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TheMoneyIllusion货币幻觉

美国本特利大学经济学教授斯科特·萨姆纳(Scott Sumner)

 
 
 

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Sumner  

美国本特利大学经济学教授

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2009-07-14 08:32:09|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 [点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客 [Scott Sumner中文博客]  

当前的危机如此令人沮丧的一个原因是如此多的人依赖过时的陈词滥调。其中一个陈词滥调是美联储在进行“债务货币化”。 但是,事实却是如此?债务货币化不应是印刷无息货币,然后使用这种货币回购含息的政府债务的一项政策吗?如果是,美联储则并没有在进行债务货币化,而是将一种含息的政府债务(公积)转换成另一种政府债务(T型债券)。

另一种陈词滥调是,货币政策已经非常宽松。以下是圣路易斯联邦储备银行的詹姆斯·布拉德提供的PowerPoint演示文稿中的一些要点:

宽松货币政策

200812月联邦基金利率目标实际为零。

联邦公开市场委员会一直致力于在延长期里保持低目标。

积极的资产收购计划。

机构债券:达2000亿美元。

机构住房抵押贷款证券:达1.25万亿美元

长期国债:3000亿美元。

总计:达1.75万亿美元。

资产购买程序正导致货币基础迅速扩大。

:

这项报告非常有趣也做得很好,但是,这一张幻灯片却让我感到心寒。如果这是一项非常宽松的货币政策,他将如何描述30年代初的货币政策?这有什么不同?本·伯南克是否仍然认为1929年至1933年的大收缩归咎于美联储? 如果是的话,在什么基础上? 你可以在最近的一篇彭博文章中找到对这篇PowerPoint演示文稿的链接:

圣路易联邦储备银行总裁詹姆斯·布拉德于630日在费城举办一次报告会上指出,美联储官员关注的一项对通货膨胀状况预期的衡量继去年年底非常消极后,最近几个月上升接近百分之二的水平

不包括食品和能源价格上涨的美联储首选价格指数在五月较去年同期上升百分之1.8。据4月的联邦公开市场委员会会议记录,美联储官员预计在长远看来通货膨胀率在百分之1.72.0之间。

我很高兴,美联储正同我关注着同一个5年期财政部通货膨胀保护债券差价,但我不知道他们如何能够沾沾自喜地预计大约2 %的通货膨胀,而目前的差价仅为1.27 %。

然后是这样的:

 我同意摩根士丹利,市场对通货膨胀过于乐观,匹兹堡卡内基梅隆大学的美联储历史学家和经济学教授阿兰·梅尔策表示。美联储完全具备工具和技术诀窍,但问题是,将他们是否有胆量使用它们?我不认为地狱里有滚雪球的机会,他们将愿意加强减缓通货膨胀。

我们根本没有机会避免高通胀?尽管市场预测的通货膨胀率远低于美联储的目标,即使如此,货币主义者从没有对为什么利息储备注入造成通货膨胀做出一个理论解释?至于日本?在90年代末,日本央行大规模扩大了货币基础。当这一政策威胁在2006将日本的通货膨胀率推向高达0 %,他们大大减少了货币基础,保证日本将继续其追求零价水平和人口零的不懈努力。

然后是这样的:

上个月美联储对结束其对恢复信贷的努力迈出了第一步,决定让一个紧急贷款计划代替和辅助另外两个。布拉德上周表示,政策制定者们需要制定一项广泛的计划,以出脱资产购买,从而降低通货膨胀的风险,并增强其在经济复苏期的信心。

有人提醒我——什么是经济问题?是否太多广告?或者太少?布拉德不是正说美联储关注5年期财政部通货膨胀保护债券差价?那些利差不正显示1.27 %通货膨胀?美联储的目标不是2 %左右吗?那么,通货膨胀风险不是太少通货膨胀吗?但我看不出出脱资产购买将如何减少风险?它不会增加通胀低于2 %的风险吗?

