The global financial crisis has reminded emerging market economies, if they needed reminding, that capital flows can be highly volatile and that crises need not be home grown. Emerging markets have been affected in a variety of ways, not least by the sharp ups and downs in exchange rates that volatile capital flows engender. These […]
Many of us have been struck by the huge increase in income inequality in the United States in the past thirty years. The rich have gotten much richer, while just about everyone else has had very modest income growth.
Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth—arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats. But assume we have a thousand boats representing all the households in the United States, with boat length proportional to family income. In the late 1970s, the average boat was a 12 foot canoe and the biggest yacht was 250 feet long. Thirty years later, the average boat is a slightly roomier 15 footer, while the biggest yacht, at over 1100 feet, would dwarf the Titanic! When a handful of yachts become ocean liners while the rest remain lowly canoes, something is seriously amiss.
Public debt sustainability in most advanced economies used to be a non-issue, or at most a back-burner one. A couple years back, if the topic came up, most people associated it with developing or emerging market countries. Defaults, rising sovereign risk premia, getting shut out from capital markets were, let’s face it, not really imagined to be possibilities for advanced economies. Of course there were fiscal challenges, demographic pressures being the obvious one, but these were issues for the long term, not the here and now.