Monthly Archives: December 2009

I have recently been thinking a great deal about my long-dead father. I have been writing a memoir of his life for an exhibition being organised by Vienna’s Exilbibliothek (“Exile Library”) in honour of what would have been his hundredth birthday. But I have also been thinking about him because he would have fully understood what is at stake today.

Born in what was then Austrian Poland on April 23 1910, my father’s life began just after the end of the “noughties” of the 20th century, of which I wrote last week. Moved by his parents to Vienna in 1914, he lived through the first world war, the hyperinflation of the early 1920s and the Great Depression, before leaving for London, just ahead of Hitler’s arrival, in 1937. There he survived internment as an enemy alien and the second world war. Nearly all his relatives, apart from his immediate family, were killed in the Holocaust. The same was true of my mother’s family. While she and her immediate relatives escaped by trawler from the Netherlands in May 1940, her wider family was destroyed. Read more

In this post for the Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum, Martin Wolf answers a reader’s question on the prospects for sterling in 2010.  Read more

In this post for the Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum, Martin Wolf answers a reader’s question on growth in emerging markets. Read more

The only truly global power was in rapid relative decline. Not long before, it had won a pyrrhic victory in a costly colonial war. New great powers were on the rise. An arms race was under way, as was competition for markets and resources in undeveloped areas of the world. Yet people still believed in the durability of the free trade and free capital flows that had nurtured prosperity and, many believed, had also underpinned peace.

That was how the world looked to many at the end of the “noughties” of the 20th century. Yet catastrophe lay ahead: a world war; a communist revolution; a Great Depression; fascism; and then another world war. The world order – built on competing great powers, imperialism and liberal markets – proved incapable of providing the public goods of peace and prosperity. It took calamity, the cold war and the replacement of the UK by the US as hegemonic power to re-establish stability. That then facilitated decolonisation, unprecedented economic expansion, the collapse of communism and yet another epoch of market-led global integration. Read more

In this post for the Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum, Martin Wolf answers a reader’s question on deflation in western Europe and the US.  Read more

In this post for the Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum, Martin Wolf answers a reader’s question on deflation in asset prices. Read more

In this post for the Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum, Martin Wolf answers a reader’s question on the US Federal Reserve and quantitative easing. Read more

In this post for the Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum, Martin Wolf answers a question on banks refusing to lend to businesses.  Read more

Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, writes on reform of credit rating agencies and the financial crisis. Read more

We invited readers to send questions this week to Martin Wolf, the FT’s chief economics commentator. Here is the first question, from Dirk Brouwer of the Netherlands. Martin’s response is below.

Dirk Brouwer, Amstelveen, The Netherlands: How could a more equitable distribution of income be instrumental in solving the impact of this crisis? Especially in the UK and the USA the top 20% has close to 50% of the net incomes which is one of the reasons for the bubbles on Wall Street and on the housing market. Read more