The fault lines in the currency union stand revealed. The promise was that the eurozone would deliver its members from currency crises. But, as I, and others, warned, be careful what you wish for: credit crises would replace currency crises – and these are likely to be even worse.
Berlin’s emphasis on deflationary adjustment in weaker countries risks turning the eurozone as a whole into a gigantic Germany, dependent on importing demand from the rest of the world, says Martin Wolf
They came; they saw; they lost. That is the reaction to what emerged on global rebalancing at the summit meeting of the Group of 20 leading countries in Seoul last week. Publicly, surplus countries persist in calling on those in deficit to deflate themselves into economic health. The consequences of this folly are now evident in the eurozone. At the world level, the US will never accept it. But, beneath the radar, something more productive may be emerging.
The International Monetary Fund does not normally respond to mere journalists. But its staff have explicitly rejected my arguments on the pace of fiscal consolidation in the UK. On one point – the need for a fiscal “plan B” – the IMF takes my side in the argument with the government. This is no small victory, not least because its latest report on the UK reads, in other respects, as if dictated to it by the Treasury.
The sky is falling, scream the hysterics: the Federal Reserve is pouring forth dollars in such quantities that they will soon be worthless. Nothing could be further from the truth. As in Japan, the policy known as “quantitative easing” is far more likely to prove ineffective than lethal. It is a leaky hose, not a monetary Noah’s Flood.
The debate on “global imbalances” has gone back to the future. The proposal from Tim Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, to target the current account takes us back to the preoccupations of John Maynard Keynes at the Bretton Woods conference of July 1944.
A large part of the American public has forgotten the gravity of the financial heart attack that hit the US in the autumn of 2008. The Republicans have convinced many voters that the intervention by the Democrats, not the catastrophe George W Bush bequeathed, explains the malaise. Does President Obama deserve blame? No and yes, says Martin Wolf.
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