Posts Tagged ‘crisis’

China Says: Reform the International Monetary System

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

The People’s Bank of China is calling for a universal currency. Russia has also expressed a desire for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to use a single, non-dollar based currency. China holds a trillion dollars of US debt in dollars.

The article, What Is a Dollar Worth, considered the risk of future inflation because of the soaring Federal budget deficit. If this risk was combined with a decreased international demand for the dollar, what might be the implications for inflation in the USA?

From the People’s Bank of China:

Reform the International Monetary System
by Zhou Xiaochuan

The outbreak of the current crisis and its spillover in the world have confronted us with a long-existing but still unanswered question,i.e., what kind of international reserve currency do we need to secure global financial stability and facilitate world economic growth, which was one of the purposes for establishing the IMF? There were various institutional arrangements in an attempt to find a solution, including the Silver Standard, the Gold Standard, the Gold Exchange Standard and the Bretton Woods system. The above question, however, as the ongoing financial crisis demonstrates, is far from being solved, and has become even more severe due to the inherent weaknesses of the current international monetary system.

Theoretically, an international reserve currency should first be anchored to a stable benchmark and issued according to a clear set of rules, therefore to ensure orderly supply; second, its supply should be flexible enough to allow timely adjustment according to the changing demand; third, such adjustments should be disconnected from economic conditions and sovereign interests of any single country. The acceptance of credit-based national currencies as major international reserve currencies, as is the case in the current system, is a rare special case in history. The crisis again calls for creative reform of the existing international monetary system towards an international reserve currency with a stable value, rule-based issuance and manageable supply, so as to achieve the objective of safeguarding global economic and financial stability.

I. The outbreak of the crisis and its spillover to the entire world reflect the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system.

Issuing countries of reserve currencies are constantly confronted with the dilemma between achieving their domestic monetary policy goals and meeting other countries’ demand for reserve currencies. On the one hand,the monetary authorities cannot simply focus on domestic goals without carrying out their international responsibilities��on the other hand,they cannot pursue different domestic and international objectives at the same time. They may either fail to adequately meet the demand of a growing global economy for liquidity as they try to ease inflation pressures at home, or create excess liquidity in the global markets by overly stimulating domestic demand. The Triffin Dilemma, i.e., the issuing countries of reserve currencies cannot maintain the value of the reserve currencies while providing liquidity to the world, still exists.

When a national currency is used in pricing primary commodities, trade settlements and is adopted as a reserve currency globally, efforts of the monetary authority issuing such a currency to address its economic imbalances by adjusting exchange rate would be made in vain, as its currency serves as a benchmark for many other currencies. While benefiting from a widely accepted reserve currency, the globalization also suffers from the flaws of such a system. The frequency and increasing intensity of financial crises following the collapse of the Bretton Woods system suggests the costs of such a system to the world may have exceeded its benefits. The price is becoming increasingly higher, not only for the users, but also for the issuers of the reserve currencies. Although crisis may not necessarily be an intended result of the issuing authorities, it is an inevitable outcome of the institutional flaws.

II. The desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.

1. Though the super-sovereign reserve currency has long since been proposed, yet no substantive progress has been achieved to date. Back in the 1940s, Keynes had already proposed to introduce an international currency unit named “Bancor”, based on the value of 30 representative commodities. Unfortunately, the proposal was not accepted. The collapse of the Bretton Woods system, which was based on the White approach, indicates that the Keynesian approach may have been more farsighted. The IMF also created the SDR in 1969, when the defects of the Bretton Woods system initially emerged, to mitigate the inherent risks sovereign reserve currencies caused. Yet, the role of the SDR has not been put into full play due to limitations on its allocation and the scope of its uses. However, it serves as the light in the tunnel for the reform of the international monetary system.

2. A super-sovereign reserve currency not only eliminates the inherent risks of credit-based sovereign currency, but also makes it possible to manage global liquidity. A super-sovereign reserve currency managed by a global institution could be used to both create and control the global liquidity. And when a country’s currency is no longer used as the yardstick for global trade and as the benchmark for other currencies, the exchange rate policy of the country would be far more effective in adjusting economic imbalances. This will significantly reduce the risks of a future crisis and enhance crisis management capability.

III. The reform should be guided by a grand vision and begin with specific deliverables. It should be a gradual process that yields win-win results for all.

The reestablishment of a new and widely accepted reserve currency with a stable valuation benchmark may take a long time. The creation of an international currency unit, based on the Keynesian proposal, is a bold initiative that requires extraordinary political vision and courage. In the short run, the international community, particularly the IMF, should at least recognize and face up to the risks resulting from the existing system, conduct regular monitoring and assessment and issue timely early warnings.

