Demand Side and Fiscal Policy Conflict

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Demand side policies are those that manipulate the level of aggregate demand (AD) to achieve one or more economic objective. The policies can be fiscal policies (changes in government spending and/or taxation), or they might be monetary policies (which are largely changes in the short-term rate of interest). The four major macroeconomic objectives are a sustainable level of economic growth; low inflation; low unemployment; and a medium term balance on current account. Recently the government have used loose fiscal policy and the MPC have reduced the rate of interest. These are designed to increase the level of AD and increase in national income. Lower taxation/higher government spending or lower interest rates will encourage more consumption. The diagram shows an increase in real GDP (economic growth) and a falling output gap. We would expect there to be a fall in unemployment. Therefore two objectives have been met. However, the diagram also shows a conflict. With higher AD there is also demand pull inflation.The extent of any economic growth depends on the elasticity of the AS curve. If there is a small output gap and a more inelastic AS curve then the impact on economic growth will be smaller but there will be more inflation. This is unlikely to be the case in the UK at the moment as low interest rates and a large budget deficit has not cause significant inflation. A further conflict with loose demand side policies might the effect on the current account. With higher economic growth and consumption, we might expect an increase in the demand for imports and a worsening of the current account. This is likely to be a fairly significant effect for the UK because it has a high marginal propensity to import – especially for manufactured goods. Furthermore, if there is inflation from the demand side policies then there will be a fall in UK competitiveness and a
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