Erle Frayne Argonza
Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!
2009 will be another bleak year economically, more so for the North (USA, EU, Japan are topmost). The recession that began with the subprime mortgage bubble burst in America in 07, will ensue with even mightier turbulence, as there are no coherent policy solutions of a strategic nature that can salve the economic ailment on a global scale.
As already articulated by this economist/analyst in various articles, the policy environment must be changed and regulatory mechanisms strengthened to immediately gain business confidence and reverse the tide of catastrophe. On the domestic front, the solution begins by following a New Deal type of policy set, which will bring back the fervor of production-driven growth and full employment. On the international/global front, a new financial architecture must be agreed upon via a global summit called for the purpose, akin to a New Bretton Woods.
The only intervention mechanisms we observe today are bailouts of failing financial and business institutions, which are toxically immoral as those criminal oligarchs are even rewarded for their sordid looting and corrupt practices. Only Russia and China have openly resorted to a New Deal type solution, in consonance with the practices of the late regime of Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the USA. As far as the international-global front is concerned, the concurrence of a new treaty that will resonate a new financial architecture is nowhere in sight.
In the absence of genuine solutions that can stabilize ailing economies on both the domestic and international fronts, the downward spirals will continue, until the economies of the North will hit rock bottom depression that will be worse than the one that crashed the USA, UK and Germany almost a century ago (USA, UK, Germany were then the world’s top industrial & military powers). In the absence of capital control policies up North, capital flight will ensue at dizzying speed, draining their respective countries of trillions of dollars and/or euros at levels far higher than the 2008 drain. The smart money that will sneak out will find better shelters in the South (emerging markets notably East Asia + India).
The possibility of North-based companies transferring their headquarters to the South is not entirely ruled out. The other option is for the corporate owners to transfer domicile from the North to the South, leaving their ailing mother companies in the hands of trusted stewards. The era of distance remote control-type management by corporate owners could very well begin this year, which will modify corporate governance by no small means.
The positive light for the global economy is that finally the corporate and state leaders will see light at the end of the tunnel and call for a global conference to carve out a new financial architecture. Laissez faire, a cadaver doctrine before the 2nd world war that was revived by the monetarists and greedy financiers, will finally lay to rest as it gives way to dirigist or interventionist economics. Stronger regulatory mechanisms may be charted this year too, at least on paper.
New Deal, Keynesian, and welfare state doctrines will be blended together to produce an eclectic admixture. Since New Deal has an international facet into it thus rendering it more comprehensive, as the late FDR cogitated the need for international cooperation and development for all countries to end all wars and foment lasting peace, this doctrine will more or less be followed. We will not be surprised if, after the Davos conference, the shape of the future will already be definitively of the New Deal type.
Conclusively, even if the Northern economies will flatten down to zero and/or negative growths, the downward spiral may stop by the last quarter of the year. The full effects of the intervention solutions won’t be felt this year though, as it will take some more years to get them to galvanize. So let us brace for more turbulent winds, while hoping that the storm would finally stop so we can enjoy a delightful holiday season comes December.
[26 January 2009, Quezon City, MetroManila]