World economy: What went wrong

The IMF blames inadequate regulation, rather than global imbalances, for the financial crisis

IN RECENT months many economists and policymakers, including such unlikely bedfellows as Paul Krugman, an economist and New York Times columnist, and Hank Paulson, a former American treasury secretary, have put “global imbalances”—the huge current-account surpluses run by countries like China, alongside America’s huge deficit—at the root of the financial crisis. But the IMF disagrees. It argues, in new papers released on Friday March 6th, that the “main culprit” was deficient regulation of the financial system, together with a failure of market discipline. Olivier Blanchard, the IMF's chief economist, said this week that global imbalances contributed only “indirectly” to the crisis. This may sound like buck-passing by the world’s main international macroeconomic organisation. But the distinction has important consequences for whether macroeconomic policy or more regulation of financial markets will provide the solutions to the mess.

In broad strokes, the global imbalances view of the crisis argues that a glut of money from countries with high savings rates, such as China and the oil-producing states, came flooding into America. This kept interest rates low and fuelled the credit boom and the related boom in the prices of assets, such as houses and equity, whose collapse precipitated the financial crisis. A workable long-term fix for the problems of the world economy would, therefore, involve figuring out what to do about these imbalances. ...


[Source: The Economist: News analysis - Posted by FreeAutoBlogger]

No comments: