Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Should We Expect Fast or Slow Recovery?

美國總統大選在即,台北時間今天早上才進行了最後一次電視辯論(Obama 仍然在這次佔優勢,不過對雙方民調不會有太大影響)。最近有一個對於金融風暴後的景氣復甦到底應該是快還是慢的問題,引發了一些爭議。

根據 Reinhart and Rogoff 的 This time is different,答案似乎是後者。Reinhart and Rogoff 的例子是全球性、歷史性的。這個答案對 Barack Obama 有利,他們大可把責任丟給 George W. Bush。他們也寫了一篇文章來重述書中的看法。

Reinhart and Rogoff, 10/16/2012, "Sorry, U.S. Recoveries Really Aren’t Different", Bloomberg.

(由於這篇文章裡面引述的報紙專欄或 blog 文章都是由知名學者所寫,不是記者報導,所以引述方式皆近似學術論文的引述方式,以作者而非媒體為主)

John Taylor 早先有不同看法,他以美國歷史資料為例,認為這次景氣復甦速度特慢,主要責任是 Obama 的政策錯誤。

John Taylor, 10/11/2012, "Simple Proof That Strong Growth Has Typically Followed Financial Crises"

下面這個圖是 John Taylor 的 blog 上面的,很清楚的說明了這次景氣復甦在前四季的表現跟過往衰退後景氣復甦的速度表現差別有多大。
Obama 的忠實擁護者 Paul Krugman 當然不能保持沈默。他說在許多人的詢問下寫了這篇文章,不過我想就算沒人問他他也會寫的。

Paul Krugman, 10/17/2012, "Financial Crisis Denialism", New York Times The Opinion Pages.

Krugman 攻擊了 Taylor 的觀察方式,說 Reinhart and Rogoff 的方式才是正確的,並指控經濟學遭到政治的污染云云。請記得 Krugman 拿到諾貝爾獎的貢獻是他在國際貿易上的成就,而且這個獎頒出來以後是不會收回的。

Taylor 很快的給予他的回應。

John Taylor, 10/17/2012, "Weak Recovery Denial"

我想這個問題應該到此為止。Krugman 的回應已經沒有什麼料,如果再回的話有些難看了。 美國的政經情勢跟 Reinhart and Rogoff 書中提及的許多例子有相當差距,除非美國自己資料不夠,否則其實並沒有需要把全世界的樣本都拿進來。This time is different 這本書我早先應該也提過,書裡的材料非常豐富,不過閱讀起來並不是那麼有趣就是了。

John Cochrane 在他的 blog 裡對於這個問題也有很精彩的討論,事實上他的文章比 John Taylor 及 Paul Krugman 來來往往那三篇要好看得多。

John Cochrane, 10/17/2012, "Are recoveries always slow after financial crises and why"

前面三篇不看倒無所謂,強烈推薦 Cochrane 這一篇。我把他的結論放在最後給大家做個參考:

Bottom line, without thinking about mechanisms I don't think we learn anything from these averages. And both sides of the debate are making some big, and often contradictory assumptions. If you conclude "recessions are always long and deep after financial crises" then you're saying policy doesn't really matter...so you shouldn't be advocating different policies! If policies matter a lot to the length and severity of recessions, then "recessions are always deep and long after financial crisis" is a meaningless statistic, and a poor fig leaf of an excuse.

Cochrane 沒有說出來的話: "Take that, Krugman!" :p


alaser said...

I think the problem with blaming everything on Bush, is that people are getting tired of hearing this excuse. Granted President's impact on economy is really limited, but he was elected into office with the mandate of fixing the economy and the expectation that he can. So by simply failing to meet such mandate and expectation means he has already failed his term in office. But then again, there will always be some people that forget this and actually believe his excuse.

Ben said...

>>A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.”

Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”

Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says “What do you want it to equal?”<<

No further comments necessary:)

Hope all is well at your end, CC.

CCLu said...

To alaser,

As a Taiwanese citizen, I hear you loud and clear.:p

CCLu said...

To Ben,

Busy as hell. Too bad I'm busy teaching, which is a total waste of time.

I've heard this story before, but seems a bit different. The one who asked "what do you want it to equal" was a political scientist, and the economist asked "which school of economics are you talking about?"

suntex01 said...

I think another problem with Obama's policies is that he doesn't really have one since the "stimulus" that he passed when he first took office. Even with that, a lot of items were not really a quick stimulus but rather, "long term investments." If he really wanted to boost the economy, the stimulus should been more or less similar to Roosevelt's various social programs such as CCC or the Hoover dam project and etc. That would of given unemployment a quick and more direct boost, conforming more to Keynesian principle.