布拉德幻灯片放映中一个有趣的信息指出2009年下半年,这个基础可能上升。至少我认为他是这样表示的,但是你得自己判断因为他还表示,该基地已被迅速增加,即使本博客的读者已经知道2009年上半年美联储没有进行任何数量型宽松货币政策,事实上,货币基础下降已接近纪录利率。

有时,似乎如此大声吹嘘数量型宽松货币政策最后下降的所有专家甚至对检查数据不感兴趣,看看美联储实际上做的事情。基础为何下降并没有太大的意义,但如果有人感兴趣,这里可能有解释:

在去年,美联储已将资产负债表上的总资产增加1.1万亿美元,截至71日已至2.01万亿美元,从而解冻信贷市场和支持银行对现金的需求。在过去几周里对商业银行和债券交易商的短期贷款已经下降,部分原因是私人借款成本下降。

这证实了我们的怀疑。换句话说,没有数量型宽松货币政策。

布拉德还建议(在他的PowerPoint幻灯片中),由于担忧与大赤字相关的通货膨胀,美联储可能会从货币扩张退缩。这是我反对财政刺激的一个原因,我预计,如果国会做得少些,美联储将会做更多。我似乎记得克拉格曼或德隆嘲笑过这一论点,但是显然这正是负责货币政策的相关人士认真考虑的论题。以下还是布拉德的建议:

现在为什么担忧?

现在的问题是,如果通货膨胀纳预期纳入长期收益,这些收益率将在现在显现。

    那可能阻碍现在的复苏前景。

同样,今天在美国我们有庞大的预算赤字,部分是为了对付经济衰退。

    美联储可能债务货币化的表象可能导致通胀预期上升。

    如果布拉德是正确的,财政乘数实际上可能是负数。以下是我对他的论点的解释:

1. 当他说现在的问题是,如果通货膨胀预期纳入长期收益率他一定指的是长期而非比美联储的目标。请记住,美联储实际上希望在未来几年保持较高的通货膨胀。因此,在某种意义上较高的通货膨胀预期在短期内不是问题,它们是解决方案。

2. 布拉德大概的意思是,如果美联储将足够的资金进入流通领域,以提高5年通胀预期从1.27 %至2.0 ,那么30年的通胀预期可能从2 %上升至4 ——推高住房抵押贷款利率并谋杀经济复苏。

我不知道布拉德是否正确,有趣的是,他引用财政赤字作为长期通胀预期的一个因素复杂。如果没有大规模的财政赤字,美联储将更有信心将通胀预期提高1.27 %以上,那么财政刺激将实际上产生紧缩的效果。我怎能提出这种说法?因为财政和货币刺激的工作都通过摆弄广告工作,从而增加通货膨胀。预计的财政刺激作用和货币政策都封装在单一号码内,预期通货膨胀率。布拉德暗示由于担心将出现大规模的财政赤字货币化,美联储被退出。现在,倡议者的财政刺激事情看起来并不好。

我同情那些现在正揪着他们的头发并对着他们的显示器尖叫的凯恩斯学派。我不认为美联储应该使用害怕被视为债务货币化作为退出理由——事实上,更积极的货币政策将意味着一段时间内需要较少的财政刺激,和通过所谓的自动稳定器减少赤字开支(低税收和更多的福利开支)。但是,拉姆斯菲尔德可能会说;你与中央银行进入鲁莽赤字开支,而不是您所期望的中央银行。

这是我的预测,如果5年期财政部通货膨胀保护债券差价在任何延长期倒退回1 %以下(比如6相当于一个美联储单位时间)美联储将进入恐慌模式并拉动一些瑞典式突击让通胀预期返回超过1 %。假如这样的话,这将证实我的看法,即刺激计划是为8000亿美元的错误。

我猜想这一预测违反了我所珍惜的有效市场,但是,没有人是完美的。我并不试图使用花式套利来击败市场,但是,如果我这样做当差价低于1%我会购买5年期财政部通货膨胀保护债券并出售5年期T型债券。也许我很天真,但我仍然不认为美联储将只让经济陷入日本式的困境。

列宁理应预测德国工人起义,并补充说,如果他们没有,他将失去所有对他们的尊重。这正是我对美联储的感想。

在最后的幻灯片结束前,布拉德表示,零利率同时,美联储已适当侧重于定量的办法。当然我们现在知道,他们没有做这样的事情,而是继续玩弄风险利差。然后,他建议美联储需要一个辅助数量型宽松货币政策的反馈规则,并以这两个要点结束:

我们仍没有成功,但我想继续鼓励员工在这方面的工作方向。

没有这一点,我们不得不做出判断。

是的,美联储已经肯定了一些判断。如果他们不想负责任,我有一个NGDP期货配置制度,我很愿意廉价出售。实际上,他们可以免费获得。

附言  布拉德的幻灯片实际上是非常好的,我只是挑出我的几个不赞同点,这可能给了一个错误的印象。

 

