The Tragic year: 1931

Benjamin Anderson termed 1931 the “the tragic year” – these are some of the events in that tragic year: 

  1. One of Europe’s largest banks with large exposure to Central and Eastern Europe gets into serious trouble (It is of course Austria’s largest bank Österiechishe Kredit Anstalt – and it of course collapsed)
  2. Europe’s Sovereign debt crisis is threatening financial stability and currency collapse (It’s the Germans that are to blame – they can’t pay their war debts)
  3. Major international banks push for a big country to save the sinners (The US banks ask US president Hoover to help ease the pain on Germany)
  4. Debt restructuring (The Hoover moratorium gives Germany a bit of relief – the US banks are happy to begin with)
  5. Monetary policy keeps deflationary pressures on (The French central bank keeps hoarding gold)
  6. An insane commitment to a failed monetary system (the gold standard mentality keeps the commitment to the gold standard despite the fact that it is killing Europe)
  7. Some countries have had enough and give up the monetary standard (The UK leaves the gold standard – the Scandinavian countries follows suit – and recover fast from the Great Depression)
  8. Technocracy is popular and it suggested that indebted nations should be run by technocrats (The so-called Technocracy Movement became increasingly popular in German)

And here we are 80 years on…do you see any similarities? I wonder what 2012 will bring – in 1932 10 countries (or so…) defaulted…


The Fed can save the euro

David Beckworth has a excellent comment on the correlation between NGDP in the US and the euro zone.

David shows that US NGDP growth leads NGDP growth in the euro zone. This means that if the Federal Reserve were to move to push NGDP back to the pre-crisis trend level then it would likely lead to a similar increase in the NGDP level in the euro zone.

Hence, if the Fed were to introduce a NGDP level target then because the US is a “global monetary superpower” then the ECB would effective be forced to do the same thing. Interestingly this would probably mean that the ECB would overshoot it’s 2% inflation in the short-run as NGDP shifts from on level to another. How would the ECB react to that? Well, first of all the EUR/USD would undoubtedly spike, which would curb short time inflationary pressures and the question is really whether the ECB would have time to do anything about the jump in NGDP. Paradoxically because the ECB is targeting future inflation then it could say “well, inflation is now at 5%, but that is really not something we can do anything about and inflation nonetheless be back to 2% once US NGDP settles down at the new (old) NGDP trend level so no tightening of monetary policy is needed”.

For now the ECB refuses any easing of monetary policy, but if the Fed were to act decisively then the ECB probably would import an easing of monetary policy – and that would probably save the euro. So please Ben can you help us?

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