Narrowing Ecologies of Global Finance

Paul McCulley of PIMCO on why global interconnectedness has complicated the picture for central bankers:

The mobility of capital combined with the mobility of information across countless interconnected nodes, hindered occasionally by politics and the transparency tolerance of various governments, gives the largest holders of capital something of a “God-complex” in today’s global economy. Small banks expand to become mega-banks, regional banks consolidate to become universal banks, and foreign central banks “self-insure” to become sovereign wealth funds. Wealth and capital supercede the common CEO, the everyday purchasing manager, and humble central bankers of today in velocity, mobility and connectivity. Global central bankers in particular need to catch up quickly.

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The article in a nutshell:

  • Global asset prices are deflating
  • This is having a contractionary effect on the real economy and causing a decrease in aggregate demand (or, at least the growth of agg demand in certain countries)
  • The problems of the financial system – whose collateral is these falling assets – is resulting in a reduction of available credit.
  • Central banks are doing everything they can to liquefy the banks and to ensure the world that they will not let the big banks fail. But it’s not having enough of the desired effect – cost of capital is still too high for the banks.

I’m not sure what McCulley’s prescription is, though he seems to suggest that central banks should pay more attention to asset prices. I think by now we should realize that asset prices are as important to consumption and demand as consumer prices (blogged about here).

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