Real economies and financial markets: Outlook for 2019
Financial markets are hesitant, as many sources of concern pile up on analysts’ desks. This report argues that the future of the world economy depends on three sets of variables: policymakers’ ability to adjust to the end of generous monetary policies and profligate fiscal practices; their willingness to recognise the need to engage in structural reforms and act accordingly; the possibility that significant shocks occur – such as a crash in China or an all-out trade war.
Opinion: Dilemmas of development aid
Like other areas of public policy, development aid has had its recurrent fads. The pendulum has swung from socialist-style big-push schemes to pro-market reforms and their latest iteration, results-based aid. This micro-oriented approach has recently come under attack for neglecting the wider “macro” environment of states and institutions. Decades after the flaws of the traditional aid model were exposed, economists are still casting about for a better alternative.
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.
Low productivity puts Western economies at a crossroads
Productivity is the key to economic success and the main determinant of future growth. In Europe and North America, however, this economic driver has been weakening for decades, despite scientific and technological progress. Unless Western countries want to take a back seat to rising Asian economies, they must look hard at their educational, social welfare and regulatory systems.
Opinion: Ready for the next recession?
Economists enjoy delivering bad news. The current favorite being shared by academics and financial experts is that the world is headed for a recession, in 2020 or 2021 at the latest. But we regard this as unlikely, unless there is a major political accident – such as a trade war or turmoil in China. While a slowdown is always possible, especially in Western Europe, that does not make a recession.
Egypt: Proud and jittery as El-Sisi begins second term
With the Middle East in turmoil, the Arab world’s most populous nation and its biggest army are nowhere to be found. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi believes the path to national greatness begins at home, with economic development – not foreign entanglements. But as trouble builds up in Egypt’s immediate neighborhood, Mr. El-Sisi may not be able to stay out.
Where the United States and global trade are heading
The U.S. is the world’s largest open economy and pillar of the global trading system. Yet its economic challenges today – government debt, wealth inequality, and labor force participation – cannot be reliably addressed through more open trade. One should therefore expect more U.S. steps to change the terms of trade and pressure leading exporters over the next two years.