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QUEM SÓ TEM UM MARTELO VÊ TODOS OS PROBLEMAS COMO PREGOS: O alívio quantitativo aliviará? (14) – O mito da deflação (II)

Outras marteladas.

Mais um texto herético sobre o alívio quantitativo e a deflação:

«QE is not harmless however.

First, lots of short-term debt makes the US more vulnerable to bad news, just as it made Bear Stearns and Lehman vulnerable to bad news. Suppose a day of reckoning comes – perhaps with a default in California and Illinois, or a breakdown of long-term US deficit-reduction efforts. Investors lose faith in the US government, even temporarily, and want to dump its debt. If the US has sold a lot of long-term debt, long-term bond prices fall, but there is no crisis. There is time to address the issues, and reestablish a solvent government. If instead the US is constantly rolling over short-term debt, then we will be unable to borrow new money to pay off maturing bills. This is what happened to Greece. Our current moment of exceptionally low long term rates is a golden opportunity for the US to issue long-term debt, not to buy it back.

Second, QE distracts us from the real issues. Unemployment is not high because the maturity structure of government debt is too long, thank you, nor from any lack of “liquidity” in a banking system that is sitting on a trillion dollars of cash. It’s time to focus on the real, microeconomic, tax, and regulatory barriers to growth, not a policy that creates a lot of noise but no real effect.

Finally, if it did work, why is the Fed anxious to restore even 2% inflation? Whose definition of “price stability” is this? In every theory of inflation and unemployment, raising expected inflation just gives you stagflation, without any benefit to unemployment. If everyone knows inflation is coming, they raise prices and wages immediately and are not fooled into a little boost of output.

A sudden deflation is bad, because it hurts borrowers, just as a sudden inflation is bad because it wipes out savers. But zero inflation, or even a slow, steady, and widely expected deflation, are in fact much better in the long run. The financial system is much healthier with bundles of cash lying around, at no interest cost, than if everyone is engineering clever, but ultimately fragile, cash management schemes. The main argument for higher inflation and consequently higher nominal interest rates is that it gives the Fed more power to run the economy by occasionally lowering rates, i.e. to go back to driving the car by slightly starving it of oil, and then artfully adding a quart when needed. Given what a great success that’s been lately, maybe trading a more fragile financial system for greater Fed power isn’t such a good idea after all».

John Cochrane, professor de finanças na Universidade de Chicago - Booth School of Business

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