The Great Recession has destroyed the possibility of consuming and investing on cheap and easily available credit without regard to quality. Households in major industrial countries will have to borrow less and save more than they did before the crisis. At the moment, interest rates are extremely low while central banks try to offset the withdrawal of credit from financial institutions, but when rates return to normal levels the new reality of expensive credit will register fully.
The IMF held a high-level conference last week on unwinding public interventions in the financial sector. Insightful discussions took place among policymakers, academics, and the private sector, highlighting several areas where a broad consensus appears to be emerging, as well as some challenges that policymakers are about to face.
By José Viñals
Governments and central banks rose to the challenge as the 2008–09 financial crisis unfolded, taking unprecedented steps to avoid the collapse of the global financial system and avert a devastating impact on the global economy. Liquidity support, capital infusions, and public guarantees were provided to banks and other financial institutions; policy interest rates were lowered substantially; and fiscal stimulus packages were introduced.
On top of this, international institutions like the IMF enhanced their lending facilities to help emerging markets and developing economies better cope with the threats posed by the crisis.