【NHK】Biz plus:ポール・クルーグマン・プリンストン大学教授へのインタビュー 2/8/2013

2/8/2013 Paul Krugman, Professor at Princeton University

The broad outline looks right. Looks like he’s actually trying to do the right things. He’s doing what Japan should have been doing a long time ago. The details are hard to evaluate. For an outsider, it’s hard to know. But the idea that Japan should have a short-term fiscal stimulus to get the economy moving, coupled with a change in monetary policy designed to accommodate the fiscal stimulus translated into a higher rate of inflation, to a positive inflation of a couple of percent at least a year, and thereby sustaining the effect, that’s pretty much what the doctor ordered, I guess I would say.

Given the state of the Japanese economy, this is what Japan should have done years ago. So it looks like the right thing. Whether the fiscal stimulus is actually adequate is something that I’m hearing conflicting reports about. But the market response is good, so it looks relatively favorable.

Well, I think I would actually like it to be higher, but certainly 2% is a lot better than the sort of… we want maybe one or something. And I think the main thing is the signal is being sent. People are hearing the signal that this time the BOJ won’t do what it’s done several times before, which is just as the economy’s starting to recover, it’ll pull back, right? The crucial thing is not what the BOJ does in this moment, but what people expect it will do when Japan… When inflation actually starts to accelerate, will the BOJ be willing to let that happen for awhile? It looks like it will. So that’s very much a good thing. That’s exactly what you want.

Well, we need someone who is less of a conventional central banker. I don’t know who that would be, but you want somebody who is willing to say, okay, price stability, that was the war of the 1970s. That’s not our problem right now. Our problem right now is we need some inflation. We need an accommodative policy, and we don’t need to be so careful preserving the BOJ’s independence that we get in the way of recovery. So, I mean, if I could, maybe Japan should have hire Mr. Carney, the Canadian who’s going to the Bank of England, right? It might have been good just to shake things up to have a real outsider. But if not, someone who is willing to say, okay, this is a different kind of environment and we need to change our concerns.

Well, I mean, in effect I think the BOJ’s independence is being diminished. It is being more or less pressured by the government to changing its stance. But that’s okay. I mean, central bank independence is not a sacred principle. Central bank independence is a strategy that was evolved to meet the challenges of inflation back when inflation was the big problem. And it’s actually turned out to be a problem in the current environment. You can look at history, and you could say that actually there have been a number of cases in which undermining central bank independence has been exactly what you needed.

In the case of the United States in the 1930s, pushing the U.S. off the gold standard, pushing it into… essentially the Fed into an expansionary mode whether it liked it or not was a very important thing.

If you go back to Japan in the 1930s, Takahashi and all of that, removing the independence of the central bank was actually a good thing. The notion that there’s something terrible about losing some of that independence is wrong. These are different times.

I imagine it will be a topic of discussion. But the answer is: they will tolerate whatever happens. What are they going to do? I mean, realistically Mario Draghi, they say that he’s very upset. But is Europe going to impose sanctions on Japan? No, it’s not. And the United States I doubt will have much of a complaint at all because the United States has been accused of the same thing. And both the United States and Japan are basically pursuing aggressive expansionary monetary policies, which is appropriate given the circumstance. And one consequence of that is that the currency falls. But that’s a side effect. It’s an appropriate monetary policy. I should say one more thing, which is that until now… until just about now, Japan has stood out as having substantially higher real interest rates than either the United States or Europe because, with deflation embedded in expectations and with interest rates held… short-term rates at zero, long-terms held closed to 1% because of the lower bound, that has meant that Japan has had significantly positive real interest rates at a time when Europe and the United States have had negative rates.
それは議論のテーマになるでしょう。でも、その答えは:彼らは何が起ころうと容認するでしょう。彼らに何ができるのか? 現実問題として、マリオ・ドラギはすごく驚いていたようです。でも、ヨーロッパが日本に制裁を課すでしょうか? そんなことはありえない。そして、アメリカも同じことで非難を受けているので、ほとんど文句を言わないと思う。アメリカも日本も基本的に極めて拡張的な金融政策を追求しているわけで、それは現在の状況では適切なものです。その結果の一つとして通貨が下落している。でも、それは副次的な効果です。やっているのは適切な金融政策です。もう一つ言っておくとするなら、これまでずっと、日本はアメリカやヨーロッパよりも実質利子率がかなり高い状態に留まっていた。デフレが予想に組み込まれて、短期利子率がゼロ下限、長期利子率は1%以下の下限に直面していたために、アメリカやヨーロッパがマイナス金利のころ、日本はかなり高い正の利子率になってしまったということです。

Now Japan is moving to having the same real interest rates as Europe and the United States, so the yen falls. That’s not a distortion; that’s actually things moving in the right direction. There’s no way honestly to complain that Japan is doing something illegitimate. Japan is doing exactly what it should be doing.

