Blog Post

The persistence of slow growth

What’s at stake: The persistence of slow economic growth in the Great Recession has been puzzling. Two recent papers have tried to present a coherent framework for understanding this phenomenon. The first paper argues that we may have underestimated the importance of hysterisis effects. The second paper argues the global safe asset shortage cannot be resolved by lower world interest rates once we reach the zero lower bound. It is instead dissipated by a world recession that rebalances global asset markets.

By: Date: November 16, 2015 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

Story one: Hysterisis and Superhysterisis

Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti and Lawrence Summers write that a surprisingly high proportion of recessions, about two-thirds, are followed by lower output relative to the prerecession trend even after the economy has recovered. Perhaps even more surprisingly, in about one-half of those cases, the recession is followed not just by lower output, but by lower output growth relative to the prerecession output trend. That is, as time passes following recessions, the gap between output and projected output on the basis of the prerecession trend increases. If these correlations are causal, they suggest important hysteresis effects and even “superhysteresis” effects (the term used by Laurence Ball (2014) for the impact of a recession on the growth rate rather than just the level of output).

Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti and Lawrence Summers write that the evolution of Portugal is representative of the evolutions of a number of European countries. All but one of the recessions since 1960 appear to be associated not only with a lower level of output relative to trend, but even with a subsequent decrease in trend growth, and thus increasing gaps between actual output and past trend.

BEBR 13 11 2015

Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti and Lawrence Summers write that it is difficult to think of mechanisms through which the recession leads to lower output growth later, i.e. to “superhysteresis”. Permanently lower output growth requires permanently lower total factor productivity growth; the recession would have to lead to changes in behavior or in institutions, which lead to permanently lower research and development or to permanently lower reallocation. These may range from increased legal or self-imposed restrictions on risk-taking by financial institutions, to changes in taxation discouraging entrepreneurship. While these mechanisms may sometimes be at work, the proportion of cases where the output gap is increasing seems too high for this to be a general explanation.

Story 2: The global safe asset shortage at the ZLB

Ricardo Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas wrote in previous research that global imbalances were primarily the result of the great diversity in the ability to produce safe stores of value around the world, and of the mismatch between this ability and the local demands for these assets. In particular, the authors highlighted the US as the main producer of (safe) assets, and China, oil-producing economies and Japan as the main sources of demand for these stores of value. The growing global shortage of safe assets imparted a strong downward secular trend to world real (safe) interest rates for more than two decades. Capital flows acted as the propagating mechanism by which the asset-scarce regions dragged asset-rich regions’ interest rates down.

In a new research paper, Ricardo Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas write that with unprecedented low natural interest rates across the world following the Great Recession the equilibrating mechanism they highlighted in previous work has little space to operate. Once real interest rates cannot play their equilibrium role any longer, global output becomes the active margin: lower global output – by reducing income and therefore asset demand more than asset supply – rebalances global asset markets. In this world, liquidity traps emerge naturally and countries drag each other into them.

Ricardo Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas write that countries with large safe asset shortages run current account surpluses and drag the world interest rate down. Once at the ZLB, the global asset market is in disequilibrium: there is a global safe asset shortage that cannot be resolved by lower world interest rates. It is instead dissipated by a world recession, which reduces income and therefore asset demand more than asset supply. In this environment, surplus countries push world output down, exerting a negative externality on the world economy.

Paul Krugman writes that international capital mobility makes a liquidity trap in just one country less likely, but it by no means rules that possibility out. The equalization of Japanese real rates with those of the rest of the world didn’t, for example, occur through an equalization of Wicksellian natural rates following a depreciation of the currency. Instead, what happened was that persistent deflation in Japan, combined with the zero lower bound, kept the actual real interest rate well above the Wicksellian rate.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

Read article More on this topic
 

Opinion

Disease, like poverty, does not stay at home

To fight the Covid-19 pandemic, best practice responses in Africa need to be implemented around international collaboration. These include the need to activate emergency operations centres, to establish a surge capacity in health systems, and to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.

