The True Meaning of Francois Hollande: As Politics move in the right direction the Economy is about to fall of a cliff

Here is a great graph via David Beckworth showing Nominal GDP for the whole OECD.

Looks like we are all still way below trend. The demand shock starting in 2007/8 has not been corrected and although total spending has recovered to above its precrisis levels that masks wide variation in rates of recovery. Canada’s doing great, Spain, not so much.

During the worst of the crisis the fundamentals of developing world helped to drag global growth back up. In fact the late 00s were good for large parts of the world. China, Brazil, many African countries all performed strongly through to 2012, despite a set back in 2008. In fact global GDP per capita has never been higher.

The bad news is that serious problems appear to be developing all around the world. The Eurozone is still in a permacrisis, industrial production is stagnant in India, China has been fighting deflationary pressures for some time and appears to be beginning to lose, Brazilian industrial production has turned negative. The US is facing huge budget cuts in the autumn which will be broadly contractionary through its economy.

The insane European Central Bank‘s policy rate is at 1%. That’s right, despite the Eurozone imploding the insane ECB is has steadfastly refused to ease policy despite even Germany heading towards recession. Other central banks around the world have all done good jobs avoiding anything as horrific as America’s Great Depression, but they all remain wary of using unconventional tools to expand demand.

In 1999, what Ben Bernanke argued was needed in times of great crisis is the willingness to be aggressive and experiment, to show Rooseveltian Resolve to get the economy moving again:

Needed: Rooseveltian Resolve

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States in 1932 with the mandate to get the country out of the Depression. In the end, the most effective actions he took were the same that Japan needs to take—-namely, rehabilitation of the banking system and devaluation of the currency to promote monetary easing. But Roosevelt’s specific policy actions were, I think, less important than his willingness to be aggressive and to experiment—-in short, to do whatever was necessary to get the country moving again. Many of his policies did not work as intended, but in the end FDR deserves great credit for having the courage to abandon failed paradigms and to do what needed to be done.

This is the real meaning of Francois Hollande. He needs to say “non!” to more or less everything Merkel and the insane ECB put forward.  Hard money and austerity have been a disaster in a benign international environment, if demand for European and American exports dries up and deflationary pressures go global we will see a recession inside a depression scarily reminiscent of the 1930s. We need a Roosevelt.


Migration as Technology

I was a little confused by this Robin Hanson post. He cites with approval the fact that since 1970 40% of all the extra consumption in the world has occurred in the United States. Below are the top 30 gainers in terms of tens of billions of dollars a year.

United States 583, Japan 183, China 103, United Kingdom 73, Germany 63, France 53, India 47, Brazil 47, Italy 39, Canada 37, Mexico 37, Spain 28, Indonesia 14, Netherlands 11, Greece 9, South Africa 8, Thailand 8, Switzerland 8, Belgium 8, Austria 7, Colombia 7, Sweden 7, Philippines 7, Norway 7, Malaysia 7, Portugal 6, Chile 6, Finland 5, Ireland 5, Denmark 4. (source)

Robin argues that this is argument against Tyler’s notion of a slow down in technological innovation. But the population of the US is 48% bigger in 2010 (310,000,000) than in 1970 (209,000,000). At first I couldn’t see why this would counts as evidence against some notion of a slow down in intensive growth. The US got more from more which is great for all those people involved, but it is not evidence we can get more from less, is it?

Well, in a way it is, although you have to denationalise your perspective. The US does have an overwhelming lead in one “technology”; that of receiving and assimilating migrants. The factors behind this are geographical, historical and cultural, but it still as a really important technology in terms of increasing “our” productive and consumptive capacity.

The productivity of millions of people has been hugely increased simply by them moving across a border. Allowing more migration is an innovation that can make many people better off by improving their productivity. But it is a technology which cannot be excercised by a single firm, it is better thought of as a society-wide innovation akin to germ theory or corporation law.