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Sense at last: senior financial figures admit the Global Financial Crisis is not over.

Publication: 
Nigel Morris-Co...
chiefofficersnet

Kudos to Luiz Awazu Pereira da Silva and Előd Takáts at the Bank for International Settlements for breaking ranks with the eternal purveyors of optimism and fake good news that are the normal personalities at Central Banks. For two years before the financial crisis went global, central bankers and treasury department ministers and officials pumped out a steady stream of misleading information and soon after it reached its nadir, they have gone back to using selective data to try to convince us all that it's all OK, really and that the deep seated economic woes faced by much of the developed world are really only isolated, sporadic, minor after shocks. Da Silva and Takáts don't agree and actually use the words "complacency" and "self-delusion." Better still, the recognise the genius of the "unknown unknown" speech of Donald Rumsfeld. Where has the international finance community been hiding these two? Kudos.

Speaking at a "Eurofi High Level Seminar" in Malta on 5-7 May this year, the two put forward a paper that makes it very clear that while there have been signs of recovery from the crisis that began to develop in the USA in 2005 and went global in 2007, those signs have been both temporary and patchy. They point out that markets are affected by sentiment as much as actual value "after electoral “surprises” in the United States and in Europe, markets are tempted to see mainly the positive side and forget the downside risks."

Is there finally a light at the end of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) tunnel? Perhaps yes: there are finally some signs of rebound in activity in the United States and Europe. There is now more reflation talk instead of the recent fear of deflation. There is an improvement in unemployment rates. And there is more optimism in markets, with a rise in equities and higher confidence. The puzzling element in the midst of this new optimism is that policy uncertainty is very high but volatility is very low.

They tread a dangerous path, a high-wire act where their views are finely balanced between appeasement and heresy, pointing out that the EU's positive signs are a reaction to "the famous whatever it takes speech, to contain the sovereign debt crisis." It falls short of pointing out that the self-delusions, complacency and, even untruths that failed to prevent, pre-empt or even prepare for the global financial crisis were driven entirely by central bankers and ministers with the connivance of civil servants. But there is just enough space between the lines to see the obscured meaning: talking up sentiment produces economies built on sand.

And they push those lines just a little bit slightly further apart when they say "Monetary policy can buy time, but unfortunately, it was not enough to fully undertake the necessary structural reforms. As political will fell short, monetary policy became “the only game in town”. And public discontent that is shifting electorates to various forms of “populism” could pose further risks to social and economic stability. "

It has to be noted that the only form of populism that has been driven by the global financial crisis is the sustained attacks on globalisation, the "1%" and even austerity (so long as those mounting the attacks are safe from demands and their own sacred cows are fatted ever greater.

They wind up with the following "markets’ leaning towards complacency and short-termism might be the most significant risk today: self-delusion will not get us very far. Some exuberance today cannot replace the need to fix our economies, increase productivity and mend the social fabric with more inclusion and fairness."

Almost no one would disagree with that, except the architects of the crisis who denied it even as their institutions crashed around them and those for whom fairness is a selfish concept that is acceptable only if there is broad homogenisation of wealth.

The authors have added a caveat: "The views expressed here are our own and do not necessarily represent those of the Bank for International Settlements."

To bloody right, they don't. More's the pity. After all, the BIS was swamped by the foisting on it of the Financial Stability Forum, which had been looking for a cause anda a home for some time and, once ensconced at BIS set about pumping out the same gleeful nonsense as had prevented the Crisis being properly managed in the first place.

Great attention should be paid to these two for they speak sense. But it won't. Regrettably, the establishment will almost certainly do what the establishment does and chew them up and spit them out, probably with some form of disgrace. Any bank that picks them up and listens will have some supremely talented and fearless people on hand.

We've made this article free to all.

Now go and read their paper: http://www.bis.org/speeches/sp...

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