May 5, 2014

William White on the global central banking experiment

The honest truth is no one has ever seen anything like this.  Not even during the Great Depression in the Thirties has monetary policy been this loose.  And if you look at the details of what these central banks are doing, it's all very experimental.  They are making it up as they go along.  I am very worried about any kind of policies that have that nature...  Plus, the Fed has moved to a completely different motivation.  From the attempt to get the markets going again, they suddenly and explicitly started to inflate asset prices again.  The aim is to make people feel richer, make them spend more, and have it all trickle down to get the economy going again.  Frankly, I don't think it works, and I think this is extremely dangerous.

I see speculative bubbles like in 2007.  It all looks and feels like 2007.  And frankly, I think it's worse than 2007, because then, it was the problem of the developed economies.  But in the past five years, all the emerging economies have imported our ultra-low policy rates and have seen their debt levels rise.  The emerging economies have morphed from being a part of the solution to being a part of the problem.

I've met so many people who are in the markets, thinking they are absolutely brilliantly smart, thinking they can get out in the right time.  The problem is, they all think that.  And when everyone races for the exit at the same time, we will have big problems.

~ William White, former chief economist for Bank of International Settlements, speech given in Switzerland, April 2014

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