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Using fiscal policy to address trade imbalances

If a nation is experiencing the inflow of foreign investment capital associated with a trade deficit because foreign investors are making long-term direct investments in firms, there may be no substantial reason for concern. After all, many low-income nations around the world would welcome direct investment by multinational firms that ties them more closely into the global networks of production and distribution of goods and services. In this case, the inflows of foreign investment capital and the trade deficit are attracted by the opportunities for a good rate of return on private sector investment in an economy.

However, governments should beware of a sustained pattern of high budget deficits and high trade deficits. The danger arises in particular when the inflow of foreign investment capital is not funding long-term physical capital investment by firms, but instead is short-term portfolio investment in government bonds. When inflows of foreign financial investment reach high levels, foreign financial investors will be on the alert for any reason to fear that the country’s exchange rate may decline or the government may be unable to repay what it has borrowed on time. Just as a few falling rocks can trigger an avalanche; a relatively small piece of bad news about an economy can trigger an enormous outflow of short-term financial capital.

Reducing a nation’s budget deficit will not always be a successful method of reducing its trade deficit, because other elements of the national saving and investment identity, like private saving or investment, may change instead. In those cases when the budget deficit is the main cause of the trade deficit, governments should take steps to reduce their budget deficits, lest they make their economy vulnerable to a rapid outflow of international financial capital that could bring a deep recession.

Financing higher education

Over the period between 1982 and 2012, the increases in the cost of a college education had far outpaced that of the income of the typical American family. According to the research done by the President Obama’s staff, the cost of education at a four-year public college increased by 257% compared to an increase in family incomes of only 16% over the prior 30 years. The ongoing debate over a balanced budget and proposed cutbacks accentuated the need to increase investment in human capital to grow the economy versus deepening the already significant debt levels of the U.S. government. In the summer of 2013, President Obama presented a plan to make college more affordable that included increasing Pell Grant awards and the number of recipients, caps on interest rates for student loans, and providing education tax credits. In addition, the plan includes an accountability method for institutions of higher education that focuses on completion rates and creates a College Scorecard. Whether or not all these initiatives come to fruition remains to be seen, but they are indicative of creative approaches that government can take to meet its obligation from both a public and fiscal policy perspective.

Key concepts and summary

The government need not balance its budget every year. However, a sustained pattern of large budget deficits over time risks causing several negative macroeconomic outcomes: a shift to the right in aggregate demand that causes an inflationary increase in the price level; crowding out private investment in physical capital in a way that slows down economic growth; and creating a dependence on inflows of international portfolio investment which can sometimes turn into outflows of foreign financial investment that can be injurious to a macroeconomy.

Problems

Sketch a diagram of how a budget deficit causes a trade deficit. ( Hint : Begin with what will happen to the exchange rate when foreigners demand more U.S. government debt.)

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Sketch a diagram of how sustained budget deficits cause low economic growth.

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Assume that you are employed by the government of Tanzania in 1964, a new nation recently independent from Britain. The Tanzanian parliament has decided that it will spend 10 million shillings on schools, roads, and healthcare for the year. You estimate that the net taxes for the year are eight million shillings. The difference will be financed by selling 10-year government bonds at 12% interest per year. The interest on outstanding bonds must be added to government expenditure each year. Assume that additional taxes are added to finance this increase in government expenditure so the gap between government spending is always two million. If the school, road, and healthcare budget are unchanged, compute the value of the accumulated debt in 10 years.

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References

The White House. “This is why it's time to make college more affordable.” Last modified August 20, 2013. http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/college-affordability.

Rubin, Robert E., Peter R. Orszag, and Allen Sinai. “Sustained Budget Deficits: Longer-Run U.S. Economic Performance and the Risk of Financial and Fiscal Disarray.” Last modified January 4, 2004. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2004/1/05budgetdeficit%20orszag/20040105.pdf.

Questions & Answers

Is a faster rate of economic growth always a good thing as compared to a slower rate? And why?
LIMPHO Reply
what is unemployment
Doctor Reply
it is a situation during which workers remain jobless.
Zeeshan
what is inflation
Sheila Reply
Inflation is a major concern to global economists, and it affects people from all walks of life. It refers to the measure or rate by which the cost of goods and services rises and purchasing power declines. As prices increase, monetary value decreases—prompting consumers to spend less on goods and s
King
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The utility drive from last commodity Is a marginal utility
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The marginal utility declines as more of a particular good is consumed at a given time
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fine
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the utility which is derived from the one commodity by taking continuously can decrease the desire of the particular commodity .that's known as diminishing marginal utility . and we can calculate by using the following formula MU=TUn_TUn-1
Hema
The law of diminishing marginal utility explains that as a person consumes an item or a product, the satisfaction or utility that they derive from the product wanes as they consume more and more of that product. For example, an individual might buy a certain type of chocolate for a while.
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sparlay
the major in depth concept of macroeconomics
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Economic is the wealth
IBRAHIM
what is bank rate
Parth Reply
what is elasticity
Joshua Reply
is this an actual person
Stanley
is the measurement of how changing economic variable effects others
Godfrey
what is supply
Chuks Reply
the amount that is available for sale
Stanley
It is the total number of goods that's available for sales in the market.
Umar
what is protectionism
Godfrey
protectionism is a measure taking by a certain gov't to protect the infant industries from foreign competition and other BOP difficulties.
Umar
after the ss2 first term topic what is the next topic for 2nd term
Eze Reply
Being unemployed is a person who is able to work but not finding a job Being out of labor force is a person who isn't able to work
Elie Reply
Explain the differences between aggregate demand shocks and aggregate supply shocks
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what are the measures being taken to reduce inflation in LDCs
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increase level of production,reduce rates of tax charged
mashauri
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Doris Reply
Microeconomics can simply be refers to as the study of a unit economy while macroeconomics can be regarded as a study of economy as a whole or aggregate economy of a country.
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Full employment price stability economic growth
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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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