The Paradox of Global Thrift

Recognition Program

Authors: Luca Fornaro and Federica Romei

American Economic Review, Vol. 109, No 11, 3745-3779, November, 2019

This paper describes a paradox of global thrift. Consider a world in which interest rates are low and monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. Now imagine that governments implement prudential financial and fiscal policies to stabilize the economy. We show that these policies, while effective from the perspective of individual countries, might backfire if applied on a global scale. In fact, prudential policies generate a rise in the global supply of savings and a drop in global aggregate demand. Weaker global aggregate demand depresses output in countries at the zero lower bound. Due to this effect, non-cooperative financial and fiscal policies might lead to a fall in global output and welfare.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 1039
This paper is acknowledged by the Barcelona School of Economics Recognition Program