Don’t Hold Your Breath for Fiscal Stimulus

From the Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole Conference to the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings, the policy takeaway of this year is that coordinated monetary easing is not going to be enough when the next recession comes. Fiscal stimulus will be necessary to maintain global growth. The economics are sound, but the politics are problematic. Here’s my latest in the Financial Times on why I wouldn’t hold my breath for fiscal stimulus.

Strong labor market, despite GM

I co-hosted Bloomberg’s Daybreak Americas with Alix Steel and we broke down the jobs data. The labor market continues to look strong, despite a GM strike that distorted the numbers. There was an overall drop in manufacturing jobs–high wage, high hour jobs (the good kind that we want to be adding)–but not as many as we expected given the GM strike. This means other manufacturers added about 20k jobs to the labor force last month–that isn’t a bad result!

Here is a clip from the segment dissecting the jobs data: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2019-11-01/fed-can-pat-themselves-on-the-back-after-jobs-report-harvard-s-greene-video

Here is another clip with Kristin Dziczek (Center for Automotive Research) discussing the nitty gritty of the GM strike and the implications for the US economy: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2019-11-01/ford-avoids-a-strike-while-gm-s-impact-lingers-with-suppliers-video

Why inflation is stubbornly weak

The U.S. economy is in its longest expansion on record. As unemployment touches historic lows, a striking feature of this expansion is that contrary to what economic theory would predict, inflation too remains strangely low. Here is a video I recorded with Michael Klein explaining why the traditional theory doesn’t seem to be working. Michael is the Executive Editor at Econofact, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to cut through fake news by addressing timely and relevant issues with just the facts. If you aren’t using them as a resource already, you should be!

Greece’s Economy: Resurgent, but Still Fragile

Describing the Greek economy these days as a phoenix ascendant from the ashes of crisis is, given the country involved, an apt metaphor. Yet it may be too early to mythologise the Greek economy. Fast money has done well investing in Greece, but the stickier long-term investors that Greece so desperately needs remain sceptical. Until the fundamentals improve, this phoenix still has one wing tied down. Click here for my latest column in the Financial Times.

Agents of Change: the Economics and Politics of Reforms

I had the great pleasure to teach a course on structural reforms and sovereign debt crisis at the European University Institute near Florence, Italy on Sep 16-17. My partners in crime were George Papaconstantinou (the Greek finance minister when Greece was pushed into its first bailout), Bob Traa (former IMF senior representative in Greece) and Nicola Giammarioli (Secretary General of the ESM).

The course covered the economics behind structural reforms and sovereign debt crises, how to design a reform programme, how to rehaul government budgets and how to devise multiannual budgets. First hand examples were sprinkled throughout, with the teachers representing a bailout country (Greece), the institutions (IMF and ESM) and the markets.

A million thanks to George Papaconstantinou for organizing the course and inviting us to take part!

Consumers cannot carry the US economy for ever

They don’t call us dismal scientists for nothing. Nearly 75 per cent of economists surveyed in July by the National Association for Business Economics see a US recession by the end of 2021. But ask for data supporting that forecast and you get no real consensus. There are plenty of theories about trade wars. US growth has slowed. But the usual bubbles and imbalances that trigger recession aren’t yet evident. With consumption accounting for nearly 70 per cent of growth, a recession has to be transmitted through the US consumer. See my latest in the Financial Times for what that might look like.