The global economy will confront serious challenges in the months and years ahead, and looming in the background is a mountain of debt that makes markets nervous – and that thus increases the system's vulnerability to destabilizing shocks. Yet the baseline scenario seems to be one of continuity, with no obvious convulsions on the horizon.
What many analysts still see as a temporary bubble, pumped up by artificial and unsustainable monetary stimulus, is maturing into a structural expansion of economic activity, profits, and employment that probably has many more years to run. There are at least four reasons for such optimism.
Congressional Republicans' proposed tax cuts are no recipe to "make America great again." Lacking in saving, outsize US budget deficits spell nothing but serious trouble ahead on the balance-of-payment and trade fronts.
Today, central banks are under attack for missing their inflation targets, failing to maintain financial stability or restore it in transparent ways, and ignoring the global repercussions of their policies. But compromising central bank independence in order to enhance political accountability would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
US President Donald Trump, in partnership with congressional Republicans, is pursuing tax cuts that will blow up the fiscal deficit and add to the public debt, while benefit the rich at the expense of middle- and working-class Americans. Once again, Trump has not hesitated to betray the people he conned into voting for him.
US President Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to embrace economic policies, such as the Republicans' proposed tax cuts, that benefit him personally. In choosing the relatively moderate Jerome Powell to chair the Federal Reserve, he realized that an extremist would raise interest rates – any real-estate developer’s worst nightmare.
Jerome Powell, US President Donald Trump's pick to succeed Janet Yellen as Fed Chair, will face some extraordinary challenges at the outset of his five-year term. But the greatest challenge of all will be to stay out of Trump's shadow and uphold the Fed's independence.
In an ideal world, major tech companies would recognize and adjust to their growing systemic importance in step with external actors, including governments and consumers, thereby striking the right balance between innovation, consumer benefits and protection, and national security. But this is not an ideal world.
Usually, a sudden stop in capital inflows sparks a currency crash, sometimes a banking crisis, and quite often a sovereign default. Why, then, has the worldwide incidence of sovereign defaults in emerging markets risen only modestly?
China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.