INVESTMENT / The Sage Investor
2023. 01. 10
“이삼년 뒤 인플레는 다시 상당히 낮은
수준으로 돌아갈 것이다”
파이낸셜 타임스의 저명한 이코노미스트 마틴 울프에게 세계 경제의 향후 전망에 대해 물었다.
I remember you left the World Bank in 1981 around the peak of stagflation. Have you ever thought of the differences or similarities between then and now?
Very interesting question! I think that, broadly defined, there are clear parallels between the ’70s and early ’80s and where we are now in the following respects. There was a mixture of very big real economic shocks with monetary excess. It’s not just about 1981, but there were two oil shocks in the ’70s — one in 1973 and one in 1979 — and they were both triggered by wars and now we have a huge oil and gas shock which is also triggered by a war. So that’s an obvious parallel.
And this time, of course, we also have two shocks. The second shock isn’t another oil shock. We have a pandemic shock and a war causing an energy shock. And then we had two energy challenges again in the early ’70s and we have very high monetary growth leading to a very rapid growth in demand, which then interacted with this huge real shock to generate an inflationary process. But in that case, it took, roughly speaking, 10 years to get it under control.
10년? 그렇다면, 이번 인플레이션을 잡는 데는 몇 년 정도 걸릴까?
이번에는 아주 낙관적으로 본다. 이유는 두 가지다. 첫째, 모든 중앙은행가가 역사를 기억하고 있다. 그들은 역사를 기억하며 실수를 되풀이하고 싶어 하지 않는다. 물론 (1970년대와 달리) 요즘 중앙은행가는 상당히 독립적이고, 물가안정목표제(인플레이션 타깃)를 채택하고 있다. 이로써 분명히 알 수 있는 것은 그들이 물가 안정을 달성해야만 한다는 점이다. 둘째, 인플레이션이 미국을 제외하고 외부 변수 때문에 발생했다는 점이다. 내부요인 때문이 아니라는 얘기다. (그 요인은) 바로 에너지 쇼크다.
에너지 쇼크가 임금 상승으로 이어질 리스크가 있기는 하다. 하지만 70년대와 차이점은 지금 노동조합 조직률이 아주 낮다는 사실이다. 노동조합이 아주 약하다. 파업이 발생하기는 하지만, 맹렬하지 않다. 그래서 인플레이션이 상품 시장, 그중에서도 아마 서비스 섹터에 제한될 가능성이 아주 크다. 그래서 나는 무조건이라고 할 순 없지만 2024년이나 2025년 주요 국가에서 인플레이션 수준이 상당히 낮을 것으로 비교적 낙관한다. 물가상승률이 2% 수준으로 되돌아갈 거라고 자신하지는 못한다.
Ten years? Then how long do you think it would take to get inflation under control this time?
I am actually much more optimistic this time. I think there are two reasons for that. The first is, of course, all the central bankers remember this history. They know this history and they don’t want to repeat these mistakes. And of course, they are all independent and they have adopted inflation targets. So that means they are pretty clear they have to achieve it. The second thing is that with the exception of the United States, it’s externally generated. There isn’t much domestically generated inflation. It’s the energy shock.
Now, there is a risk that this will cause a wage price spiral. But again, an important difference from the ’70s is, for better or worse, labor organizations are much weaker. Trade unions are much weaker. There are strikes, but they’re not as fierce. So the probability is that there is a much greater chance that inflation will remain in the goods markets, perhaps in the service sector. So I’m relatively optimistic, not certain, but by 2024, 2025 inflation will be substantially lower in all the major economies. I am not sure whether it will be back to 2%.
People in the Korean business community and financial markets are very sensitive to the issue of how high the Fed Fund rate will go up because they believe the higher the rate would be the stronger the dollar.
Well, there are two dimensions to this. It’s very important to separate the two dimensions. We had a conversation recently with a member of the board. It was off the record. I won’t say who it was. But the questions are how high it might go. And just as important, I think, is how long it might remain there. So I think it’s a reasonable guess on the basis of what we know now, that the peak rate will be somewhere in the fives. It’s not an unreasonable guess. It’s not so far from where they are, they would rather do it more quickly than not. The American economy remains strong. The labor market is still very strong.
현재 우리가 알고 있는 정보에 따를 때
기준금리는 5%대 어느 지점까지 이른다는 게 합리적인 추정이다.
The strong dollar has already been a burden for Korean business leaders and investors. How long might the strong dollar last?
This is not a forecast, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the dollar remained strong for a couple of years still. And I think businesses should plan on that possibility and plan to survive that possibility. Now, I would have thought that for Korean businesses a strong dollar has advantages as well as disadvantages and improves competitiveness. It obviously makes dollar finance more expensive.
