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  • Author: Steve H. Hanke
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Monetary instability poses a threat to free societies. Indeed, currency instability, banking crises, soaring inflation, sovereign debt defaults, and economic booms and busts all have a common source: monetary instability. Furthermore, all these ills induced by monetary instability bring with them calls for policy changes, many of which threaten free societies. One who understood this simple fact was Karl Schiller, who was the German Finance Minister from 1966 until 1972. Schiller’s mantra was clear and uncompromising: “Stability is not everything, but without stability, everything is nothing” (Marsh 1992: 30). Well, Schiller’s mantra is my mantra. I offer three regime changes that would enhance the stability in what Jacques de Larosière (2014) has asserted is an international monetary “anti-system.” First, the U.S. dollar and the euro should be formally, loosely linked together. Second, most central banks in developing countries should be mothballed and replaced by currency boards. Third, private currency boards should be permitted to enter the international monetary sphere.
  • Topic: Debt, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy, Developing World, Inflation, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Michael D Bordo, Mickey D. Levy
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ratcheting up of tariffs and the Fed’s discretionary conduct of monetary policy are a toxic mix for economic performance. Escalating tariffs and President Trump’s erratic and unpredictable trade policy and threats are harming global economic performance, distorting monetary policy, and undermining the Fed’s credibility and independence. President Trump’s objectives to force China to open access to its markets for international trade, reduce capital controls, modify unfair treatment of intellectual property, and address cybersecurity issues and other U.S. national security issues are laudable goals with sizable benefits. However, the costs of escalating tariffs are mounting, and the tactic of relying exclusively on barriers to trade and protectionism is misguided and potentially dangerous. The economic costs to the United States so far have been relatively modest, dampening exports, industrial production, and business investment. However, the tariffs and policy uncertainties have had a significantly larger impact on China, accentuating its structural economic slowdown, and are disrupting and distorting global supply chains. This is harming other nations that have significant exposure to international trade and investment overseas, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. As a result, global trade volumes and industrial production are falling. Weaker global growth is reflected in a combination of a reduction in aggregate demand and constraints on aggregate supply.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Economic growth, Tariffs, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gunther Schnabl
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Twenty years after the introduction of the euro, the European Monetary Union (EMU) is at its crossroads. Following the outbreak of the European financial and debt crisis in 2008, the European Central Bank (ECB) took comprehensive measures to stabilize the common currency. Interest rates were cut to and below zero and several asset purchase programs have inflated the ECB balance sheet (Riet 2018). Within the European System of Central Banks, large imbalances have emerged via the TARGET2 payments system, which can be seen as quasi-unconditional credit in favor of the southern euro area countries (Sinn 2018). While the ECB terminated its asset purchase program at the end of 2018 and is expected to increase interest rates in late 2019, financial instability is reemerging. Growing uncertainty about the fiscal discipline of the Italian government has triggered a significant increase in risk premiums on Italian government bonds. In particular, in Italy and Greece, but also in Germany, bad loans and assets remain stuck in the banking systems. In the face of the upcoming downswing, European banks do not seem ready for new financial turmoil. In this fragile environment, the future path of the EMU is uncertain. To enhance the stability of the EMU, a group of German and French economists has called for a common euro area budget, for a strengthening of the European Stability Mechanism as lender of last resort for euro area countries and banks, as well as for a common European deposit insurance scheme (Bénassy-Quéré et al. 2018). In response, 154 German economists have warned against transforming the EMU into what they call a “liablity union,” which systematically undermines market principles and wealth (Mayer et al. 2018). In 2018, a French-German initative to introduce a common euro area budget faced strong opposition from a group of northern European countries as well as from Italy, symbolizing the political deadlock concerning reforms of the EMU. This article explains the different views on the institutional setting of monetary policymaking in Europe from a historical perspective. It begins with a description of the economic and monetary order in postwar Germany. It then discusses the positive implications for the European integration process and the economic consequences of the transformation of postwar German monetary order. The final section offers some economic policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Monetary Policy, Reform, European Union, Banks, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Sebastian Edwards
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: dea has emerged in economic policy circles in the United States: “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT). The central tenet of this view is that it is possible to use expansive monetary policy—money creation by the central bank (i.e., the Federal Reserve)—to finance large fiscal deficits, and create a “jobs guarantee” program that will ensure full employment and good jobs for everyone. This view is related to Abba Lerner’s (1943) “functional finance” idea, and has become very popular in progressive spheres. According to MMT supporters, this policy would not result in crowding out of private investment, nor would it generate a public debt crisis or inflation outbursts.
