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November 10, 2008

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Tord Steiro

Dani, why is your name on the front page of the communique?

Per Kurowski

Let me make a brief comment on this report on “What G20 leaders must do to stabilize our economy and fix the financial system” from the perspective of a developing country.

In “Coordinated responses versus identical responses” Refet S. Gürkaynak from Bilkent University and CEPR says “choosing a financial system that can only take minimal risks is unlikely to be optimal for any country. Financial regulation should be prudent, but not prudent to the extent of allowing for no risk, and no return either”.

And of course he is right, risk is indeed the oxygen of development, and I have myself been arguing so vehemently in all possible ways since when in 1997 I started to see where the bank regulations in Basel were taking us.

But, how on earth do we get a financial regulatory system that does not ex-ante tax risk-taking, when the bedroom fantasy of the regulating autocracy in charge is only to avoid a bank crisis on their watch, and they won’t allow anyone with different ideas to join and spoil their cozy mutual admiration club?

As a former Executive Director at the World Bank (2002-2004) and who has with sadness witnessed directly how the development role of our commercial banks have almost disappeared from the agenda of the World Bank, I believe because it was forced to obey the champion of “stability”, the IMF, I cannot think of a better way to start than to explicitly free the World Bank from the chains of having to harmonize with the IMF.

Just to read the “Financial Sector Assessment, a Handbook” prepared by the World Bank and the IMF in 2005 makes any developer want to cry. In its over 450 pages there are just two short paragraphs 4.5 The Demand-Side reviews and the effect of Finance on the Real Sector and 4.5.1 Enterprise Finance where it refers to whether “the users and the extent to which the financial services they receive are adequate to their needs”. Their conclusion? “Development assessments must express a general view on this issue, though in many countries, especially low-income countries, detailed quantification may be beyond the scope of the assessment”.

When in the same handbook, in “4.6.4. Development Obstacles Imposed by Unwarranted Prudential Regulation” one is led to believe that finally the development of the country is considered, one soon discovers that this section has to do with obstacles to the development of the financial sector itself, like for instance through heavy regulation of branch openings.

Finally let me close this by floating one question to the development community. Is the development of consumer finance really a high priority issue for a developing country?

Anonymous Coward

LOL. Nice try. Fooled me until I downloaded the book from voxeu.org.

Laura Harrison

Bravo! What you have written, and your fellow contributors to the book at http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/2544 , is just what we need - intellectual leadership for international economic cooperation in this crisis. Now we need political leadership, especially from the US, to give effect to this. This is what we can learn from Keynes which is so crucial for our interdependent world economy, on the prosperity of which depend also the chances of lasting international peace(see Donald Markwell, “John Maynard Keynes and International Relations”). Everyone in an economic or foreign policy position in the new administration should be committed to international economic cooperation as a centrepiece of US foreign relations.
I hope the communique this weekend is along these lines!

Sandro Perricelli


"These countries are the casualty of financial excesses that are not the result of their own doing. So we emphasize that access to the SLF will be available to all developing countries that are adversely affected by the financial turbulence emanating from the subprime fallout."

This has to be a joke.

Any international financial architecture where more than 1 cent is out at risk to rescue the finances of the current regimes of Venezuela or Argentina is an international financial architecture that reflects a world that does not deserve positive economic growth.

2cents

Dani, this implies that nothing will really change. We just need to do a better job managing things going forward. The ponzi system is mathematically unstable better management can only change the constants and multipliers in the equation. The exponential functions themselves are left unchanged! This is just window dressing.

Ken Houghton

I'm left to conclude, having seen the exact same posting three times in two different topics, that "Sandro Perricelli" is a spambot.

Per Kurowski

I do not know if Ken Houghton is right calling Sandro Perricelli a spambot but Pericelli is certainly right in thinking that assisting a country like Venezuela that locally sells the gas at 12 US$ cents a gallon, with which it at opportunity cost transfers effectively more than 10 percent of GNP from those who have nothing of nothing to those who drive cars or sit in the car jams… “has to be a joke”

Sandro Perricelli

"I'm left to conclude, having seen the exact same posting three times in two different topics, that "Sandro Perricelli" is a spambot."

No. It only means that Sandro Perricelli sometimes posts his replies to the wrong thread.

Sean

Sandro: in this particular instant, the developing countries aren't responsible in the slightest. This is 100% the fault of northern financial markets "casino capitalism" that is the result of sustained deregulation and persistently low interest rates during economic expansion. Couple that with the repression of the power of labor to negotiate and you end up with stagnant real wages in the US, leading to the increased concentration of wealth in the hands of a few (especially in financial markets), and a distorted incentive system whereby the only real profits (because of a depressed consumer base) to be found are in financial speculation.

