2008 03 05 WOLF Martin Subprime Crisis

Information about 2008 03 05 WOLF Martin Subprime Crisis

Published on April 10, 2008

Author: Gourmet

Source: authorstream.com

Content

Why the Sub-Prime Crisis is a Turning Point for the World Economy Martin Wolf, Associate Editor & Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times:  Why the Sub-Prime Crisis is a Turning Point for the World Economy Martin Wolf, Associate Editor & Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times Nottingham March 5th 2008 The Globalisation and Economic Policy Centre, Nottingham University Why the Crisis is a Turning Point:  Why the Crisis is a Turning Point “Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.” Herbert Stein. Why the Crisis is a Turning Point:  Why the Crisis is a Turning Point Crisis of credibility for Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism Crisis for securitised lending Crisis for central banks and regulators Crisis for belief in free markets Crisis for global asset markets Crisis for global macroeconomic balances Crisis for US and global economic activity Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” 1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism:  1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism First, a mixture of crony capitalism and gross incompetence has been on display in the core financial markets of New York and London: From “ninja” (no-income, no-job, no-asset) sub-prime lending, To the placing (and favourable rating) of assets that turn out to be almost impossible to understand, value or sell, These activities have been riddled with conflicts of interest and incompetence. Huge risks have been taken. In the subsequent era of financial “revulsion”, core financial markets have seized up 1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism:  1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism HIGH REWARD MEANS HIGH RISK 1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism:  1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism CREDIT SHOCK IN THE US 1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism:  1. Crisis of Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism 2. Crisis for securitised lending :  2. Crisis for securitised lending These events have called into question the workability of securitised lending: The argument for this change was that it would shift the risk of term-transformation (borrowing short to lend long) out of the banking system onto those best able to bear it; What happened, instead, was the shifting of the risk on to the shoulders of those least able to understand it; What also occurred was a multiplication of leverage and term-transformation, not least through the banks’ “special investment vehicles”; and What we see today, as a result, is a rapid shrinkage of markets in asset-backed paper. 2. Crisis for securitised lending:  2. Crisis for securitised lending EXCESS DEBT LEADS TO CREDIT IMPLOSION 3. Crisis for central banks and regulators:  3. Crisis for central banks and regulators Third, the crisis has opened up big questions about the roles of central banks: How far, for example, do the responsibilities of central banks as “lender-of-last-resort” during crises stretch? Should they, as some argue, be market-makers-of-last resort in credit markets? What, more precisely, should a central bank do when liquidity dries up in important markets? 3. Crisis for central banks and regulators:  3. Crisis for central banks and regulators Equally, the crisis suggests that liquidity has been significantly underpriced: Does this mean that the regulatory framework for banks is fundamentally flawed? What is left of the idea that we can rely on financial institutions to manage risk through their own models? What, moreover, can reasonably be expected of the rating agencies? A market in US mortgages is hardly terra incognita. If banks and rating agencies got this wrong, what else must be brought into question? 3. Crisis for central banks and regulators:  3. Crisis for central banks and regulators NOTE HOW THINLY CAPITALISED BANKS ARE 4. Crisis for belief in free markets:  4. Crisis for belief in free markets US officials used to lecture, not least the Japanese, about letting asset prices reach equilibrium and transparency enter markets. That was then: Now we see Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, a cartel of holders of toxic securitised assets in his “superSIV”; We see the US Treasury intervene directly in the rate-setting process on mortgages, in an attempt to shore up the housing market. We see increasing talk of a bail out of over-indebted households Not for a long time will people listen to US officials lecture on the virtues of free financial markets with a straight face. 4. Crisis for belief in free markets:  4. Crisis for belief in free markets THIS TIME, IT’S PERSONAL 5. Crisis for global asset markets:  5. Crisis for global asset markets Fifth, the crisis signals a re-rating of risk. It also represents a move towards holding more transparent and liquid assets. This correction has been selective, however. It is a striking feature of what has happened that emerging markets have emerged as a safe haven. For emerging economies, this must be sweet revenge. 5. Crisis for global asset markets:  5. Crisis for global asset markets DISAPPEARING EMERGING ECONOMY RISK 4. Crisis for global asset markets:  4. Crisis for global asset markets DISAPPEARING EMERGING ECONOMY RISK 6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances:  6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances Sixth, this event marks the limits to the US role as consumer of last resort in the world economy. The US is re-importing the stimulus it exported to the rest of the world in previous years. The credit crunch is accelerating this process. For this reason, US policymakers are relaxed about the dollar’s fall, provided it does not awaken fears of rapidly rising inflation. 6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances:  6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances UNBALANCED WORLD ECONOMY 6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances:  6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances US AS BORROWER OF LAST RESORT 6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances:  6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances SHRINKING CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT 6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances:  6. Crisis for global macroeconomic balances FALLING DOLLAR 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity Seventh, a deep US recession is possible. Whether it happens depends overwhelmingly on consumers: The principal counterpart of the external deficits has been the excess of spending over income by households. That has meant negligible savings and a big jump in household debt: mortgage debt jumped from 63 per cent of disposable incomes in 1995 to 98 per cent in 2005. This rising trend will not continue in a falling housing market. Unwillingness (or inability) to borrow on such a scale willhamper the effectiveness of US monetary policy. That, in turn, makes a weak dollar and strong export growth yet more important. 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity US DOMESTIC IMBALANCES 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity HOUSEHOLDS SPENT; COMPANIES DID NOT 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity US LEADS THE ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity THE FED DULY PANICS AS NEWS GETS BAD 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity A very long and deep US recession is possible This depends on how far house prices fall If they fall a further 30-40 per cent, losses in the financial system could be anywhere between $1,000bn and $3,000bn. The latter would decapitalise the US banking system Similar points of weakness can be seen in housing markets and financial systems elsewhere Particularly the UK 7. Crisis for US and global economic activity:  7. Crisis for US and global economic activity 8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits”:  8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” This event also has big significance for the game of “pass-the-external-deficits” that has characterised the world economy for several decades. It has proved virtually impossible for emerging market economies to run large deficits, without running into crises; Over the past decade, the US filled the (growing) gap But surpluses being run by China and Japan, by oil exporters and, within the European Union, by Germany continue to grow. If we are to enjoy global macro-economic stability, a creditworthy set of countervailing borrowers must emerge. 8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits”:  8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” EMERGING ECONOMIES SHIFT INTO SURPLUS 8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits”:  8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” CHINA’S EXPLOSIVE CURRENT ACCOUNT 8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits”:  8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” WHO DOES THE SAVING IN CHINA 8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits”:  8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” THE PEGGED EXCHANGE RATE 8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits”:  8. Crisis for game of “pass-the-external-deficits” THE FIXED CHINESE REAL EXCHANGE RATE 9. Conclusion:  9. Conclusion So we have some huge tasks ahead: Managing the present crisis; Rethinking financial regulation; Rethinking central banking; Rethinking the management of global imbalances; and Rethinking exchange-rate and macroeconomic policies in developing countries

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