But everybody wants the world to be ideal for them. But if Germany was counting on the rest of the world being overvalued so that Germany could have nice exports, well, it’s not going to happen. So I think it’s important to go into the meeting and say… Okay, people will say that they’re unhappy. And you say, yes, I hear what you say, but not change the policy.

Well, I think that the only thing I would say is that now that Japan is getting the monetary policy right, there’s no good excuse for large-scale currency intervention. So if Japan is on top of the new inflation policy, going to buy a lot of dollars, then the United States might complain, but otherwise not.

I think the U.S. is relatively understanding on all of this stuff. And if the U.S. is going to go after currency manipulators, I don’t think Japan would be at the top of the list. So I think that’s a problem And again of course the United States has to be aware that anything that people are going to say about Japan and currency wars can be also… or the same charges can be leveled against the United States. So how can we get angry at Japan for doing exactly what we’re doing? So I don’t think the U.S. is a big concern here.
アメリカはこれらのことを比較的理解してきていると思う。そして、もしアメリカが為替操作について文句を言うとすれば、そのリストのトップに日本が来るとは思わない。だから、そのような難癖は問題だと思うし、また当然に、アメリカは、人々が日本や通貨戦争について文句をつけていることは全て自身に向けられてもおかしくないと気づいているはずです。我々がやっているのとまさに同じことをやっている日本にどうすれば怒りをぶつけられるのか? だから、私はアメリカがこの件で大きな問題になることはないと思う。

I mean, and particularly, by the way, the Federal Reserve, Japan can say to Ben Bernanke, “well, Mr. Bernanke, we’re doing what you told us to do 12 years ago. Now we’re doing it. How can you complain?” So I think that’s not a big problem.

The answer is: no, I think it’s not something to be concerned about. I’m hearing numbers like 2% of GDP. Two percent of GDP more or less in debt is going to not matter at all for the future. And you need a fiscal stimulus as part of the package right now. You need to raise that inflation rate, and one of the main ways you can do that is by pumping up the economy right now. So you need the short-term stimulus.

And for what it’s worth, the financial markets are not bothered at all. If you were too concerned that fiscal stimulus would cause the bond vigilantes to attack, that JGB rates would go soaring, that has not happened. And since expected inflation is up, the real borrowing costs have gone way down. I’d actually say that, given the rise in expected inflation and the fall in real rates, Japan’s fiscal position… it’s long-run fiscal outlook has just improved substantially.

So if we’re actually asking, what’s happened to the Japanese outlook with the coming of ABENOMICS, the answer actually is it’s gotten better because the inflation expectations are a much bigger deal than the short-term stimulus.

Well, that’s where the question comes in. And the question would be about the size. Is a 2% stimulus enough, which partly depends on how far below potential you think the Japanese economy is operating, which is a hard thing to estimate. So I’d actually be more comfortable if it was a bigger stimulus. And is a 2% inflation target high enough, which is again a question. But I think it would have been hard for him to have done even bigger.
それが疑問な点です。疑問な点と言うのはそのサイズです。2%の刺激策で十分なのか? それは、ある程度まで、日本経済が潜在成長率をどれほど下回っていると考えるかによってかかってくるが、それを推察するのは難しい。だから、もっと刺激策が大きければ、私はもっと安心できたでしょう。そして、2%のインフレターゲットで十分なのか、これも疑問です。でも、彼はこれ以上高くするのは困難だと考えたんでしょう。

So I think it’s a good shot. Now people will talk about structural reform and all of that. And, sure, it’s always good to have structural reform. And if Japan could have more structural reform, then that would make it easier to get recovery going. But structural reform is hard; it takes time. And there’s no good reason to have a persistently depressed economy while you wait for the structural reform to take effect. So this is the right thing to do.

I mean, if I could do anything else, I would say ideally Japan should have a higher fertility rate and maybe more immigration because the demographics I think are an important part of the problem. But, okay, that’s not going to happen right away either. So all of these things… So the answer is that Abe’s policies don’t solve all of Japan’s problems, but they’re not supposed to. They hopefully will solve the problem of deflation and persistent inadequate demand, leaving other problems still on the table.