(翻译纠错。读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们,谢谢:caijingblog#126.com 将#改为@)


英文原文(地址:http://blogsandwikis.bentley.edu/themoneyillusion/?p=1764):

An intellectual depression 

One of the things that is so depressing about the current crisis is the way that so many people rely on outmoded cliches.  One of those cliches is that the Fed is “monetizing the debt.”  But is it really?  Isn’t monetizing the debt a policy of printing non-interest-bearing currency, and then using that currency to buy back interest-bearing government debt?  If so, then the Fed is not monetizing the debt, rather they are exchanging one type of interest-bearing government debt (reserves) for another (T-bonds.)

Another cliche is that monetary policy has been highly accommodative.  Here are some bullet points from a Powerpoint presentation by James Bullard of the St. Louis Fed:

ACCOMMODATIVE MONETARY POLICY

Federal funds rate target effectively zero since December 2008.
The FOMC has committed to keep the target low “for an extended period.”

An aggressive asset purchase program.
Agency debt: up to $200 billion.
Agency mortgage-backed securities: up to $1.25 trillion.
Longer-maturity Treasuries: up to $300 billion.
Total: up to $1.75 trillion.

The asset purchase program is causing the monetary base to
expand rapidly.

The presentation is very interesting and well done, but this particular slide stopped me cold.  If this is a highly accommodative monetary policy, then how would he describe monetary policy during the early 1930s?  How is this different?  Does Ben Bernanke still believe the Fed was to blame for the Great Contraction of 1929-33?  And if so, on what basis?  You can find the link for this Powerpoint presentation in a recent Bloomberg article:

A measure of inflation expectations watched by Fed officials rose “closer to the 2 percent level” in recent months after being “very negative late last year,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in a June 30 presentation in Philadelphia. He also said investors “are not expecting a lot of inflation over the next five years.”

The Fed’s preferred price gauge, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 1.8 percent in May from a year earlier. Fed officials expect inflation in a range of 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent over the longer term, according to minutes of April’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

I am pleased that the Fed is looking at the very same 5-year TIPS spread as I am, but I don’t know how they can complacently expect roughly 2% inflation, as the current spread is only 1.27%.

And then there is this:

“I agree with Morgan Stanley that the markets are too sanguine about inflation,” said Allan Meltzer, a Fed historian and economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “The Fed absolutely has the tools and know-how, but the question is, will they have the guts to use them? I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell they will be willing to tighten to slow inflation down.”

There is no chance at all that we will avoid high inflation?  Even though the markets forecast inflation rates well below Fed targets, and even though the monetarists have never, ever, developed a theory explaining why injections of interest-bearing reserves causes inflation?  And what about Japan?  In the late 1990s the BOJ massively expanded the monetary base.  When this policy threatened to push Japan’s inflation rate up to 0% in 2006, they dramatically reduced the monetary base, insuring that Japan would continue on its relentless journey toward a zero price level and a zero population.

And then there is this:

The Fed took a first step last month toward ending its efforts to revive credit, deciding to let one emergency lending program expire and trim two others. Bullard said last week that policy makers need to craft a broader plan for unwinding the asset purchases to reduce inflation risks and bolster confidence in an economic recovery.

Someone remind me—what is the economic problem?  Is it too much AD?  Or too little?  Didn’t Bullard just say the Fed looks at 5-year TIPS spreads?  And aren’t those spreads showing 1.27% inflation?  And isn’t the Fed’s target around 2%?  So isn’t the “inflation risk” too little inflation?  But then I don’t see how unwinding asset purchases will reduce that risk?  Won’t it increase the “risk” that inflation falls below 2%?

One interesting nugget in the Bullard slide show is a suggestion that the base might rise in the second half of 2009.  At least that’s what I think he’s saying, but you’ll have to judge for yourself as he also says the base has been rising rapidly, even though as readers of this blog already know the Fed did not engage in any QE at all in the first half of 2009, indeed the monetary base fell at near record rates.

It sometimes seems as if all the pundits who so loudly trumpeted the QE program last fall aren’t even interested in checking the data, to see what the Fed is actually doing.  It doesn’t much matter why the base is falling, but in case anyone is interested, here is the likely explanation:

The Fed has increased total assets on its balance sheet by $1.1 trillion in the past year to $2.01 trillion as of July 1 to unfreeze credit markets and support banks’ demand for cash. Short-term lending to commercial banks and bond dealers has declined in recent weeks, owing in part to falling costs for private borrowing.

