Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Supply and Demand-Side Economics

Long-run aggregate supply, however, can shift if the potential national income shifts. When potential national income increases, this brings the equilibrium price level down, and the equilibrium level of GDP up in the long run. Neoclassical economists believe that policies which intend to bring real economic growth and betterment should focus on shifting potential national income to the right (increasing it): they believe that policies which only focus on increasing aggregate demand merely cause price-inflation in the long run.

So, for a classical economist, instead of using short term fiscal policy "gap-busting" to correct short term deviations from potential national income (boosting or reducing government expenditures to correct recessionary and inflationary gaps), policies should focus on brining potential national income forward, and closing the gap through increased potential economic growth! We call this SUPPLY-SIDE ECONOMICS

SO... let's say that an economy is in an inflationary state... there are a few things which policy-makers can do to fix this

1: They can do nothing. The chain and anchor system of long term economic adjustment will make wages higher, which shifts AS to the left and brings the economy back to Y*, but with a higher price level
2: The government could engage in some "gap-busting" policies (ie: they could raise taxes and decrease expenditures to kick aggregate demand back to the left, which would bring equilibrium GDP back to its potential levels)
3: The government could focus on increasing long run aggregate supply. This is also called Reaganomics: some policies in with vein include cutting personal income taxes (which increases incentives to work), cutting corporate income taxes (which increases production and investment). This shifts LRAS to the right to close the gap, and arguably, there is no negative effect on overall tax revenues, despite these cuts (because the increased long run equilibrium national income creates a larger tax base, so the government is still able to generate the same amount of revenue, despite taxing at lower rates).


Although these sorts of policies may increase LRAS, critics note that decreases in personal income tax also increase disposable income, which drives consumption upward. Also, decreases in corporate income tax are likely to cause corporations to increase their levels of investment. Thus, while LRAS will shift to the right, aggregate demand will also shift to the right, and the inflationary gap will persist, even if the economy's productive potential grows. This means that economies where supply side economic policies are instated will experience EVEN LARGER price inflation.


There are two different models we use for the economy: the short run model and the long run model. These two models are very different.

Fiscal policies which are based on the long run model is focused on increasing economic growth by increasing either labour, capital, or technology. These are factors which cause the potential national income to shift, and thus, they create long-run changes in economic potential.

The short run model, on the other hand, deals with temporary fluctuations in the economy which causes GDP to fall above or below potential: this is the economy model which is centered around the business cycle. Most policies in this vein are based around gap-busting, or eliminating recessionary and inflationary gaps.

It is not particularly difficult to determine the direction of the shift which must be kickstarted by fiscal policies: rather, it is the mixture and the magnitude which is hard to determine (for an example, if lowering taxes is likely to eliminate a recessionary gap, the question which the government must ask is how much of a tax cut should be given, how long should these cuts persist for, and which taxes should be affected by the cut).

-This is meant to damped the fluctuations caused by the business cycle
-This reduces the amplitude of the fluctuations (so recessionary and inflationary gaps are less extreme)

While the automatic economic adjustment which occurs thanks to natural wages shifts WILL bring economies back to potential GDP, one problem is that the natural adjustment process can take a very long time, and while the economy is adjusting to reduce a recessionary gap, unemployment will be high, and the economy will remain unproductive for a long while. Government stabilization policies can fix recessionary gaps a lot more quickly by increasing government expenditures and decreasing taxation. This boosts aggregate demand, and shifts equilibrium GDP back to Y* a lot more quickly than the natural AS shift to the right would have.

Contractionary fiscal policy works in a very similar way: if there is an inflationary gap, the government increases taxation and decreases government expenditure to shift aggregate demand to the right, thus bringing equilibrium GDP back to Y* much faster than the natural AS shift to the left would have.


In a recession, the natural tendency is for individuals to increase savings: while such prudent actions may benefit individuals, on a larger aggregate level, frugality decreases consumption, and therefore, it also reduces aggregate expenditures, aggregate demand, and GDP as a whole. As a result, this psychological tendency towards thriftiness in a recession can exacerbate recessionary gaps. A historical example of this occurred in the great depression when governments actually RASIED taxes as a response to the hard economic times.

Note* this negative economic result of savings only really applies to the short run: in the short run, increased savings means decreased consumption, and therefore decreased aggregate demand. In the long run, however (as we will learn in the next chapter), an increase in savings facilitates an increase in investment, which leads to a higher aggregate demand.

AUTOMATIC FISCAL STABILIZATION: This refers to built-in tax and expenditure rates which automatically stabilize the business cycle without the government having to specifically set up any policies
-Basically, tax 'n spend systems decrease the simple multiplier, so injections and withdrawals from the economy create smaller shifts in GDP.
-Automatic stabilization can be represented by the slope of the budget function (as GDP increases, there are more withdrawals from the economy)
-Discretionary stabilization (ie: expansionary and contractionary policies) can be represented by a shift in the budget function (so governments are taxing and spending at different rates for the same national income rate)
-Taxes aren't the only automatic stabilizer: other ones include employment insurance and welfare payments (which are forms of withdrawals or expenditures)

Why not just increase expenditures and lower taxes to fight unemployment???


There can be policy lags- so by the time a budgetary policy gets through the political process and takes effect, it may already be obsolete, or even counter-productive (remember, stabilization policy is extremely time-sensitive)

Also, economists recognize that many households are not "fooled" by short term changes in tax structures. Many households base their spending on what they believe their long term incomes are going to be (as Milton Friedman predicted), so short term changes in taxation which temporarily boosts income may not cause changes in spending habits.

Finally, most economists believe that fiscal policy creates too broad and general a change in the economic environment to fine tune an economy for optimal performance. While stabilization policy may be useful when large, sweeping economic changes are required, many economists believe that it is unnecessary overkill for small economic imbalances which will correct themselves.


While increased government purchases lead to increased AE, AD, and GDP in the short run, in the long run, they may "crowd out" private-sector consumption and investment
Similarly, while decreased taxes may increase AE, AD, and GDP in the short run, the long run effect is less clear. On the one hand, some economists believe that decreased taxes may increase investment and incentive to work in the long run, thus drumming up GDP. On the other hand, some economists believe that decreased taxes may crowd out public spending on public goods (case and point, check out Alberta's decaying public infrastructure)

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