The G20 countries meet each year. Normally their meetings are full of fine words resulting in little action. But at a summit in London on 2 April 2009, the fear of a deepening global recession focused minds and a package of measures worth over $1 trillion was agreed to stimulate trade and growth. This included $750 billion for the IMF to help economies in severe difficulties, $250 billion for financing world trade and $100 to multilateral development banks (such as the Asian Development Bank) to provide extra aid to the poorest countries.
The extra money for the IMF would include $500 billion of loans from member countries and £250 billion in new money – a form of international quantitative easing. This new money would be in the form of ‘special drawing rights’. These are denominated in dollars and are created by the IMF to be drawn on by countries in difficulties.
There was also agreement to tighten financial regulation and to resist protectionism. A ‘Financial Stability Board’ would be set up and work with the IMF to design a strengthened regulatory system for banks and other financial institutions and for financial markets and instruments.
The following articles look at the agreement and its likely effects.
‘This is the day the world came together to fight back’ Independent (2/4/09)
G20 communiqué: Point by point analysis Telegraph (2/4/09)
G20 summit – leaders’ statement. Full text of the communiqué Guardian (2/4/09)
G20: Economic summit snapshot BBC News Online (2/4/09)
G20 leaders seal $1tn global deal BBC News Online (2/4/09)
G-force The Economist (2/4/09)
World leaders declare war on risk Sydney Morning Herald (3/4/09)
Postscript (Sept 2009)
G20: What progress has been made? BBC News (23/9/09)
G20: Pledge by pledge BBC News (25/9/09)
- What will determine the success or failure of the G20 agreement to revive the world economy?
- Identify any multiplier effects from the agreed measures.
- Why did the French and German governments object to any further fiscal stimulus packages?
The World Economic Forum has warned that 2009 may see a ‘hard landing’ for China. In the context of China, this does not necessarily mean a recession, but the WEF report does identify a significant possible slowdown in Chinese growth. Given that high growth in China has led to a high level of demand for imports from other countries, especailly for raw materials and semi-finished goods, any slowdown in Chinese economic growth may have significant repercussions in the rest of the world. Any hopes that China and the emerging economies may help the rest of the world through their recessions have been dashed by data showing that even exports from China have been falling in October and November 2008 by 2.2% and 2.8% respectively. This has meant that aggregate demand in China is falling and may cause further problems, not only for China, but for the whole world economy.
China slowdown ‘big global risk’ BBC News Online (13/1/09)
China’s exports in record decline BBC News Online (13/1/09)
China’s exports slump in sharpest decline in decade Times Online (13/1/09)
World Economic Forum highlights Chinese slump as biggest risk to global economy Telegraph (14/1/09)
Chinese exports fall by the biggest margin in a decade Telegraph (14/1/09)
- Explain the significance of the fall in Chinese exports for the Chinese economy.
- Analyse the principal causes of the fall in the level of Chinese exports.
- Assess how the changes in China’s trade position will affect the exchange rate of the Chinese currency, the yuan.
- Discuss policies that the Chinese government can implement to try to minimise the impact of the fall in exports on economic growth.
The November 2008 trade statistics have just been released and they show that the UK had the largest nominal trade deficit on record at £8.3 billion (up from 7.6 billion in October). This represents nearly 7 per cent of GDP, the highest since 1974.
Trade gap widens despite pound’s slump Independent (14/1/09)
UK trade deficit hits a record as weak pound fails to help Telegraph (13/1/09)
Britain’s trade deficit widens to new record Guardian (13/1/09)
UK Trade, November 2008 National Statistics (13/1/09)
- Why has the UK’s trade gap widened?
- How can the concepts of income and price elasticity of demand be used in analysing the causes of the widening deficit?
- Explain how these elasticity values are likely to differ in the short and long run.
- Explain the factors that will determine whether the trade gap will widen or narrow over the coming months.
The Koruna (or crown) was the national currency of Slovakia. This may not be something you knew until you read it just now and you might as well forget the fact straight away. This is because the Koruna ceased to exist at midnight on December 31st 2008 when Slovakia became the 16th member of the eurozone. The official conversion rate between the Koruna and the euro has been advertised extensively in Slovakia and is 30.126. Slovakians now have to get used to a complete change in their notes and coins as euro notes and coins became legal tender on January 1st 2009. So what will be the impact for Slovakia of joining the eurozone?
Slovakia becomes eurozone member BBC News Online (1/1/09)
Slovakia embraces the euro BBC News Online (31/12/08)
Slovakia joins eurozone in new year Times Online (30/12/08)
Slovakia adopts the euro on January 1 Times Online (29/12/08)
- Examine the likely impact on the Slovakian economy of joining the euro at a time of global downturn.
- Explain three factors that the Slovakian authorities would have needed to consider when setting the conversion rate for the Koruna to the euro.
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages to Slovakia of joining the eurozone.
The Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire was the location for a historically significant meeting in the summer of 1944. John Maynard Keynes was part of the British negotiating team at a meeting to plan the post World War II economic order. As a result of the meeting an adjustable peg system of semi-fixed exchange rates was developed and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD – now part of the World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were also born. As a result of this meeting the small rural location of Bretton Woods has moved into the economics lexicon. The institutions born out of this meeting have been subject to considerable criticism in recent years and in the first article linked to below, George Monbiot argues that it is unfair to attach this criticism to Lord Keynes. With a recent meeting of the G20 having been dubbed as Bretton Woods II, the original meeting and its outcomes have been thrown back into the limelight.
Keynes is innocent: the toxic spawn of Bretton Woods was no plan of his Guardian (18/11/08)
How Bretton Woods reshaped the world Guardian (14/11/08)
Shaping the world: Bretton Woods 1944 Guardian (14/11/08)
It takes two Guardian (5/12/08)
- Write a short paragraph summarising the outcomes of the Bretton Woods conference in 1944.
- Explain the role in the world financial system of (a) the World Bank and (b) the IMF.
- Assess the possible validity of the criticisms that have been levelled at the IMF. See particularly the George Monbiot article.
- Using diagrams as appropriate, explain how the system of semi-fixed exchange rates negotiated at Bretton Woods worked to maintain economic stability.
- Examine the principal reasons for the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system.