International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde is raising alarm bells about the health of the global economy, saying international growth may have plateaued.
“For most countries, it has become more difficult to deliver on the promise of greater prosperity, because the global economic weather is beginning to change,” Ms. Lagarde said in a speech in Washington on Monday.
.. While other emerging-market currencies, from Indonesia’s to South Africa’s, have also experienced difficult declines this year, most emerging markets have avoided the acute turmoil of Turkey and Argentina.
If the crisis spreads, as some fear, capital could flood out of emerging markets, Ms. Lagarde warned, saying that IMF economists had estimated emerging markets could face up to $100 billion in portfolio outflows. In recent years, about $240 billion per year had flowed into those countries, so a $100 billion outflow would be a dramatic reversal.
.. Ms. Lagarde said another mounting concern is that threats to impose new trade restrictions have been carried out in a number of countries.
“A key issue is that rhetoric is morphing into a new reality of actual trade barriers,” Ms. Lagarde said. “This is hurting not only trade itself, but also investment and manufacturing as uncertainty continues to rise.”
.. countries have continued to pile on debt, which has tended to foretell slower growth in years ahead as the burden of debt service mounts. The total debt of the private sector has reached an “all-time high of $182 trillion,” Ms. Lagarde said, noting that the figure was 60% higher than in 2007.
start with a country that, for whatever reason, became a favorite of foreign lenders, and experienced a large inflow of foreign capital over a number of years. Crucially, the debt thus incurred is denominated in foreign currency, not domestic (which is why the U.S., also a recipient of large inflows in the past, isn’t similarly vulnerable — we borrow in dollars).
.. Whatever the shock, the crucial thing is that foreign debt has made your economy vulnerable to a death spiral. Loss of confidence causes your currency to drop; this makes it harder to repay debts in foreign currency; this hurts the real economy and further reduces confidence, leading to a further decline in your currency; and so on.
.. Indonesia came into the ’90s financial crisis with foreign debt less than 60 percent of GDP, roughly comparable to Turkey early this year. By 1998 a plunging rupiah had sent that debt to almost 170 percent of GDP.
.. How does such a crisis end? If there is no effective policy response, what happens is that the currency drops and debt measured in domestic currency balloons until everyone who can go bankrupt, does. At that point the weak currency fuels an export boom, and the economy starts a recovery built around huge trade surpluses.
.. stop the explosion of the debt ratio with some combination of temporary capital controls, to place a curfew on panicked capital flight, and possibly the repudiation of some foreign-currency debt.
.. get things in place for a fiscally sustainable regime once the crisis is over.
.. Malaysia did this in 1998; South Korea, with U.S. aid, effectively did something like it at the same time, by pressuring banks into maintaining their short-term credit lines. A decade later, Iceland did very well with a combination of capital controls and debt repudiation (strictly speaking, refusing to take public responsibility for the debts run up by private bankers).
.. Argentina also did quite well with heterodox policies in 2002 and for a few years after, effectively repudiating 2/3 of its debt.
- .. You need a government that is both
- flexible and
- responsible, not to mention
- technically competent enough to implement special measures and
- honest enough to carry out that implementation without massive corruption.
In the late 2000s, Argentina was facing a slew of economic problems. The president was a charismatic populist with bold plans and the will to act. One of the things then-President Cristina Kirchner wanted to tackle: unemployment. So she set out to create manufacturing jobs in Argentina.
She made a rule in 2010 that if a company wanted to sell things in Argentina, they needed to make things in Argentina.
Some companies didn’t play ball. Even though Argentina was a big and lucrative market, Apple said, ‘we’ll just sit this one out, we just won’t sell iPhones in Argentina at all.’ Other companies, though, decided to give it a try — to set up entirely new production operations within Argentina. One of them was the company that made Blackberry, the most popular phone in the country at the time. Making the high tech phones would mean good jobs for thousands of people.
President Kirchner didn’t just demand the phones were made in Argentina. She wanted the phones made in a very particular place in Argentina, all the way at the southernmost tip of the country. The government decided that is where she said the jobs should be created.
Tierra del Fuego is home to penguins, grey skies and brutal winds. It’s the last stop for ships before making the final leg to Antarctica.
Today on the show, how a town at the ends of the earth wound up making Blackberry phones, and what happened to when a charismatic president launched a big plan to create jobs and boost manufacturing.
The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics strikes again.
“The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can be blamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more. Even if you don’t make the problem worse, even if you make it slightly better, the ethical burden of the problem falls on you as soon as you observe it. In particular, if you interact with a problem and benefit from it, you are a complete monster.” https://blog.jaibot.com/the-copenhagen-interpretation-of-eth…
I’m sure the newspapers, though, are totally fair, neutral observers who have no reason at all to have grudges against tech companies: https://www.baekdal.com/blog/what-killed-the-newspapers-goog…
I think a more appropriate example scenario would be something like this: You are driving through the desert with a truck full of food and water. You come upon an old couple whose car has broken down, hundreds of miles from the nearest town. They beg you for help, offering anything for some water. As a shrewd negotiator, you assess the current market situation and offer a gallon of water in exchange for the woman’s diamond earrings and the man’s gold ring. This is a win/win scenario! They get to stay alive a little longer, and you get a great deal on some jewelry. No coercion needed, and since both sides entered into the deal voluntarily who can complain! As you drive off, you smile to yourself at the thought of how wonderful it was that everyone acted in their own self interest and managed to improve their situation.