By: Yonas Adeto, Karim El Aynaoui, Thomas Gomart, Paolo Magri, Greg Mills, Karin von Hippel and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 8, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

A temporary, common fiscal stimulus to answer the mayhem of COVID-19

We are not in normal times and we have to surpass, albeit only for the duration of the COVID-19 shock, the hurdles that did not allow the euro-area to endow itself of a common fiscal policy.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 2, 2020
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Three macroeconomic issues and Covid-19

COVID-19 raises a number of serious issues of a sanitary, social and economic nature. While recognizing the difficulty of giving definitive answers at this early stage, we attempt to shed light on three critical macroeconomic topics.

By: Leonardo Cadamuro and Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 10, 2020
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author
 

External Publication

Factors determining Russia’s long-term growth rate

This paper’s main conclusion is that Russia’s economy cannot grow at the pace recorded in the early and mid-2000s because of the different external environment, the different stage of development and serious demographic headwinds.

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: January 16, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Could the U.S. economy be experiencing a hidden tech-driven productivity revolution?

In the last decade, most advanced economies have grown more slowly than before. Slower growth has frequently been seen as a legacy of financial crises, especially that of 2007–2009.

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: January 6, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Improving regulatory policy formulation and institutional resilience in Europe

Are large differences in the resilience of individual economies related to differences in the quality of country-level institutions that shape the absorption and response to these shocks? At this event we'll discuss the evolution of labour markets, and the role of institutional design and good process.

Speakers: Arup Banerji, Maria Demertzis, J. Scott Marcus, Céline Kauffmann and Rogier van den Brink Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: November 13, 2019
Read article More on this topic
 

Opinion

Upbeat outlook from Chinese banks' profits masks growing problems for small banks

The performance of Chinese banks has been resilient so far, despite decelerating growth. While the performance of large banks remained steady, the rebound came from small banks. Why have small banks rebounded and is the rebound sustainable?

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Gary Ng Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 12, 2019
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Russian economy at the crossroads: how to boost long-term growth?

Russia’s convergence to advanced economy income levels has stalled. Long-term growth prospects are still obstructed by sluggish productivity growth, low capital accumulation and shrinking labour inputs. The new government has articulated a set of ambitious policy objectives for the next six years. But are additional reforms necessary to further boost productivity and investments in line with government targets?

Speakers: Marek Dabrowski, Markus Ederer, Elena Flores, Alexander Larionov, Dmitry Polevoy, Niclas Poitiers and Alexey Vedev Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Kadashevskaya Naberezhnaya, 14, Moscow, Russia, 115035 Date: November 7, 2019
Read article More by this author
 

Blog Post

It’s hard to live in the city: Berlin’s rent freeze and the economics of rent control

A proposal in Berlin to ban increases in rent for the next five years sparked intense debate in Germany. Similar policies to the Mietendeckel are currently being discussed in London and NYC. All three proposals reflect and raise similar concerns – the increase in per-capita incomes is not keeping pace with increases in rents, but will a cap do more harm than good? We review recent views on the matter.

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 8, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

The breakdown of the covered interest rate parity condition

A textbook condition of international finance breaks down. Economic research identifies the interplay between divergent monetary policies and new financial regulation as the source of the puzzle, and generates concerns about unintended consequences for financing conditions and financial stability.

By: Konstantinos Efstathiou Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: July 1, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

The June Eurogroup meeting: Reflections on BICC

The Eurogroup met on June 13th to discuss the deepening of the economic and monetary union (EMU) and prepare the discussions for the Euro Summit. From the meeting came two main deliverables: an agreement over a budgetary instrument for competitiveness and convergence and the reform of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) treaty texts. We review economists’ first impressions.

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 24, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: Making a success of EU cohesion policy

Bruegel senior fellow Zsolt Darvas talks to Sean Gibson in this Deep Focus podcast about how the EU can improve its cohesion policy, citing the best examples of its implementation and stressing the methodological difficulties in measuring its effectiveness.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 20, 2019
Load more posts