Category Archives: Macroeconomic policy

Why is Financial Stability Essential for Key Currencies in the International Monetary System?

The dollar’s dominant role in international trade and finance has proved remarkably resilient. This column argues that financial stability – and the policy and institutional frameworks that underpin it – are important new determinants of currencies’ international roles. While old drivers still matter, progress achieved on financial-stability reforms in major currency areas will greatly influence the future roles of their currencies.

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Why Standard Macro Models, DSGEs, Crash During Crises

Many central banks rely on dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models – known as DSGEs to cognoscenti. This column – which is more technical than most Vox columns – argues that the models’ mathematical basis fails when crises shift the underlying distributions of shocks. Specifically, the linchpin ‘law of iterated expectations’ fails, so economic analyses involving conditional expectations and inter-temporal derivations also fail. Like a fire station that automatically burns down whenever a big fire starts, DSGEs become unreliable when they are most needed.

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CBO – Still Pushing Deficit Scaremongering Propaganda

Yves here. We’ve written from time to time about the shameless partisan role that the Congressional Budget Office plays in stoking misguided and destructive concern about budget deficits. It’s important to recognize the CBO’s openly partisan stance on this issue, because it is supposed to make independent, apolitical budget forecasts and is widely and mistakenly seen as “objective”. In fact, the CBO’s regularly takes stances that put them in the same camp as billionaires like Pete Peterson and Stan Druckenmiller, who want to slash Social Security and other social safety nets.

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Bill Black: Two EU Finance Ministers Throw Their Bosses and Nations Under the Bus

The finance ministers of Italy and Serbia have just publicly thrown their heads of state and their nations under the bus.  In a testament to the crippling effect of the belief that “there is no alternative” (TINA) to austerity, these finance ministers have insisted on bleeding economies that are in desperate need of fiscal stimulus.  Their pursuit of economic malpractice is so determined that they eagerly sought out opportunities to embarrass the democratically elected head of state in Serbia when he dared to support competent economic policies.

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Portuguese Bank Jitters Intrude on QE-Induced Euphoria

Despite unimpressive and often mixed economic data, market prices in a wide range of financial assets have continued to grind higher. And the results that cheered pundits are hard to square. For instance, Floyd Norris in the New York Times today scratches his head over how inconsistent recent employment gains are with the first quarter GDP contraction at an annualized 2/9% rate. It’s also hard to reconcile with reports of weak retail sales and falling in-store traffic. Similarly, China has become concerned enough about growth that it’s started pump priming again. Even so, car sales dropped by 3.4% in June. And in Japan, machinery orders plunged by 19% in May. And despite the recent discussion of Eurozone recovery, recent reports have put a dent in cheery forecasts.

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Bill Black: Merkel’s Pyrrhic Victory over Cameron

The old line that one should be very careful about what one wishes for – for you may receive it applies to Germany’s installation of Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the EU Commission. Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel has just crushed her UK counterpart (David Cameron) by orchestrating a nearly unanimous vote among EU nations to appoint (not, really, “elect”) Juncker as head of the EU Commission (not, really, “Parliament”).

But Merkel has two self-created strategic problems with regard to the EU that threaten the EU and Germany’s dominance over the EU.

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Will the Eurozone Be Able to Align National Interests?

Yves here. We ran an earlier post by Ashoda Mody, he argued that Eurozone was failing in resolving its recurring crises successfully. That is a coded way of saying that the odds of breakup are rising. Needless to say, that view elicited a lot of commentary from his readers. Mody addresses their reactions and objection below.

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BIS Warns About Destabilizing Low Interest Rates

The financial media is all atwitter (no pun intended) over the Bank of International Settlement’s just released annual report, since it shook a stern finger at central banks for keeping super low interest rates and warned them about the difficulty of renormalizing without kicking up a lot of upheaval.

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Randy Wray: Modern Monetary Theory – The Basics

How economists that are otherwise sympathetic to modern monetary theory nevertheless misconstrue some of its fundamental observations. For instance, those like Paul Krugman who are generally of the Keynesian persuasion like MMT’s “deficit owl” approach. Krugman acts as if he would really like to stop worrying about the deficit so that he could advocate an “as much as it takes” approach to government spending. The problem is that he just cannot quite get a handle on the monetary operations that are required. Won’t government run out? What, is government going to create money “out of thin air”? Where will all the money come from?

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Philip Pilkington: ‘Uncertainty’ in Contemporary DSGE Modelling – Not Even Wrong

Yves here. This post might seem a smidge technical for generalist readers, but have faith. Pilkington uses DSGE models, a widely used type of macroeconomic forecasting model, to demonstrate the prevalence of intellectual bankruptcy in economics. As he writes,

The level of scholarship in contemporary economics is absolutely shocking. Contemporary theorists just pick up on buzzwords that they hear in the media and then assume that they have understood them. Then they scramble to build some arcane model or other in which they assure others that they have captured the meaning of the buzzword in question. The mathematics then becomes a cloak hiding the fact that they have never bothered to actually think through the concepts they are using.

This is frighteningly similar to something I wrote:

That was one of the scary things I finally figured out during my last visit to DC. I thought people constructed policy first and then reduced it to soundbites to sell it. I came to realize that most people in DC reason from soundbites (as in their analysis and policy design is constructed from soundbites from the get-go).

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Bill Black: The EU Center-Right and Ultra-Right’s Continuing War on the People of the EU

The New York Times has provided us with an invaluable column about the interactions of the EU’s rightist and ultra-rightest parties. It is invaluable because it is (unintentionally) so revealing about the EU’s right and ultra-right parties and the NYT’s inability to understand either the EU economic or political crises. The NYT article illustrates its points by presenting a tale entitled “A German Voice, Hans-Olaf Henkel, Calls for Euro’s Abolition.” It treats Henkel, an open racist and austerian, as a reputable figure, apparently because he is wealthy.

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Mathew D. Rose: When European Politicians Cannot Read the Handwriting on the Wall

Despite the alarming results of the European elections last week, Angela Merkel remained unflinching. That is a cause for concern. European politicians believe the solution to voter ire is better messaging, as opposed to a change in policy.

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