By Alan Greenspan
Global economic policymakers are currently confronted with their most daunting challenge since the 1930s. There is considerable fear in the marketplace that the unprecedented set of stimulus programmes and efforts to recapitalise banks with sovereign credits will fall short of success. It is thus useful to contemplate alternatives to that distressing outcome.
Over the past two centuries, global capitalism has experienced similar crises and, up until now, has always recovered and proceeded to achieve ever higher levels of material prosperity. What would today’s world look like if, instead of the vast government policy efforts to stem the onset of crisis, we had allowed market mechanisms and automatic stabilisers, currently built into most of our economies, to function without any additional assistance? Counterfactual scenarios are highly problematic to say the least. But there are intriguing possibilities that offer comfort that, if all else fails, the global economy is not on a track towards years of stagnation or worse.
In one credible scenario, behind the unprecedented loss of wealth during the last year and a half, lie the seeds of recovery. Stock markets across the globe have to be close to a turning point. Even if a stock market recovery is quite modest, as I suspect it will be, the turnround may well have large (and positive) economic consequences.
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