Macroeconomic policy

Pierluigi Balduzzi, Emanuele Brancati, Fabio Schiantarelli, 09 November 2018

The Italian government has decided to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy, with increased welfare spending as its focus. This column uses evidence from the 2010-2012 sovereign debt crisis to explore the potential negative effects of this policy on private investment. It finds that an increase in a bank’s credit default swap spreads leads to lower investment and employment for younger and smaller firms and in the aggregate. These findings suggest the planned fiscal expansion could substantially crowd out private investment.

Marco Buti, Björn Döhring, 08 November 2018

GDP growth has become more uneven globally, and has shifted into a lower gear in Europe. So it is unsurprising that commentators have started warning about a more severe downturn. The Commission's autumn 2018 European Economic Forecast is no exception in highlighting an unusual amount of uncertainty clouding the economic outlook. The predominance of downside risks implies that macroeconomic outcomes could ex post be worse than our central scenario. This column discusses, on the basis of concrete examples, different types of uncertainty surrounding the still benign forecast baseline. Prudence requires economic policy to prepare for the eventuality of worse outturns. 

James Cloyne, Nicholas Dimsdale, Natacha Postel-Vinay, 02 November 2018

The austerity, low interest rates, and sluggish growth in Britain between the two World Wars mirror today's economic circumstances. The column investigates the causal impact of tax changes on growth at the time. A 1% cut in taxes raised GDP by between 0.5% and 1% on impact, and by more than 2% over two years. This suggests that tax changes had an important macroeconomic impact and have the potential to generate similar effects today.

Sayuri Shirai, 16 October 2018

The Bank of Japan has bought massive quantities of Japanese stocks in a bid to increase aggregate demand and inflation, and to encourage Japanese savers to take on more risk. This column surveys the effectiveness of this quantitative easing programme and identifies several key issues, including stock prices not rising in proportion to profits, the overvaluation of some small-cap stocks, and adverse impacts on corporate governance. It argues that before taking any steps toward monetary policy normalisation, the Bank of Japan should introduce flexibility in interpreting the 2% price stability target.

Jeffrey Frankel, 12 October 2018

In the US, unemployment is at its lowest point for two decades. Wage growth is rising, the economy is growing. Tim Phillips asks Jeffrey Frankel of Harvard University why he worries about the depth of the next recession.

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