The idea that ‘the market’ must be the organizing principle for collective decision-making should be abandoned.
By Diane Coyle – Despite ever-improving conditions for millions of people around the world—documented by entities like the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data and highlighted by scholars like Steven Pinker—popular discontent is on the rise in many places.
The reason is simple: whereas the first trend is being driven by low- and middle-income countries, the second is concentrated in high-income countries.
Throughout the developed world, conditions for many workers are deteriorating, with no recovery in sight. Income inequality is near historic highs, wealth inequality is even higher and economic insecurity is widespread.
As the United Kingdom tears itself apart politically and constitutionally over Brexit, many of its citizens struggle with low-quality jobs, inadequate housing and poverty so severe that they rely on food banks.
France’s yellow-vest protests have been hijacked by violent extremists, but they reflect real grievances about the growing challenge of maintaining living standards.
In the United States, the Economic Report of the President touts the supposed elimination of poverty, but life expectancy does not decline in a prosperous country.
In short, the post-World War II social contract in many of today’s developed economies is breaking down. And even more uncertainty and insecurity are on the way, as new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics take root.
Given the depth of the transformation ahead, however, it is not just the policies themselves that must change, but the very framework on which they are based. This means abandoning the idea—which has shaped public policy for more than a generation—that the ‘market’ must be the organizing principle for collective decision-making. more>
Posted in Book review, Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Credit, Government, Internet, Leadership, Markets, Organizing Principle
Funding an ecological transition in Europe via ‘green money’ bonds would be economically justifiable.
By Paul De Grauwe – To what extent can the money created by the central bank be used to finance investments in the environment?
This is a question often asked today. The green activists respond with enthusiasm that the central bank—and, in particular, the European Central Bank (ECB)—should stimulate the financing of environmental investments through the printing of money.
The ECB has created €2,600 billion of new money since 2015 in the context of its quantitative easing (QE) program. All that money has gone to financial institutions which have done very little with it. Why can’t the ECB inject the money into environmental investments instead of pouring it into the financial sector?
Most traditional economists react with horror.
Who is right? It is good to recall the basics of money creation by the ECB (or any modern central bank). Money is created when that institution buys financial assets in the market. The suppliers of these assets are financial institutions. These then obtain a deposit in euro at the ECB, in exchange for relinquishing these financial assets. That is the moment when money is created. This money (deposits) can then be used as their reserve base by the financial institutions to extend loans to companies and households.
There is no limit to the amount of financial assets the ECB can buy.
In principle, it could purchase all existing financial assets (all bonds and shares, for example), but that would increase the money supply in such a way that inflation would increase dramatically. In other words, the value of the money issued by the ECB would fall sharply. To avoid this, the bank has set a limit: it promises not to let inflation rise above 2 per cent. That imposes a constraint on the amount of money which the ECB can create. So far, it has been successful in remaining within the 2 per cent inflation target. more>
Posted in Banking, Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Credit, Fiat money, Monetary policy
By Zhang Jun – In the West, many economists and observers now portray China as a fierce competitor for global technological supremacy. They believe that the Chinese state’s capacity is enabling the country, through top-down industrial policies, to stand virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with Europe and the US.
This is a serious misrepresentation.
While it is true that digital technologies are transforming China’s economy, this reflects the implementation of mobile-Internet-enabled business models more than the development of cutting-edge technologies, and it affects consumption patterns more than, say, manufacturing.
In fact, Western observers – not just the media, but also academics and government leaders, including US President Donald Trump – have fundamentally misunderstood the nature and exaggerated the role of China’s policies for developing strategic and high-tech industries. Contrary to popular belief, these policies do little more than help lower the entry cost for firms and enhance competition. In fact, such policies encourage excessive entry, and the resulting competition and lack of protection for existing firms have been constantly criticized in China. Therefore, if China relies on effective industrial policies, they would not create much unfairness in terms of global rules.
Clearly, there is a big difference between applying digital technologies to consumer-oriented business models and becoming a world leader in developing and producing hard technology. more>
Posted in Broadband, Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Science, Technology
Tagged Business, Capital, China, Credit, Government, Jobs, Manufacturing, Super regions
By Robert Reich – Glass-Steagall’s key principle was to keep risky assets away from insured deposits. It worked well for more than half century. Then Wall Street saw opportunities to make lots of money by betting on stocks, bonds, and derivatives (bets on bets) – and in 1999 persuaded Bill Clinton and a Republican congress to repeal it.
Nine years later, Wall Street had to be bailed out, and millions of Americans lost their savings, their jobs, and their homes.
Why didn’t America simply reinstate Glass-Steagall after the last financial crisis? Because too much money was at stake. Wall Street was intent on keeping the door open to making bets with commercial deposits. So instead of Glass-Steagall, we got the Volcker Rule – almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.
Now those loopholes and exemptions are about to get even bigger, until they swallow up the Volcker Rule altogether. If the latest proposal goes through, we’ll be nearly back to where we were before the crash of 2008. more>
Posted in Banking, Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economy, History, Leadership, Media, Net, Regulations
Tagged Banking reform, Capital, Congress Watch, Credit, Debt, Financial crisis, Regulations, United States
By Simon Wren-Lewis – Or maybe the middle ages, but certainly not anything more recent than the 1920s. Keynes advocated using fiscal expansion in what he called a liquidity trap in the 1930s. Nowadays we use a different terminology, and talk about the need for fiscal expansion when nominal interest rates are stuck at the Zero Lower Bound or Effective Lower Bound.
When monetary policy loses its reliable and effective instrument to manage the economy, you need to bring in the next best reliable and effective instrument: fiscal policy.
The Eurozone as a whole is currently at the effective lower bound. Rates are just below zero and the ECB is creating money for large scale purchases of assets: a monetary policy instrument whose impact is much more uncertain than interest rate changes or fiscal policy changes (but certainly better than nothing). The reason monetary policy is at maximum stimulus setting is that Eurozone core inflation seems stuck at 1% or below. Time, clearly, for fiscal policy to start lending a hand with some fiscal stimulus.
You would think that causing a second recession after the one following the GFC would have been a wake up call for European finance ministers to learn some macroeconomics. Yet what little learning there has been is not to make huge mistakes but only large ones: we should balance the budget when there is no crisis. more>
Posted in Banking, Business, Economy, Leadership
Tagged Banking reform, Capital, Credit, Currency, Debt, Financial crisis, Government, Monetary policy