Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beliefs are Fundamental: Whatever your Religion

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a very interesting conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis. The topic
of the conference was the relationship between income inequality and monetary policy, but the papers, more broadly, were all trying to cope with the intellectual problem of rebuilding monetary economics to incorporate the lessons of the Great Recession.

I discussed a fascinating paper, presented by Jim Bullard, joint with Costas Azariadis, Aarti Singh and Jacek Suda (ABSS). ABSS Built a 241 period overlapping generations model in which the people who inhabit the model are permitted to trade one period nominal bonds: but nothing else. They focused on one particular equilibrium of their model and they showed that, conditional on this equilibrium, a central bank can help the economy to function efficiently. Here is a link to the paper and here is a link to my discussion.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Washington: We have a problem

John Cochrane makes the case in the WSJ that everything is back to normal. Hunky Dory, rosy tinted, don’t panic, keep-calm-and-carry-on normal. He points out that inflation is under control. We have not entered a deflationary death-spiral and unemployment is back in reasonable territory.

Here is what John learned from the Great Recession.
The [QE] experiment was huge, and the lessons are clear. The economy is stable, not subject to Keynesian “spirals” requiring constant Fed intervention. And when reserves pay the same rate as bonds, banks do not care which one they hold. So even massive bond purchases do not cause inflation. Quantitative easing is like trading a $20 bill for $10 and $5 bills. How would that make anyone spend more money?