Special consideration should be given to giving the SDR a greater role. The SDR has the features and potential to act as a super-sovereign reserve currency. Moreover, an increase in SDR allocation would help the Fund address its resources problem and the difficulties in the voice and representation reform. Therefore, efforts should be made to push forward a SDR allocation. This will require political cooperation among member countries. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment to the Articles of Agreement and relevant resolution on SDR allocation proposed in 1997 should be approved as soon as possible so that members joined the Fund after 1981 could also share the benefits of the SDR. On the basis of this, considerations could be given to further increase SDR allocation.

The scope of using the SDR should be broadened, so as to enable it to fully satisfy the member countries’ demand for a reserve currency.

Set up a settlement system between the SDR and other currencies. Therefore, the SDR, which is now only used between governments and international institutions, could become a widely accepted means of payment in international trade and financial transactions.

Actively promote the use of the SDR in international trade, commodities pricing, investment and corporate book-keeping. This will help enhance the role of the SDR, and will effectively reduce the fluctuation of prices of assets denominated in national currencies and related risks.

Create financial assets denominated in the SDR to increase its appeal. The introduction of SDR-denominated securities, which is being studied by the IMF, will be a good start.

Further improve the valuation and allocation of the SDR. The basket of currencies forming the basis for SDR valuation should be expanded to include currencies of all major economies, and the GDP may also be included as a weight. The allocation of the SDR can be shifted from a purely calculation-based system to a system backed by real assets, such as a reserve pool, to further boost market confidence in its value.

IV. Entrusting part of the member countries’ reserve to the centralized management of the IMF will not only enhance the international community’s ability to address the crisis and maintain the stability of the international monetary and financial system, but also significantly strengthen the role of the SDR.

1. Compared with separate management of reserves by individual countries, the centralized management of part of the global reserve by a trustworthy international institution with a reasonable return to encourage participation will be more effective in deterring speculation and stabilizing financial markets. The participating countries can also save some reserve for domestic development and economic growth. With its universal membership, its unique mandate of maintaining monetary and financial stability, and as an international “supervisor” on the macroeconomic policies of its member countries, the IMF, equipped with its expertise, is endowed with a natural advantage to act as the manager of its member countries’ reserves.

2. The centralized management of its member countries’ reserves by the Fund will be an effective measure to promote a greater role of the SDR as a reserve currency. To achieve this, the IMF can set up an open-ended SDR-denominated fund based on the market practice, allowing subscription and redemption in the existing reserve currencies by various investors as desired. This arrangement will not only promote the development of SDR-denominated assets, but will also partially allow management of the liquidity in the form of the existing reserve currencies. It can even lay a foundation for increasing SDR allocation to gradually replace existing reserve currencies with the SDR.

The State Of Advertising

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

If you search for “NASCAR sponsorship problems” at Google, there are over half-a-million results. NASCAR has seen a huge decline in advertisers. So much so, that entire race teams have been laid-off. It’s not just racing that is being hurt in this economic downturn. Most professional sports, such as the PGA, are feeling the crunch.

Print advertising is also under pressure. Newspapers have been failing at a rapid rate including some of the nations biggest and oldest. (See the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News)

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater
Yes, it is important for companies to examine the effectiveness of their marketing. Perhaps sports sponsorships and print advertising are not wise places to place your advertising budget. However, the current economic crisis calls for companies to do a better job of advertising than ever before. During the great depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said if he could do it all over again he’d “go into the advertising business in preference to almost any other. The general raising of the standards of modern civilization among all groups of people during the past half century would have been impossible without the spreading of the knowledge of higher standards by means of advertising.”

Internet advertising is one of the best returns on investment. For instance, there is a huge readership for employment opportunities and help wanted advertising. It’s a great time for a company to find the best qualified workers. It’s also a good way for a publisher to reach a wider audience.

Some of the other industries that are discovering the benefits of advertising during this economic downturn include:
Real Estate Foreclosures, Builders and Contractors for Energy Conservation, Doctors, Practitioners, Health & Wellness, Lawyers, Attorneys and Law Offices and Credit Repair Agencies.

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Another Great Depression?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009


Could the current economic crisis lead to another great depression? The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank has released a study that suggests the government needs to be careful in order to avoid such a problem. Massive public intervention to maintain employment and investment, if they distort incentives enough, can lead to a great depression.

Business cycles can lead to an ordinary downturn in the economy. However, overreaction by the government can prolong and deepen the downturn leading to depression.

