The halo of victory: What Americans learned from World War I

Hugh Rockoff 04 October 2014

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World War I had important consequences for the structure of the US economy and its role in the world economy. This was especially true in the world of finance. The US transitioned from being a debtor nation to a creditor nation, and financial leadership moved from London to New York. But equally important were the lessons that Americans drew from the war. Although the war had much to teach, Americans tended, I will argue below, to learn too much from the war, drawing strong conclusions from a war in which the US was actively engaged for only 19 months.

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Topics:  Competition policy Economic history

Tags:  World War I, WWI, planning, rationing, New Deal, Great Depression, fiscal policy, monetary policy, stimulus, financial crisis, conscription, inflation, unemployment, price controls, Competition policy, antitrust, National Industrial Recovery Act

Where danger lurks

Olivier Blanchard 03 October 2014

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Until the 2008 global financial crisis, mainstream US macroeconomics had taken an increasingly benign view of economic fluctuations in output and employment. The crisis has made it clear that this view was wrong and that there is a need for a deep reassessment.

The benign view reflected both factors internal to economics and an external economic environment that for years seemed indeed increasingly benign.

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Topics:  Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy

Tags:  macroeconomics, global crisis, great moderation, rational expectations, nonlinearities, fluctuations, business cycle, monetary policy, inflation, bank runs, deposit insurance, sudden stops, capital flows, liquidity, maturity mismatch, zero lower bound, liquidity trap, capital requirements, credit constraints, precautionary savings, housing boom, Credit crunch, unconventional monetary policy, fiscal policy, sovereign default, diabolical loop, deflation, debt deflation, financial regulation, regulatory arbitrage, DSGE models

Eurozone recovery: there are no shortcuts

Roberto Perotti 13 September 2014

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The consensus is increasing that austerity has not worked – Europe stands on the edge of deflation and suffers from a deficit of demand. A recent VoxEU proposal (Giavazzi and Tabellini 2014) offers a solution that is widely shared on both sides of the Atlantic – all Eurozone countries should cut taxes simultaneously by 5% of GDP, and the ECB should buy the extra debt without sterilisation. This should be accompanied by a credible plan to reduce government spending in the future.

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Topics:  Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy

Tags:  austerity, eurozone, monetary policy, helicopter money, quantitative easing, QE, stimulus, fiscal consolidation, fiscal policy, spending cuts, fiscal sustainability, debt monetisation

Did the Cash for Clunkers stimulus programme reduce new vehicle spending?

Mark Hoekstra, Steve Puller, Jeremy West 03 September 2014

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Cash for Clunkers as stimulus

There has been significant debate about the role of various federal fiscal and monetary policies during recessions. Among the fiscal stimulus programmes, however, one seemed to hold particular promise. The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), better known as Cash for Clunkers, provided subsidies of up to $4,500 to households who scrapped their existing ‘clunker’ and purchased a new, fuel-efficient vehicle. Subsidies totalled nearly $3 billion.

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Topics:  Energy Environment Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  Cash for clunkers, scrapping subsidies, stimulus, environment, fuel efficiency, fiscal policy, cars, Auto industry

How to jumpstart the Eurozone economy

Francesco Giavazzi, Guido Tabellini 21 August 2014

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The mantra is that once again it is up to the ECB to save the Eurozone. Quantitative easing is the last policy tool available to jumpstart the Eurozone economy. The longer the ECB waits before starting to buy government bonds, the further away will the recovery be. This analysis, however, overestimates the power of monetary policy.

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Topics:  Europe's nations and regions Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  ECB, monetary policy, fiscal policy, quantitative easing, public debt, aggregate demand, Eurozone economy, stagnation

Pension reform and equity

Benedict Clements, Csaba Feher, Sanjeev Gupta 17 July 2014

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Pension reform remains a critical fiscal policy challenge for advanced and emerging market economies. Despite reform efforts in these economies – which have focused on raising retirement ages and reducing benefits – spending is expected to rise as a share of GDP over the medium-term (EC 2012, Merola and Sutherland 2013). But pension reforms, to be politically acceptable, must also be perceived as fair. This column examines key equity challenges in the design of pension reforms, drawing on a new book published by the IMF (Clements, Eich, and Gupta 2014).

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Topics:  Poverty and income inequality

Tags:  redistribution, fiscal policy

Revisiting the pain in Spain

Paul De Grauwe 07 July 2014

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The different macroeconomic adjustment dynamics in Spain – a member of a monetary union – and the UK – a stand-alone country – is stark. Paul Krugman popularised this contrast in his New York Times blog with the title “The Pain in Spain” (Krugman 2009, 2011), and commented on my own analysis in De Grauwe (2011).

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Topics:  Europe's nations and regions Global crisis Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  ECB, monetary policy, euro, EMU, Spain, monetary union, fiscal policy, UK, government debt, austerity, EZ crisis, Outright Monetary Transactions, currency depreciation

The social impact of fiscal policy responses to crises

Carlos A. Vegh , Guillermo Vuletin 12 June 2014

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Fiscal policy in many developing countries is typically procyclical. Expansionary in good times and contractionary in bad times, these policies often amplify business cycles. The most convincing explanations for such practices seem to be limited access to international credit markets during bad times and political pressures that tend to encourage too much public spending during boom periods (Calderon and Schmidt-Hebbel 2008). Whatever the reason, the pattern is well documented (see Frankel, Vegh, and Vuletin 2011 on the spending side and Vegh and Vuletin 2013a on the tax side).

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Topics:  Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  fiscal policy, business cycle, austerity, cyclicality, LAC-7

Taxing, spending, and inequality – what is to be done?

Benedict Clements, David Coady, Ruud de Mooij, Sanjeev Gupta 15 April 2014

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The causes and consequences of rising inequality have attracted considerable attention, including the recent study by Thomas Piketty (2014). This has also touched off a lively debate on the appropriate policy response to rising disparities in income and wealth (Mankiw 2013, Berg, Ostry, and Tsangarides 2014). But this is just one of the many challenges facing ministers of finance – reducing public debt ratios and raising growth are also priorities. So what’s a minister to do?

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Topics:  Poverty and income inequality Taxation

Tags:  income inequality, redistribution, fiscal policy

Fiscal adjustment and growth: Beware of the credit constraints

Emanuele Baldacci, Sanjeev Gupta, Carlos Mulas-Granados 31 March 2014

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In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the discussion of the effects of fiscal adjustment on economic growth has intensified. While some scholars have focused on the characteristics of the fiscal consolidation needed to bring public debt down from historically high levels, others have examined the effects of alternative strategies on economic performance. The VoxEU debate aptly covered in “Has Austerity Gone Too Far?” (Corsetti 2012) sums up the conflicting positions.

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Topics:  Financial markets Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  financial crisis, fiscal policy, deleveraging, fiscal consolidation, debt, credit constraints, austerity

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