U.S. and Japanese monetary policy does not always move hand in glove, but meetings of the countries’ respective central banks in the next few days are likely to spell out the same thing — that the job of economic recovery is by no means over.
Greece is a country that has always punched above its weight. Its population, after all, is barely more than Chad’s. But it has rarely grabbed as much attention as now with a debt crisis that has gone as far as having some people predict the downfall of the whole house of euro.
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.