By David Lipton
The debate on austerity vs. growth has gained in intensity, as countries in Europe and elsewhere struggle with low growth, high debt, and rising unemployment. In essence, policymakers are being asked to tackle a continuation of the worst crisis since the Great Depression.
This would be no easy task under any circumstances. But it is made considerably harder by the fact that a number of countries need to engage in fiscal consolidation simultaneously. Complicating the picture further is the fact that monetary policy in most advanced economies is approaching the limits of what it technically can do to stimulate activity, while global growth remains weak.
There is no getting around the need to reduce debt levels. High debt leaves countries exposed to interest rate shocks, limits their capacity to respond to future shocks, and reduces long-term growth potential.
At the same time, we all know that fiscal consolidation―reducing deficits by cutting spending or raising revenues―can and usually does stifle growth. With more than 200 million people out of work worldwide, and with growth in advanced countries forecast at a mere 1½ percent for 2012, getting the pace of consolidation right is therefore of paramount importance. So how do policymakers strike the right balance?
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Europe, Finance, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, Inequality, International Monetary Fund, Multilateral Cooperation, Public debt, recession | Tagged: austerity, automatic stabilizers, balance, Christine Lagarde, consolidation, David Lipton, Europe, European Union, fiscal cliff, Fiscal Compact, GDP, growth, IMF blog, iMFdirect, Japan, jobs, underlying pace, United States | 8 Comments »