The answer is that there’s serious questions about whether you can get traction. If you use only monetary policy, will it have enough of an effect? You want to get the inflation rate positive; you want to get it up to 2% or higher. Can you do that just using monetary policy, or do you need an extra boost from fiscal policy?
どれが牽引力を持つかに関してはかなり謎があるというのが答えです。金融政策のみで、十分な効果があるのか? 日本はインフレ率をプラスにしたい。2%以上上げようとしている。それを金融政策だけでできるのか、あるいは財政政策の援護が必要なのか?

The fiscal expansion should be not forever; it should be only a couple of years at most to get the economy going. But I think it’s much safer to actually have the fiscal expansion and not just the monetary side. I understand. I mean, I’ve made the argument in the past myself that monetary policy should be the principal tool. But I think we do worry about effectiveness in the short run, which is why you want the fiscal expansion. So I think that’s the answer. You don’t want to be too pure here. You need an initial boost, right? You need a jump-start for the Japanese economy, and it’s not clear that you can get that unless there is fiscal action as well as monetary.
ずっと財政拡大を行うのではなく、経済を起動させるために、最大でも2,3年ほどにすべきでしょう。でも、私は金融政策だけよりも、財政拡張策を使うほうがずっと堅実だと思う。分かってますよ。私は過去には金融政策こそ主要なツールだと主張している。でも、私たちはその短期的な有効性については疑問に思っていて、そこで財政政策が必要になるわけです。だから、それが私の答えです。ここで、あまりに潔癖になる必要はない。まず経済を押し上げる必要があるんでしょ? 日本経済を急発進する必要がある。金融政策と共に財政政策も行わないと、それを達成できるか明白ではない。

Oh, gosh! Well, I hope Japan doesn’t do austerity right now. I mean, obviously Japan in the long run needs eventually to have fiscal austerity. The Japanese debt level is high. The fiscal burden of an aging population is large. So Japan needs over the long term to be doing austerity, but not until you are in a situation where we know that monetary policy can offset the fiscal austerity. And you can’t have that unless Japan is safely off the zero lower bound on interest rates, which really won’t happen until people are definitively convinced that Japan is going to have inflation, not deflation. And so the fiscal austerity, ask me again in three or four years.

Once Japan is looking like a full-employment economy, if everybody expects 2.5% inflation, interest rates are high enough so that there’s room to cut, then you can start having fiscal austerity and offset it with monetary policy. But not now—not under these conditions.

Well, these are the same ol’ people. I mean, this is true. The thing is that, I mean, some people think that they’re doing this for the wrong reasons—that he’s not really trying to do a macroeconomic program; he just wants to go back to hiring lots of people for public works projects. I can’t evaluate that.

But in a way it doesn’t matter. Even if he’s doing it for the wrong reason, it’s actually the right thing to do right now. Now you do want eventually to pull back. You don’t want this endless fiscal stimulus. That may be an issue, but I think people are worried about the wrong thing.

Right now the big concern for Japan is not that we’re going to have old-fashioned stimulus policies. It is that Japan will continue to have orthodox fiscal and monetary policies in an environment where orthodoxy is very wrong and is very destructive. So if the Diet is going to be unorthodox for whatever reason, this is a good thing. And if it takes a dinosaur to break out of an extended depression, then dinosaurs are okay.

Japan had one fiscal stimulus after another over a period of almost 20 years. And those fiscal stimulus measures actually did help. Every time it was done, the economy would grow. Japan actually managed to avoid really severe unemployment. So it’s not as if the fiscal stimulus was a failure, but Japan never broke out of the trap of deflation. But that’s because the fiscal stimulus was never accompanied with a change in monetary policy. It was really in a fundamental sense, the Ministry of Finance would do something, and then the Bank of Japan would take it away.

And so now with a little luck, they’ll be both pushing in the same direction. So that’s what’s different. The problem with Japanese fiscal stimulus wasn’t that fiscal stimulus was the wrong thing. The problem with it was that it wasn’t accompanied by the necessary change in monetary policy.

The biggest thing that I see right now is the concern that the fiscal stimulus is going to be mostly on paper and not real—that there will be sums of money, but won’t end up being new money, or it’ll be projects that take too long to get started. And that’s where maybe the concern about old-fashioned politician stuff comes in. If you’re looking for projects that please your interest groups but take four years to actually really get going, then that’s not helping. So we use the term… what’s used way too much in the United States is “shovel-ready,” but stuff that’s ready to get going quickly.

