Monday, January 21, 2013

Q&A: What is the current status of the global economic crisis?

Question: Where does the global economic crisis currently stand, which began in the USA and engulfed Europe and then the world?
Answer: To shed light on this subject, we will mention the following:
1. The collapse of the real estate market in the US spread across the world resulting in the collapse of many banks, which lead to unprecedented government intervention to halt global economic collapse. The result however, was what is now called the great recession, the worst since the great depression of 1929. The global financial crisis brought to light the fact that the boom of the preceding decade was in reality driven by debt and after five years the world's largest economies continue in their failure to resolve this.
2. United action has been attempted by the world's largest economies in order to coordinate a resolution to the crisis. This was argued on the basis that the global economy is interlinked due to the effects of globalisation and a collective, global approach would be in the world's best interests. This unified approach did not last long as economic nationalism - were each country fights for its own survival spread as each nation expected other nations to fund a global reserve. Various meetings and conferences of the G20 agreed different types of bailout fund to help grieved economies, how this was to be funded led to most of the bailouts to never move forward from the paper they were written on. The economist highlighted in 2010: "But the re-emergence of a specter from the darkest period of modern history argues for a different, indeed strident, response. Economic nationalism—the urge to keep jobs and capital at home—is both turning the economic crisis into a political one and threatening the world with depression. If it is not buried again forthwith, the consequences will be dire."
3. Stark exchanges between the Germans and the Americans have taken place on the best route for the future of the global economy. Angela Merkel along with the majority of the other countries suggested the unsustainable growth model of the US with its cheap credit and debt fuelled growth, from the government's perspective using stimulus funds was obsolete. The need to control national deficit levels through austerity measures has been the European approach. Austerity measures are typically taken if there is a threat that a government cannot honor its debt liabilities. This is a very specific objective and different to economic growth. With the threat to the credit ratings of most of the world's largest economies many have resorted to austerity i.e. reducing the government deficit to please the financial markets. The problem with the austerity approach is such a policy in reality is not geared towards growth, which would create jobs and income for society and thus lead to overall economic growth but towards cutting the government debt.
4. The US approach of pursuing stimulus has fared no better. Stimulus entails increasing government spending using money that is borrowed primarily from abroad in the case of the US from countries such as China, or simply created by central banks literally by entering digits into a computer. Any stimulus was always a high-octane boost and a temporary measure. They are designed to kick-start stalled economies, not to fuel sustained economic growth. The growth that has been achieved is really the inflated results of stimulus measures achieving their intended effect to be temporary. Hence stimulus just props up government and service industry jobs which die off when the stimulus ends, leaving an economy in much the state it was when the stimulus started.
5. Western governments also resorted to Quantitative Easing (QE), a new development which was an electronic method of printing money. This unconventional policy was used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when conventional policy had failed. A central bank implements Quantitative Easing (QE) by buying financial assets to inject a pre-determined quantity of money into the economy. This is achieved by purchasing financial assets from banks with new electronically created money. This action increases the reserves of banks. At the start of 2013 the global economy is no better then the start of 2012 and many are on the verge of going into recession again. Reports continue to emerge since the beginning of 2013 of the possibility of the UK going into atriple dip recession. The UK like much of the world's trillion dollar economies continues to suffer from the effects of the global financial crisis. Thus QE in reality has had no impact as the banking industry has not used this new money to issue new loans and mortgages. QE has effectively become a bank bailout.
After 5 years of economic crisis, the global economy is still reeling and with unemployment constantly increasing social chaos has already begun in Europe. All attempts to solve the crisis have not dealt with debt fuelled growth, whilst debt caused the problem more debt was thrown at it, Western governments attempted to treat the patient with the disease itself.
Finally there are three possibilities that may eventually lead to economic recovery, we mention in descending order:
- The first is the double dip recession turns into a depression, prices hit rock bottom and this leads to property, loans and commodity prices being seen as cheap and this kick starts economic growth as such assets are then purchased.
- The second possibility is China bails out the West. China's vast trade and financial surpluses are causally linked to the unsustainably large debts of the US, UK and a swathe of the Eurozone. It would be in their interests to bail out the West. This would also mean the Western world will have to accept Chinese global leadership. Here the issue is not whether the West will accept such a bailout but rather will China pursue such a policy.
- The third, the Khilafah State shines on the world, and the Islamic economic system starts to be implemented. Then, not only will the Muslims benefit, but rather the whole world that will deal with the Khilafah. This would make the global crises disappear or bring it under control.
2nd Rabee' I, 1434

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