What’s wrong with the renminbi exchange rate?
Prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal now seem to be hanging by a thread. Even before the most recent disagreement, however, the Trump administration had already begun drawing attention to a new question: whether China had been engaging in protectionism by manipulating its currency. But the administration’s argument reveals confused ideas about what exactly it wants: a dominant role for the dollar as an international reserve currency or an appreciated renminbi to please American producers.
Breaking through zero: New options for monetary expansion in the EU
After dropping interest rates close to zero and pumping 2.6 trillion euros into Europe’s economy through debt purchases, is the European Central Bank out of ammunition? Not necessarily. Through its “targeted longer-term refinancing operations” (TILTROs), the ECB is planning to use negative interest rates to pay commercial banks to make loans. And economists at the IMF have come up with even more radical proposals to eliminate or restrict cash to allow deeply negative interest rates.
Equity markets and the global economy
Company earnings are a traditional gauge of economic health and a powerful driver of financial markets. Recently, however, they have been sending contradictory signals. One reason could be the expansionary credit policies of the past decade, which have distorted balance sheets and weakened competition. The most likely outcome of this process is not necessarily a sudden market meltdown, but rather a steady erosion of corporate finances and economic growth.
A choice for economies: Freedom or socialism
Some say the global economy is slowing down due to Brexit and the U.S.-China trade dispute – but these developments are not the real dangers. Far more insidious is the trend toward increased government influence in economies and large public debts. Yet, even many economists have adopted the notion that government intervention and high debt can be a good thing. These policies have been tried before and failed. Worse, they can end up limiting freedom.
Ecuador picks up the pieces
Ecuador is a small country that embodies many of Latin America’s problems in miniature. Overdependence on commodity exports and Chinese loans, unsustainable public finances, poverty, corruption, crime, refugees and tensions with the U.S. are just a few items on the list. Most of all, its minority government must clean up after former President Rafael Correa’s failed “Citizens’ Revolution,” trying to build sound institutions on a legacy of personalistic governance.
2019 Global Outlook: Another year near zero
It has been a decade since global interest rates reached the zero lower bound, where monetary policymakers lose their ability to stimulate the economy using conventional policy tools. Among the largest global central banks, only the United States Federal Reserve has set its benchmark above 2 percent. Will this anomaly end in 2019?
The euro and the promise to end monetary profligacy
As the European Central Bank winds down its quantitative easing program, none of its future policy options look especially promising for the euro. While investors would welcome a more neutral monetary stance, that could spur political tensions in the euro area that could roil financial markets. Meanwhile, regulation is on the rise and growth could suffer, with unpleasant consequences for the single currency.
The false end of quantitative easing
In June, the European Central Bank made the fateful announcement that it would phase out its bond-buying program – called quantitative easing, or QE – by the end of this year. But putting an end to net bond purchases is not the same thing as ending the ECB’s ultra-lax monetary policy. By leaving the door open to rolling over its massive balance sheet of bonds as they mature, policymakers could keep oxygenating the euro area’s economy for years to come.
Shortsightedness and stubbornness are holding Europe back
As European leaders rail against “populism,” many of them are taking on populist positions themselves: they are taking a hard line on Brexit, refuse to implement commonsense solutions on public debt, and are bowing to pressure against GMOs. All this will hurt Europe in the long term and diminish its global position. It desperately needs leaders who are willing to follow a more pragmatic strategy.