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  • Author: David G. Blanchflower, David N. F. Bell
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper examines the amount of slack in the UK labor market and finds the downward adjustments made by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to both unemployment and underemployment invalid. Without evidence to support its assessment of the output gap, the MPC reduces the level of unemployment based on its claim that long-term unemployment does not affect wages. The authors produce evidence to the contrary and present arguments on why the MPC's halving of the level of underemployment in the United Kingdom is inappropriate. Bell and Blanchflower set out arguments on why they believe the level of slack is greater than the MPC calibrates. Consistent with that is the fact that real wages in the United Kingdom continue to fall.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: There is a long-standing debate among economists and policymakers on the benefits of flexible versus fixed exchange rates (Klein and Shambaugh 2010). In principle, flexible exchange rates allow a country's central bank to focus on stabilizing economic growth and inflation, which are the ultimate goals of monetary policy. However, some argue that in practice central banks often do not use their powers wisely and it may be better to restrict their freedom by requiring them to peg their currency to that of an important trading partner. Others note that flexible exchange rates are far more volatile than fundamental factors can explain (Flood and Rose 1995), raising the possibility that they may introduce wasteful cross-sectoral fluctuations in economic activity. One common viewpoint is that flexible exchange rates may be fine for large countries but that the smallest countries are better off with fixed exchange rates (Åslund 2010).
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, United Kingdom
  • Author: Carmen M. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Historically, periods of high indebtedness have been associated with a rising incidence of default or restructuring of public and private debts. A subtle type of debt restructuring takes the form of "financial repression." Financial repression includes directed lending to government by captive domestic audiences (such as pension funds), explicit or implicit caps on interest rates, regulation of cross-border capital movements, and (generally) a tighter connection between government and banks. In this paper, the authors describe some of the regulatory measures and policy actions that characterized the heyday of the financial repression era. In the heavily regulated financial markets of the Bretton Woods system, several restrictions facilitated a sharp and rapid reduction in public debt/GDP ratios from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Low nominal interest rates help reduce debt servicing costs while a high incidence of negative real interest rates liquidates or erodes the real value of government debt. Thus, financial repression is most successful in liquidating debts when accompanied by a steady dose of inflation. Inflation need not take market participants entirely by surprise and, in effect, it need not be very high (by historical standards). For the advanced economies in Reinhart and Sbrancia's sample, real interest rates were negative roughly half of the time during 1945–80. For the United States and the United Kingdom, their estimates of the annual liquidation of debt via negative real interest rates amounted on average to 3 to 4 percent of GDP a year. For Australia and Italy, which recorded higher inflation rates, the liquidation effect was larger (around 5 percent per annum).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Adam S. Posen
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Japan's Great Recession was the result of a series of macroeconomic and financial policy mistakes. Thus, it was largely avoidable once the initial shock from the bubble bursting had passed. The aberration in Japan's recession was not the behaviour of growth, which is best seen as a series of recoveries aborted by policy errors. Rather, the surprise was the persistent steadiness of limited deflation, even after recovery took place. This is a more fundamental challenge to our basic macroeconomic understanding than is commonly recognized. The UK and US economies are at low risk of having recurrent recessions through macroeconomic policy mistakes—but deflation itself cannot be ruled out. The United Kingdom worryingly combines a couple of financial parallels to Japan with far less room for fiscal action to compensate for them than Japan had. Also, Japan did not face poor prospects for external demand and the need to reallocate productive resources across export sectors during its Great Recession. Many economies do now face this challenge simultaneously, which may limit the pace of, and their share in, the global recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom
  • Author: Adam S. Posen, Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since mid-2007, public authorities in the European Union have broadly met the challenge of ensuring a functional degree of liquidity and preventing financial meltdown. The Eurosystem has even been ahead of the curve compared with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England in discounting early on a wide variety of assets to a range of counterparties. However, despite unprecedented central bank intervention, extensive government guarantees since October 2008, and macroeconomic assistance (with the International Monetary Fund) to the European Union's weakest member states, the underlying state of continental Europe's banking industry remains very fragile.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe