IMF Speaks

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On Monday, the IMF released a new research “note” entitled “Fiscal Policy for the Crisis,” which sets out recommendations for fiscal policy to address the global economic downturn. The premises of the note are, first, that the financial system must be fixed before it is possible to increase demand and, second, that there is limited scope for monetary policy, leaving fiscal policy as the main weapon. The executive summary provides the main recommendation in short form:

Human Nature

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Or, why human beings are bad investors.

Free Exchange has Anthony Gottlieb’s recollections of interviewing Bernie Madoff about financial regulation:

at the time he came across merely as calm, strikingly rational, devoid of ego, and the last person you would expect to make your wealth vanish. I certainly would have trusted him with my money. I cannot say the same of other financial superstars I interviewed. . . . Perhaps it is the most confidence-inspiring ones that you have to look out for.

Bank Recapitalization Options and Recommendation (After Citigroup Bailout)

Summary

1.       Debt and equity prices for U.S. banks at the close on Friday, November 21, indicated that the market is testing the resolve of the government to support the banking system. Allowing major banks to fail is not an option, as was made explicit in the G7 statement in mid-October. Significant recapitalization will be necessary to stem the pace of global deleveraging (the contraction of loans and sale of assets by banks around the world). However, the administration’s strategy is not clear.

Start by Saving the Eurozone

The current global financial crisis has clearly underlined the need for more effective mechanisms of international cooperation. The stumbling initial response of the G7 risked prolonging the credit crunch. Today, while panic has eased somewhat in wealthy countries, the crisis is spilling into developing countries, with potentially devastating effects. Yet there is no coordinated effort to address the problems faced by emerging markets.

The price of salvation

The government plans to bail out the banking sector by buying up to $700bn (for now) of “impaired assets” … but at what price? Pay too little, and the banks will not have sufficient capital to remain solvent; pay too much, and the wealth of the American taxpayer will be unilaterally handed to the banks […]

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