Thursday , March 30 2023

Are we ready for a new crisis?


It is not at all certain that, in the event of a new financial turmoil, Europe receives a helping hand from America to Donald Trump. The beautiful spirit of cooperation that dominated in 2008 has disappeared.

Yes, we will still be in a financial crisis, it is obvious. But no one knows where the next storm will come from. What will be the market segment that will ignite the dust, traditional banking or shadow banking? Nobody knows that. In fact, the question is much more if we are sufficiently armed to cope with the next crisis, no matter where it comes from.

Together with experts from the National Bank of Belgium, the ECB, the Solvay School of Economics in Brussels and the Economics School in Toulouse and a fine line of economists, you can expect an answer. At a major conference on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, these different experts reminded that no toolbox was available in 2008. Most of the time, we had to improvise. In the United States, the Federal Reserve quickly launched a major asset purchase operation (quantitative easing) that will be imitated a few years later by the European Central Bank.

During the crisis, we managed to get rid of the harmful policies of all for himself. At the G20 meeting in early 2009, initiated in particular by Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, the various countries have shown their willingness to cooperate.

Already in 2008-2009, some members of the Congress were offended to see that American money crossed the Atlantic.

Above all, dollar swap agreements between the US central bank and the other central banks, including the ECB, have helped unlock a highly tense situation, the very active European dollars in dollars who may soon need green money.

Could such a rescue operation be redefined today in the event of a major disaster? Some doubt. This is the case with Barry Eichengreen, a renowned professor at the University of California. Question: the unilateralism of US President Donald Trump, transforming the world in a profound way. The attitude of cooperation is stifled by "America in the First" Dear Trump.

Already in 2008-2009, some members of the Congress were offended to see that American money crossed the Atlantic. With Trump in power, such recurrences could repeat quickly. It can be hoped, as Eichengreen does, that the Federal Reserve can withstand any pressures exerted by the presidency.

In Europe, the questions focus on the resilience of the euro area. Clear progress has been made in recent years. But Vitor Constancio, the former vice-president of the ECB, believes it will be important to complete the banking union with a common deposit protection (a measure supported by the Nobel Prize winner in the economy, Jean Tirole) and review the functioning of the Stability Pact.

However, the political conditions for such reforms are not yet in place. and the Italian stalemate freezes all initiatives. A worsening of the crisis with the European Commission would be difficult to overcome. Constancio, however, recalls some truths. Most Italians want to stay in the eurozone. And Italy has no interest in playing a card of confrontation with the financial markets. Because, ultimately, the latter are the ones who will probably win.

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