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Year-End Perspectives on the US & Global Economies

Summary:
A year-end summing up of where we stand is harder than usual this time! I have recently spoken: on “Global Economic Challenges for Donald Trump,” (outline; slides: Ppt, pdf) on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, Dec. 5, 2016. Summary & video. And on “An Economy That Works for All Americans” (slides: ppt, pdf)  to the Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress, Institute of Politics, December 7, 2016. And  on “Trade and Inequality,” (slides: Ppt, pdf) at the  Providence Committee on Foreign Relations, Dec. 14, 2016. The Chosun Daily now asks for five key factors for 2017.  Here is my response. Continued uncertainty over what US policies will come out of the new Trump Administration. Reason: we don’t know what he will propose, because he has said so many contradictory things, and we don’t know how much resistance he will face in the Congress. Strong dollar and widening US trade deficits Reason: Rising US interest rates will continue to make dollar assets more attractive to global investors than other countries’ assets. A new monetary-fiscal policy mix, reminiscent of the early 1980s, underlies these trends. Difficulties in some Emerging Market countries, especially those dependent on commodity exports and/or with debts denominated in dollars.

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A year-end summing up of where we stand is harder than usual this time!

I have recently spoken:

  • on “Global Economic Challenges for Donald Trump,” (outline; slides: Ppt, pdf) on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, Dec. 5, 2016. Summary & video.
  • And on “An Economy That Works for All Americans” (slides: pptpdf)  to the Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress, Institute of Politics, December 7, 2016.
  • And  on “Trade and Inequality,” (slides: Ppt, pdf) at the  Providence Committee on Foreign Relations, Dec. 14, 2016.
  • The Chosun Daily now asks for five key factors for 2017.  Here is my response.
  1. Continued uncertainty over what US policies will come out of the new Trump Administration.
    Reason: we don’t know what he will propose, because he has said so many contradictory things, and we don’t know how much resistance he will face in the Congress.
  2. Strong dollar and widening US trade deficits
    Reason: Rising US interest rates will continue to make dollar assets more attractive to global investors than other countries’ assets. A new monetary-fiscal policy mix, reminiscent of the early 1980s, underlies these trends.
  3. Difficulties in some Emerging Market countries, especially those dependent on commodity exports and/or with debts denominated in dollars.
    Reason: their debt service ratios will worsen, because their debt service obligations arl going up while their dollar export receipts are going down.
  4. China forced to choose between halting the depreciation of the RMB, on the one hand, versus further internationalization of the currency on the other hand.
    Reason:  Controls on capital outflows could be used to slow down the fundamentals-driven depreciation, but imply suspending the RMB internationalization project for the time being.
  5. The possible end of a 70-year period of US-led global progress toward a liberal international order. 
    Reasons:  Global trade has stopped rising as a share of global GDP since 2008.  One factor is that we have had no important successful new trade deals.  Now the incoming US President appears explicitly to reject the very ideas of globalization, liberal values, and US leadership.  Analogous nationalistic political forces have risen in other countries too, as shown by Brexit.
Jeffrey Frankel
Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, previously served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. He directs the Program in International Finance and Macroeconomics at the US National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a member of the Business Cycle Dating Committee, the official US arbiter of recession and recovery.

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