June 9th, 2012 at 10:09am]
Zoellick Suggests Return to Gold Standard
Robert Zoellick laid out five effective reforms, and added that a new system, "should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values.
Moves towards internationalization.
Today the world uses a system of floating exchange rates based on "fiat" or government-created money. Though many still see an indirect link between gold prices and the value of the dollar, it is one based entirely on market forces.
Long-standing backdrop of tension between China and the United States over the value of the Chinese yuan. The U.S. has criticized China for artificially weakening the value of its currency, leading to distortions in the global foreign exchange market and a greater advantage for Chinese exporters.
The U.S. itself has come under fire for announcing its second round of quantitative easing. China's vice finance minister said the Fed's plan "does not recognize, as a country that issues one of the world's major reserve currencies, its obligation to stabilize capital markets."
China calls for new global reserve currency
China, the US’s biggest creditor, reacted to the downgrade of America’s credit rating by saying it showed that US should “cure its addiction to debts” and called for a new stable global reserve currency instead of the dollar.
“International supervision over the issue of US dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country,” Xinhua wrote.
With the dollar hitting its lowest point in several years, a critical mass of opinion is building in Asia over whether it should continue to be used as a reserve currency.
In Economic Deluge, a World That Can’t Bail Together
In Europe, the crisis has grown worse, not better, and the disputes among European leaders have intensified as much of the Continent appears to have drifted into a new recession. In China, growth remains robust by Western standards. But concern is rising over the possible end of a property boom that had been fueled in part by local government borrowing and spending.
Moreover, there seems to be little willingness — or perhaps lit-tle ability — for the major countries to act together again.
But the most important factor may be that national governments are weak — in every way possible. There is no doubt that some countries could not afford to bail out their banks again; some, in fact, now rely on those same banks for loans to keep the governments functioning at a time when private investors are unsure about their creditworthiness.
The most worrying electoral situation is in Greece, which seems to be mired in permanent recession and unable to comply with the rigid demands for austerity made by its European partners.
It is not that anyone thinks the yields available on German and United States government bonds are attractive. It is that those bonds are deemed safe by fearful investors.
Greece spent its way into its predicament while failing to collect the taxes it was owed and hiding the problem from the rest of Europe. But Spain was running budget surpluses before its own real estate bubble burst, leaving the government reeling. Yet all the troubled countries are being told — largely by Germany — to adhere to rigid austerity. With a common currency, it is hard to see how some of the countries can return to international competitiveness.
More important would be for Europe’s leaders to reach agreement on a course of action that offered hope for recovery in the most stricken areas of the Continent while assuring that the common financial system would have the support of common institutions if needed.
Germany — the country that would have to pick up most of the bill to rescue its neighbors — could decide that not spending the money created greater dangers. The United States could find ways to help out despite fiscal pressures and Congressional hostility to foreign aid.
United STates then, Europe Now- Sargent
The US abandoned the Articles of COnfederation for the US constitution because they wanted to have a government that could go into debt. Approached fiscal policy first, and left monetary policy as an afterthought
European Union is like the Articles of COnfederation in that the power to tax lies with member states. Unanimous consent by member states is required for many important EU-wide fiscal actions.
Important lessons from the way the United States works:
Because there is a free rider problem in paying for public goods, the nations in the EU cannot be relied on voluntarily to provide revenue to the central government to pay for public goods.
Anticipations of default make prospective creditors reluctant to purchase debts in the first place.
COnfused monetary-fiscal coordination creates costly uncertainties. The US coordinated by adopting a commodity money standard and restricting states and banks' ability to create fiduciary monies. You can have a monetary union without having a fiscal union.
To sustain large government debts requires prospects of big government surpluses in the future.
If you want to change outcomes, like turning government surpluses into debts, you have to reform institutions, which can mean agreeing on a new constitution.
Articles of Confederation established a weak executive. Designed to restrain the central government from taxing and spending. Served the interest of some US citizens, but not others. Not good for creditors because the Continental Congress lacked powers adequate to service its substantial foreign and domestic debts. To levy taxes, the central government required unanimous concent of states. Regularly plreaded for contributions from the states and received limited success. Currencies depreciated markedly. Deprived of tax revenues, tried to borrow more. Authority to levy tariffs, the most renumerative potential source of tax revenues, resided in the states.
Trade policies were not coordinated among the US states, so trading partners like Britain could pit one US state against another.
The US constitution realigned incentives and authorities i ways that let the central government devote enough tax revenues to service debts, and gave the central government exclusive authority to tax and regulate US international trade.
In exchange for acquiring taxing power, the federal government agreed to bail out the states, a decision that realigned creditors' interests away from states and toward the federal government. By converting creditors of the syayes into creditors of the central government, bond holders were turned into advocates of a federal fiscal policy that devoted a substantial share fo the proceeds of a revenue raising tariff to servicing those bonds.
Investors should not have intepreted it as a promise to bail out states in the future no matter what, but apparently some of them did, to their eventual regret.
Multiple state currencies in the US before the Civil war meaning that citizens had choices about holding currencies bearing different risks and returns. There was no lender of last resort, no deposit insurance, and no presumption of federal bailouts of banks' depositors.
In response to fiscal occurences, such as not bailing out states' debts, many states rewrote their constitutions to require balanced budgets annually.
Alexander Hamilton set out to manipulate currenct and prospective public creditors' expectations about whether the government would honor its bonds the only he knew: by creating a fiscal union with institutions and interests aligned in ways that would increase the actual probability that the federal government would pay. Fiscal union was not primarily to facilitate a monetary union.
The EU is reminiscent of the Articles of Confederation. The power to tax lies with the member states. Unanimous consent by member states is required for many EU-wide fiscal actions.
The EU has first sought to centralize arrangements for managing a common fiat currency and until now has not wanted a fiscal union.
The US could do a fiscal union because most people worked on farms, didn't live long, and we had slavery. Europe is different because now we have a minimum wage, safety nets that make up most of the national budget
Monetary and fiscal policies cannot be independent. They must be coordinated.