  • Topic: Debt, Monetary Policy, Populism, Banks, Economic Policy, Inflation
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is a pleasure to be back here at Cato and to be invited to speak once again at this annual conference. This is one of the premier ongoing monetary policy conferences, and the participants, both at the podium and in the audience, attest to its prominence. This is a session on international monetary arrangements, and there has already been an interesting discussion. I find myself in substantial agreement with the comments of John Taylor, so I do not wish to repeat his points. What I will try to do is put the rules-based approach to international monetary policy coordination in a context that I hope will help us understand some of the past failures so we might avoid them in the future. In many ways, I will simply be reminding us of some principles we all have known for some time, yet which we seem to forget all too frequently.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Banks
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Judy Shelton
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: How often do we hear references to the notion that we live in a rules-based global trading system? Addressing the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May praised liberalism, free trade, and globalization as “the forces that underpin the rules-based international system that is key to our global prosperity and security” (Martin 2017). Chinese President Xi Jinping likewise extolled the virtues of a rules-based economic order at Davos, winning widespread praise for defending free trade and globalization (Fidler, Chen, and Wei 2017). But could someone please explain: What exactly are those rules? Because if we are going to invoke the sentimentality of Bretton Woods by suggesting that the world has remained true to its precepts, we are ignoring geopolitical reality. Moreover, we are denying the warped economic consequences of global trade conducted in the absence of orderly currency arrangements. We have not had a rules-based international monetary system since President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods agreement in August 1971. Today there are compelling reasons—political, economic, and strategic—for President Trump to initiate the establishment of a new international monetary system.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past few years I have been making the case for moving toward a more rules-based international monetary system (e.g., Taylor 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016a, 2016b, 2017). In fact, I made the case over 30 years ago in Taylor (1985), and the ideas go back over 30 years before that to Milton Friedman (1953). However, the case for such a system is now much stronger because the monetary system drifted away from a rules-based approach in the past dozen years and, as Paul Volcker (2014) reminds us, the absence of a rulesbased monetary system “has not been a great success.” To bring recent experience to bear on the case, we must recognize that central banks have been using two separate monetary policy instruments in recent years: the policy interest rate and the size of the balance sheet, in which reserve balances play a key role. Any international monetary modeling framework used to assess or to make recommendations about international monetary policy must include both instruments in each country, the policy for changing the instruments, and the effect of these changes on exchange rates. Using such a framework, I show that both policy instruments have deviated from rules-based policy in recent years. I then draw the policy implications for the international monetary system and suggest a way forward to implement the policy.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In previous articles in the annual monetary issue of the Cato Journal, I drew on historical facts and economic theory to explain the benefits of rules-based monetary policy and why legislation could help the United States reap those benefits (Taylor 2011, 2013a). In this article, I discuss the international aspects of monetary policy, a subject often glossed over in modern debates about rules-based policy, at least compared with discussions about the classic rulesbased gold standard.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Roger W. Garrison
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The evolution of macroeconomic theory and monetary policy has brought us to a state that calls for critical reflection. It is undoubtedly true that no newcomer to the field can even begin to understand the current state of macroeconomics and policy formulation without understanding just how, dating from the pre-Keynesian era, the profession has arrived at this state. High theory today takes the form of stochastic dynamic general equilibrium analysis, while policy discussion, which concerns itself with economy-wide disequilibrium, centers on the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of old-style fiscal and monetary stimulants. The market is a process and so too is the theorizing about it. The history of macroeconomic thought reasserts its relevance at times of economic crises and almost inevitably leads us to the question "How far back do we have to go to start all over?"
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Author: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In these remarks I discuss a proposal to legislate a rule for monetary policy. The proposal modernizes laws first passed in the late 1970s, but largely discarded in 2000.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy