In an attempt to stave off recession, countries around the world have made extensive used of fiscal stimuli. Combinations of tax cuts and increases in government expenditure have been used to boost aggregate demand and thereby to halt falling national income. “The G20 group of economies … have introduced stimulus packages worth an average of 2% of GDP this year and 1.6% of GDP in 2010.”
But how much will national income respond to a particular fiscal stimulus? It depends on the size of the fiscal multiplier for each type of government expenditure increase or tax cut. The bigger the multiplier for each expansionary measure, the more will national income rise. Clearly, to estimate the effects of their fiscal measures, governments would very much like to know the size of these multipliers. But that’s not so easy, as the following article from The Economist explains.
Much ado about multipliers The Economist (24/9/09)
- What are the formulae for (a) the government expenditure multiplier; (b) the tax multiplier?
- Why is the value of the multiplier likely to vary with the type of government expenditure increase or tax cut that is used? Which types of government expenditure increases and tax cuts are likely to have (a) the largest effects; (b) the fastest acting effects?
- Why is the size of any particular fiscal multiplier difficult to predict? How do expectations impact on the size of the multiplier?
- Under what circumstances are fiscal measures likely to be ‘crowded out’? How can monetary policy be used to prevent, or at least minimise, crowding out?
On the eve of the September 5/6 G20 meeting of Finance Ministers in London, the OECD published an interim forecast of the macroeconomic and financial performance of the G7 economies. According to the OECD, “Recovery from the global recession is likely to arrive earlier than had been expected a few months ago but the pace of activity will remain weak well into next year.” So is it time to start reversing the various fiscal and monetary stimuli adopted around the world? Or should governments and central banks continue to stimulate aggregate demand in order to maintain the fragile recovery? The following news releases, speeches and articles look at answers given to these questions by various countries and international institutions.
Recovery arriving quicker than expected but activity will remain weak, says OECD OECD News release (3/9/09)
What is the economic outlook for OECD countries? An interim assessment OECD Economic Outlook, Interim Assessment (3/9/09)
IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn sees Renewed Stability but remains cautious about Global Economic Recovery, notes need for Continued Policy Actions IMF press release (4/9/09)
Beyond the Crisis: Sustainable Growth and a Stable International Monetary System Speech by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (4/9/09)
Brown urges further G20 spending (video) Gordon Brown on BBC News (5/9/09)
America’s Timothy Geithner says it’s ‘too early’ to withdraw economic stimulus Telegraph (3/9/09)
Finance chiefs warn against early end to state support for eurozone economies Guardian (3/9/09)
Keep spending – Darling warns G20 against complacency Independent (3/9/09)
Brown’s agenda deserves a hearing Financial Times (1/9/09)
Tories join Germany and France in call for exit strategy from G20 bailout Times Online (3/9/09)
UK recession: Why are we lagging our neighbours? Telegraph (3/9/09)
Reflections after the conference:
After the shock, challenges remain BBC News (7/9/09)
The G20 has saved us, but it’s failing to rein in those who caused the crisis Observer (6/9/09)
The world is as one on not endangering recovery Times Online (t/9/09)
- Why is the pace of recovery in the G7 countries likely to be modest for some time?
- Why have unemployment rates risen much more rapidly in some countries than in others (see page 19 of the OECD report)?
- Referring to the OECD report, how would you summarise changes in the global financial situation over the past few months?
- Assess the arguments put forward by France and Germany for reining in their expansionary fiscal and monetary policies.
- Why is the UK economy, according to the OECD, likely to be the last of the G7 countries to pull out of recession?
Latest figures from the Bank of England show that the stock of personal debt has fallen for the first time since the Bank began recording the figures in 1993 (search for table LPMVTUV in the Bank of England’s Statistical Interactive Database). So why are people on average paying back more than they are borrowing and what will be the implications for the economy? The following articles look at the issues.
Record decline in UK lending threatens recovery Financial Times (1/9/09)
Britons’ mortgage repayments outstrip new loans Times Online (1/9/09)
Personal debt dips for first time BBC News (1/9/09)
Mortgage approvals rise again but repayments outstrip lending Guardian (1/9/09)
Exceptional times BBC, Stephanomics (2/9/09)
Personal debt falls BBC Today Programme (2/9/09)
UK personal debt levels fall (video) BBC News (2/9/09
For the July data from the Bank of England see:
Lending to Individuals: July 2009
and for later periods, if you access this news item after September 2009, see:
Lending to Individuals: latest
- What is the effect on aggregate demand of a net repayment of debt by individuals? What other information would you need to have in order to calculate whether aggregate demand is rising or falling?
- Use the Excel data from the Bank of England’s Statistical Interactive Database (linked above in the introduction to this news item) to trace the credit crunch.
- For what reasons have individuals switched from net accumulation of debt to net repayment of debt? Does this suggest that the fall in interest rates over the past 12 months has had a perverse effect?
- What factors have been determining personal saving and borrowing since the start of the credit crunch?
- What are the short-term and long-term implications of a reduction in personal debt?
With the world economy in recession, major exporting countries are suffering more than many, especially exporters of high-quality manufactured products, many of which have a high income elasticity of demand. Germany, the world’s largest exporter, has been particularly hard hit. In the year to April 2009, the value of German exports fell by 28.7 per cent. The following articles look at the data and some of the explanations.
German exports in April 2009: –28.7% on April 2008 Destatis (9/6/09)
German exports plunge amid economic slowdown DW-World (9/6/09)
Weak German economic data dash early recovery hopes Monsters and Critics (9/6/09)
German industry output disappoints, falling 1.9 pct Guardian (9/6/09)
See also this video on the recession in the EU: EU recession ‘deeper than expected’ BBC News (15/5/09)
- Why have German exports fallen considerably more than German GDP? How can the accelerator theory help to explain the fall in German exports?
- If economic sentiment recovers in Germany, how will this affect (a) aggregate demand; (b) imports; (c) exports?
- Find out what has happened to the euro exchange rate index and assess whether movements in the euro have contributed to Germany’s export performance (see for example the Bank of England Statistical Interactive Database).
The Bank of England has extended its policy of increasing the money supply through the process of quantitative easing. After the May meeting of the MPC, the Bank announced that it will increase the amount of assets it is prepared to buy under the ‘Asset Purchase Programme’ from £75 billion to £125 billion. At the same time the ECB has announced that it too will embark on a programme of quantitative easing. The press releases and articles below consider the details.
Bank of England Maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and Increases Size of Asset Purchase Programme by £50 Billion to £125 Billion Bank of England News Release (7/5/09) (see also interview with Bank of England Governor)
Press conference by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB and Lucas Papademos, Vice President of the ECB ECB Press Release (7/5/09) (you can also watch a webcast of the press conference from this link)
Bank of England and European Central Bank extend quantitative easing Telegraph (8/5/09) (see also)
Economy to get extra £50bn boost BBC News (7/5/09)
A QE surprise BBC News: Stephanomics blog (7/5/09)
European Central Bank opts for quantitative easing to lift the eurozone far Times Online (8/5/09)
Fighting recession in the eurozone Financial Times (7/5/09)
ECB dips toe in quantitative easing water Guardian (7/5/09)
Quantitative easing: The story so far BBC News site video
- Explain how quantitative easing is conducted by the Bank of England and the ECB.
- Examine what determines the effect of quantitative easing on aggregate demand.
- Is quantitative easing the same as open-market operations?
- Explain how quantitative easing is likely to affect exchange rates.