The International Monetary Fund is worried. Yes, it’s true that it always is, but this time we should be, too — or at least, those of us living in Britain.
The news that the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is suing European banks in London for manipulating Libor should worry central bankers everywhere.
It’s all hush-hush, with details coming from reports in newspapers, rather than made public officially. The Financial Times reported that the FDIC is suing Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Rabobank and UBS, as well as the British Bankers’ Association, accusing them of fraudulent misrepresentation.
Lloyds said it doesn’t believe the claim has any merit, while the others did not comment, according to the report.
Some people wonder why the Federal Reserve is in such a hurry to raise interest rates, pointing out that growth in the world’s first economy is hesitant at best. Inflation, of course, is an issue — even the stripped-down official version of inflation, “core” as they like to call it, is rising.
If you’re like me, you’ve certainly wondered why economic growth has been so sluggish after the worst post-war recession — the Great Recession, or Great Financial Crisis as some have callednthe 2007-2009 crisis. Normally, the economy should have surged, after such a deep slump.
Instead, we’re proud of economic growth figures around 2% in Britain and the US and cheer when the eurozone posts a meager GDP advance of above 1% almost a decade after the crisis.
Politics are back in play in most of Europe, and this doesn’t bode well for central bankers. Even the almighty European Central Bank had a moment of weakness last week, when it broadcast a message so complicated to markets that it should not be surprised it fell wide of the mark.
I was reading the other day on the blog of excellent Bucharest-based economist Radu Craciun his latest article: “Is Eastern Europe the EU’s scapegoat?” When I read the headline, I thought the article was about Brexit; but in fact, Radu writes about how some experts in the EU claim that the single currency was created as a way to maintain the unity of the Union after it expanded “too rapidly” to the East.
Well, that’s new. I didn’t realise that, besides causing English people to behave irrationally against their own interests and vote to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, Eastern Europeans are also guilty of inspiring what could turn out to be the world’s least successful currency union.
It’s unclear when it all started, but it has reached the point where it would make the biggest banker of all times, John Pierpont Morgan, turn in his grave.
Another trick to keep UK house prices rising is taking center stage: the extra-large mortgage. It’s the mortgage lasting half a lifetime, or more, which allows you to buy a home even if, under normal circumstances, you would not afford it.
The news that Wells Fargo, the US bank that is the world’s biggest lender by market value, targets millennials with its mortgage loans is seen as a sign that we’ve finally gotten over the crisis that nearly brought down the world economy in 2007-2009.
The Financial Times reported that the head of the bank’s home finance business said he was keen to lend more to first-time buyers, who, the paper said, have so far “put off settling down.”
But what is good for America is not necessarily good for the world. While in the US there has been some deleveraging and restructuring that allows the housing market to re-start from a cleaner basis, it is not the case in the rest of the world.
By Sourajit Aiyer
This article was originally published by Foreign Policy News USA.
Can the Chinese economic engine really be hit? It is undergoing a transformational change currently, from investment-driven to a consumption-driven one, but that would still enable it to run at a decent speed.
Here are three distinct themes that can severely hit the Chinese engine in the years to come: