Germany says “nein”. That is the most important conclusion to be drawn from the debate on eurozone economic policy. What the German government is saying is that the eurozone must become a greater Germany. But this policy would have profoundly negative implications for the world economy.
Continue reading “Excessive virtue can be a vice for the world economy”. Please leave your comments in the box at the end of Martin Wolf’s column.
by Kenneth Rogoff
When in doubt, bail it out,” is the policy mantra 11 months after the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. With the global economy tentatively emerging from recession, and investors salivating over the remaining banks’ apparent return to profitability, some are beginning to ask: “Did we really need to suffer so much?”
By Glenn Hubbard
This week the United Nations reported that the recession has created a $4.8bn (£3bn, €3.4bn) shortfall in its 2009 aid programmes – more than half the $9.5bn it seeks. On the one hand, that is bad, because the UN does much valuable humanitarian work. On the other hand, financial constraints may force the UN to rethink the portion of its aid aimed at economic development. The UN continues to fund government and non-governmental organisations to run economic development projects. But that is not how to end poverty: only the local business sector does that.
Will no one rid me of this turbulent central banker? Gordon Brown, the UK’s prime minister, may be asking just that when he learns of yet another critical comment from the governor of the Bank of England. For Henry II, king of England in the 12th century, the troublemaker was Thomas Becket, his own choice as archbishop of Canterbury. For Mr Brown, it is Mervyn King, whom he has reappointed to an equally impregnable position. The parallel is clear: central bankers are cardinals in the cult of monetary stability.
Becket was murdered. Mr King will not suffer that fate. But a later king of England brought the church and his archbishops to heel. Could the Bank suffer a similar fate?
With one bound the banks are free, or so it seems. Already, the panic of the autumn of 2008 is fading. The period within which lessons can be learnt and changes made is closing. Yet without radical changes, another crisis is certain. It may not even be that long delayed.
I am becoming ever more worried. I never expected much from the Europeans or the Japanese. But I did expect the US, under a popular new president, to be more decisive than it has been. Instead, the Congress is indulging in a populist frenzy; and the administration is hoping for the best.
Can we afford this crisis? Will governments destroy their solvency, as they use their balance sheets to rescue over-indebted private sectors?
By Adrian Wood
Ministers from developed and developing countries are gathered this week in Accra, Ghana’s capital, for the latest high-level forum on aid effectiveness. Learning from past successes and failures, reformers are pressing for more ownership by developing countries of aid relationships, more predictability of aid flows and less fragmentation of aid delivery. This agenda is important. If implemented, these reforms would give the taxpayers of rich countries better value for money and increase the benefits of aid to people in poor ones. Aid cannot on its own cause development, but if properly delivered and well used it can be enormously beneficial.