Skip to main content

The IMF still believes in fiscal austerity


In May, Olivier Blanchard, the head of the research department at the IMF, said:
"Earlier fears of a double-dip recession—which we did not share—have not materialized... The inventory cycle is now largely over and fiscal stimulus has turned to fiscal consolidation, but private demand has, for the most part, taken the baton."
The lame excuse for this ludicrous forecast now is that:
"the initial U.S. data understated the size of the slowdown itself. Now that the numbers are in, it is clear that more was going on."
In all fairness I criticized that view in May (here) and in July (here), since it was clear that fiscal austerity (Blanchard says consolidation, but he means reduction of spending and increases in taxes, that is austerity measures, which may not lead to a reduction in deficits, i.e. consolidation; one day I'll publish the IMF-English/English-IMF Dictionary) would not work.

Now that he admits that private demand has not taken the baton you think he would admit that fiscal consolidation (austerity really) is not the solution. You would be wrong, of course. He says in the new World Economic Outlook foreword (WEO, Sept, 2011) that:
"Fiscal consolidation cannot be too fast or it will kill growth. It cannot be too slow or it will kill credibility."
Not very different from what Christine Lagarde, his boss, has been saying. That is, we need fiscal austerity, but not too much (see my critique here). The new claim (in the last WEO) is that China has to import more, since the US private demand will not pick up (and fiscal austerity is needed).

By the way, according to the IMF China will grow 9.5% in 2011, and the yuan has appreciated strongly in real terms (particularly when you deflate by the real wage, that grows astronomically in China). So it's unclear how China could, besides growing sufficiently fast to keep a good chunk of the world economy (in particular exporters of commodities) expanding, also get the US out of its recession.

Perhaps, Blanchard and the IMF should revise their views on fiscal policy for developed countries (the IMF could also change it's adjustment programs based on austerity in Europe too!).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A few brief comments on Brexit and the postmortem of the European Union

Another end of the world is possible
There will be a lot of postmortems for the European Union (EU) after Brexit. Many will suggest that this was a victory against the neoliberal policies of the European Union. See, for example, the first three paragraphs of Paul Mason's column here. And it is true, large contingents of working class people, that have suffered with 'free-market' economics, voted for leaving the union. The union, rightly or wrongly, has been seen as undemocratic and responsible for the economics woes of Europe.

The problem is that while it is true that the EU leaders have been part of the problem and have pursued the neoliberal policies within the framework of the union, sometimes with treaties like the Fiscal Compact, it is far from clear that Brexit and the possible demise of the union, if the fever spreads to France, Germany and other countries with their populations demanding their own referenda, will lead to the abandonment of neoliberal policies. Aust…

A brief note on Venezuela and the turn to the right in Latin America

So besides the coup in Brazil (which was all but confirmed by the last revelations, if you had any doubts), and the electoral victory of Macri in Argentina, the crisis in Venezuela is reaching a critical level, and it would not be surprising if the Maduro administration is recalled, even though right now the referendum is not scheduled yet.

The economy in Venezuela has collapsed (GDP has fallen by about 14% or so in the last two years), inflation has accelerated (to three digit levels; 450% or so according to the IMF), there are shortages of essential goods, recurrent energy blackouts, and all of these aggravated by persistent violence. Contrary to what the press suggests, these events are not new or specific to left of center governments. Similar events occurred in the late 1980s, in the infamous Caracazo, when the fall in oil prices caused an external crisis, inflation, and food shortages, which eventually, after the announcement of a neoliberal economic package that included the i…

What is the 'Classical Dichotomy'?