The Lessons of the North Atlantic Crisis for Economic Theory and Policy

Joseph_E._StiglitzGuest post by: Joseph E. Stiglitz
Columbia University, New York, and co-host of the Conference on Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons

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

In analyzing the most recent financial crisis, we can benefit somewhat from the misfortune of recent decades. The approximately 100 crises that have occurred during the last 30 years—as liberalization policies became  dominant—have given us a wealth of experience and mountains of data.  If we look over a 150 year period, we have an even richer data set.

With a century and half of clear, detailed information on crisis after crisis, the burning question is not How did this happen? but How did we ignore that long history, and think that we had solved the problems with the business cycle? Believing that we had made big economic fluctuations a thing of the past took a remarkable amount of hubris.

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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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Latvia’s Economic Potential: Recovery and Reforms

Latvia’s economy has attracted international attention out of all proportion to its size. Many observers know that Latvia returned to strong economic growth after a severe downturn in 2008 and 2009 and a tough austerity program. In late 2012, Latvia even repaid the IMF in full, several years early. But the international consensus ends there. Critics of Latvia’s economic strategy point to continuing high rates of unemployment and poverty; advocates point to the benefits of frontloading spending cuts and tax increases to lay the foundations for recovery.

The Power of Cooperation

In an article in the new issue of Finance & Development magazine, President Bill Clinton shares his experience working with governments, business, and civil society as part of his Clinton Global Initiative. He says they are making the most progress in places where people have formed networks of creative cooperation where stakeholders come together to do things better, faster and cheaper than any could alone.

Mind The Gap: Policies To Jump Start Growth in the U.K.

The effects of a persistently weak economy and high long-term unemployment can reverberate through a country’s economy long into the future—commonly referred to by economists as hysteresis. Our analysis shows that the large and sustained output gap, the difference between what an economy could produce and what it is producing, raises the danger that a downturn reduces the economy’s productive capacity and permanently depresses potential GDP.

Get the Basics in Economics from the IMF’s One-Stop Shop

The IMF's Finance & Development magazine has just come out with a useful web compilation of stories in its Back to Basics series on economics. The page is aimed at students, academics, and those seeking a broader understanding of economic ideas. It pulls together articles from the “Back to Basics” column in the quarterly magazine that have been published since 2003.

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