Blog: December 2017
A previous blog discussed the implications for government bond yields of changes to euro area monetary policy, namely a reduction of assets purchased by the European Central Bank. However, this is unlikely to be the only development that will affect long-term interest rates European governments pay on their debt, and ultimately firms pay to fund investment. A second development, which may be taken into account by financial markets, is the intensifying debate about institutional reforms in the euro area.
In a recent piece in the Financial Times, Tristan Hansen and Eric Lonergan make the case for the U.K. government to “think big and tap the bond markets to invest in a bold growth agenda for the UK economy”.
The agreement in principle on the EU Budget (along with some related aspects of the negotiation) announced on Friday 8th December seems sufficient to trigger further progress on trade talks. The basic premise for an agreement on the Budget is that even though the UK may leave the European Union formally in March 2019, the financial relationship cannot end without consideration of existing financial obligations, contingent liabilities and the splitting of assets and liabilities that have been agreed or formed during the period of the UK's membership of the EU.
In a post in 2015 I pointed out that government debt is not a bad thing. Here, I elaborate on that idea and I ask, and answer, a simple question: how much debt do we need? My answer: 70% of GDP is a good guess.
A long shadow has been cast over the British economy by the banking crisis of 2007-8. The economy slumped by about five per cent in 2009 and has been slow to recover. Economic growth, for example, was three per cent per year on average in the ten years before 2007 but has been little more than one per cent in the decade since. How does the aftermath of this banking crisis compare with those from Britain’s past? Is this time different?
GDP increases over time for two reasons. First, the economy produces more output because we use more labour and more capital. Second, the economy produces more output because we use better techniques over time. Traveling from London to Glasgow on a high-speed train is much faster than travelling there in a horse-drawn carriage. An increase in GDP for this second reason is called productivity growth.