Macroeconomic policy

Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence H. Summers, 13 May 2019

The changes in macroeconomic thinking prompted by the Great Depression and the Great Inflation of the 1970s were much more dramatic than have yet occurred in response to the events of the last decade. This column argues that this gap is likely to close in the next few years as a combination of low neutral rates, the re-emergence of fiscal policy as a primary stabilisation tool, difficulties in hitting inflation targets, and the financial ramifications of a low-rate environment lead to important changes in our understanding of the macroeconomy and in policy judgements about how to achieve the best performance.

Pascal Michaillat, Emmanuel Saez, 13 May 2019

Academics and policymakers alike have debated how to structure an optimal stimulus package since the Great Recession. This column revisits the arguments related to the size of the multiplier and the usefulness of public spending, and offers a blueprint for future stimulus packages. It finds that the relationship between the multiplier and stimulus spending is hump-shaped, and that a well-designed stimulus package should depend on the usefulness of public expenditure. The output multiplier is not a robust statistic to use, and instead the ‘unemployment multiplier’ should be used. 

Francesco Giavazzi, Richard Portes, 07 May 2019

Alberto Giovannini was an influential macroeconomist and financial economist who thought about financial markets with a unique combination of sound theory and deep practical experience. He was also an early CEPR Research Fellow appointment and had great enthusiasm for the mission of CEPR. This column pays tribute to a much-loved man who combined intellectual gravity with great energy and a positive outlook that he communicated to all.

Raphael Corbi, Elias Papaioannou, Paolo Surico, 01 May 2019

The recent political crisis in the euro area has brought the design of fiscal policy to the forefront of public debate, with many arguing that EU-level transfers are necessary for the ‘completion’ of EMU. This column uses extensive data from a Brazilian federal transfer scheme to show that transfers can play a valuable stabilisation role in a currency union.

Samara Gunter, Daniel Riera-Crichton, Carlos Vegh, Guillermo Vuletin, 01 May 2019

Based on evidence from the industrial world, and particularly Europe, tax hikes have a significant negative effect on economic activity. The column shows that this empirical finding does not hold for a broader sample. In the developing world, higher taxes may be an effective way to raise revenues without reducing GDP. This is especially true in countries with low provision of public goods or commodity-dependent countries.

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