Bubbles in the Broth
31 October 2013
NEW YORK – As below-trend GDP growth and high unemployment continue to afflict most advanced economies, their central banks have resorted to increasingly unconventional monetary policy. An alphabet soup of measures has been served up: ZIRP (zero-interest-rate policy); QE (quantitative easing, or purchases of government bonds to reduce long-term rates when short-term policy rates are zero); CE (credit easing, or purchases of private assets aimed at lowering the private sector’s cost of capital); and FG (forward guidance, or the commitment to maintain QE or ZIRP until, say, the unemployment rate reaches a certain target). Some have gone as far as proposing NIPR (negative-interest-rate policy).
But if they try to prick bubbles early on with higher interest rates, they will crash bond markets and kill the recovery, causing much economic and financial damage. So, unless macro-pru works as planned, policymakers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.