Costs of Recessions

From Stumbling and Mumbling:

“The Resolution Foundation’s James Smith has written a nice paper on the likelihood of recession and the fact that, with monetary less able to support the economy, we need to think about alternative ways of tackling recessions. I just want to amplify what he says in two ways.

First, there’s increasing evidence that recessions can do long-term damage, even if the economy appears to bounce back in the short-term. There are at least three mechanisms here:

– Education. Bryan Stuart shows that the 1980-82 recession in the US “generated sizable long-run reductions in education and income.” Parents who suffer a drop in income spend less on children’s books and educational trips, and this makes them less likely to go to college a few years later. Such effects are magnified if bad macro policy causes restraints upon public spending on schools and libraries.

– Productivity. Recessions increase uncertainty, which depresses investment in both capital and R&D, leading to lower productivity growth. The Bank of England’s Dario Bonciani and Joonseok Jason Oh say:

Shocks increasing macroeconomic uncertainty can lead to very persistent negative effects on economic activity that last well beyond the business cycle frequency.

– Scarring. A recent paper by Erin McGuire shows that people who grow up in hard times “invest less in risky assets throughout their lives, invest more in property, and are less likely to be self-employed.” This corroborates research (pdf) by Ulrike Malmendier and Stefan Nagel. Through this channel, recessions can reduce entrepreneurship and increase the cost of capital even decades later.

Against all this, it is theoretically possible that recessions have a beneficial “cleansing” (pdf) effect: in driving inefficient firms out of business, they make it easier for more efficient ones to expand, and this raises productivity growth.”

Continue reading here.

Posted by at 11:16 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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