Afternoon Must-Read: Simon Wren-Lewis: Endogenous Supply and Depressed Demand

Simon Wren-Lewis: Endogenous Supply and Depressed Demand: “Without fiscal austerity the US, UK and Eurozone…

…could currently be at output levels that are above current estimates of potential or natural output…. But are these estimates of potential output really independent of the path of actual output?… We know that stylised view is wrong for a variety of reasons. Labour that has been unemployed may become deskilled. Firms that are forced to cut back on investment in a recession may take time to rebuild their productive capacity. However there may be other ways it is wrong for reasons that are much more difficult to quantity. In particular, if investment falls in a recession, new technology that has to be embodied in new machines may fail to emerge, so the rate of technological progress may appear to decline. These processes may not matter too much in normal (mild and short lived) booms and busts. However following a large recession they may become more important…. After a severe recession which appears to result in a loss of capacity, you use policy to explore the boundaries of just how much capacity has really been lost, and run the risk that inflation may rise as you do so. You do not sit back, tell yourself that below target inflation is probably temporary, and do nothing. And, of course, you do not plan for more fiscal austerity.

February 19, 2015

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