Did the meeting of the Group of 20 in London last week put the world economy on the path of sustainable recovery? The answer is no. Such meetings cannot resolve fundamental disagreements over what has gone wrong and how to put it right. As a result, the world is on a path towards an unsustainable recovery, as I argued last week. An unsustainable recovery might be better than none, but it is not good enough.
The UK has followed the US and Japan into “unconventional monetary policy”. Meanwhile, Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England warns the UK government of the dangers of further discretionary fiscal stimulus. Yet what are the implications of the policies followed by central banks? Are these not the big threat to monetary stability?
The following is Martin Wolf’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the US, March 25, 2009
We are experiencing the most dangerous financial and economic crisis since the 1930s. But it is also a crisis for foreign policy: a deep recession will shake political stability a across the globe; and it threatens the long-standing US goal of an open and dynamic global economy. Perhaps most important, the US is currently seen as the source of the problem rather than the solution.
This crisis is, therefore, a devastating blow to US credibility and legitimacy across the world. If the US cannot manage free-market capitalism, who can? If free-market capitalism can bring such damage, why adopt it? If openness to the world economy brings such dangers, why risk it? As the shock turns to anger, not just in the US, but across the world, these questions are being asked. If the US wishes to obtain the right answers, it must address the crisis at home, and do what it can to rescue innocent victims abroad. This is not a matter of charity. It is a matter of enlightened self-interest.
The summit of the Group of 20 leading high-income and emerging countries in London on Thursday seems set to achieve progress. But achievement must be measured not just against past performances, but against “the fierce urgency of now”. Unfortunately, it will come up short.
By Kevin O’Rourke
This period last year seems an age ago. The fear then was of resource scarcity: of rising oil prices and increasing food prices, as biofuels crowded out food production and population continued to grow. Environmental worries also reflect resource scarcity, albeit of another type. Once this crisis is over, these concerns will inevitably return to the agenda, and could easily dominate it for the rest of this century.
The summit of the Group of 20 leading advanced and emerging countries in London on April 2 2009 will fail. Its members are refusing to meet what Lawrence Summers, senior economic adviser to the US president Barack Obama, calls “the universal demand agenda”. Conventional wisdom is the enemy. Alas, it is winning.
By Moritz Schularick
Over the past decade, China and other emerging markets accumulated foreign currency reserves to insure against the economic and political vagaries of financial globalisation. They were wise to do so. Countries with larger reserves are weathering the storm relatively better than those who have bought less insurance.
A hyperpower’s place is in the wrong. This is particularly true when, as last week at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the hyperpower in question is barely represented, at least at the official level. But, truth to tell, the critics of the US – led by prime ministers Wen Jiabao of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia – had an easy story of incompetence and malfeasance to tell.
Pity President Barack Obama. He won power partly because of the global economic crisis. He himself, most of his fellow citizens and much of the rest of the world agree that the US broke the world economy and now has the duty to fix it. Unhappily, this consensus is false. The crisis is a product of the global economy. It cannot be cured by the US alone.
By Mario Blejer
The current financial crisis is putting substantial pressure on emerging markets. Many if not all face a serious risk of a sudden and severe slowdown in credit as a consequence of the withdrawal of international liquidity pools until recently available to these countries. The consequences of a credit crunch could be dire for both their public and corporate sector. This would ultimately stall the last engine of growth on which the world economy relies. The International Monetary Fund should quickly put together a preventive facility to restore the capacity of countries with healthy macroeconomic accounts to borrow from private capital markets.