In an unfortunate turn of phrase at the height of his country’s current debt crisis, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Monday compared his government’s Herculean task in slashing deficits and debts as akin to changing the course of the Titanic. Sadly, we all know where the great “unsinkable” ended up almost a century ago and I’m sure, given the chance, Mr Papaconstantinou would have chosen another metaphor. But if the Greek economy (or perhaps the euro zone at large?) is to be cast as the Titanic, then what is its potential iceberg?
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.
Our recent post on the End of Capitalism triggered much interest and comment. There were plenty of diverse views, as one would expect. But one thread that came out was that what we are now seeing is not true capitalism (nor, of course, is it old-style communism). Ok, but what is it?
The people who hand out Nobel Prizes are obviously keen this year to trumpet a new world order in economics as well as politics. Hot on the heels of giving Barack Obama the peace prize, they have awarded this year’s economics prize for research into governance.
Financial journalists spend a lot of time surveying market economists ahead of macro-economic data releases to find out how they think the next CPI or GDP number is going to turn out. A poll 20 or 30 economists gives a market median forecast, which will determine how traders react when the data comes out. If the figure beats expectations and points to a strong economy and likely rate rises, the currency will jump, and vice versa.
from Global Investing:
Five things to think about this week:
CENTRAL BANKERS IN A HOLE
-- The global economy and financial system appear on the road to recovery but that is in large part due to unprecedented official stimulus that will have to be withdrawn at some point - the questions investors want answered are when, and how. Central bankers no longer appear to be quite as shoulder to shoulder with one another on coordinated policy as they were last year in the aftermath of Lehman's collapse.