Ricardo Reis's picture
Affiliation: 
London School of Economics
Credentials: 
AW Phillips Professor of Economics

Voting history

COVID-19 and UK Public Finances

Question 2: What is the best way to (eventually) reduce public deficits and debt?

Answer:
None of the above, other, or no opinion
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
High inflation will very likely fail at inflating the debt (https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/10078.html) and in itself produces insignificant revenues (http://personal.lse.ac.uk/reisr/papers/19-HofCB.pdf). In turn, perpetuities must still be paid for. So, probably the answer is a mix of public spending cuts, higher taxes, and financial repression. But, which mix depends on the country and on the future itself, so there is no best way that the question asks for.

Question 1: How urgently should the UK government address the rise in public debt?

Answer:
HM Treasury should present a long-term plan to reduce the deficit as soon as possible, but not introduce measures to do so in the upcoming budget
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
It seems unwise to focus on paying for the public debt right now, when we are not even at the trough of the economic cycle. But having a clear long-term plan for fiscal policy would anchor expectations. It would remove one of the usually bigger sources of uncertainty for investment.

The Eurozone COVID-19 Crisis: EU Policy Options

Question 2: What is the best mechanism to pay for economic support provided by and to EU member states to combat the COVID-19 crisis?

Answer:
Expanded EU budget (with possible borrowing at the EU level)
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Having the EU (i) create its own new fiscal space through new EU-wide taxes, (ii) issue its own bonds based on these revenues, (iii) choose how and what to spend it on, seems the option that best aligns incentives, accountability, and economic support. Importantly, this would not be very large, but it is missing at the margin. In spending, it would be smaller than national policies, complementing them. In bond issuance, it would be too small and still leave the need for a large EU-wide safe asset that banks can hold (to prevent sudden stops due to regional flights to safety and break the diabolic loop) and the best option for that would be ESBies.

Question 1: What is the total size of funding that you would advocate at the EU level in support of its members to weather the COVID-19 crisis this year?

 

 

Answer:
5-10% of GDP
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
There is still so much uncertainty regarding the length of the lockdown, how gradual will be the unfreezing of the economy, or how safety measures will impact our productivity, that it is hard to forecast the future of the private economy let alone what should be the government's response to it. Still, roughly 10% of GGDP was the number put forward by the Eurogroup, and it is important to note that these would complement national policies.

Covid-19: Economic Policy Response

Question 3: Which would be the maximal public debt you would be willing to tolerate if used effectively (as in your answers to 1 and 2 above) to support an economic recovery?

Answer:
140% of GDP (e.g. if fiscal support were trippled)
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Very hard to guess what real interest rates will be like once this crisis is over, and so how sustainable it will be. Importantly, it depends on how long we will been on lockdown.

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