Depressão ou inflação

Uma opinião semelhante à que exprimi ontem no Jornal de Negócios foi também agora sustentada por Simon Johnson no blogue do New York Times:

German policy makers and the German public will not do well in the event of a major sovereign-credit disaster. Credit would tighten across the board. German exports would plummet. The famed German social safety net would come under great pressure.

There is an alternative to a decade of difficult austerity. The Germans could agree to allow the European Central Bank to provide “liquidity” support across the board to the troubled governments.

Many things are wrong with this policy – and it is exactly the kind of moral hazard-reinforcing measure that brought us to the current overindebted moment. None of us should be happy that Europe – and the world – has reached this point.

Among others, the bankers who bet big on moral hazard – i.e., massive government-backed bailouts – are about to win again. Perhaps the Europeans will be tougher on executives, boards and shareholders than the Obama administration was in early 2009, but most likely all the truly rich and powerful will do very well.

But if the German choice is global calamity or, effectively, the printing of money, which will they choose?

The European Central Bank has established a great deal of credibility with regard to keeping inflation at or close to 2 percent. It could probably offer a great deal of additional support – through creating money – without immediately causing inflation. And if the bank is providing a complete backstop to Italian government debt, the panic phase would be over.

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