22 research outputs found

    "What Role for Central Banks in View of the Current Crisis?"

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    Central banks have an aversion to bailing out speculators when asset bubbles burst, but ultimately, as custodians of the financial system, they have to do exactly that. Their actions are justified by the goal of protecting the economy from the bursting of bubbles; while their intention may be different, the result is the same: speculators, careless investors, and banks are bailed out. The authors of this new Policy Note say that a far better approach is for central banks to widen their scope and target the net wealth of the personal sector. Using interest rates in both the upswing and the downswing of a (business) cycle would avoid moral hazard. A net wealth target would not impede the free functioning of the financial system, as it deals with the economic consequences of the rise and fall of asset prices rather than with asset prices (equities or houses) per se. It would also help to control liquidity and avoid future crises. The current crisis has its roots in the excessive liquidity that, beginning in the mid 1990s, financed a series of asset bubbles. This liquidity was the outcome of “bad” financial engineering that spilled over to other banks and to the personal sector through securitization, in conjunction with overly accommodating monetary policy. Hence, targeting net wealth would also help control liquidity, the authors say, without interfering with the financial engineering of banks.

    "The Conditions for Sustainable U.S. Recovery: The Role of Investment"

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    The anemic U.S. economic recovery and the threat of a double-dip recession stem from the weakness of investment, due to excess capacity created in the euphoric years of the "new economy" bubble. The current imbalances in the corporate sector (i.e., the all-time-high indebtedness in the face of falling asset prices) are preventing investment from picking up and are laying the foundations for a new, long-lasting expansion. Tax reductions may create a cyclical upturn in the short run, and may promote the anemic recovery, but such stimulus to demand is unsustainable in the long run. The root of the problem is the imbalance in the corporate sector, which will take time for correction.

    "The Sustainability of Economic Recovery in the United States: The Risks to Consumption and Investment"

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    From this paper's Preface, by Dr. Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, President: A rebound of consumption, investment, and consumer confidence in the second half of 2003 has raised hopes that the U.S. economic recovery from the 2001 recession is on a sustainable course. According to this brief by Philip Arestis and Elias Karakitsos, however, the trend in the short-term factors affecting the economy has changed for the better, but long-term factors remain at risk. Slow, rather than rapid, economic growth is better in 2004, the authors say, as rapid growth would result in higher long-term interest rates, which would threaten the property market boom and weaken investment in 2005 and beyond. The authors are sure, however, that the current administration will find it difficult to refrain from additional procyclical fiscal stimulus in light of the upcoming presidential election. The result could lead to a rapidly declining U.S. economic growth rate following the election in November.