A comunicação de Mario Draghi em Jackson Hole – unemployment in the Euro area – revela que o discurso oficial do BCE está a mudar. O discurso não está ao nível do célebre whatever-it-takes de Londres, mas ainda assim é algo que vai dar muito que falar.
O primeiro destaque tem de ir para um facto que já algum tempo era referido em muita da investigação feita na Comissão Europeia, mas que estava estranhamente ausente das palavras dos principais decisores de topo europeus – que a taxa natural de desemprego oficial está, com elevado grau de probabilidade, altamente sobrestimada (sobre isso, ver os posts 1, 2, 3, 4):
(…) Estimates of structural unemployment are surrounded by considerable uncertainty, in particular in real time. For example, research by the European Commission suggests that estimates of the Non-Accelerating Wage Rate of Unemployment (NAWRU) in the current situation are likely to overstate the magnitude of unemployment linked to structural factors, notably in the countries most severely hit by the crisis.
A conclusão é que o espaço de manobra para políticas de estímulo à procura é bastante maior do que se julgaria olhando para as medidas oficiais do desemprego estrutural. E a existência de hysteresis effects, através dos quais o desemprego cíclico se vai progressivamente ‘estruturalizando’, cria uma assimetria de riscos que só reforça a urgência de actuar a este nível.
Demand side policies are not only justified by the significant cyclical component in unemployment. They are also relevant because, given prevailing uncertainty, they help insure against the risk that a weak economy is contributing to hysteresis effects. Indeed, while in normal conditions uncertainty would imply a higher degree of caution for fear of over-shooting, at present the situation is different. The risks of “doing too little” – i.e. that cyclical unemployment becomes structural – outweigh those of “doing too much” – that is, excessive upward wage and price pressures.
As palavras seguintes são mais cuidadosas e polidas, como convém a um banqueiro central. Mas parecem apenas uma forma encoberta de dizer algo muito simples: com a periferia europeia sem margem orçamental para grandes aventuras, e o BCE praticamente de mãos atadas, terão de ser terceiros – isto é, os países do centro da Europa, que não têm constrangimentos financeiros – a usar a política orçamental para expandir a procura interna e contornar os riscos (baixos mas reais) de uma prolongada estagnação da Zona Euro.
Turning to fiscal policy, since 2010 the euro area has suffered from fiscal policy being less available and effective, especially compared with other large advanced economies. This is not so much a consequence of high initial debt ratios – public debt is in aggregate not higher in the euro area than in the US or Japan. It reflects the fact that the central bank in those countries could act and has acted as a backstop for government funding. This is an important reason why markets spared their fiscal authorities the loss of confidence that constrained many euro area governments’ market access. This has in turn allowed fiscal consolidation in the US and Japan to be more backloaded.
Thus, it would be helpful for the overall stance of policy if fiscal policy could play a greater role alongside monetary policy, and I believe there is scope for this, while taking into account our specific initial conditions and legal constraints. These initial conditions include levels of government expenditure and taxation in the euro area that are, in relation to GDP, already among the highest in the world. And we are operating within a set of fiscal rules – the Stability and Growth Pact – which acts as an anchor for confidence and that would be self-defeating to break.
First, the existing flexibility within the rules could be used to better address the weak recovery and to make room for the cost of needed structural reforms.
Second, there is leeway to achieve a more growth-friendly composition of fiscal policies. As a start, it should be possible to lower the tax burden in a budget-neutral way. This strategy could have positive effects even in the short-term if taxes are lowered in those areas where the short-term fiscal multiplier is higher, and expenditures cut in unproductive areas where the multiplier is lower. Research suggests positive second-round effects on business confidence and private investment could also be achieved in the short-term.
Third, in parallel it may be useful to have a discussion on the overall fiscal stance of the euro area. Unlike in other major advanced economies, our fiscal stance is not based on a single budget voted for by a single parliament, but on the aggregation of eighteen national budgets and the EU budget. Stronger coordination among the different national fiscal stances should in principle allow us to achieve a more growth-friendly overall fiscal stance for the euro area.
Fourth, complementary action at the EU level would also seem to be necessary to ensure both an appropriate aggregate position and a large public investment programme – which is consistent with proposals by the incoming President of the European Commission.
P.S.- Ver o comentário de Krugman.