Incidentally, Venezuela has been budgeting quite conservatively over the past few years. Argentina has a few issues, notably a high inflation rate, but growth has also been high. Neither country is perfect, but they haven't done that bad a job in recent years either.

No - the joke (sad as it is) is that neoliberal conditionality and political favoritism is alive and well at the IMF - to the point that Strauss-Kahn has publicly announced that Argentina will not be eligible for the SLF. One would have thought the steady repayment and intentional avoidance of the Fund on the part of many countries was enough to clue them into the fact that conditionality only flies in times of crisis (and then only with great reluctance). It was only a few months ago that the IMF was petitioning to sell gold reserves to cover its overhead.

Sadly, IMF doublespeak is alive and well, calling for fiscal stimulus in the US and EU, while calling for austerity in Iceland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Pakistan. The advice is 1997 all over again, only this time the crisis is (even more) unequivocally the fault of Northern financial markets. Why doesn't the IMF urge austerity in the US, with our budget deficit, I wonder?

Sandro Perricelli

(Part 1)

"Sandro: in this particular instant, the developing countries aren't responsible in the slightest."

Not sure here. First, one might argue that the crisis in the US was driven by easy money from China and other emerging Asian countries. Second, commodity exporting developing countries benefited hugely from the unsustainable boom in recent years in the US.

"This is 100% the fault of northern financial markets "casino capitalism" that is the result of sustained deregulation and persistently low interest rates during economic expansion."

See China exchange rate policies.

"Incidentally, Venezuela has been budgeting quite conservatively over the past few years."

Absolute non-sense. Why do you think inflation is over 30% in Venezuela? Magic gnomes?

"Argentina has a few issues, notably a high inflation rate, but growth has also been high."

Argentina does not have a few issues. Argentina is a rogue state. The Argentinean state defaulted in its international obligations (Italian grannies...), then it lied on inflation to default on its inflation-indexed bonds, then it defaulted on the private pension funds by forcing them to buy low-yield government paper, most recently it is trying to confiscate the external assets of the private pension funds to continue financing a spending spree. Only Mugabe can beat that record.

"Neither country is perfect, but they haven't done that bad a job in recent years either."

Only Mugabe can beat Argentina's record. As regards Chavez, my bet is that when he leaves office, Venezuelans will be poorer than when he first stepped in. Let's just wait.

Sandro Perricelli


"No - the joke (sad as it is) is that neoliberal conditionality and political favoritism is alive and well at the IMF - to the point that Strauss-Kahn has publicly announced that Argentina will not be eligible for the SLF."

It would be immoral with the taxpayers of the world if Argentina were allowed to access funds without conditionality. Finally, to allow Argentina to have access to the SLF would simply kill the facility, after all that facility was designed so the IMF could extend loans to countries with a good track record (Israel, South Korea etc) without tainting the image of those countries with an association to Argentina.

"One would have thought the steady repayment and intentional avoidance of the Fund on the part of many countries was enough to clue them into the fact that conditionality only flies in times of crisis (and then only with great reluctance)."

I do not understand your logic. I have never seen doctors pedling chemotherapy to healthy patients.

"It was only a few months ago that the IMF was petitioning to sell gold reserves to cover its overhead."

And your point is?

"Sadly, IMF doublespeak is alive and well, calling for fiscal stimulus in the US and EU, while calling for austerity in Iceland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Pakistan."

Absolute non-sense. First, if the IMF recommended the same policies to all countries, that would be a "one size fits all" strategy, which is visibly stupid. Second, if IMF did not exist, Iceland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Pakistan would WITHOUT A SHED OF DOUBT be adopting austerity measured simply because that is what their circumstances call for and allow them.

"The advice is 1997 all over again, only this time the crisis is (even more) unequivocally the fault of Northern financial markets."

Not sure your point here. 1997 was a very successful IMF intervention. See the trajectory of the Asian countries after the crisis and compare it with the 1982 crisis in Latin America.

"Why doesn't the IMF urge austerity in the US, with our budget deficit, I wonder?"

Because austerity in the US would be terrible policy, capable of triggering a great depression?

hari

This is a non-starter; to begin with, you need a political economist of some substance to address the IMF deficit in policy framework and its implementation.

Why don't you *ursurpers* of the final communique listen and read more carefully the language of someone like Sarkosy and Hu Juntao and Da Silva before making your so-called academic, as usual, nonsense?

m.r.sivaraman former ED IMF

Communiques are always prepared in advance and they are more or less similar with changes to keep with times.The current communique is mundane and does not categorically state the truth that the innovative derivative products introduced below the line to beat the regulators and to make quick profit was responsible and that the regulators either did not have the will or the power to curb the practice, The IMF failed to point out that the derivatives were exploding in the US market and may have disastrous consequences. They did not do their job with the US/UK and other major economies during the Article IV consultations to point the systemic risks in their derivative markets.The IMF unfortunately does only a coroner's job when crises lay low the economies.The IMF has brilliant theoreticians but very few practical economists who have seen crises and tackled them at the government level or at the central bank level.It is time they wake up to reality, now that the trust in the institution has been reinforced in spite of its failure to give an early warning.Somebody in the IMF also should answer for their failure or defend themselves.

