On the eve of the September 5/6 G20 meeting of Finance Ministers in London, the OECD published an interim forecast of the macroeconomic and financial performance of the G7 economies. According to the OECD, “Recovery from the global recession is likely to arrive earlier than had been expected a few months ago but the pace of activity will remain weak well into next year.” So is it time to start reversing the various fiscal and monetary stimuli adopted around the world? Or should governments and central banks continue to stimulate aggregate demand in order to maintain the fragile recovery? The following news releases, speeches and articles look at answers given to these questions by various countries and international institutions.
Recovery arriving quicker than expected but activity will remain weak, says OECD OECD News release (3/9/09)
What is the economic outlook for OECD countries? An interim assessment OECD Economic Outlook, Interim Assessment (3/9/09)
IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn sees Renewed Stability but remains cautious about Global Economic Recovery, notes need for Continued Policy Actions IMF press release (4/9/09)
Beyond the Crisis: Sustainable Growth and a Stable International Monetary System Speech by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (4/9/09)
Brown urges further G20 spending (video) Gordon Brown on BBC News (5/9/09)
America’s Timothy Geithner says it’s ‘too early’ to withdraw economic stimulus Telegraph (3/9/09)
Finance chiefs warn against early end to state support for eurozone economies Guardian (3/9/09)
Keep spending – Darling warns G20 against complacency Independent (3/9/09)
Brown’s agenda deserves a hearing Financial Times (1/9/09)
Tories join Germany and France in call for exit strategy from G20 bailout Times Online (3/9/09)
UK recession: Why are we lagging our neighbours? Telegraph (3/9/09)
Reflections after the conference:
After the shock, challenges remain BBC News (7/9/09)
The G20 has saved us, but it’s failing to rein in those who caused the crisis Observer (6/9/09)
The world is as one on not endangering recovery Times Online (t/9/09)
- Why is the pace of recovery in the G7 countries likely to be modest for some time?
- Why have unemployment rates risen much more rapidly in some countries than in others (see page 19 of the OECD report)?
- Referring to the OECD report, how would you summarise changes in the global financial situation over the past few months?
- Assess the arguments put forward by France and Germany for reining in their expansionary fiscal and monetary policies.
- Why is the UK economy, according to the OECD, likely to be the last of the G7 countries to pull out of recession?
In the light of the continuing recession that, according to the Bank of England, “appears to have been deeper than previously thought”, the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to increase narrow money through an additional £50 billion of ‘quantitative easing’. This will involve extending “its programme of purchases of government and corporate debt to a total of £175 billion, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves. The Committee expects the announced programme to take another three months to complete. The scale of the programme will be kept under review.”
This decision took markets by surprise. Does this mean that the outlook for the economy is bleaker than most people expect? Why does the MPC feel that the original £125 billion of quantitative easing is insufficient? What will determine the effectiveness of the additional £50 billion increase in narrow money? The articles below look at the issues.
Bank of England Maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and Increases Size of Asset Purchase Programme by £50 Billion to £175 Billion Bank of England News Release (6/8/09)
Bank pumps in another £50bn to aid green shoots of recovery Guardian (6/8/09)
Quantitative easing: questions and answers Guardian (6/8/09)
How much money has been pumped into the British economy? Guardian (6/8/09)
Bank of England pumps another £50 billion into economy ITN News (YouTube) (6/8/09)
Bank pumps £50bn into economy BBC News (video) (6/8/09)
Bank policy ‘not fully effective’ BBC Today Programme (audio) (6/8/09)
Are the banks lending enough? BBC News (video) (4/8/09)
Is quantitative easing working? BBC News (6/8/09)
QE: More to do? Stephanomics: BBC blog (6/8/09)
What RBS’s results say about QE Peston’s picks: BBC blog (7/8/09)
Bank wants extra £50bn for ‘fragile’ economy Independent (7/8/09)
David Prosser: Have MPC members lost their nerve? Independent (7/8/09)
The Bank of England thinks the credit crunch is far from over: Edmund Conway Telegraph (6/8/09)
Bank split over money injection BBC News (19/8/09)
- Why did the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee feel that it was necessary to increase the money supply further through the purchase of an additional £50 billion of assets?
- With the use of a diagram, explain how the effect of the increase in money supply will depend on the nature of the demand for money?
- What will determine the size of the money multiplier effect resulting from the increased asset purchases?
Preliminary figures for Quarter 2 UK GDP suggest that the UK economy has been declining faster than many had expected. Does this mean that the recession in the UK will be more prolonged, or can we expect a return to growth by the end of the year? How much does the outcome depend on policy decisions taken now and what should be done in terms of quantitative easing and other policy measures?
