Ciclicamente surgem críticas à política monetária acomodatícia do BCE – ou, com mais propriedade, à da Reserva Federal -, que segundo os seus críticos estará a ‘chocar’ tensões financeiras que acabarão inevitavelmente num crash. A ideia fundamental é que os bancos centrais deveriam utilizar a sua principal ferramenta de implementação de política monetária (a taxa de juro directora) para contrariar a emergência de bolhas, mesmo que este objectivo seja, por vezes, conflituante com o da estabilidade de preços.
A maior parte das pessoas não reparou, mas é precisamente isso que o banco central sueco tem estado a fazer nos últimos temos. Os resultados, infelizmente, parecem não ser os melhores, como se lê em Why leaning againts the wind is the wrong monetary policy for Sweden. Sobre o problema de fundo, ler também Financial stability and monetary policy.
The FI has already taken several actions that have reduced risks from household debt. It has introduced a loan-to-value cap for mortgages, increased risk weights on mortgages, increased capital and liquidity requirements for systemically important banks, and proposed that banks suggest individually adapted amortisation plans to their borrowers. The FI considers these actions sufficient at present, but is monitoring the developments and is prepared to take additional action if justified. It is difficult to maintain that macroprudential policy in Sweden would be insufficient.
Regarding the second condition, I show in the paper, in some detail, that the Riksbank’s own calculations imply that the benefit of a higher policy rate – in the form of possible both lower probability and less depth of a future crisis – is negligible compared to the policy’s cost (Sveriges Riksbank 2014). Expressed in terms of a lower expected future unemployment, the benefit is only about 0.0038 times the cost (in the form of higher unemployment) during the next few years. That is, the benefit is only about 0.4% of the cost.
Thus, none of the conditions that would together justify leaning against the wind in Sweden are satisfied. Without any noticeable benefits, the Riksbank’s leaning against the wind over the last few years has led to high costs in the form of a higher unemployment rate – arguably about 1.2 percentage points higher than necessary – and an inflation rate of around zero; that is, two percentage points lower than the inflation target and household inflation expectations.
That inflation over the last few years has fallen much below the target and household expectations implies that the households’ real debt burden has increased substantially. The real value of a given loan has (in two and half years) become 5% larger than if inflation had equaled the target. This has, if anything, increased the risks from household debt rather than reducing them, thereby making the FI’s work to reduce any such risks more difficult.