海外之声丨寻找货币政策和财政政策的稳定走廊

导读

货币政策和财政政策面临着迫在眉睫的双重长期挑战。要想政策能够有效发挥稳定的作用,就需要对其进行重新制定,保证政策牢牢地控制在“稳定走廊”内。在未来的道路上需要“机会主义正常化”和结构改革的组合,以保证长期增长。

面对新冠疫情造成的史无前例的经济崩溃,货币和财政当局应齐心协力稳定市场,提振经济活动。货币政策应创造和分配流动性,财政政策则应转移资源和支出。到目前为止,这两项政策合作顺利,但前景依旧堪忧。这两项政策对金融状况、经济活动和通货膨胀都有较大影响,都反映了国家通过征税或发行货币对资源的特权控制。一方面,两者可以带来经济繁荣,而另一方面,也会导致巨大的危害。为了解决此类问题,必须提供政策回旋的空间。此外,必须保证两项政策牢牢地保持在“稳定走廊”内,两个政策互不威胁,以保证持续稳定发展。

目前,名义利率创了历史新低,有人将这种情况成为“新常态”,但其实,这种情况的出现并不正常。决策者应该确保经济能够平稳过渡到一条新的、更具弹性的道路上。货币和财政领域的政策空间大幅缩小,这带来了风险。最具破坏性的危险是一种“不稳定陷阱”。在这种情况下,政府没有利用低利率进行调整,而是进一步提高债务。反过来,更高的政府债务使得加息变得更加困难。

因此,政府必须要制定坚实基础的政策,明确的前进方向,以及灵活的运行方式。财政和货币政策有时会产生交叉作用,相互施加压力。通过与经济发展保持一致并实施“机会主义正常化”,可以部分缓解这种紧张局势。一旦货币和财政政策能够在走廊中稳健运行,最终便能收获稳定且有韧性的经济发展。

作者 | Claudio Borio,国际清算银行货币和经济部主任

英文原文如下:

Monetary and fiscal policies: in search of a corridor of stability

Claudio Borio, Head of the BIS Monetary and Economic Department, and Piti Disyatat, Assistant Governor, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand

Monetary and fiscal policies, as deeply entwined functions of the state, face a looming dual long-term challenge. They need to regain policy headroom so as to be able to effectively fulfil their macro- stabilisation role. And once those safety margins are restored, the policies need to remain firmly within a “corridor of stability”, in which neither can endanger the other or push it to the limit. Navigating the path ahead will require a mix of “opportunistic normalisations” and structural reforms to raise long-term growth.

展开全文

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the nexus between monetary and fiscal policies. Faced with an unprecedented economic collapse, monetary and fiscal authorities acted in unison to stabilise markets and shore up activity. Monetary policy deployed its power to create and distribute liquidity; fiscal policy its power to transfer resources and spend. Together, they prevented a much deeper contraction and laid the basis for the recovery (BIS 2020). The two policies have worked smoothly together so far. But this happy state is unlikely to continue indefinitely.

The fault lines lie in the interwoven structure of the two policies, which inevitably encroach on each other’s territory. Both policies have a first-order impact on financial conditions, economic activity and inflation. And the nexus between them becomes even tighter, more mechanically, through interlocking balance sheets – income transfers to and from the government and central bank purchases of government debt. The ultimate reason for this tight relationship is that both policies reflect the state’s privileged command over resources, through the power to tax or issue money (Borio and Disyatat (2021)). That power can be a major force for good, when it provides the stable foundation for a thriving economy, but it can also cause great harm, when it leads to inflation as well as financial and macroeconomic instability.

What does the journey ahead look like? What are the hazards along the way?

