Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Willem Buiter: "Non-Negligible" Risk of Default by US and UK

Willem Buiter takes no prisoners, In his latest post, "The green shoots are weeds growing through the rubble in the ruins of the global economy", he dispatches the idea that recovery is around the corner (citing Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth's latest paper on the resolution of financial crises) and points out that the fiscal state of affairs in the US and UK will become sufficiently strained (even making the usual allowances for Keynesian stimulus) so as to make default a possibility (but recognize that Buiter is not saying it is likely). The easiest way to default, however is via inflation, but that also has the nasty side effect of "taxing" all domestic savers, not just the unfortunates who owned government paper. So the fact that Buiter even mentions explicit default is telling.

Buiter also believes that the imbalanced nature of stimulus measures – more than is optimal from countries under financial stress like the US and UK, too little from countries with balance of payment surpluses (China, Japan, Germany) means growth once the acute phase of the crisis is past will be lower than it would be with a better response. He is also critical of the Fed's version of quantitative easing and is dubious that the commitments at the G20 to provide $1 trillion to the IMF will come through.

He also, in passing, says (without mentioning his name) that Simon Johnsom may be correct in his view that the government is captured by the finance sector, not merely by subscribing to their world view, as he has argued before, but in the mercenary sense.

From Buiter:

Willem Buiter

Source: Naked Capitalism

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