The Japanese economy needs a short, sharp boost right now. And my biggest concern from what I read is that that may not be… I’m not sure, but I worry about whether there’s enough shovel-ready, quick boost to the economy for Japan. Or to change the metaphor, Japan really needs the jump-start, right? Really is like a car where you need to get it revving to get it going. And is the plan really going to do that? That would be my big question.
現在、日本経済は短期的な巨額の景気対策を必要としている。私が認識している中で最も心配しているのは、日本経済を回復させるためにすぐに実行可能な「shovel-ready」な事業が十分にないかもしれないということです。メタファーを変えれば、日本は経済を急発進させる必要があるんでしょ? 再び動き出すためにエンジンを吹かす必要がある車のようなものです。そのプランでそれが可能なのか? それが最大の心配事です。

Well, in the U.S., profits are very high. It’s a little disturbing actually. The economy hasn’t done all that well, but profits have done very well. And meanwhile of course interest rates are very low. So the alternative investment, bonds are a pretty poor investment. Stocks means you’re buying ownership in these very profitable U.S. corporations. Why shouldn’t stocks be high? So I don’t think it’s unreasonable.
アメリカの企業利益はすごく高い。それには少し困惑させるところがある。経済はそれほど上手く行っているわけではないのに、企業利益はすごく高い。一方、ご存知のように利子率はすごく低い。代替案として、債券はすごくショボい投資先です。現在の株価が示しているのは、人々はすごく利益率の高いアメリカ企業の所有権を買っているということです。株価が高くならない理由がありますか? だから、現在の株価が不合理とは思わない。

I think in a way I’m disturbed because the strong stock market is in part a byproduct of a peculiar economy where corporations do wonderfully but people don’t. But I don’t think there’s anything particularly puzzling or disturbing about the stock market.

Japanese politicians may be dinosaurs; American politicians are crazy people. And so it appears at least for a little while we’re about to have a completely insane fiscal austerity for a little while because of this fight over the “sequester.” I mean, the United States, we have a reasonable intelligent leadership in the White House. I don’t know if you agree with them about everything, but Obama and his people are okay.

But we have one House of Congress controlled by people who are not okay, who are pretty much crazy. And that’s not good for the economy. We have an economy that I think the private sector’s ready to recover, but the political dynamics might undermine that.

I think the United States is… I mean, my pessimism of several years ago was right. We’ve had a very slow recovery. But Untied States think is… we still are a long way from full recovery, but you can see a positive dynamic for the United States. Europe is much more troubled. So Europe, they’re still very much in their crisis, and the financial markets are a little calmer.

Japan, I’m suddenly relatively hopeful about Japan. This is new. So it’s a mixed picture. It’s not that the world as a whole is in terrible trouble. But among the advanced countries, Europe is what scares me now.

Well, Japan looks like… let’s see. If ABENOMICS works, then Japan will for the first time in a long time be a positive contributor. I mean, Japan is… at this point GDP is about 40% as big as either the United States or the European Union. So if we’re looking at the advanced countries as a group, Japan is down to being well under 20% of the total, and if you’re looking at the world as a whole, smaller than that. So Japan is not that big a factor. It’s still a huge economy and an important player. But even if Japan does better significantly the next few years than it has done for the past 20 years, it’s still not going to be… that’s not going to change the global picture all that much.

Well, since Abe is more or less doing what the American economists who were concerned about Japan for a long time have been saying, if I wasn’t at least a little optimistic, I would be inconsistent, right? In a way we’ve… a dozen years ago, people like Bernanke and me were saying to Japan: you need a higher inflation target. You need to break out of this deflation. Now finally you have a government that seems to be making a real effort to do that. So I’m finding myself surprisingly optimistic. Just beginning, yeah. So we see. We see how it works, but one of the more hopeful places in the world right now.
えー、安倍は、多かれ少なかれ、日本のことを気にしていたアメリカの経済学者が長い間言ってきたことをやっているわけですから、そこで私がちっとも楽観的になってなかったら、矛盾したことになりますよね? 12年前、私やバーナンキは日本にこう言っていた:高めのインフレターゲットを設ける必要がある。このデフレから抜け出さないといけない。今になって、政府がそれを本当に実行しようとしている。だから私は自分でも驚くほど楽観的なんですよ。まさにこれが始まった時から。ええ。それが機能すること、現在の世界で希望が膨らんでいる場所になっているのは納得できる。