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THE GREAT RECESSION, THE EUROPEAN FISCAL CRISIS AND LESSONS FOR PAKISTAN. Part 3: The European Debt Crisis

The Exploding Debt in Europe

By Kashan Wali, exclusive to the PTH

 

Wealth cannot be artificially created

Finance in a real world relies on underlying wealth of a society. Governments cannot create wealth by printing money. Print too much money and it will lose its value. A fall in the value of money leads to inflation. Inflation viciously attacks the value of savings of the population. As population loses the stored wealth, the population becomes dependent on the state. State has to pay more now for healthcare, education and in extreme situation, food and shelter for population that is going poorer by the day. Either way, unless the underlying wealth (net output of goods and services produced) does not increase, a country cannot become wealthier.

Let’s say state tries to pull another trick here; it starts borrowing heavily from the investors to boost its cash reserves. A smart market will quickly catch on to the trick as it analyzes the conditions of the local economies to see if this state has good books and stable revenues. If investors decide that the state cannot pay off its liabilities in the future, it will charge a lot more in interest rate to justify taking that excessive risk. Investors may decide not to lend at all to a government running shady practices.

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Filed under Democracy, Economy, Europe, New Writers, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, poverty, public policy, state, USA

THE GREAT RECESSION, THE EUROPEAN FISCAL CRISIS AND LESSONS FOR PAKISTAN. Part 2: The US Sub-Prime Crisis and the Great Recession

By Kashan Wali, exclusive to the PTH

As the United States economy took off for most of the 1990s, the new found wealth across the world was staring at the best of both worlds; high economic output due to technological advances, cheaper labour entrance into the global economy from India and China, entrance of Eastern Europe and Latin America in the democratic capitalist system, all combined with a lower inflation. What could go wrong?

In some ways, the situation was similar to the roaring 1920s of the United States. 90 years ago, the US economy was expanding rapidly. New technological advances in automobile and telephone technology were erasing geographical distances within and outside of the United States. Rising productivity was increasing wealth and the signs of prosperity were evident in the stock market and the housing market.

The stock markets in the United States took off for most of the 1990s. Most of the rise was understandable; internet was revolutionising the distribution of knowledge. And modern economy is a knowledge based economy, not the traditional manufacturing based economy of the 20th century. Technology is a self perpetuating phenomenon. It builds on a wider base and increases exponentially. The equity market future expectations of higher revenue in the future due to higher revenues and profits down the road were probably justified.

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THE GREAT RECESSION, THE EUROPEAN FISCAL CRISIS AND LESSONS FOR PAKISTAN. Part 1: Background, The Roaring 90s and the rise of leverage

 

By Kashan Wali, exclusive to the PTH

Today is May 08, 2010. As I write these line it occurs to me that this weekend is one of the most critical weekends as the seven month long crisis that started with initial doubts about Greece’s ability to pay off the massive debt that Greece had accumulated. The world nervously watches the European debt crisis morph into a contagious financial nightmare. Investors are worried that indebted nations like Greece, Portugal, Spain and even UK have accumulated too much debt too soon.

Coming on heels of the subprime crisis in 2007 and 2008, the world economies and the financial system are still in the recuperation phase from the wounds inflicted from the subprime crisis and the subsequent Great Recession afterwards. Below, we examine the European debt crisis in more detail. We will also look at the lessons for Pakistan and other emerging countries. There are a lot more similarities between the Greek tragedy and the Pakistani fiscal conditions. For those who do not learn from others mistakes end up being others down the road.

But first let’s take a step back to the subprime crisis that had the fiscal implications for the United States and Europe. Even before the subprime crisis, let’s examine the roaring 1990s that were a direct result of the massive globalization unleashed with the arrival of the internet. This was an important decade as two most populous countries properly entered the global economic arena for the very first time. They were China and India. For the next two decades, we see an explosive growth in the world economic output, globalization of trade, fall in industrialized world inflation, falling yields and the rise of phenomenon called the “leverage”. A few decades from today, we may exclaim what a shame that such prosperity became a victim to excessive leverage and regulatory failure. Yet we have countless examples of this reckless behaviour throughout the human history.

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