“ Practical work forces, who believe themselves to be rather exempt from any rational influences, are normally the slaves of some defunct economic expert. Madmen in authorization, who hear voices in the air, are condensing their craze from some academic scribe of a few old ages back. “ – John Maynard Keynes

By the mid-1990s, most macroeconomic experts had assumed that the construct of a “ liquidness trap ” was dead and inhumed. As Krugman ( 1998 ) noted that most of the modern documents which dealt with the subject conclude “ liquidness trap ca n’t go on, it did n’t go on, and it wo n’t go on once more ” . However, it did go on and even affected the mighty Japan.

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In theory an economic system is said to be in a liquidness trap when the pecuniary authorization can non accomplish lower nominal involvement rate in order to excite end product[ 1 ]. Such a state of affairs can originate when the nominal involvement rate has reached its nothing lower edge ( ZLB ) , below which cipher would be willing to impart. Even if the pecuniary authorization increases money supply to excite the economic system ; people hoard money. In other words conventional pecuniary policies become impotent because base and bonds are viewed by the private sector as perfect replacements ( Krugman 1998 ) . Liquidity trap normally is caused by, and in bend perpetuates deflation[ 2 ]( Hiro Ito 2008 ) . When deflation is relentless and combined with an highly low nominal involvement rate, it creates a barbarous rhythm of end product stagnancy and farther outlooks of deflation.

The great recession of late 2000s sparked many arguments about the possible being of a liquidness trap in US. Nobel Laureate and a CEPR Research Fellow Dr Paul Krugman is one of many Keynesian economic experts who believe that the Great Depression has drifted US into a liquidness trap. In order to measure this point of view we need to analyze the economic indexs which encompassed the great recession.

a )

One of the most of import economic indexs to measure the impact of the recession is the Gross Domestic Product. Figure 1 shows that during the first half of 2009 industrial production fell by about 10 % as compared to same half of last twelvemonth.

Figure 1

*[ 3 ]

In fact, industrial production index fell by about 25 index points ( base=2007 ) . In add-on, analysis besides reveals that building disbursement, another critical index of end product, shows autumn throughout the period. These indexs do point towards the fact that end product was dead through this recession.

The great recession was besides absorbed by stagnancy in retail gross revenues and ingestion. From figure 2 we can clearly see the bead in retail gross revenues during the recession period which characterises a perfect freefall.

Figure 2*


This is of import because retail gross revenues are an index of consumer disbursement which makes up more than two tierces of GDP. In fact, figure 3 shows that personal ingestion decreased by 3.4 % .

Figure 3


This is peculiarly interesting because the US has ne’er seen a bead in personal ingestion[ 4 ]since the great depression ; even during the recession of 2001, personal ingestion ne’er showed marks of decelerating down. This is of import because characteristically a liquidness trap exhibits inadequate demand even with ZLB.

On the other side, personal nest eggs rate which has been worsening for the last 15 old ages rose from a mere 2.6 % to about 7 % .

Figure 4


Personal nest eggs grew from $ 300 billion to $ 900 billion by the terminal of the recession. Credit card usage, which makes up approximately 40 % of consumer adoption, besides fell by 5 % .

Part of the lessening in the personal ingestion and industrial production can be attributed to the rising prices rate and expected rising prices. Figure 5 shows that although there was an addition in CPI ( consumer monetary value index ) in the beginning of the recession, finally there was disinflation[ 5 ]which transformed into deflation.

Figure 5


This is besides related to and in fact influences the rising prices outlooks people form[ 6 ]. It is of import to observe that as people form their rising prices outlooks ( or in this instance deflation outlooks ) they try to detain ingestion so that their buying power is greater in the hereafter. This leads to unit of ammunitions of delayed ingestion, which consequences in lower production because of positive existent involvement rates in a liquidness trap. Inevitably this consequences in rise in unemployment because of scrawny investing. All of these ingredients play a major function in specifying a fiscal state of affairs as a liquidness trap.

However one last piece of information which solves the mystifier is the involvement rate prevailing in the economic system. If we analyse the involvement rate figures which were predominating in the economic system during the recession, it is reasonably obvious that easy money has been tried and that the continued lethargy of the economic system shows that it has been uneffective.

Figure 6


Figure 7


The 10-year bond rate has been till really late 2.5 % ( it is now 3.4 % ) . The Fed Funds rate is virtually nonexistent at the current rate of 0.18 % ( and has been since the last one-fourth of 2008 ) . This becomes peculiarly alarming if we compare these figures to the nest eggs and the ingestion figures quoted earlier. The recession period shows reverse relationship of involvement rates with personal nest eggs and a direct relationship with ingestion. These two facts point towards the being of a state of affairs similar to, if non precisely, the liquidness trap explained above.

In the General Theory Keynes references about the liquidness penchant in these words:

“ … There is the possibility aˆ¦ that after the rate of involvement has fallen to a certain degree, liquidness penchant is virtually absolute in the sense that about everyone prefers hard currency to keeping a debt at so low a rate of involvement. In this event, the pecuniary authorization would hold lost effectual control… ” [ 187 ] .

