Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bernanke says that Great Recession reduced US potential growth rate

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, in his speech to the New York Economic Club, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
says the devastating recession and its after-effects have reduced the potential growth rate some amount; he isn’t specific as to how much. 
And why is the potential growth rate for the economy important?
Before the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the U.S. economy was capable of growing at 2.5% a year at full employment without generating inflation. That’s what economists call “the potential growth rate.” It’s basically the rate of growth in the labor force plus the rate of growth in output per hour, or productivity. 
To the Fed, it’s the speed limit for growth once the economy returns, as it expects will happen a few years from now, to full employment.
And why has the potential growth rate declined?

Mr. Bernanke provides several reasons including
(4) The drop in business investment during the recession may retard future growth in productivity. (The more investment, the more likely output per hour of work is likely to rise.) 
(5) The shock of the worst recession since the Great Depression, with all the losses in real estate and stocks plus the distressingly slow recovery, may have reduced the willingness of investors and businesses to take risks, particularly the risk of starting a new business or applying new technologies.
And then he adds a couple of other reasons
But Mr. Bernanke, as he has repeatedly in the past, emphasized that today’s lousy economy reflects a lot more than this slowing in the U.S. economy’s long-run potential growth rate. 
For now, the U.S. economy is fighting substantial “headwinds” — housing, credit conditions that aren’t yet back to normal, Europe’s sovereign debt and banking mess and the “drag” from federal budget tightening — that are restraining economic growth and preventing the unemployment rate from falling faster.
In short, Mr. Bernanke has discovered that pursuing the Japanese Model for handling a bank solvency led financial crisis leads to a Japan-style economic slump.

End the policies that support the Japanese Model and end the economic slump.

Regular readers know that the economic slump and the various "headwinds" Mr. Bernanke lists are all addressed by implementing the Swedish Model and requiring the banks to recognize the losses on the excess debt in the financial system.

With losses recognized, families can stay in their houses and the housing market returns to functioning.

With losses recognized, credit conditions can return to normal as there is no need to pursue zero interest rate and quantitative easing policies.

With losses recognized, Europe's sovereign debt problem is addressed as the losses on this debt are included in the losses banks recognize.

With losses recognized, there is no need for federal budget tightening as the economy begins to grow again and generate additional tax revenue.  At the same time, the need for economic stabilizer programs is reduced as more people are working.

2 comments:

Jesse said...

Choosing the Japanese Model may not be so much an economic policy choice, but a more compelling decision made on the basis of the credibility trap.

"A credibility trap is when the regulatory, political and/or informational functions of a society have been compromised by a corrupting influence and a fraud, so that they cannot address the situation without implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure. The status quo has at least tolerated the corruption and the fraud, if not profited directly from it, and most likely continues to do so. The power brokers have become susceptible to various forms of blackmail. And so a failed policy can become almost self-sustaining long after it is seen to have failed, and even become counterproductive, because admitting failure is not an option for those in power."

Jesse, Café Américain

Richard Field said...

Jesse,

Thanks for the insightful comment.

It is certainly supported by Jeff Connaughton's description of how the Blob (also known as, politicians, financial regulators, Wall Street and its lobbyists) works.