Iris J. Lav
This article tackles the issue of comprehensive state budget reform. With structural deficits rampant, reform is needed to maintain the current level of programs that states and localities now provide, but cannot support over time with current revenue policies. Recent “reforms” have mainly focused on cutting both spending and taxes. Nonetheless, it is believed that people want their services and will vote to pay for them, if given that option. The article notes that there have been very few successful state tax reforms in recent years. But modernization of tax systems is needed to alleviate structural deficits. Part of the problem is institutional myopia: improved multiyear budgeting can warn policymakers when proposed actions are likely to create budget problems over the long term.
Robert B. Ward
Over the last decade, observers of state and local finances have been alarmed over an emerging picture of long-term, structural imbalances. This article examines the concept of fiscal sustainability in several formulations and explains that it essentially means limiting expenditure commitments to those that can be met by available revenue streams. It investigates why fiscal sustainability in actual practice, however it might be measured in theory, has fallen into disrepair. The usual lineup of budget-busting culprits is next examined, with the proliferation of entitlement programs standing at the head of the line. Over the past four decades, state and local budget increases reflected the strength of the economy during an unprecedented run of prosperity. Meanwhile, the array of entitlement programs that drove spending was increasingly shaped by political, demographic, and institutional forces, each with its own clientele of beneficiaries. That has made adjustments more difficult when revenues do not keep pace with spending patterns.
Peter Petri and Wendy Dobson
Asia is gradually changing the landscape of regional and global economic cooperation. Institutional reforms are underway to respond to its growing economic clout and pluralism. External expectations of Asian participation in collective goals are growing. But Asians have been major beneficiaries of the global economic system, and remain more comfortable with incremental change than with leading new initiatives or with enforcing global norms and rules. This reticence combined with reluctance of existing players to revamp governance structures in global institutions means that the existing order will continue to function. Economic cooperation in many areas, including new areas such as climate change, is therefore likely to be sluggish as countries face tradeoffs between their domestic priorities and the collective interest.
Eiji Ogawa and Chikafumi Nakamura
This chapter examines the behavior of the Asia Pacific region’s currencies through the lens of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the global imbalances that have been a possible contributor to that crisis. It discusses the “savings glut” hypothesis and identifies the possible causes of global imbalances which include the behavior of asset prices and the U.S. fiscal deficits. It also considers the possibility of an Asian Currency Unit (ACU) or Asian Monetary Unit (AMU).
This chapter analyzes and draws lessons from the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. It discusses the underlying factors that led to the crises, the differences from the previous balance of payments crises, and the policies that were adopted to control the crises. These policy responses included changes in exchange rate policies, financial sector reforms and, in several cases, external support from multilateral agencies. This article highlights the benefits of adequate foreign exchange reserves and the dangers of overleveraging.
Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT) is a body of hypotheses embodying particularly Austrian insights and assumptions. The canonical variant associated with Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. Hayek is particularly well suited to the Great Depression. However, it is an inadequate account of the recent US recession and financial crisis. This chapter develops a suitable ABCT variant that explicitly incorporates not only the economy’s time structure of production but also (1) its structure of consumption and (2) its risk structure. The continuous input–continuous output nature of the housing market is highlighted, along with the Treasury and the Federal Reserve’s roles in externalizing the risk associated with government-sponsored entities’ (GSEs’) debt. The chapter then extends Roger Garrison’s graphical framework to illustrate this ABCT variant.
Marco del Negro
This article presents the challenges that arise since macroeconomists often work in data-rich environments. It emphasizes multivariate models that can capture the co-movements of macroeconomic time series analysis. It discusses vector autoregressive (VAR) models distinguishing between reduced-form and structural VARs. Reduced-form VARs summarize the autocovariance properties of the data and provide a useful forecasting tool. The article shows how Bayesian methods have been empirically successful in responding to these challenges. It also encounters dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models that potentially differ in their economic implications. With posterior model probabilities, inference and decisions can be based on model averages. This article discusses inference with linearized as well as nonlinear DSGE models and reviews various approaches for evaluating the empirical fit of DSGE models. It concludes with a discussion of model uncertainty and decision-making with multiple models.
Brazil’s Macroeconomic Policy Institutions, Quasi-Stagnation, and the Interest Rate–Exchange Rate Trap
Luiz Carlos Bresser-Perreira
This chapter examines the evolution of macroeconomic policy and institutions over the long term and the ways in which they have influenced the growth path of the Brazilian economy. It establishes that a critical influence on the disappointing growth performance realized was a failure to neutralize the effects of exchange rate induced Dutch Disease. In addition to this, Brazil’s economic dynamism has been inhibited by the pursuit of a growth with current account deficits (“foreign savings”) policy; an exchange rate anchor policy to control inflation; and a high level of interest rates. Collectively, these factors have reduced the productivity and competitiveness of Brazil’s manufacturing industry. In addition, the interest-rate level has remained very high since the Real Plan and, from the late 1970s the investment capacity of the Brazilian state drastically decreased.
Burton G. Malkiel
This article addresses three topics. First, it describes what economists mean when they use the term “bubble,” and contrasts the behavioral finance view of asset pricing with the efficient market paradigm in an attempt to understand why bubbles might persist and why they may not be arbitraged away. Second, it reviews some major historical examples of asset-price bubbles as well as the (minority) view that they may not have been bubbles at all. It also examines the corresponding changes in real economic activity that have followed the bursting of such bubbles. Finally, it examines the most hotly debated aspect of any discussion of asset-price bubbles: what, if anything, should policy makers do about them? Should they react to sharp increases in asset prices that they deem to be unrelated to “fundamentals?” Should they take the view that they know more than the market does? Should they recognize that asset-price bubbles are a periodic flaw of capitalism and conduct their policies so as to temper any developing excesses? Or should they focus solely on their primary targets of inflation and real economic activity? The discussion pays particular attention to bubbles that are associated with sharp increases in credit and leverage.