Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Economist on the global monetary system (ls)

Excellent article in the economist. It covers almost every issue which is currently under debate. Hence, it's a nice reading pick, especially for students.

I only disagree with the following statement:

[...] huge reserves offend economic logic, since they mean poor countries, which should have abundant investment opportunities of their own, are lending cheaply to richer ones, mainly America. Such lending helped precipitate the financial crisis by pushing down America’s long-term interest rates. Today, with Americans saving rather than spending, they represent additional thrift at a time when the world needs more demand. 

The accumulation of large reserve amounts is rather a by-product of an export-led growth strategy - which has proven to be successful in the case of Germany after WWII and currently in the case of China - than some unwelcome phenomenon falling from heaven. A (stability-orientated) undervaluation of the domestic currency translates into current account surpluses and finally into the accumulation of reserves. But these aren't pure "costs"  - as classical trade theory (assuming full employment) would claim. It's true that this strategy at first disregards the developement of domestic consumption. But it has some (over)compensating benefits. It boosts employment, corporate earnings and capital accumulation.