This confirms what we already suspected, the base in endogenous.  In other words, no QE.

Bullard also suggests (in his Powerpoint slides) that the Fed may be held back from monetary expansion by the inflation fears associated with big deficits.  This is one reason I opposed fiscal stimulus, I expected if the Congress did less, the Fed would simply do more.  I seem to recall Krugman or DeLong ridiculing that argument, but apparently it is taken seriously by the only people who matter, those in charge of monetary policy.  Here’s Bullard again:

WHY WORRY NOW?

The problem is that if expectations of inflation feed into the longer-term yields, those yields will rise today.

That could hamper recovery prospects today.

Similarly we have large budget deficits today in the US, in part to counter the recession.

Appearances that the Fed might “monetize the debt” can cause inflation expectations to rise.

If Bullard is right then the fiscal multiplier might actually be negative.  Here’s how I interpret his argument:

1.  When he says “the problem is that if expectations of inflation feed into the longer-term yields” he must be referring to a longer term than the Fed is targeting.  Remember, the Fed actually wants higher inflation over the next few years.  So in a sense higher inflation expectations in the shorter term  aren’t “the problem” they are “the solution.”

2.  What Bullard presumably means is that if the Fed put enough money into circulation to boost 5-years inflation expectations up from 1.27% to 2.0%, then 30-year inflation expectations might rise from 2% to 4%—pushing mortgage rates higher and killing the recovery.

I’m not sure Bullard is right, but it is interesting that he cites the fiscal deficit as a factor complicating long term inflation expectations.  If in the absence of a massive fiscal deficit the Fed would be more confident about raising inflation expectations above 1.27%, then the fiscal stimulus would have actually had a contractionary effect.  How can I make that claim?  Because both fiscal and monetary stimuli work by shifting AD to the right, and thus increasing inflation.  The total expected stimulative effect of fiscal plus monetary policy is encapsulated in a single number, the expected inflation rate.  And Bullard is implying that the Fed wants slightly more inflation but is held back by fears that it will appear to be monetizing massive budget deficits.  Right now things don’t look very good for the proponents of fiscal stimulus.

I have sympathy for any Keynesians who are now pulling out their hair and screaming at their computer monitor.  I don’t think the Fed should use the fear of being seen as “monetizing the debt” as a reason for holding back—indeed a more aggressive monetary policy will mean less need for fiscal stimulus over time, and also less deficit spending via  the so-called “automatic stabilizers” (lower tax collections and more welfare spending.)  But as Donald Rumsfeld might say; you go into reckless deficit spending with the central bank you have, not the central bank you wish you had.

Here’s my prediction, if the 5-year TIPS spread slips back under 1% for any extended period (say 6 weeks–which equals one unit of time to the Fed) the Fed will go into panic mode and pull some Swedish-style surprise to get inflation expectations back over 1%.  If so, this would confirm my view that the stimulus package was an $800 billion dollar mistake.

I suppose this prediction violates my treasured EMH, but heh, nobody’s perfect.  I don’t try to beat the market with fancy arbitrage, but if I did I would buy 5-year TIPS and sell 5-year T-notes if the spread fell below 1%.  Maybe I am naive, but I still don’t think the Fed would just let the economy slide into a Japanese-style morass.

Lenin supposedly predicted that the German workers would revolt, and then added that if they didn’t he would lose all respect for them.  That’s about how I feel about the Fed.

In the very last slide before the conclusion, Bullard indicates that with rates at zero the Fed has “appropriately focused on quantitative approaches.”  Of course we now know that have done no such thing, rather they continue to play around with risk spreads.  Then he suggests that the Fed needs a feedback rule for QE, and ends up with these two bullet points:

We are not there yet, but I want to continue to encourage staff to work in this direction.

Without this, we have been forced to make judgment calls.

Yes, the Fed has certainly made some “judgment calls.”  If they don’t want that responsibility I have an NGDP futures targeting regime that I am willing to sell really cheap.  In fact they can have it for free.

PS.  The Bullard slides are actually pretty good, I just singled out some points I disagreed with, which might have given a misleading impression.

 [点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客 [Scott Sumner中文博客]  

 

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