Um post que vale a pena de Simon Wren-Lewis: Greece and primary surpluses. A ideia fundamental é que o saldo primário real da Grécia – isto é, o saldo ajustado à posição cíclica da economia – já está nuns impressionantes 7,6%. Isto devia ser mais do que suficiente para reduzir rapidamente o stock de dívida mesmo com estímulos orçamentais, porque o impacto negativo destes estímulos seria mais do que compensado pela convergência do saldo primário para o seu valor estrutural.
Não deveria ser muito difícil convencer a Troika da razoabilidade desta alternativa – este é o caso clássico de um bloqueio cognitivo condenado a desaparecer mais cedo ou mais tarde. Infelizmente, o “factor Syriza” pode ter criado bloqueios de natureza diferente: falta de confiança entre as partes e o receio de que o financiamento internacional não seja utilizado para suavizar a consolidação mas para a adiar ad infinitum.
2009 was the peak underlying primary deficit, and it was huge, representing the actions of a truly profligate government. However what followed was complete cold turkey: within two years the underlying primary balance was close to zero. A pretty conservative estimate for the impact of fiscal consolidation would reduce GDP by 1% for each 1% of GDP reduction in the primary balance. In those terms, all of the current output gap in Greece can be explained by austerity.
As I have always said, some period involving a negative output gap was inevitable because Greece had to regain the competitiveness it lost as a result of the previous boom fuelled by fiscal profligacy. But slow gradual adjustment is more efficient than cold turkey. Paul Krugman explains one reason for this: resistance to nominal wage cuts. But there is another which is even more conventional. If we have a Phillips curve where inflation expectations are endogenous (either through rational or adaptive expectations) rather than anchored to some inflation target (as Paul implicitly assumes), then competitiveness adjustment can be achieved with a much lower cost in terms of the cumulated output gap if it is done slowly. (I gave an example here, then reacting to the idea that Latvia’s cold turkey adjustment had been a success.)
There are only two serious barriers to this more efficient adjustment path. The first is the willingness of some outside body to provide the loans to fund the gradual reduction in the government’s deficit. The second is getting those outside bodies to recognise this basic macro: austerity hits output, and gradual adjustment is better. I think the second turned out to be the crucial problem with Greece: as has been extensively documented, the Troika were hopelessly optimistic about the impact cold turkey would have.