Monetary policy

By Kumiharu Shigehara

Japan‘s economic expansion stumbled by late 2007, and in the context of the global economic crisis, it has been trapped in the deepest recession of the post-war era. Initially, the impact of the global crisis on the Japanese economy was expected to be limited because Japanese banks and other financial institutions were relatively insulated from financial turmoil. However, between the third quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of this year, Japan’s exports fell at an annual rate of some 55 per cent in volume terms, the sharpest among OECD countries and double the area’s average rate of decline.

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By Roger E. A. Farmer

According to a widely-held consensus view, the world is slowly emerging from the Great Recession of 2008. Growth in China is projected to top 8 per cent in 2009. Australia raised the interest rate on the Australian dollar last week and the US and UK economies are showing signs that unemployment growth has slowed even though the unemployment rates in both countries are very high. Sometime soon, perhaps in the spring of 2010, perhaps earlier, the Fed, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England are likely to respond to the perceived global recovery by reducing the sizes of their balance sheets and raising interest rates on overnight loans. Read more

By Andrew Sheng and Michael Pomerleano

The national authorities and the international community should be commended for the speed of action taken to stop the spread of the financial crisis. To protect the financial system from the deflation in asset bubbles, the public sector has essentially guaranteed all deposits, rescued systemically important institutions, made large liquidity injections and brought interest rates to zero or near zero under a zero interest rate policy. Almost all systemically important central banks entered into ZIRP under emergency conditions at the same time.

But the polices adopted to combat the crisis are creating their own problems. In the medium term, the treatment may be as expensive as the crisis. Read more

From the FT:

Neil Dennis: Sterling declines after inflation hits 5-year low Read more

From the FT:

Michael Milken: Prosperity rests on human and social capital Read more

I like and admire Lord Turner, chairman of the UK’s Financial Services Authority. He is more than an acute analyst. He is also brave. He showed that in his struggle with Gordon Brown, then chancellor of the exchequer, over plans for pension reform published in 2005. He is showing that again today in the lively debate he has initiated on the future of financial regulation. Read more

Financial stability regulatory architecture is best realised on a national level.  Read more

By Greg Fisher

The UK government’s policies towards the banks are inadequate. This is not surprising because the British government and both main political parties lack firm ideological foundations. Neoliberalism has failed.  However, the circumstances the banks find themselves in are best understood through the lens of game theory; their situation is analogous to the prisoners’ dilemma. Government policy ought to be guided accordingly, with a firmer hand on bank lending. Read more

by Paul De Grauwe

There can be little doubt. The science of macroeconomics is in deep trouble. The best and the brightest in the field fight over the most basic problems. Take government budget deficits, which now exceed 10 per cent of gross domestic product in countries such as the US and the UK. One camp of macroeconomists claims that, if not quickly reversed, such deficits will lead to rising interest rates and a crowding out of private investment. Instead of stimulating the economy, the deficits will lead to a new recession coupled with a surge in inflation. Wrong, says the other camp. There is no danger of inflation. These large deficits are necessary to avoid deflation. A clampdown on deficits would intensify the deflationary forces in the economy and would lead to a new and more intense recession. Read more

By Michael Pomerleano

Martin’s article “The cautious approach to fixing banks will not work” stimulated me to raise a fundamental issue that is preoccupying me as the crisis unfolds and to which I don’t have an answer. Read more

By Brendan Brown

Global equity markets are understandably not taking seriously the ominous pessimism from commentators dissatisfied with the notion of an economic recovery emerging from below.

Yes the S&P 500 may be down a few per cent in recent days but that is mainly a reflection of the US dollar’s mini-rebound (which means foreign earnings become worth less in US dollar terms) and some long overdue downward correction (very small so far) in commodity markets.  Read more

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. Read more

Another ideological god has failed. The assumptions that ruled policy and politics over three decades suddenly look as outdated as revolutionary socialism.

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Thus quipped Ronald Reagan, hero of US conservatism. The remark seems ancient history now that governments are pouring trillions of dollars, euros and pounds into financial systems. Read more

The Nice – non-inflationary, consistently expansionary – decade has gone. The next decade is going to be nasty. It is time to start learning lessons. “Niceness” proved a mistake.

The UK economy has moved with brutal speed from what Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s new executive director for financial stability, in a brilliant paper*, calls “the golden decade” of steady growth and low volatility to its opposite. Stability has proved the economy’s nemesis, as Hyman Minsky predicted. Read more

Pinn illustration

What has Japan’s “lost decade” to teach us? Even a year ago, this seemed an absurd question. The general consensus of informed opinion was that the US, the UK and other heavily indebted western economies could not suffer as Japan had done. Now the question is changing to whether these countries will manage as well as Japan did. Welcome to the world of balance-sheet deflation. Read more

By Stephen Grenville

With the US official interest rate now in effect zero, there is much talk of monetary policy “running out of ammunition” and “pushing on a string”. Has monetary policy become impotent in the US and Japan? Does a similar fate await the rest of us? Read more

By Alistair Milne 

Central banks are worried about falling rather than rising prices. By early next year, it is possible that central banks’ target policy interest rates will all be reduced to their minimum possible level of zero. Does this mean that central banks will then have lost control over monetary policy and be unable to prevent a cumulative debt deflation? Read more