The answers to these questions depend to some extent on the reliability of the figures, which, after all, are only preliminary estimates. Past estimates have tended to understate the level of output and growth, but could the latest estimates understate the depth of the recession? The following articles look at the figures and their implications for policy. The two articles from The Economist look at the global context.
UK economy continues to contract BBC News (24/7/09)
Recession Britain Guardian (24/7/09)
‘Shocking’ GDP figures raise fears of long road to recovery Herald (25/7/09)
Hopes of early end to recession dashed Independent (25/7/09)
Treasury defiant on growth despite gloom over GDP Times Online (26/7/09)
UK GDP: What the economists say Guardian (24/7/09)
Hamish McRae: The GDP figures were profoundly gloomy … but they were wrong Independent (26/7/09)
The shrinking economy BBC News, Stephanomics (24/7/09)
Here comes August, the cruellest month of all Observer (26/7/09)
Rebalancing global growth: a long way to go Economist (23/7/09)
Unpredictable tides Economist (23/7/09)
Gross domestic product, Preliminary estimate, 2nd quarter 2009 Office for National Statistics, Statistical Bulletin (24/7/09)
Gross domestic product, Preliminary estimate, 4th quarter 2008 Office for National Statistics, Statistical Bulletin (24/7/09)
- What factors will determine whether the UK economy starts to growth again by the end of 2009?
- Plot the quarterly growth rate of GDP from 2007 Q1. Plot two lines on the same graph: one from the 2008 Q4 estimates and one from the 2009 Q2 estimates (see last two links above). How would you explain the discrepancies between the figures?
- What policy measures would you recommend to the Bank of England and the government in the light of the GDP estimates?
- ’The deeper and longer the recession, the more will potential (as well as actual) output fall.’ Do you agree with this statement? Explain your answer.
- Referring to the two Economist articles, what conditions are necessary for sustained long-term economic growth?
The early part of the current recession, dating from April 2008, had much in common with the Great Depression dating from June 1929. But the Great Depression lasted three years. So does this grim prospect await the world this time round? Or have we learned the lessons of the past and will the policies of giving economies a large fiscal stimulus, combined with bank rescues and quantitative easing, help to pull the world out of recession this year? The following articles look at the issues.
The recession tracks the Great Depression Martin Wolf, Financial Times (16/6/09)
A Tale of Two Depressions Barry Eichengreen, Kevin H. O’Rourke, Vox (4/6/09)
Economics: How the world economy might recover its poise Financial Times (15/6/09)
Weak recovery in sight but damage from crisis likely to be long-lasting, says OECD OECD (24/6/09)
OECD sees strongest outlook since 2007 Financial Times (24/6/09)
Press Release Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System (24/6/09)
You might also like to watch the following two videos. The first uses historical footage to examine the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. The second is an interview with Joseph Stiglitz about whether the recession of 2008/9 is heading for another Great Depression.
The 1929 Crash (1 of 6) Nibelungensohn, YouTube (27/2/09). Note that you can link to the other five parts of this from this link.
Joseph Stiglitz: ‘This is worse than the Great Depression’ NBC Nightly News (10/2/09)
- Why may the past be a poor guide to the present and future?
- What dangers are there from the policies of expanding aggregate demand through fiscal and monetary policies?
- Explain why the ‘race to full recovery is likely to be long, hard and uncertain.
The Bank of England has extended its policy of increasing the money supply through the process of quantitative easing. After the May meeting of the MPC, the Bank announced that it will increase the amount of assets it is prepared to buy under the ‘Asset Purchase Programme’ from £75 billion to £125 billion. At the same time the ECB has announced that it too will embark on a programme of quantitative easing. The press releases and articles below consider the details.
Bank of England Maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and Increases Size of Asset Purchase Programme by £50 Billion to £125 Billion Bank of England News Release (7/5/09) (see also interview with Bank of England Governor)
Press conference by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB and Lucas Papademos, Vice President of the ECB ECB Press Release (7/5/09) (you can also watch a webcast of the press conference from this link)
Bank of England and European Central Bank extend quantitative easing Telegraph (8/5/09) (see also)
Economy to get extra £50bn boost BBC News (7/5/09)
A QE surprise BBC News: Stephanomics blog (7/5/09)
European Central Bank opts for quantitative easing to lift the eurozone far Times Online (8/5/09)
Fighting recession in the eurozone Financial Times (7/5/09)
ECB dips toe in quantitative easing water Guardian (7/5/09)
Quantitative easing: The story so far BBC News site video
- Explain how quantitative easing is conducted by the Bank of England and the ECB.
- Examine what determines the effect of quantitative easing on aggregate demand.
- Is quantitative easing the same as open-market operations?
- Explain how quantitative easing is likely to affect exchange rates.