The Cat in the Tree and Further Observations: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy


akerlofGuest post by George A. Akerlof
University of California, Berkeley
Senior Resident Scholar at the IMF, and co-host of the Conference on Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons

(Versions in عربي中文, Français日本語, and Русский)

I learned a lot from the conference , and I’m very thankful to all the speakers.  Do I have an image of the whole thing?  I don’t know whether my image is going to help anybody at all, but my view is that it’s as if a cat has climbed a huge tree. It’s up there, and oh my God, we have this cat up there.  The cat, of course, is this huge crisis.

And everybody at the conference has been commenting about what we should do about this stupid cat and how do we get it down and what do we do.  What I find so wonderful about this conference is all the speakers have their own respective image of the cat, and nobody has the same opinion.  But then, occasionally, those opinions mesh.  That’s my image of what we have been accomplishing.

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Reforming the Financial Landscape After the Crisis


Today we have released the three analytical chapters in our upcoming Global Financial Stability Report. These chapters cover some of the most relevant areas facing policymakers as they devise financial reforms that address the systemic risks that arose during the crisis and deal with potential forthcoming vulnerabilities.

Chapter 1 comes out next week. Chapter 2, published today,  focuses on two questions facing policymakers attempting to reform the financial landscape. One, whether systemic risk would be reduced by placing all regulatory functions under the purview of one entity—be that a single agency or an overseeing council? And two, if we were to use capital surcharges on financial institutions to try to limit the systemic risk associated with domino-like failures, how would we construct such surcharges?

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