NEW YORK – The recent sharp depreciation of the US dollar has led to concerns that it may lose its role as the main global reserve currency. After all, in addition to the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary easing—which threatens to debase the world’s key fiat currency even further—gold prices and inflation expectations have also been rising.
NEW YORK – After the 2007-09 financial crisis, the imbalances and risks pervading the global economy were exacerbated by policy mistakes. So, rather than address the structural problems that the financial collapse and ensuing recession revealed, governments mostly kicked the can down the road, creating major downside risks that made another crisis inevitable. And now that it has arrived, the risks are growing even more acute. Unfortunately, even if the Greater Recession leads to a lackluster U-shaped recovery this year, an L-shaped “Greater Depression” will follow later in this decade, owing to ten ominous and risky trends.
NEW YORK – The shock to the global economy from COVID-19 has been both faster and more severe than the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) and even the Great Depression. In those two previous episodes, stock markets collapsed by 50 percent or more, credit markets froze up, massive bankruptcies followed, unemployment rates soared above 10 percent, and GDP contracted at an annualized rate of 10 percent or more. But all of this took around three years to play out. In the current crisis, similarly dire macroeconomic and financial outcomes have materialized in three weeks.
LONDON – Following the United States’ assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani and Iran’s initial retaliation against two Iraqi bases housing US troops, financial markets moved into risk-off mode: oil prices spiked by 10 percent, US and global equities dropped by a few percentage points, and safe-haven bond yields fell. In short order, though, despite the continuing risks of a US-Iran conflict and the implications that it would have for markets, the view that both sides would eschew further escalation calmed investors and reversed these price movements, with equities even approaching new highs.
NEW YORK – This past May and August, escalations in the trade and technology conflict between the United States and China rattled stock markets and pushed bond yields to historic lows. But that was then: since then, financial markets have once again become giddy. US and other equities are trending toward new highs, and there is even talk of a potential “melt-up” in equity values.
NEW YORK – In the classic game of “chicken,” two drivers race directly toward each other, and the first to swerve is the “loser.” If neither swerves, both will probably die. In the past, such scenarios have been studied to assess the risks posed by great-power rivalries. In the case of the Cuban missile crisis, for example, Soviet and American leaders were confronted with the choice of losing face or risking a catastrophic collision. The question, always, is whether a compromise can be found that spares both parties their lives and their credibility.
NEW YORK – There are three negative supply shocks that could trigger a global recession by 2020. All of them reflect political factors affecting international relations, two involve China, and the United States is at the center of each. Moreover, none of them is amenable to the traditional tools of countercyclical macroeconomic policy.
NEW YORK – The US Federal Reserve surprised markets recently with a large and unexpected policy change. When the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met in December 2018, it hiked the Fed’s policy rate to 2.25-2.5 percent, and signaled that it would raise the benchmark rate another three times, to three to 3.25 percent, before stopping. It also signaled that it would continue to unwind its balance sheet of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities indefinitely, by up to $50 billion per month.
NEW YORK – The financial-services industry has been undergoing a revolution. But the driving force is not overhyped blockchain applications such as Bitcoin. It is a revolution built on artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things.