Structural shock, politics and ECB
I was so sure you’re going to take up on that sentence, but I put it in anyways, for the sake of the debate :D.
Some progress in reforms in EU has been made. At the same time additional taxes, regulations, “rescue”/transfer” funds will act as a brake for the positive labour market reforms, privatizations and other moves being made. What the world needs is a stable monetary environment, with clear goals and instruments to reach them. And this is where I believe NGDPLT is important (not perfect), it is a policy rule that is neutral. A lot of metrics are getting distorted today because the fall in NGDP was that drastic (like Greek debt/gdp), if NGDPLT was implemented, things would have looked a lot different today. I know we are talking of the effects of the NGDPLT as a short term stimulus, but I find it just hard to asses it from that short term point of view.
On the other hand if the ECB moves back to the bad habit of conditioning monetary policy on political outcome then once again the markets will start worrying about the finer details of Italian and Spanish politics.
The hot potato
Also don’t forget the problems of Feds primary dealer system, one can argue that even if the Fed saw what was happening, this could have been a bottleneck for future action.
If Fed satisfies the elevated money demand + commits to a rule based policy as NGDPLT to ensure stable environment for endogenous money creation, especially in asset creation, it will fulfill its role in my view. I liked Nick Rowe’s “story”how (fiat) money is the only asset in all markets. If there is shortage of money, there is a shortage of realized exchanges relating to the possible optimum. I think it is enough to satisfy demand to ensure the monetary policy job is done, and then, maybe, you can think in terms of the following view of mine.
l’ll give you a punching bag right now, but I imagine it looking like this.
B represents some supply shock induced deviation. Now, in NGDPLT monetary policy is neutral. It should keep the nominal demand stable on the path. All the reactions can happen in a stable nominal environment. Shaded are shows the distortion and the loss of the nominal income.
That results in move from a -> b.
Nominal income deviated from the path as a result. Now, in growth rate targeting regime (or inflation targeting), this would be fine and CB wouldn’t have to make up for the “mistake”. If you regard NGDP as a stance of monetary policy, b would mean the MP is tight.
When the nominal environment deviates as well, you have a “double” problem, creating a sort of feedback loop. Nominal income falls – for example, cash flows from all MBS, not just those which were subprime or some other that are in “trouble” are affected. Now, general nominal AD may deviate from the “optimum”, but monetary policy doing the level targeting, will do everything to make up for the shortfall (and bring the situation back to a+level target in t+1). It will be easier to allocate resources from distressed sectors then.
Now demand for subprime housing will decline, but other asset classes will not have problem with distressed prices. This crunch in a part of a market can occur if there is a general uncertainty (call it information asimetry?), counterparty risk on the markets, creating a vicious circle from market liquidity to funding liquidity, back to market liquidity and so forth, distorting all possible asset classes. In that moment money demand explodes further / velocity is falling. Then further decline (to point c) in nominal income because MP was tight is certain.
Why can’t the discovery of some other equilibrium/ return to A (if B was unsustainable) be easier in situation where money is tight? I think its because if some other healthy sector is affected by a fall in nominal income (tight policy – take a look at role of money in all markets) it will not be able to accommodate the adjustment.
If Fed responds to that money demand appropriately, it can prevent a widespread vicious circle we saw in 2008 and consequences of which people are still feeling around the world. Doing it now (from point c) makes it a lot harder, but NGDPLT can induce markets to do part of a heavy lifting as I was trying to show before. “Good” parts of the economy will continue to function since monetary policy isn’t affecting relative prices but is targeting agregate nominal incomes and ensuring cash flows related with such investment (going at least to b, preferably to a). So if you are talking about MBS, those with cash flows from subprime borrowers will likely become “toxic” and the misallocation of resources caused by the idea of granting these people access to loans to buy homes will have to be resolved . I would call this the structural part. On the other hand, other securities may still be of “good”, primarily transparent, value – because nominal incomes they generated and generated from them are not significantly affected by the crunch in the other market. Offcourse they wouldn’t be fully immune, but on the other hand these wouldn’t be caught in a firesales spiral caused by high money demand (think of Rowe’s story), which is not accommodated (to c). Lets call this “tight MP” part . (again, lets suppose some of primary dealers weren’t loaded with subprime MBS going bad)
If problems of unsustainability were “created” (unsustainability began to amass?) at some other point later (1999 – with CRA; 2001-2003 rates too low for too long etc) than path of NGDP resulting created by the Great moderation doesn’t have to be questioned to the extent that “it wasn’t all bad” and maybe it can be continued – than there is some sense in trying to make up for past mistakes and continue the same path.
Major CBs should go on with implementing NGDPLT, first by accommodating the risen demand for money to alleviate mistakes (fall to c) they made before (thereby not absolutely solving the slump and restoring it to the pre crisis path – since it was unsustainable). I would call this scenario “embracing the gap”. (Im presuming here you do agree part of the gap is tight MP)
So, on the other side, if we accept that there were certain excesses caused by unsustainable policies (be it by Fed, Governments, of exogenous nature…) from some point during the Great Moderation to Q3/2008, and some of those can be seen as the “beginning” of the end for the system set up that way, do we really need to say, that underlying NGDP level path was totally unsustainable? Then I do see a reason for monetary policy to try to get to the pre crisis level path (a). Lets call this scenario “bridging the gap”.
In the end, our little debate is basically a debate of “how much”, or as you put it
My problem is on the perception of the rule itself (NGDPLT) as a credible enough mechanism to pull us out of a recession.
In that sense, MP can bring back the path at least to b, where I see you observing the c as the “new normal” until structural reforms are implemented – or b if you do agree that part of the problem is the tight MP.
UPDATE: Nick Rowe has a great story showcasing the hot potato, recession as a monetary phenomenon and basically a big part of my “big picture”
PS. Sorry for much of the spelling mistakes, autocorrect seems to have a mind of its own