Simon Wren-Lewis's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Oxford
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

Labour Markets and Monetary Policy

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Question 2: Do you agree that, in a period of great uncertainty and after a prolonged period of weak real wage growth, monetary policy makers can afford to wait for greater certainty about real wage developments and building inflationary pressure before raising interest rates?

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Answer:
Strongly Agree
Confidence level:
Extremely confident
Comment:
There are many reasons for this, including the point made in answering the previous question. Most important, however, is the asymmetry of costs if policy is wrong. Tighten too late and we get a modest inflation overshooting. Tighten too early and, because inflation is sticky near zero, it may be years before central banks realise their mistake, leading to very large welfare losses.

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Question 1: Do you agree that a strong labour market is a good indicator of building inflationary pressure?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
There are many reasons why the NAIRU may have fallen over the last decade. One that is seldom talked about is productivity. Productivity growth in many countries has been low since the financial crisis. However it seems unlikely that this reflects an equivalent decline in fundamental technical progress. Instead what seems more likely is that many firms have put off investment in labour saving improvements because of weak growth. If labour does become scarce, we are more likely to see a catch up in productivity growth than rising inflation.

Global risks from rising debt and asset prices

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Question 2: Is the loose monetary policy of major central banks responsible for the recent increase in global leverage or asset values?

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Answer:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Asset values yes - that was the inevitable consequence of QE. It may have also encouraged additional leverage, but responsibility for leverage lies with macroprudential policy. The moment that we make interest rate/QE policy responsible for financial stability as well as inflation is the moment the consensus around assigning macro stabilisation to monetary rather than fiscal policy ends.

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Question 1: Does the world economy face heightened risks arising from an excess of public and private debt and/or inflated asset prices?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident

Juncker's State of the Union Address

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Question 2: Do you agree that the euro has had more benefits than costs?

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Answer:
Strongly disagree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Excess inflation in the periphery and German cost undercutting were both a result of the Euro, and both have had serious consequences. The SGP and fiscal compact that are part of the Euro architecture have destabilised the whole Union (apart from Germany) since the GFC. The Euro was used as a weapon to extract resources from Greece in 2015. I think all of this is down to a badly designed monetary union rather than the Euro itself, but it can hardly be labelled a success.

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