Opinion

The Great Debate

U.S., China and eating soup with a fork

-The opinions expressed are the author’s own-

Are economists the world over using an outdated tool to measure economic progress?

The question, long debated, is worth pondering again at a time when two economic giants, the United States and China, are sparring over trade, currency exchange rates and their roles in the global economy.

In the run-up to U.S. mid-term elections on November 2, politicians from both parties, for different reasons, blamed trade with China for American job losses. China responded with irritation and hit back by accusing the U.S. of “out of control” printing of dollars tantamount to an attack on China with imported inflation.

Measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the United States tops the list of countries. China overtook Japan in August to become number two. Depending on whose forecasts you believe, China will overtake the United States in 2020, 2035 or 2040 and therefore turn the 21st century into the long-predicted Chinese Century. It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the United States will play a reduced role on the world stage.

Crystal ball gazers might do well to remember that long-range forecasts have often been wrong in the past. At the turn of the 20th century, eminent strategists predicted that Argentina would be a world power within 20 years. In the late 1980s, Japan was seen as the next economic leader, on the strength of supposedly unstoppable progress. Forecasters extrapolated from past GDP growth rates.

from The Great Debate UK:

A history lesson for lenders

GREECE

-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Anyone looking for a broader perspective on the events of the last three years could hardly do better than choose for bedtime reading “This Time is Different” by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

It is nothing less than a history of financial crises through the ages, starting in late medieval England and continuing via 15th and 16th century Spain and its New World colonies on to the teething problems of Britain’s banks in the industrial revolution and the upheavals of the 20th century, ending in 2008 with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

from MacroScope:

Political economy and the euro

The reality of  'political economy'  is something that irritates many economists -- the "purists", if you like. The political element is impossible to model;  it often flies in the face of  textbook economics;  and democratic decision-making and backroom horse trading can be notoriously difficult to predict and painfully slow.  And political economy is all pervasive in 2010 -- Barack Obama's proposals to rein in the banks is rooted in public outrage; reading China's monetary and currency policies is like Kremlinology; capital curbs being introduced in Brazil and elsewhere aim to prevent market overshoot; and British budgetary policies are becoming the political football ahead of this spring's UK election. The list is long, the outcomes uncertain, the market risk high.

But nowhere is this more apparent than in well-worn arguments over the validity and future of Europe's single currency -- the new milennium's posterchild for political economy.

For many, the euro simply should never have happened --  it thumbed a nose at the belief that all things good come from free financial markets; it removed monetary safety valves for member countries out of sync with their bigger neighbours and put the cart before the horse with monetary union ahead of fiscal policy integration. But the sheer political determination to finish the European's single market project, stop beggar-thy-neighbour currency devaluations and face down erratic currency trading meant the  currency was born and has thrived for 11 years.

from The Great Debate UK:

Slow growth and deficit stem lure of dollar

JaneFoley.JPG-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The U.S. dollar may have found support this week but the USD index remains at a 14-month low.

The impact of the financial crisis in drawing buyers to the "safe-haven" dollar has in effect been almost cancelled out by the healing in risk appetite. The dollar looks to have re-embarked on the downtrend that had been in place for more than two years prior to the start of the financial crisis, only now the U.S. fundamentals have arguably deteriorated further.  

Getting ready for the dollar’s fall

Agnes Crane It just won’t go away, this needling worry about the U.S. dollar losing its coveted top-dog status.

No matter that there are plenty of reasonable arguments to support the dollar as the world reserve currency — namely there’s just no alternative — for perhaps decades to come.

Yet, in a world where once-rock-solid assumptions quickly turn to dust, investors should keep an eye on the dollar since changing perceptions are chipping away at its cherished status as currency to the world.

Is the buck back?

diana-furchtgott-roth1Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed here are her own.

“The Buck is Back,” proclaimed a Wall Street Journal headline on Tuesday. But even if it is, and that’s a big if, a strong currency is a mixed blessing.

True, in spite of the financial crisis, over the past six weeks the dollar has strengthened substantially against the euro and the British pound, although Wednesday’s half percentage point Federal Reserve rate cut caused the dollar to slip. But the dollar has lost value relative to the Japanese yen.

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