Thursday, April 9, 2015

9/4/15: Expresso on IMF's WEO Update: Secular Stagnation is Here


Portugal's Expresso on IMF's 'secular stagnation' evidence via April 2015 WEO Update (Chapter 3): http://expresso.sapo.pt/a-receita-do-fmi-mais-infraestruturas-mais-inovacao-mais-produtividade=f918917. With my comments...

My view in full:

IMF findings on potential and long-term growth trends in the advanced economies published as a part of the April 2015 WEO update confirm what we have already known for some time: the ongoing economic growth slowdown is not only structural in natural, but is permanent, in economic terms.

More importantly, however, the IMF study shows that the structural slowdown in growth has started prior to the onset of the Global Financial Crisis and has been concentrated, in terms of drivers, in demographics of ageing, leading to decline in investment, and a fall off in the growth of the total factor productivity as advanced economies continued to exhaust growth along the technological frontier.

In simple terms, this confirms the thesis of the secular stagnation, especially as formulated by Robert J. Gordon (see http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2012/08/2882012-challenging-constant-growth.html).

From my point of view, the study documents one key trend: the trend of increasingly lower contribution of the human capital to growth over the period of 2001-2007 in the presence of slower, but still, relatively sustained growth contribution from employment.

This shows that during the pre-crisis boom, much of economic growth was derived not from intensive margin (technological progress and linking of technology to greater labour productivity) but from extensive margin (increased supply of physical capital and asset bubbles).

In the future, this imbalance in growth will require significant policy corrections in order to restore human capital growth to 2001-2003 levels. Absent these highly disruptive policy reforms (covering taxation systems, provision and distribution of key public services, restructuring of enterprise management systems etc), the world will find itself at the tail end of technological growth frontier, with low rates of return to technology and innovation and, as the result, permanently lower growth in the advanced economies.

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