Preventing The Next Catastrophe: Where Do We Stand?


David RomerGuest post by David Romer
University of California, Berkeley, and co-host of Rethinking Macro II: First Steps and Early Lessons

(Versions in 中文, 日本語, and Русский)

As I listened to the presentations and discussions, I found myself thinking about the conference from two perspectives. One is intellectual: Are we asking provocative questions? Are interesting ideas being proposed? Are we talking about important issues? By that standard, the conference was very successful: the discussion was extremely stimulating, and I learned a great deal.

The second perspective is practical: Where do we stand in terms of averting another financial and macroeconomic disaster? By that standard, unfortunately, I fear we are not doing nearly as well. As I will describe, my reading of the evidence is that the events of the past few years are not an aberration, but just the most extreme manifestation of a broader pattern. And the relatively modest changes of the type discussed at the conference, and that in some cases policymakers are putting into place, are helpful but unlikely to be enough to prevent future financial shocks from inflicting large economic harms.

Thus, I believe we should be asking whether there are deeper reforms that might have a large effect on the size of the shocks emanating from the financial sector, or on the ability of the economy to withstand those shocks. But there has been relatively little serious consideration of ideas for such reforms, not just at this conference but in the broader academic and policy communities.

Continue reading

Rethinking Economic Principles: Join the Debate


By iMFdirect

The global financial crisis caused immense hardship and suffering all over the world. To prevent a repeat, we need to rethink…

… what we know about economic theory …. We need to rethink, following this, the policies … coming from the analytical work. And then we will need also to rethink multilateralism.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn (April 16, 2011)

A wholesale reexamination of macroeconomic principles in the wake of the crisis was the goal of a conference at the IMF in early March.

But, for Olivier Blanchard and others, the conference was merely “the beginning of a conversation, the beginning of an exploration.”

Here is our list of recommended reads to help you be part of the conversation. Continue reading

Rewriting the Macroeconomists’ Playbook in the Wake of the Crisis


By Olivier Blanchard

Before the global economic crisis, mainstream macroeconomists had largely converged on a framework for the conduct of macroeconomic policy. The framework was elegant, and conceptually simple. Caricaturing just a bit, it went like this:

  • The essential goal of monetary policy was low and stable inflation. The best way to achieve it was to follow an interest rate rule. If designed right, the rule was not only credible, but delivered stable inflation and ensured that output was as close as it could be to its potential. Continue reading
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