International Monetary Fund

Roger Altman of Evercore partners is a friend of mine, a distinguished public servant and a respected financial expert. But his column “Blame bond markets, not politicians, for austerity” is, in my view, gravely mistaken. Read more

Last week I wrote a column entitled The riddle of German self-interest. To my surprise, it received a lengthy response from a senior and highly respected official of the German finance ministry. I am very grateful for this reply, because it clarifies the German finance ministry’s position and raises a number of profound issues.

In the interests of clarifying these issues further, I comment below on some of the statements made in that letter. Read more

In the second part (you can read Part 1 here) of this comment on the concluding statement of the International Monetary Fund’s recent mission to the UK, I intend to address one issue:

Is it the case that greater flexibility on fiscal policy, to support demand, might destroy the UK government’s credibility, with disastrous results? Read more

How should the European Union regulate its banking system? What discretion should be granted to member states in deciding how safe their banking systems should be?

On these vital issues, the EU is coming to the wrong conclusions. That is the UK’s view. I agree with it. But the UK is, once again, in a minority of one. Read more

In my most recent post, I investigated whether fiscal contractions were expansionary. The answer seemed to be unambiguously negative: eurozone member countries that had undertaken large cyclically adjusted fiscal contractions had also experienced larger declines in gross domestic product. This being so, a question obviously follows:

Does fiscal contraction improve actual fiscal outcomes or are the effects on GDP so dire that outcomes do not improve? Read more

Paul Krugman has an interesting blog on the New York Times website on austerity and growth in the eurozone. I thought it would be interesting to examine the question, using the latest data from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database.

I have defined the fiscal tightening as the percentage point change in the structural (or cyclically-adjusted) general government deficit from 2008, the year of the crisis, to the forecast for 2012. The assumption is that this change represents the results of policy, rather then cyclical effects. I have taken growth as being the proportional change in GDP from 2008 to 2012. Read more