While a severe hurricane for the global economy looks less likely than a few months ago, we are still likely to encounter a tropical storm that could cause significant damage. Much will depend on how major central banks confront the trilemma of simultaneously maintaining price, growth, and financial stability.
The G7 countries may have set out to deter China without escalating the new cold war, but the perception in Beijing suggests that they failed to thread the needle at their recent summit in Hiroshima.
Despite US efforts to de-escalate tensions with China and Chinese officials’ wariness of economic decoupling, attempting to restore trust between the two powers seems futile. In this increasingly fraught climate, fragmentation trumps cooperation, and the danger of a military conflict over Taiwan looms large.
In the face of high and persistent inflation, recession risks, and now a looming insolvency crisis in the financial sector, central banks like the US Federal Reserve are facing a trilemma.
Sound policymaking has helped India modernize and achieve robust economic growth, positioning it to become an increasingly important player on the world stage.
Whatever one’s favored terminology for describing the current moment, there is widespread agreement that we are facing unprecedented, unusual, and unexpected levels of uncertainty, auguring a future of crisis, instability, and conflict.
Advanced economies and emerging markets are increasingly engaged in necessary "wars" – some real, some metaphorical – that will lead to even larger fiscal deficits, more debt monetization, and higher inflation on a persistent basis.
After years of ultra-loose fiscal, monetary, and credit policies and the onset of major negative supply shocks, stagflationary pressures are now putting the squeeze on a massive mountain of public- and private-sector debt.
The Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks.
For decades, relative global stability, sound economic-policy management, and the steady expansion of trade to and from emerging markets combined to keep costs down.
There is ample reason to worry that major economies like the United States are heading for a recession, accompanied by cascading financial turmoil.
With “Team Persistent” having clearly prevailed over “Team Transitory” in the debate over the nature of today’s surging inflation, the question now is whether prices can be tamed without also causing a recession.
While recent shocks have made the current inflationary surge and growth slowdown more acute, they are hardly the global economy’s only problems.
Like the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's war in Ukraine has contributed to the stagflationary pressures in the United States and other advanced economies.
It is tempting to think that the war in Ukraine will have only a minor economic and financial impact globally, given that Russia represents merely 3% of the world economy.
The longstanding negative correlation between stock and bond prices is an artifact of the low-inflation environment of the past 30 years.
Although major economies and markets fared well in 2021 despite all of the uncertainties surrounding new variants of the coronavirus, 2022 will bring new challenges. In addition to central banks shifting toward policy normalization, geopolitical and systemic risks are multiplying.
With its poor track record of managing EU funds, Italy’s recovery plan will be a major test for the future of EU policymaking more generally. While it is widely agreed that Prime Minister Mario Draghi must remain on the scene to oversee the plan’s implementation, in what capacity would he be most useful?
Locked in a low-growth trap, South Africa's fiscal and macroeconomic situation is unsustainable, not only economically but also politically. To salvage the country's democratic project, the government must offer a credible, comprehensive economic reform strategy.
Given today’s high debt ratios, supply-side risks, and ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policies, the rosy scenario that is currently priced into financial markets may turn out to be a pipe dream. Over the medium term, a variety of persistent negative supply shocks could turn today’s mild stagflation into a severe case.
There is a growing consensus that the US economy’s inflationary pressures and growth challenges are attributable largely to temporary supply bottlenecks that will be alleviated in due course.
Within the space of just half a year, US President Joe Biden has completed a necessary economic-policy regime shift that started chaotically under his predecessor.
Years of ultra-loose fiscal and monetary policies have put the global economy on track for a slow-motion train wreck in the coming years. When the crash comes, the stagflation of the 1970s will be combined with the spiraling debt crises of the post-2008 era, leaving major central banks in an impossible position.
While some major economies are recovering fast from the pandemic-induced recession, others are languishing, and still others remain in a state of acute crisis.
Lost in the debate over whether today's ultra-loose fiscal and monetary policies will trigger painful inflation is the broader risk posed by potential negative supply shocks.
With equity markets reaching new heights at a time of rising income and wealth inequality, it should be obvious that today's market mania will end in tears, reproducing the economic injustices of the 2008 crash.
Although 2020 ended with a flurry of announcements reporting promising results in COVID-19 vaccine trials, there is little reason to expect a robust economic recovery anytime soon. Defeating the virus remains a monumental task, and the wounds inflicted by the pandemic will not heal easily.
While hoping for a conclusive outcome on November 3 (or immediately thereafter), market watchers unfortunately must prepare for the worst. After all, US President Donald Trump and the Republicans are not even hiding their plans to steal the election.
