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  • Author: Tomas Hellebrandt
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Great Recession, which cost tens of millions of jobs, a collapse of asset values around the world, and threatened the global financial system, has generated renewed concern over the long-standing issue of the fairness of the distribution of wealth and income in many societies. Economic inequality has increased in the United States and many other advanced economies over the past 20 to 30 years. This trend generated less worry in the boom years, when unemployment rates were low and cheap credit enabled consumers to borrow and maintain higher standards of living, masking the impact of growing income disparity on consumption patterns and perceptions of well-being.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Thomas Mayer
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that the new permanent European rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), should be provided with a liquidity backstop by having it registered as a bank – and be treated as such by the European Central Bank. If the crisis were to become acute again, the ESM would stand ready to intervene in secondary markets, potentially with almost unlimited amounts of funding. Access to central bank financing will be crucial in a future crisis, because in such a crisis risk aversion is likely to be extreme, and even the ESM might not be able to raise at very short notice the huge sums that might be required to prevent a breakdown of the financial system. Hundreds of billions of euro might be needed just to top up the programmes for Greece, Ireland and Portugal – and Spain and Italy may require more than a thousand billion euro. Sums of this order of magnitude cannot be raised quickly by a new institution. Simply increasing the headline size of the ESM might thus be of little use.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Simon Johnson, Peter Boone
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Attempts to resolve the problems in Europe are failing, and the crisis is spreading from Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to larger nations. Europe's financial system relies on moral hazard, i.e., a “no defaults” policy, to attract the funding needed to roll over large amounts of short–term bank and sovereign debt. Now that politicians in creditor nations are calling for private sector burden sharing, investors are demanding higher interest rates to hold these debts. But higher rates may tip banks and nations toward bankruptcy. Europe's banks and financial system are highly integrated across countries. Rising expectations of default in some countries could lead to large-scale capital flight into “safe” countries. This shift will raise concerns regarding solvency and liquidity of many financial institutions. The payments system of the euro area is serving as an opaque bailout mechanism that is currently preventing the euro area from falling apart at this time. If the number of nations in trouble spreads beyond Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, this bailout system will be stressed because of the potential size of accumulated funding. The European Central Bank (ECB) could soon see a vocal debate between inflationist and hawkish (anti–inflation) members. Inflationists will call for large–scale interventions, including bond buybacks and emergency loans, while the hawks will attempt to close loopholes in the payments system that effectively permit each troubled nation to create money needed to finance capital flight and budget deficits. At this stage in the debate, we see little chance that Europe can avoid ending the “moral hazard” regime, in which case it needs to plan for widespread sovereign and bank debt restructurings.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Ireland