Tag: Washington Post

Your Hearing: New Blog at WashingtonPost.com

Some readers have emphasized how the current economic and financial situation leaves them feeling powerless.  Others complain that it’s hard for outsiders even to understand the process through which ideas are debated and become policies – how Capitol Hill really works is a fascinating mystery at many levels.

This morning we’re extending our efforts to address these issues with the launch of The Hearing, a new blog at the Washington Post.  James and I are the moderators and we’ll focus the discussion around Congressional hearings – including the broader debates in which these are situated.

The Post has great impact in Washington and it’s our hope that The Hearing will allow you to express ideas in ways and at a time that can have real effects on policies.  For this reason, we’ll preview public events and provide ways for you to suggest questions that need to be heard.  At the very least, we can all learn more about what is happening and exactly why.

We’re open to suggestion regarding the exact format, guest contributors, and generally how to make The Hearing more effective.  We will, of course, keep BaselineScenario as our primary outlet for opinions and analysis – The Hearing is intended to be complementary, by bringing your voices into the specifics of idea flow through Congress.  We’ll tell you here when you should consider going to look there.

My first post deals with tomorrow’s JEC hearing on “Is Big Finance Too Big To Save”?  I preview what Joe Stiglitz and Thomas Hoenig are likely to say (based on their racing form), and I anticipate where the discussion will go – or at least where I will try to push it, as I’m on the panel also. 

If you have points or questions you want raised, please post them here or on the Post’s site.  There’s no guarantee your issues will be taken up, of course, but my guess is that this new forum will help sensible requests – of the kind often seen here – gain broader traction.

By Simon Johnson

Ben Bernanke: More Important Than The G20 Summit

It may strike you as extraordinary that the G20 summit barely touched on what is, arguably, the key policy issue going forward – what will central banks do, including the detailed when and how of avoiding falling wages and prices (deflation).  Fiscal stimulus is already almost fully in play around the world, regulatory reform will at best be slow and not relevant to the recovery, and “we promise to avoid an irresponsible protectionist trade war” is nice but more about not making things worse rather than getting our economies going again.  Funding and leadership model change for the IMF can help prevent emerging markets from cratering, but in terms of impact on global growth or unemployment, it’s second order relative to the macro policies of the world’s largest countries.

The real issue is monetary policy, including interest rate cuts where there is still room for these – to me the biggest news of the week was actually that the European Central Bank cut rates by less than expected (its main interest rate stands at 1.25 percent).  This confirms the ECB still does not see deflation as a clear and present danger.  Look at all the downward pressures in the European economy, from East European collapses (and associated West European banking problems) to property market declines in the UK, Ireland and Spain (and what that means for banking) and export industry stress (and they have bankers too).  The ECB is taking an extraordinary and – to my mind – incorrect position.  If they truly wait until deflation is “fully in the data” (central bank jargon), it will be too late.

The dramatic trans-Atlantic, or at least eurozone-dollar, contrast is in terms of monetary policy, not fiscal stimulus or attitudes towards future regulation.  In our piece in the Washinton Post Outlook section on Sunday (already online), we provide an updated back story on how exactly the Fed and its chair got to the point of taking bold and unprecedented moves towards expansionary monetary and credit policy.  Continue reading “Ben Bernanke: More Important Than The G20 Summit”