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Posts Tagged ‘political economy’

The recent rise and fall of a Keynesian consensus

Here’s an excellent article (the first link below) for giving an overview of macroeconomic thinking and policy since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. It looks at how a Keynesian consensus emerged in 2008–9, culminating in policies of fiscal and monetary stimulus being adopted in most major economies.

It also looks at how this consensus broke down from 2010 with the subsequent problem of rising public-sector deficits and debt, and was replaced by a new, although less widespread, consensus of fiscal restraint.

The article is not just about economic theory and policy, but also about the process and politics of how consensus and ‘dissensus’ emerge. It looks at the spread of ideas as a process of ‘contagion’ and how dissent may reflect the view of different defined groups, such as political parties or schools of economic thought.

Consensus, Dissensus and Economic Ideas: The Rise and Fall of Keynesianism During the Economic Crisis, Henry Farrell (George Washington University) and John Quiggin (University of Queensland) (9/3/12)
Keynesianism in the Great Recession Out of the Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell (9/3/12)
Economics in the Crisis (see also) The Conscience of a Liberal, Paul Krugman (5/3/12)

Questions

  1. What were the features of the Keynesian consensus in 2008–9?
  2. To what extent can the consensus of that period be described as the result of ‘contagion’?
  3. Why did consensus break down in 2010?
  4. How do economic experts play a political role in economic crises?
  5. To what extent does a lack of consensus benefit politicians?
  6. Why may the appearance of a consensus be more important in driving policy than actual consensus?
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A cracking tale

The link below is to a podcast by Martin Wolf of the Financial Times. It considers a new book, Fault Lines by Raghu Rajan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Rajan argues that the global economy is severely unbalanced:

There is a fair amount of consensus that the world economy is in need of rebalancing. Countries like Iceland, Greece, Spain, and the United States overspent prior to the crisis, financing the spending with government or private borrowing, while countries like Germany, Japan, and China supplied those countries goods even while financing their spending habits. Simply put, the consensus now requires U.S. households to save more and Chinese households to spend more in order to achieve the necessary rebalancing.

Martin Wolf identifies these imbalances and discusses various possible solutions. The problem is that what may seem sensible economically is not always feasible politically.

Podcast
Three years and new fault lines threaten Financial Times podcasts, Martin Wolf (13/8/10)

Article
Three years and new fault lines threaten (transcript of podcast) Financial Times podcasts, Martin Wolf (13/8/10)

Questions

  1. What are the fault lines that Martin Wolf identifies?
  2. Have they become more acute since the credit crunch and subsequent recession?
  3. What risks do these fault lines pose to the future health of the global economy?
  4. How do political relationships make integrating the world economy more difficult? What insights does game theory provide for understanding the tensions in these relationships?
  5. Is a policy of export-led growth a wise one for the UK to pursue?
  6. Explain why global demand may be structurally deficient.
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Election, Election, Election

Well no-one can say that Gordon Brown has had an easy ride: the war in Iraq, MPs’ expenses, flooding, strikes, unemployment, and of course a recession. Will the banking crisis and its knock-on effects prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back? Only time will tell.

The UK economy will be voting within the next few months and the elected party will play a crucial role in our economic recovery. Public debt reached £829.7 billion at the end of October (59.2% of GDP) and with falling tax revenue and rising government spending, it could get considerably higher. “State borrowing grew by £16.1 billion last month (August) – almost twice the entire budget for the 2012 Olympics.”

The outcome of the election will not only play a role in determining how the UK fares over the next few years in terms of our economic recovery, but it will also indicate the likely direction that policy will take towards areas such as education, healthcare, poverty, pensions, etc. The housing market is also likely to be significantly affected and not just by the election. With the end of the stamp duty holiday approaching, demand for housing may begin to fall in the new year, which could spell a fall in house prices.

No matter what happens, it will be interesting to see the direction of government policy over the next few years, given the spending cuts we are likely to experience.

Public debt hits £800 billion – the highest on record Times Online, Patrick Hosking (19/9/09)
Labour polls fuel talk of early election date Mirror News, James Lyons (14/12/09)
Pre-election politics dictate the Bank of England’s economic policy The Independent, Stephen King (14/12/09)
David Cameron and Labour ready for ‘snap election’ BBC News (13/12/09)
So who said what to whom? The truth about the cuts debate Independent, Steve Richards (15/12/09)
Is UK government debt really that high? BBC News, Richard Anderson (22/12/09)

For data on public-sector finances, see:
Public Sector National Statistics Office for National Statistics

For a lighthearted look at the relationship between elections and the economy (in the context of the Philippines), see:
Election and other economic boosters Manilla Bulletin Publishing Corporation, Fred Lobo (14/12/09)

Questions

  1. How are economics and politics related? Think about how the up-coming election is likely to affect government policy and why.
  2. What are the main economic policies proposed by the Labour government? How do these aim to help the UK economy recover?
  3. What are the main economic policies proposed by the Conservative government? Will these policies be any more effective than Labour’s?
  4. The Conservative party is ahead in the polls at the moment: why do you think this is? To what extent has Labour’s popularity been affected by the way the government has dealt with the banking crisis?
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