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Macroeconomic Policy: Lecture Outline 1. Objectives of macro policy 2. Fluctuations in business activity - historical record - causes of business fluctuations.

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Presentation on theme: "Macroeconomic Policy: Lecture Outline 1. Objectives of macro policy 2. Fluctuations in business activity - historical record - causes of business fluctuations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Macroeconomic Policy: Lecture Outline 1. Objectives of macro policy 2. Fluctuations in business activity - historical record - causes of business fluctuations 3. Fiscal policy - policy instruments - financing a deficit - problems with fiscal activism - decline of fiscal activism 4. Sustainability of government debt

2 MACROECONOMIC POLICY Objectives of macro policy: full employment stable prices steady growth equitable distribution of income balance of payments equilibrium (medium term)

3 Main focus of macro policy low inflation steady growth avoidance of recession How can these objectives be achieved?

4 Policy instruments 1. Fiscal policy govt spending (health, education, etc) taxation (income, expenditure, excise duties) income transfers (pensions, welfare) 2. Monetary policy interest rates money supply 3. Exchange rate policy fixed v floating

5 FLUCTUATIONS IN BUSINESS ACTIVITY Historical record recessions can be very severe all countries experience booms /slumps recessions are usually shorter than expansions business cycles are highly synchronised between partners - inter-country linkages business cycles are less severe than in past - govt spending is stable - automatic stabilisers have worked - active monetary policies (Greenspan after Asian crash)

6 Causes of business fluctuations unexpected shocks - wars, oil-prices, financial crises shifts in AD - investment is volatile (unpredictable behaviour) - price stickiness causes changes in real variables technology shifts - new products / new processes govt-induced shocks - poor management of fiscal / monetary policy - time lags

7 What is fiscal policy? - govts attempt to control AD via G and T Discretionary action change in government spending e.g. building new hospitals, roads, schools change in taxation e.g. tax rate, wealth tax, excise duty rates FISCAL POLICY

8 Automatic stabilisers - kick in when economy moves into recession - government spending increases e.g. welfare payments, unemployment benefit - tax revenue falls in recessions (to maintain C) e.g. income tax

9 Fiscal policy stance Financing government spending: G - T = borrowing + creation of high-powered money G > T = deficit T > G = surplus - surpluses occur in booms; deficits in slumps - budget deficit does not necessarily mean that fiscal stance is expansionary; recessions cause deficits

10 Controlling aggregate demand fiscal activism - fine-tuning of AD to achieve full employment - fine-tuning to reduce amplitude of business fluctuations fiscal balance has replaced fiscal activism - fine-tuning via fiscal policy has failed. Why? - monetary policy has replaced fiscal policy to fine-tune the economy. Has this been a success?

11 Problems with fiscal activism - fiscal activism involves discretionary action - govt has to decide how much stimulus is needed - need to know effect of fiscal injections (macro models used to predict effects) - governments tend to increase G/Y ratio - budget deficits can easily get out of hand

12 Government spending / gdp % EU Japan USA Germany UK France Italy

13 Reasons for the decline of fiscal activism difficult to predict effects - inadequate knowledge of how economy works - macro models are inadequate - poor data - long time lags in policy effects - poor timing of policy changes

14 political interference results in wrong policy action - political cycles - systematic bias towards deficits (popularity of low taxes) fiscal activism results in increasing debt - debt/gdp ratio increases (debt has to financed)

15 Debt / gdp ratios % EU Japan USA Germany France UK Italy104113

16 Reducing debt may have expansionary effects cut in G can lead to: - lower interest rates - more confidence in govts macro policy - inflow of private FDI greater consumer / investor confidence

17 fiscal activism is useless due to crowding out - crowding out of private I via high interest rates - households reduce spending due to expectation of higher taxes in future But: - households may not make link between budget deficit and future taxes - households may not care about the distant future - not much evidence to support negative impact of crowding out

18 Sustainability of debt: govts worry about debt/gdp: many developing countries get into trouble (Mexico) - desire for growth non-taxpayers / taxpayers increasing due to demographic time bomb e.g. % USA Japan EU need to keep interest rates below gdp growth rate to get debt / gdp down (or to run a deficit while keeping debt / gdp constant)

19 Conclusions fiscal policy has become more conservative debt burden too big; need for surpluses to repay debt inflationary consequences of expansionary policies financial markets nervous of increases in govt debt (Can the govt meet its debt repayments?) pressure to reduce size of public sector - efficiency gains from privatisation - lower interest rates automatic stabilisers essential for macro stability

20 fine-tuning replaced by coarse-tuning - discretionary fiscal policy still has a role to play - co-ordinated macro-policy between G7 (G3?) needed to keep world economy stable (due to high rate of transmission of economic shocks)

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