank of England model of monetary policy independence: fully operationally independent, but somewhat politically dependent. To make operational independence work, however, further reforms are needed to the model in both monetary–fiscal coordination and macroprudential policy.

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