This is why income inequality is dangerous: it is a drag on aggregate demand. As inequality increases, as it has in the U.S., the drag grows commensurately. Stagnant wages mean that consumer borrowing must be steadily increased to keep the economy moving forward. Meanwhile, the fruits of growth flowing to the top mean a vast pile-up in savings and associated asset bubbles, and the recessions that follow are harder and harder to recover from. In other words, keeping an economy that suffers from galloping economic inequality pressurized and growing requires an economic policy regime that contains the seeds of its own destruction. And this leads us to where we are now: consumers today can’t stomach any more debt, interest rates have hit the floor, and a grinding, low-level depression is upon us. Welcome to 2014. Federal Grant Disbursement
The third policy option is known as nominal gross domestic product targeting, the major proponent of which is the economist Scott Sumner. The idea is all about self-fulfilling expectations. Recall that the central bank owns the printing press, so it can create arbitrary quantities of dollars. By making a pre-commitment to keep the economy on a particular spending trajectory, self-fulfilling collapses in spending would not happen. Something similar to this policy seems to have kept Australia and Israel out of the Great Recession. But in order to sustain such a policy, the Fed might have to intervene in the economy quite frequently, and then the distributional consequences could be serious. Quantitative easing, for example, helps push up asset prices (the stock market has regained all the ground lost since 2009 and then some), which disproportionately benefits the wealthy. Free Money Machine
×