ACORN Saves Homes While Feds Flounder

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Oakland “Miracle” Shows Better Path Than “Hope For Homeowners’” Utter Failure

OAKLAND, Calif. – At 6:00 in the morning on Wednesday, February 4, more than 30 members of ACORN gathered at the home of Eddie and Martha Daniels in West Oakland, armed with prayers, cell phones, and the hope that Wednesday would not be a day in which yet another family who had done no wrong was claimed as a victim of the raging foreclosure crisis. Since 2006, the Daniels had paid their rent each month to their landlord, who had not told them that he was not in turn paying the mortgage on time. The landlord’s lender had foreclosed on the property and terminated the lease, and on Wednesday the Sheriff was scheduled to come to their home and evict the Daniels, a family on the verge becoming another statistic in the national economic catastrophe.
ACORN members rallied their neighbors, spoke with local media, including one radio station that broadcast live from the home, and flooded the Sheriff’s office with calls urging compassion and forbearance of the scheduled eviction. At the same time, ACORN Housing Corporation was working furiously behind the scenes with the lender to negotiate a stay on the eviction, which successfully came through. This remedy alone would put the Daniels among the fortunate few who are able to get reasonable solutions from lenders, but what happened next was truly unique: ACORN Housing Corporation was able to counsel the Daniels and determine their eligibility to apply for a VA loan that would enable them to purchase the very property from which they were almost evicted earlier that day, and the foreclosing lender has agreed to sell.
“This shows the power of communities coming together to fight back against the foreclosures that are taking our homes and ruining our neighborhoods,” said Maude Hurd, ACORN President. “Oakland is showing the nation a new way forward, one in which community-based civil disobedience combined with savvy counseling and advocacy can take a family on the verge of eviction and help them become homeowners. While this kind of same-day miracle is rare today, ACORN believes that hundreds of thousands of families across the country just like the Daniels, innocent renters and predatory lending victims who are losing their homes at a record pace, can fight back by getting organized and defending their homes through old-fashioned community organizing. This system is broken and it’s time we throw a wrench in it.”
The Daniels hope to close on the sale in the coming weeks, and are relieved and thankful to be able to stay in their home. “Yesterday morning, I was so scared to be losing my home,” said Eddie Daniels. “Tonight, I am still sleeping in my own bed under my own roof, and that is no small miracle. I am so grateful and fortunate that my neighbors and ACORN came to defend our home. Millions more families need this kind of help.” Families facing eviction or foreclosure can call ACORN for help at 1-866-67-ACORN or visit
As ACORN members celebrate this miraculous victory in Oakland, they mourn the ongoing federal inaction and failure in the face of the foreclosure crisis. Bloomberg News is reporting today that only twenty-five (25) loans have been refinanced through the much-touted Hope for Homeowners program, which was originally expected to help between 300,000 and 400,000 families avoid foreclosure. Hope for Homeowners is the only federal program designed to fight foreclosures created in the year and a half since foreclosures reached record levels.
“Even as the federal government works to correct serious flaws in the program, Hope for Homeowners will still rely on voluntary industry participation, and therefore remain doomed to failure,” said Hurd. “We desperately need changes in federal policy that will force mortgage lenders and servicers to stop unnecessary foreclosures, both by lifting the ban on judicial modifications for primary residences and by requiring bailout recipients to modify loans in an economically rational way, as Citigroup has agreed to do. As even Republicans have recently taken to arguing, no successful economic recovery will be possible without directly targeting the mortgage mess that lies at the heart of our economy’s failure. Across the country, ACORN is working with families to save homes and fight foreclosures, and it sure would be nice to have a federal government doing the same.”

Federal Reserve’s Position on the Housing Crisis

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


The Federal Reserve continues to offer plans for owners of distressed real estate.

“The goal of the policy is to avoid preventable foreclosures on residential mortgage assets that are held, owned or controlled by a Federal Reserve Bank,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote in a letter Tuesday to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Under the program, homeowners would be offered lowering the amount owed on the mortgage, reducing the interest rate or lengthening the term of the loan.

Insight: US may face a ‘lost decade’

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Financial Times
By Stephen Roach
Published: January 13 2009 17:08 | Last updated: January 13 2009 17:08
No one in their right mind thinks the United States could fall victim to a Japanese-like lost decade. After all, the argument goes, US policymakers have the advantage of knowing what their counterparts in Japan did wrong.

If only it were that simple. For starters, the parallels between crises in the two economies are striking. Both suffered from the bursting of two major bubbles – property and equity in the case of Japan and property and credit in the US. Both had broken financial systems stemming from egregious risk management blunders. Both were victimised by a reckless lack of oversight – regulatory failures, misdirected rating agencies, and central banks that ignored asset bubbles. And the twin bubbles ended up infecting the real side of both economies – the corporate sector in Japan and the consumer sector in the US.