Whether we define the great recession in footings of the liquidness penchant Keynes set Forth or by the modern definition Krugman explains as:

“ … Injecting pecuniary base into the economic system has no consequence, because base and bonds are viewed by the private sector as perfect replacements. “ [ 1998, 5 ]

We can safely reason that by each of these definitions the great recession did steal US into a liquidness trap. Many may reason otherwise but by the text edition definitions which we gave earlier, the consequences are rather convincing towards the possible being. Even if an expansionary pecuniary policy had non yet been tried, the near-zero involvement rates experienced by US would forestall any future moderation of pecuniary policy from holding an impact on disbursement. Sing the great recession, Krugman may be incorrect in some cases but he was more right than incorrect. The above conditions do demo that the US economic system was in a paradox of thrift where desired nest eggs exceeded coveted investing.

B )

Given all that we have argued, what are options for the policymakers to respond to such a trap and how good would they work? Current treatment focal points on three basic options

– Fiscal Expansion: This was foremost suggested by Keynes ( 1936 ) as a redress to the liquidness trap. His advice was that the authorities can ever excite the economic system in a liquidness trap by merely publishing money. Krugman besides supports this policy and in fact he proposes an even stronger financial stimulation than the current one along with an aggressive GSE loaning[ 7 ]. Some economic experts have even suggested set abouting a “ chopper bead ” ( Friedman, 1969, pp 4-5 ) targeted at the Treasury.

However there has been unfavorable judgment on the US financial policy as the unemployment rate is much higher despite the financial stimulation. To this policymakers have responded stating had it non been the financial stimulation the concluding Numberss would hold been much worse. On the other side Krugman feared that the financial stimulation was merely excessively little in the first topographic point given the big recessive daze. There have besides been debates about the financial multiplier and the comparative effectivity of revenue enhancement cuts and authorities outgo but research is ongoing and we will merely acquire to cognize the findings subsequently.

– Unconventional Monetary Policy: As involvement rates touch zero, cardinal Bank demands to follow policies other than take downing involvement rates. The first set of such policies implemented by the Federal during the recession was the “ Qualitative Easing ” under which the Federal reallocated its plus portfolio[ 8 ]. It replaced hazardous assets from the market with Treasury bonds in its balance sheet. The thought behind this option was to cut down hazard spreads and promote market-making in markets where trading had collapsed.

“ Quantitative Easing ” was another option pursued by the Federal after the prostration of Lehmann brothers. The focal point shifted to purchases of Treasuries ( USD 105 bn per month in gross footings until June 2010 ) financed by pecuniary creative activity. As a consequence balance sheet expanded significantly. Fed assets jumped from USD 907 billion on 3-Sep-08 to USD 2.2 trillion on 12-Nov-08 and Bank Militias from USD 10 billion on 3-Sep-08 to USD 859 billion on 31-Dec-09[ 9 ]. However in theory quantitative moderation is inefficient because money and default riskless bonds ( Treasuries ) become highly substitutable in a liquidness trap.

Another policy which has emerged as a really of import tool is the “ Central Bank Communications ” . The Fed can give a forward counsel to the markets about the Fed ‘s hereafter policy moves and ushers fiscal markets by let go ofing certain statements. For illustration “ The Federal probably to justify exceptionally low degrees for the federal financess rate for an drawn-out period ” . Krugman is besides a protagonist of this “ pre-commitment ” by the Fed to maintain rates low for an drawn-out period.

“ Inflation Targeting ” is another tool to undertake the liquidness trap by making outlooks. For illustration if the Fed announces to maintain the preferable rising prices estimation around 2 % ( nucleus PCE ) so it will take to higher inflationary outlooks and will take to lift in industrial production and eventual diminution in unemployment rate. Svensson is a strong advocate of this policy. However such a policy is hard to implement given the present Federal Reserve Act. A discrepancy of this scheme is the “ Price Level Targeting ” under which there is a committedness to raise monetary values over a certain period instead than a committedness to raise monetary values every twelvemonth by the same rate. The issues related with this scheme are the same as rising prices aiming. Merely Sweden tried it during the great depression and research shows good consequences.

“ Exchange Rate Targeting ” is another policy which suggests that Central Bank in coordination with authorities can take steps to deprecate the place currency. This would take to more expensive imports and consequence in higher rising prices. This would besides force up demand as exports become cheaper compared to other states. However this option can non be tried in these current market conditions as there are many states confronting the same job of liquidness trap and it will take to protectionism and currency wars.

– Money financed Fiscal Stimulation: In this instance, authorities starts financial stimulation which is financed by Fed utilizing quantitative moderation. Recent research paper by Meyer suggests that this will take down unemployment in US by 2 % by 2012 and rising prices will lift by 0.5 % by 2013. However this loanblend of financial and pecuniary policy has the same issues sing the thought of an independent cardinal bank helping a authorities borrowing plan.

Final ideas

An attempt has been made in this essay to analyse the troubles a cardinal bank faces during a liquidness trap and discusses the tools and options available to pecuniary policymakers. Policy as usual is non an option, and the cardinal bank ‘s model for carry oning policy must alter. Importantly, it must alter in ways that alter persons ‘ outlooks of what policy will be like when the nothing lower edge on involvement rates is no longer binding. Therefore, the behavior of pecuniary policy becomes rather elusive and depends on the credibleness of proposed future actions. Furthermore in the instance for US, Quantitative easing seems to be the right option. However the best solution would be a co-ordinated financial and pecuniary policy. Paul Krugman commented on the lowering of the Fed rate to 0-0.25 % in these words: “ earnestly we are in really deep problem. Geting out of this will necessitate a batch of creativeness, and possibly some fortune excessively. ” Looking at the grounds I must state that it will certainly necessitate a batch of fortune.