But I’m more worried about developing countries and smaller emerging economies, which have got a very large amount of dollar debt. Obviously, anybody with a lot of dollar debt is going to find the combination of higher rates with a higher dollar very difficult, and clearly there are going to be a lot of defaults around the world.
비즈니스 리더는 달러 강세가 지속된다는 전제하에
계획을 세우고 생존 전략을 짜야 한다.
How about Korea? Do you think Korea might face a sort of crisis due to strong dollar?
Well, first of all, I don’t consider Korea an emerging market. Obviously not. Korea is a developed country. In the ’90s, the problem was that Korean banks, as you know, had taken on very, very large dollar liabilities and dollar debt, and their assets were not liquid assets. So they had a currency mismatch. And once the dollar fund finance got very expensive and the exchange rate collapsed, that obviously created a huge banking crisis. Since that crisis, the authorities in Korea are very, very well aware of these risks. The banks and the private sector of Korea are very, very well aware of these risks. And they have no need to borrow in dollars.
Let’s talk about next year’s business cycle in the global economy, in particular the U.S. economy. Where do you think the U.S. economy is heading?
My general expectation over the next year is we’re going to have recessions. I mean, Europe is clearly going to have a recession. There’s no doubt about that fact. It’s in recession. The U.K. is in recession. In the U.S. it’s less clear. Of course, it’s partly a question of how you define recession, and there is no standard definition of recession. I’m opposed to the definition, say, a couple of quarters of negative growth is recession. But in the U.S. we will have at the very least a significant growth recession.
What do you think could happen from now on in China?
Since investment generates pretty well half of demand in China, reduction of investment generates a massive slowdown which keeps on worsening the debt situation. So there is a generalized debt crisis and the economy slows and this, of course, is made worse by the zero COVID policy, which is stopping production and stopping demand. And that must further weaken the situation of the of the corporate sector and of households, who have borrowed their income, will fall. They can’t get the same incomes as before.
중국 정부는 재정 지출을 늘려야 하고, 분배를 강화해야 한다.
기업과 정부에서 가계쪽으로 자원 배분을 늘려 가계 소비가 늘도록 해야 한다.
애초 내 질문은 ‘중국 정부가 무엇을 할 수 있는가, 달리 말하면 그들의 정책 병기고에 무엇이 있을까’였다.
내가 생각하기에 그 질문에 대한 답은 그들(중국 정부)이 할 수 있고, 또 해야만 한다는 것이다. 최근 30년 사이 수요가 약해질 때마다 그들이 찾아낸 해결책은 투자를 촉진하는 전략이었다. 그런데, 질문에서 언급한 대로 팔리지 않는 건물이 너무 많고, 수요가 부진한 시기에 투자를 촉진하는 전략은 말이 되지 않는다. 내 말은 경제가 4% 성장하는데, 국내총생산(GDP)의 40%를 투자할 수는 없다는 점이다. 그러므로 투자 저하는 필연인데, 이런 때는 소비로 투자를 대체해야 한다. 그러나 중국 GDP에서 가계소득이 차지하는 비중이 다른 나라, 심지어 독일 등과 견줘도 낮아서 가계 소비는 투자를 대신할 수 없다.
My question was originally about what Chinese government could do, in other words, what they have in their arsenal of economy policy tools.
The answer to that, I think, is they can and they have to. But the normal solution that the Chinese government has found in the last 30 years, whenever demand has been weakening, is a strategy to promote more investment. But that doesn’t make any sense when you’ve got lots of excess capacity in excess building, as you say, and weak demand. You can’t. The basic point I make is in a 4% growth economy you can’t invest 40% of GDP. So investment has to fall, and that means they have to substitute investment with consumption. They can’t, however, do it with the household sector because household income as a share of GDP is very low compared with other economies, even Germany.
If so, what is to be done in the situation?
They have to increase government consumption and they have to increase the distribution and they have to distribute income from the corporate sector and governments to households to increase their incomes so they can consume more.
And that means a very radically interventionist governmentpursuing really essentially Keynesian type policy to sustain demand. And it has to be the central government because the central government is the only creditworthy entity left in the system. Essentially, the government goes out and borrows and provides resources to households to consume, and bails out the banks, and lets the real estate sector deflate, which is going to happen.
But restructuring in real estate sector is going to be very difficult and politically very unpopular because a very large part of the Chinese middle class has invested in real estate. So, over the next couple of years will see how well the Chinese government is able to respond to these imbalances.