The presumption that Republicans are better than Democrats at economic stewardship is a longstanding myth that must be debunked. For all Americans who care about their and their children’s future, the right choice this November could not be clearer.
Far from signaling its imminent demise as the main global reserve currency, the greenback's sharp depreciation is to be expected in the current macroeconomic context. The forces that could erode the dollar's hegemony remain slower-moving and farther off.
At the start of the year, when COVID-19 was barely on anyone's radar outside of China, the global economy was entering a fraught phase, facing a range of potentially devastating tail risks. And though the pandemic has since turned the world on its head, all of these threats remain – and some have become more salient.
The historic protests sweeping America were long overdue, not just as a response to racism and police violence, but also as a revolt against entrenched plutocracy. With a growing number of Americans falling into unemployment and economic insecurity, while major corporations take bailouts and slash labor costs, something had to give.
Although any joint EU action should be welcomed, the current COVID-19 response plan hardly amounts to a radical break with business as usual. Far from a long-awaited embrace of debt mutualization, the newly proposed European recovery fund risks being both politically unpalatable and economically inadequate.
While there is never a good time for a pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis has arrived at a particularly bad moment for the global economy. The world has long been drifting into a perfect storm of financial, political, socioeconomic, and environmental risks, all of which are now growing even more acute.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still spiraling out of control, the best economic outcome that anyone can hope for is a recession deeper than that following the 2008 financial crisis. But given the flailing policy response so far, the chances of a far worse outcome are increasing by the day.
Financial markets remain blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.
A restrained reprisal by Iran following the assassination of its top military commander has led markets to conclude that the latest threat to the global economy has been removed. But just because Iran and the United States have so far avoided a full-scale war does not mean that markets are out of the woods.
Despite the latest Sino-American "skinny deal" to ease tensions over trade, technology, and other issues, it is now clear that the world's two largest economies have entered a new era of sustained competition. How the relationship will evolve depends greatly on America's political leadership – which does not bode well.
Owing to a recent easing of both Sino-American tensions and monetary policies, many investors seem to be betting on another era of expansion for the global economy. But they would do well to remember that the fundamental risks to growth remain, and are actually getting worse.
With the global economy experiencing a synchronized slowdown, any number of tail risks could bring on an outright recession. When that happens, policymakers will almost certainly pursue some form of central-bank-financed stimulus, regardless of whether the situation calls for it.
Between US President Donald Trump's zero-sum disputes with China and Iran, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's brinkmanship with Parliament and the European Union, and Argentina's likely return to Peronist populism, the fate of the global economy is balancing on a knife edge. Any of these scenarios could lead to a crisis with rapid spillover effects.
Unlike the 2008 global financial crisis, which was mostly a large negative aggregate demand shock, the next recession is likely to be caused by permanent negative supply shocks from the Sino-American trade and technology war. And trying to undo the damage through never-ending monetary and fiscal stimulus will not be an option.
Cryptocurrencies have given rise to an entire new criminal industry, comprising unregulated offshore exchanges, paid propagandists, and an army of scammers looking to fleece retail investors. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of rampant fraud and abuse, financial regulators and law-enforcement agencies remain asleep at the wheel.
Whether or not US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agree to another truce at the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka, the Sino-American conflict has already entered a dangerous new phase. Though a negotiated settlement or a managed continuation of the status quo are possible, a sharp escalation is now the most likely scenario.
Across the advanced economies, monetary and fiscal policymakers lack the tools needed to respond to another major downturn and financial crisis. Worse, while the world no longer needs to worry about a hawkish US Federal Reserve strangling growth, it now has an even bigger problem on its hands.
What started as a trade war between the United States and China is quickly escalating into a death match for global economic, technological, and military dominance. If the two countries' leaders cannot manage the defining relationship of the twenty-first century responsibly, the entire world will bear the costs of their failure.
After the global risk-off of late 2018, a newfound dovishness on the part of central bankers has combined with other positive developments to revive investors' animal spirits. But with a wide array of financial and political risks clearly in view, one should not assume that the current ebullience will last the year.
Over the past few years, the US Federal Reserve has been ahead of other major central banks in normalizing monetary policy. But now the Fed has abruptly put further interest-rate hikes on hold, owing to key changes in macroeconomic conditions and the political environment.
Since the global synchronized growth of 2017, economic conditions have been gradually weakening and will produce an across-the-board deceleration in the months ahead. Beyond that, the prospect for markets and national economies will depend on a broad range of factors, some of which do not bode well.
Between publicly chastising US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and escalating his trade war with China, US President Donald Trump has finally rattled the markets. While investors were happy to look the other way during the first half of Trump's term, the dangerous spectacle unfolding in the White House can no longer be ignored.