Believe it or not, but Berlusconi makes sense on the euro

Here is from Bloomberg:

“Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Italy should say “ciao, euro” if the European Central Bank doesn’t start printing money to tackle the debt crisis and Germany should quit the single currency if it won’t back a bolder role for ECB.

“The economic crisis can’t be solved” in Italy, Berlusconi said in comments posted on his party’s website today. He called on Prime Minister Mario Monti to “change his political line” and lobby European leaders to back a money-printing campaign by the Frankfurt-based ECB. If the central bank doesn’t become a “lender of last resort,” Italy should say “ciao, euro,” the former premier said.

The media tycoon-turned-politician became the latest European leaders to step up pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the ECB to permit a more aggressive response to the region’s debt crisis. Monti yesterday called on Merkel to drop her opposition to allowing the euro region’s rescue mechanism to lend directly to banks.

The 17-nation euro area “has a significant risk of breaking up” unless policy makers revamp the bloc’s fiscal and economic ties, Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn said today in a speech in Helsinki. “We’re either headed for a deterioration of the euro area or a gradual strengthening of the European Union.”

Berlusconi, 75, who resigned as premier in November as Italian borrowing costs surged amid a worsening debt crisis, said Italy should remain in the European Union even if it exits the euro. He added that another of his proposals was that the “Bank of Italy prints euros or our own currency.”

“It’s a crazy idea of mine,” he said, without specifying if he meant reviving the lira.

On May 25 Berlusconi, who heads the party with the most seats in the Rome-based parliament and whose support is crucial for Monti’s government, called for an overhaul of the country’s constitution to strengthen the powers of the president. He also said he would seek the office if his party requested him to.”

What can you say? I am no great fan of Berlusconi, but so far the euro establishment’s ideas have failed to curb the crisis so why not try something that actually worked for Sweden in the 1930s? I am not sure what Berlusconi has in mind, but monetary easing is what Europe needs and we need it now.

The Sumnerian Phillips curve

In my previous post ”Dude, here is your model” I suggested to model the supply in the economy with what I called a Sumnerian Phillips curve in a attempt to help Scott Sumner formulate a his ”model” of the world.

Here is the Sumnerian Phillips curve:

(1) Y=Y*+a(N-NT)

Where Y is real GDP and Y* is trend growth in real GDP. N is nominal GDP and NT is the central bank’s target for nominal GDP. a is a constant.

Commentator ”Martin” has suggested the following parametre for (1):

Y*=3

NT=5.5

a=0.75

It should be noted that Martin formulates (1) in growth rates rather than levels.

As the graph below shows Martin’s suggestion seems to fit US data very well.

One thing is very clear from the model. The Great Recession was caused by a sharp drop in NGDP. The Fed did it. Nobody else.

It also shows that there is no supply side explanation for the Great Recession. The drop in real GDP can be explained by nominal GDP. It is very simply. Too simple to understand maybe? If you disagree you have to argue that the Fed can not determine nominal GDP – may I then remind you that MV=N=PY. Or maybe we should ask Gideon Gono?

So what are the policy lessons?

Well, first of all if the central bank keeps N growing at a rate comparable with the target then real GDP growth will also remain stable. But if the central bank allow N to drop below target then Y will drop as well. Hence, recessions are always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.

Obviously the central bank can determine N as we know that MV=N=PY. So it is really pretty simply – ensure a growth rate of the money supply (M) that for a given money-velocity (V) ensures that N growth at a stable rate. Then you sharply reduces the risk of recessions and and you will ensure low and stable Inflation. The Federal Reserve did that during the Great Moderation and I can not see any reason why we can not return to such a situation. Unfortunately central bankers seem to have less of an unstanding of this – particularly in Europe (Is it only me who fell like screaming!?)

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