Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Return of Currency Wars By Nouriel Roubini
Central banks in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand, fearful of losing competitiveness relative to Japan, are easing their own monetary policies – or will soon ease more. The European Central Bank and the central banks of Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and a few Central European countries are likely to embrace quantitative easing or use other unconventional policies to prevent their currencies from appreciating.
All of this will lead to a strengthening of the US dollar, as growth in the United States is picking up and the Federal Reserve has signaled that it will begin raising interest rates next year. But, if global growth remains weak and the dollar becomes too strong, even the Fed may decide to raise interest rates later and more slowly to avoid excessive dollar appreciation.
The cause of the latest currency turmoil is clear: In an environment of private and public deleveraging from high debts, monetary policy has become the only available tool to boost demand and growth. Fiscal austerity has exacerbated the impact of deleveraging by exerting a direct and indirect drag on growth. Lower public spending reduces aggregate demand, while declining transfers and higher taxes reduce disposable income and thus private consumption.
In the eurozone, a sudden stop of capital flows to the periphery and the fiscal restraints imposed, with Germany’s backing, by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the ECB have been a massive impediment to growth. In Japan, an excessively front-loaded consumption-tax increase killed the recovery achieved this year. In the US, a budget sequester and other tax and spending policies led to a sharp fiscal drag in 2012-2014. And in the United Kingdom, self-imposed fiscal consolidation weakened growth until this year.
Globally, the asymmetric adjustment of creditor and debtor economies has exacerbated this recessionary and deflationary spiral. Countries that were overspending, under-saving, and running current-account deficits have been forced by markets to spend less and save more. Not surprisingly, their trade deficits have been shrinking. But most countries that were over-saving and under-spending have not saved less and spent more; their current-account surpluses have been growing, aggravating the weakness of global demand and thus undermining growth.
Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/world-government-reliance-monetary-policy-by-nouriel-roubini-2014-12#WCAooWhpobAzOgUL.99
Nouriel Roubini is an American professor of Economics at New York University`s Stern School of Business and chairman of RGE Roubini Global Economics