When considering these issues, the debate often focuses on the interaction between monetary and fiscal policies in near-term macroeconomic stabilisation – the policy mix (Bartsch et al (2020). This issue no doubt matters. But it pales in comparison to a looming dual longer-term challenge. First, there is a need to regain policy room for manoeuvre so as to be able to carry out effectively that macro- stabilisation function in the first place. This means operating with comfortable safety margins, which will allow each policy to address inevitable future recessions and equally inevitable unexpected shocks. Second, once those safety margins are re-established, there is a need for the two policies to remain firmly within a “corridor of stability” , in which neither of them can endanger the other or push it to the limit. Fiscal sustainability is essential in this context.

Managing the interaction: the exceptional starting point of the journey

What makes the journey ahead so hazardous is the exceptional starting point. In no phase in history have nominal interest rates been as low as they are now. Rea interest rates have never been negative for as long, even during the exceptional Great Inflation era. Central bank balance sheets have been as high only during wars. At the same time, after a relentless rising trend since the mid-1980s, government debt has, globally, reached levels not seen since World War II (Graph 1, left-hand panel) – no doubt another historical peak. And despite this, service costs have fallen to a trough (right-hand panel). The debt burden has never felt so light.

1 Sample consists of AR, AT, AU, BE, BR, CA, CH, CL, DE, DK, ES, FR, GB, GR, IN, IT, JP, NL, NO, NZ, PT, RU, SE and US. Statistics are computed using a smaller set of countries when data is not available. 2 General (if not available central) government core (if not available total) debt at nominal (if not available market) value. Latest available quarter for 2020. 3 Government debt-to-GDP multiplied by the simple average of short-term and long-term interest rates. 4 Median debt service had interest rates stayed at 1995 level.

Sources: Borio and Disyatat (2021).

It is quite common to describe this situation as “the New Normal”. Clearly, though, it is anything but. What has so fundamentally changed in the global economy since its inception that we should expect current conditions to prevail without generating forces to upend them? In fact, policymakers’ task is arguably to ensure a smooth transition to a new, more resilient, path (Borio (2021a)).

Managing the interactions: the hazards ahead

The much diminished policy headroom in the monetary and fiscal spheres poses risks. The ultimate, most damaging, hazard is a kind of “instability trap”. In this scenario, rather than taking advantage of low rates to adjust, governments take the opportunity to raise debt further – a risk underlined by the belief that the New Normal will ensure structurally low borrowing costs. In turn, higher government debt (alongside higher private debt) makes it harder to raise interest rates, as the economy becomes less able to bear them. Indeed, after such a long time with very low rates, the economy has adapted to them. This process can be self-reinforcing and reduce both fiscal and monetary policy headroom over time.

The above reasoning turns the usual argument on its head. In this scenario, it is not so much that interest rates are structurally and exogenously low so that governments can afford higher debt. Rather, the belief that they are structurally and exogenously low encourages policies that end up validating those rates. The difference in perspective is hardly immaterial: it is the difference between a stable and an unstable economy.

To get a sense of the orders of magnitude involved, imagine that interest rates rose back to their mid-1990s levels. This was after inflation had been conquered, so that rates had declined to historically typical levels. In that scenario, government service costs in relation to GDP would be higher than during World War II (Graph 1, right-hand panel, dotted line).

One reasonable objection to this counterfactual is that it does not take into account that a large, and possibly growing, chunk of government debt now has a long maturity. But this argument fails to consider that central banks have purchased large amounts of that debt (Graph 2, left-hand panel) – by far the main force behind the surge in their balance sheets (Graph 2, right-hand panel). Central bank purchases of long-term government debt financed with bank reserves (QE) raise the sensitivity of fiscal positions to higher interest rates (eg Borio and Disyatat (2010), Greenwood et al (2014)). From the perspective of the consolidated public sector balance sheet – aggregating the balance sheets of the central bank and the government – the purchases amount to a large-scale debt management operation: the public sector retires long-term debt and replaces it with overnight debt (bank reserves) (Graph 3). Higher interest rates on reserves cut central bank profits (or raise losses) and hence depress remittances to the government.