Sandro Perricelli

"Why don't you *ursurpers* of the final communique listen and read more carefully the language of someone like Sarkosy and Hu Juntao and Da Silva before making your so-called academic, as usual, nonsense?"

That was an amusing comment. After all, it implies that the world should hear Lula or Sarkozy on financial matters... As if there were a financial sector worth copying in Brazil or France. In Brazil the word mortgage does not even have a translation to Portuguese. I sure better have a big crisis every few decades and be able to have a mortgage than live in a country with Brazil's financial sector that charges more than 100% real interest on bank overdrafts and where the vast majority of people save through their whole lives to buy their houses in a single installment.

Thank you, Lula and Sarkozy. Now shut up.

Hermenauta

Sandro,

I'm sure you can express your point of view without lies.

Of course there is a translation in portuguese to "mortage": "hipoteca".

And the Lula government, as every brazilian knows, was the first one to create plenty of affordable credit to durable goods like cars and homes _ although of course we never had the kind of frenzy they had in the USA, what in fact is a good thing.

So, if you are not brazilian, I would invite you to do some research about the topics you talk about. And if you are a brazilian, I would call you a liar.

Sandro Perricelli

First, Herme, tone down.

Then, I suggest you to go to a Itau or Banco do Brasil branch and ask for a "hipoteca". I am afraid their credit agent might run you off the branch thinking that is some new modality of bank robbery... Please go around any main street in Brazil and ask the random passerby what "hipoteca" means. I can bet 9 out of 10 random Brazilians have never heard that word before. On the other hand, you will not find an American that does not know what a mortgage is.

Now on your repressed aggressiveness about credit, it is simply not true that the level of access that households in Brazil have to credit is anything not to be deeply ashamed about. There is very little credit to households in Brazil, and the little availability comes at a very high cost --- a cost so high that most Americans or Europeans would never believe any sane, rational person would accept paying (try telling a foreigner that banks charge over 100% real interest for check overdrafts in Brazil...).

Obviously, none of that is a surprise, after all Brazil is very heavy in state owned banks and what happens in Brazil is simply typical of countries with those pests.

Finally, if you want to stick around with the stock of housing available in Brazil and the favelas you find in Rio, I guess it is a matter pf taste. I'd much rather have had a private sector led housing boom in Brazil as did the US in recent years. At least the favelas would be gone, no?

hari

I think your thinking about Brazil is closer to a *pest* because you're blind-folded by your socalled superior American free market stupidity...and more.

So now shut up!

Sandro Perricelli

"I think your thinking about Brazil is closer to a *pest* because you're blind-folded by your socalled superior American free market stupidity...and more."

First, learn how to read.

Second, in case "pests" refer to state owned banks.

Third, American "free market stupidity" created a n economy with income per capita four to five times larger than income per capita in Brazil.

My three favorite explanations why Brazil does NOT copy the American model are (1) some pathological stupidity at the societal level (not implying anything about the intelligence of individual Brazilians); (2) a deep complex of inferiority; or (3) such a lovely maids we can hire! we are just so happy being upper class in a poor country!

Of course, those three points are valid not only for Brazil, we are not the only mega-underperforming country in the world.

Sandro Perricelli

"First, learn how to read.

Second, in case "pests" refer to state owned banks."

Ops, I withdraw the comments above and I am going to reading lessons -- you indeed seem to have understood the meaning of my comments.

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The G-20 Summit was created as a response both to the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and to a growing recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. The G-20 Summits of heads of state or government were held in addition to the G-20 Meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors who continued to meet to prepare the Heads Summits and implement their decisions.

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Sandro,

I'm sure you can express your point of view without lies.

Of course there is a translation in portuguese to "mortage": "hipoteca".

And the Lula government, as every brazilian knows, was the first one to create plenty of affordable credit to durable goods like cars and homes _ although of course we never had the kind of frenzy they had in the USA, what in fact is a good thing.

So, if you are not brazilian, I would invite you to do some research about the topics you talk about. And if you are a brazilian, I would call you a liar.

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It would be immoral with the taxpayers of the world if Argentina were allowed to access funds without conditionality. Finally, to allow Argentina to have access to the SLF would simply kill the facility, after all that facility was designed so the IMF could extend loans to countries with a good track record (Israel, South Korea etc) without tainting the image of those countries with an association to Argentina.

"One would have thought the steady repayment and intentional avoidance of the Fund on the part of many countries was enough to clue them into the fact that conditionality only flies in times of crisis (and then only with great reluctance)."
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