Global economy in worst shape for decades – former US Treasury chief
The global economy is currently facing the biggest challenges it has seen in four decades, according to former US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers.
“This is the most complex, disparate and cross cutting set of challenges that I can remember in the 40 years I’ve been paying attention to such things,” Summers said at the Institute of International Finance’s annual meeting in Washington. He criticized the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, along with central banks, for underestimating the risks posed by persistently high inflation and failing to act accordingly to battle the crisis.
“In all honesty, I think the fire department is still in the station. … I’m very disappointed in the response,” he stated.
Summers said that between rising interest rates, a stronger dollar, energy and food shortages, geopolitical tensions and climate change, “somebody should be proposing something substantial” to change the situation for the better. He did not elaborate on this further, however.
The US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates five times so far this year, and other central banks around the world have followed suit. However, Summers says that the regulators waited too long to act on rising prices, and interest rates would have to be hiked further even if it sends the economy into recession.
“If you try to avoid that you just find yourself with a stagflation situation and having to do something harder a little later. But that’s got all kinds of collateral consequences for the rest of the world,” he warned.
One such consequence would be difficulties with financing debt markets, Summers said. He offered recent developments in the UK as an example. The Bank of England launched an emergency government bond-buying program last month in response to a sharp drop in bond prices after the announcement of a massive tax cut by the government.
“What’s happened in the United Kingdom, some of that is a self-inflicted wound, but some of that is tremors of what’s happening in the global system… And when you have tremors, you don’t always have earthquakes, but you probably should be thinking about earthquake protection,” he explained.
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