Government debt may appear long-term, but in fact it is not. In the largest advanced economies the share of marketable government debt now exceeds 80% and can be as high as almost 100%. But once the large-scale central bank purchases are taken into account, as much as some 30–50% of that debt is already de facto overnight.

Managing the interactions: policies towards the final destination

Navigating the path ahead will require well-grounded policies with a clear medium-term orientation and conducted with a great deal of deft. The fact that normalisation is a joint task complicates matters significantly. Along the long path ahead, the two policies will at times be working at cross purposes, putting pressure on each other. Higher interest rates increase the size of the required fiscal adjustment, and fiscal consolidation puts pressure on monetary policy to remain accommodative for longer.

Such tensions can be partly alleviated by staying attuned to economic developments and implementing “opportunistic normalisations”. For fiscal policy, as the history of successful reductions in government debt-to-GDP ratios indicates, it is essential not to miss the window of opportunity provided by the prevailing favourable interest rate-economic growth differentials through fiscal consolidation once the post-pandemic recovery is well under way. (BIS (2021)). This is also important to reduce the risk of fiscal dominance. For monetary policy, reflation can go hand in hand with the gradual withdrawal of stimulus (Borio (2021b)) – as many central banks have already begun to do.

Fundamentally, though, the only way of improving trade-offs is to raise long-term growth. And this cannot be done through monetary or fiscal policy; reinvigorating structural reforms remains a priority. It is hard to imagine that an economy can allocate capital efficiently and thrive with real interest rates persistently negative. Favourable interest rate-growth differential should reflect higher growth, not lower real interest rates.

These policies provide the best chance for the economy to reach the right destination: one in which both monetary and fiscal policies have regained safety margins and operate firmly within a corridor of stability. Along such a corridor, the two polices could finally operate “consistently”, avoiding the risk of long-term and hard-to-reverse damage to institutional credibility to which an unbalanced reliance on one of the two can give rise . The final destination of the journey would be the foundation of a resilient economy – a place to call home.

References

Bank for International Settlements (2020): Annual Economic Report 2020, Chapters I and II, www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2020e.htm.

Bank for International Settlements (2021): Annual Economic Report 2021, Chapter I, www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2021e.htm.

Bartsch, E, A Bénassy-Quéré, G Corsetti and X Debrun (2020): “It’s all in the mix: how monetary and fiscal policies can work or fail together”, Geneva Report, no 23, CEPR Press, December, www.cepr.org/content/geneva-report-23-its-all-mix-how-monetary-and-fiscal-policies-can-work-or- fail-together.

Borio, C and P Disyatat (2010): “Unconventional monetary policies: an appraisal”, The Manchester School, vol 78, no 1, pp 53–89. Also available as BIS Working Papers, no 292, November 2009, www.bis.org/publ/work292.pdf.

Borio, C and P Disyatat (2014): “Low interest rates and secular stagnation: is debt a missing link?”, VoxEU, 25 June, www.voxeu.org/article/low-interest-rates-secular-stagnation-and-debt.

Borio, C and P Disyatat (2021): “Monetary and fiscal policy: privileged powers, entwined responsibilities”, SUERF Policy Note, no 238, May, www.suerf.org/policynotes/24711/monetary-and-fiscal-policy- privileged-powers-entwined-responsibilities.

Eggertsson, G (2006): "The deflation bias and committing to being irresponsible", Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, vol 38, no 2, pp 283–321, March, www.jmcb.osu.edu/archive/volume-38.

Greenwood, R, S Hanson, J Rudolph and L Summers (2014): “Government Debt Management at the Zero Lower Bound”, Hutchins Center Working Papers, no 5, www.brookings.edu/research/government-debt- management-at-the-zero-lower-bound/.

Leijonhufvud, A (2009): “Stabilities and instabilities in the macroeconomy”, VoxEU, 21 November, www.voxeu.org/article/stabilities-and-instabilities-macroeconomy.

编译 王子寒

编辑 刘嘉璐

来源 BIS

责编 李锦璇、蒋旭

监制 朱霜霜、董熙君

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