Fast growth, huge current account “imbalances”, low real interest rates and risk spreads, subdued inflation and easy access to finance characterise the world economy. Is this party about to end? Probably not. But to identify the risks we must first decide what drives the strange world economy we see around us.
The two interesting alternative explanations are the “savings glut” and the “money glut”. Both share common themes: globalisation; the revolution in finance; the rise of China; low inflation; and macroeconomic stability. Beyond this, however, they diverge. In particular, they reverse the role of victim and villain: in the savings-glut story, the thrifty are the villains and profligate the victims; in the money-glut story, it is the other way round. This is a contemporary version of the old Keynesian versus monetarist dispute. Read more