Dec 16, 2014 19:52 UTC
Edward Hadas

Sorry, this is as good as the global recovery gets


At the beginning of 2014, many people were optimistic about the world economy. For the fifth straight year, it had seemed safe to declare the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis over and done with. This time is different: 2015 is likely to begin in a merited atmosphere of gloom.

Investors are looking at the financial system with increasing dismay. Monetary policy has never been so loose for so long in developed economies, and yet lending, investments and consumer spending are still restrained. A beefed-up banking system is not yet funding rapid hiring or strong GDP growth. Abenomics – the stimulative policy package of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – seems to be losing its shine, commodity exporters have big problems and the United States may just be bumping along a bit better than the rest.


Let’s quit confusing the state of the economy with the job market and income distribution. While once strongly correlated, they are no longer coupled. The economy itself may be the only thing going well. The job market is a shambles because technological advances and offshoring have permanently eliminated most of the middle class factory jobs for the minimally educated. This and failure to regulate financial markets have resulted in massive problems in income distribution. External shocks such as Russian aggression and OPEC lowering prices to eliminate competition, could cause economic problems if politicians react according to partisan ideology.

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Dec 12, 2014 15:52 UTC
Guest Contributor

Review: “Forgotten Depression” worth remembering


By Edward Chancellor

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews Columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

“The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more lending and more spending.” This post-crisis advice from Larry Summers – a former U.S. Treasury secretary, presidential economic advisor and president of Harvard – represents the conventional wisdom of the economic policymaking elite. This is the same elite, you may recall, that failed to see the global meltdown coming in the first place. Could it be that they’ve got things wrong yet again?


Grant keeps peddling his snake oil about a brief and painless 1921 depression. If wages would only collapse we could have growth and prosperity again! In fact, the pain of the 1921 Depression continued until the back end of the 1920′s. Overproduction, deflation and political chicanery by the New York Fed caused the 1924 and 1927 bond buying programs. The two programs were responsible for a great increase in credit that fueled the boom and bust of 1929. Old economic texts from that time provide examples of a great many firms just barely holding on and making little or no profits even in 1929. Today their solution is propagate the old scheme of much lower wages and skimpy benefits as the way to fuel a new economy of revived growth and prosperity for all. It is the old retreaded scheme of the 1800′s- boom and bust with depressions and wars as the main course. We have a good example of slashed wages today in the form of Iceland. Average people working for a small fraction of what they made before the Krona collapsed. This is the old model peddled by Austrian, Laissez-faire and Hoovernomics advocates. The old models are wrong in so many ways. The last act of the New Deal known as Lend-Lease, produced The Golden Age of America. So many decades have passed everyone has forgotten. I enjoy nearly all of James Grant’s writings but Neoliberal snake oil will make a bigger mess than we find ourselves in today.

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Sep 17, 2014 13:53 UTC

ECB’s trillion-euro race may start slowly


By Neil Unmack

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The latest parlour game in financial markets is guessing the size of the European Central Bank’s upcoming four-year targeted long-term liquidity operations (TLTROs): how many banks will tap the ECB, for how much?

Sep 4, 2014 18:26 UTC

LendingClub IPO mixes disruption with confusion


By Kevin Allison and Daniel Indiviglio

The authors are Breakingviews columnists. The views they express are their own. 

LendingClub is positioning itself as one of the biggest challengers to American banks. The company is growing quickly, has backing from the likes of Google and lists former Morgan Stanley boss John Mack and ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers among its directors. It’s also planning an initial public offering. But there are reasons to be cautious.

Sep 4, 2014 06:59 UTC

China’s consumers show early signs of a debt wish


By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s a truism that Chinese people don’t like to borrow – but one that may no longer be true. China hasn’t gorged on consumer lending in the way that U.S. shoppers did, but rising credit card activity shows their traditional aversion to debt is fading fast.

Jul 13, 2014 23:14 UTC

German soccer glory was predictable – with luck


By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brazil’s World Cup was first-rate entertainment thanks to its many surprising results. For its part Breakingviews, also somewhat surprisingly, predicted that Germany would win the competition as long ago as last Christmas.

Jul 13, 2014 23:08 UTC

If only Argentine economy matched soccer success


By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If only the Argentine economy’s success matched that of its soccer team. The nation’s strong World Cup showing, making it into the final against Germany, reflects astute management of its big fan base and valuable on-field talent. That contrasts with a 100-year record of wasting its human and natural resources. It’s not too late: Avoiding policy own-goals could one day make Argentina an economic champion.

Jun 13, 2014 14:27 UTC

Review: “House of Debt” diagnosis beats remedies


By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Atif Mian and Amir Sufi are better at diagnosis than cure. In their book, “House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again,” the two professors make a compelling case that excess consumer debt caused the severity of the U.S. Great Recession. Unfortunately their mortgage bailout proposal would worsen future such problems. Another idea, shared value mortgages, might work partially – but tighter monetary policy would work better still.

Jun 11, 2014 20:34 UTC

Obama student loan fix spares rod, spoils borrower


By Daniel Indiviglio

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

President Barack Obama’s latest tweak to the U.S. student loan program spares the rod and spoils the borrower. Extending repayment caps and debt forgiveness to older graduates gives too many high earners a break. Making everyone pay a flat percentage of income would be simpler, fairer – and cheaper for taxpayers. It could also deliver a valuable lesson in financial responsibility.


Financial responsibility!!!!!.. That went away with bank sponsored legislation that rewrote the personal bankruptcy laws back in 2005. Thanks to the GOP and George bush, banks do not share in the risk of college lending as that debt can NEVER be forgiven via bankruptcy. No risk no responsibility.. Easy profits for the banks!!!

Couple that with college counselors selling degree programs with little financial viability and you get the mess we have now. Shame on the bankers and school administrators. At the university of 2007.. School officials were implicated in a kick back system from loan originators!!!

I’d recommend requiring the university to carry the debt and the risk… They are in the best position to know what majors bring in a salary that can pay back the debt.. If a student defaults.. The university loses.. Make it part of their pension fund portfolio and all the university employees will work harder to produce financially responsible graduates!!!!

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Jun 3, 2014 14:54 UTC

Fed fundamentalists deserve fresh listen


By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A portrait of Milton Friedman hangs at the entrance to the Stauffer Auditorium at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. It carries no identification, and doesn’t need any. All who enter here can be counted on to recognize the patron saint of contemporary free-market economics. And so it was two days last week, when the leaders of what might be dubbed monetary fundamentalism gathered under Friedman’s watchful gaze.


Trickery cannot replace a merit based society. When those with real capabilities are limited by those that manipulate you demotivate the capable. Fill their spots with your vacuous minions if you like but you lose in the long term. Things like justice and liberty and law are necessary for very practical reasons, not simply to placate the masses in a fake way. Without them (and we are without them) what is the point of endeavour? The central bank and their army of manipulators are simply tricksters.

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