Tag Archives: Mario Draghi

Interconnecting crises

The time we are living in is, to put it mildly, disturbing. Not only should we act on climate change, there is an on-going war in many parts of the Middle East, Chinese real estate markets may implode and closer to home, we have the mismanagement of the Eurocrisis and the Ukraine crisis.

Although the Finnish foreign minister apparently concluded that the Finnish parliamiant is nearly unanimously convinced who is responsible for the Ukraine crisis, there are many who are not so sure. The situation is nonetheless so complicated, that I do not want to get into discussion about who is to blame, but I would like to post Mathew D. Rose’s text on the connection between the Ukraine Crisis and the Eurocrisis. He makes very valid points, which sadly also mean that in neither case a solution is likely to emerge any time soon.

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‘The optimists are finally silent’

It would be nice to be optimistic about Europe, but it is nigh impossible. This critical piece in the Financial Times, for the umptienth time, explains the real reason behind the ongoing European economic stagnation.

European citizens must hope that their policy makers, in Frankfurt and in Brussels, will abandon further attempts to reassure us, and abandon their one-sided mantra of structural reform. The acute, pressing problem is aggregate demand.

This article is also very much worth reading. Europe is doing worse than the Great Depression.

In the context of overwhelming evidence, I find it incredible that policy makers still stick to the stale argument of austerity and structural reform. I am not a great fan of Bob Dylan, but this lyric remains astute:

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see ?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

VoxEU: German Court decision – Legal authority and deep power implications

German Court decision: Legal authority and deep power implications

I think this is a very deep analysis of this perhaps surprising decision to refer the case to the ECJ.

It’s Domestic Demand, Stupid!

There are many ways to communicate fairly difficult issues. The case against austerity is one; again and again the ‘families tighten their belt thus also the state must do so’-argument comes up. This argument has been defeated as many times. Here you can see a ‘layman’s argument against austerity’. But in my opinion this new post by ‘A Gloomy European Economist’ puts the argument much clearer. To quote from the main points of his graph:

What is this figure telling us? Many things, actually; but I’d like to point out just three:

  1. The first is that while the US have recovered and are now above their pre-crisis GDP level, the EMU is still more than 3% below its level of January 2008. We are not going to see the pre-crisis level of activity for at least 2 or 3 years, as the Commission just revised downwards its (negative) growth forecast for 2013 (not surprising, and bound to be further revised, as the readers of this blog may know).
  2. Domestic demand is down almost 6%, mostly because of investment (-19.1%).It makes no sense claiming otherwise: this is a Keynesian (sorry for the bad word; should I rate this post R?) aggregate demand deficiency crisis. On the contrary, in the US, robust consumption growth has compensated for the equally dramatic drop of investment, and as a result domestic demand is also above its pre-crisis level. As a sidenote, the dramatic decrease of investment makes one wonder what will be left of the EMU capacity to produce, once aggregate demand resumes.(my bold)
  3. The only two engines of growth, today are public consumption (!) and exports, both at around +4% with respect to the pre-crisis peak ; they compensate, unfortunately only partially, the dramatic drop in domestic private demand. Further reducing government spending, as will most probably keep happening, will lay the burden of recovery only on the external component. It is worth repeating that this small-country-syndrome, in the second largest economic bloc of the world, can only spell disaster. It is impossible to conceive a long-term reliance of our prosperity on demand coming from the rest of the world, as proponents of the “Berlin view” would like us to believe.

If you look at the picture, then indeed public consumption and exports keep the Euro area somewhat afloat. But with the intense desire to slash government spending, this might not last. I think this picture shows very succinctly why we need a Keynesian and/or MMT view of the economy very badly – if everybody cuts expenditure at the same time, how is the economy supposed to grow, or – more specifically – where is demand coming from? Mars?

While this post is very important in showing the core problem, I personally would like to see a bit more country-specific information. It is well-known that Germany has a great domestic demand-deficit, but what about Finland, the Netherlands, Austria? A recent post by Ambrose Pritchard-Evans, and earlier ones by me (referring to yet other posts) indicate that domestic demand is being killed in the Netherlands at least through austerity, private indebtedness and a stuck and plunging housing market, but as I showed here, Finnish domestic demand (at least retail) has kept up fairly well. I haven’t recently checked the numbers, but food price inflation in Finland seems to be rather high, so domestic demand may have reached its peak already.

(in general it would be nice to have a better idea of how to get key data out of Eurostat – there is so much stuff there!)

Mr. Gloomy Economist also points to the need for wage increases; at least for Germany, this is acknowledged by serious economists (i.e. from the IMK of the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung). This is a subject which I have great interest in, as it relates strongly to industrial relations and the relevance of labour unions. As I pointed out here (sorry, in Finnish), Olli Rehn warns Finland of overindebtedness (of the state, of course) and states Finland needs wage restraint. Well, as the graph shows, the index of real wage earnings has grown approximately by 2% per year, which is consistent with the inflation of the ECB target (if I understand Andrew Watt correctly).

So, in this light I eagerly await what the employers’ and employees’ federations in Finland are serving as opening bids in the run-up to the Finnish collective agreement/centralized incomes agreement -negotiations this Autumn. I expect lots of disagreement, at least.