Stevens’ Nonchalance ‘Stunning’

2 Mar

This excellent article by David Uren at The Australian suggests that he may be the only mainstream journalist in Australia who is awake to international developments, and not in awe of every utterance from RBA Governor Glenn Stevens:

If the Reserve Bank raises rates again tomorrow, it will risk repeating the mistake it made in early 2008, when it failed to see the global financial crisis coming.

Now, as then, it is beguiled by soaring commodity prices and believes Australia can shrug off what it sees as essentially local woes in the industrialised world.

In 2008, it was the subprime crisis, and today it is the sovereign debt crisis, focused for the moment in Europe.

Glenn Stevens’s nonchalance about the Greek debt crisis at the recent parliamentary hearings was stunning.

It had been no more than a marginal influence on the RBA’s decision to hold rates steady in February, he said.

“There is a bit of uncertainty about how all of that is going to be resolved. I do not think, myself, at this point, that those issues will directly present a serious problem for Australia. After all, it is a sovereign debt issue for Europe.”

Europe still represents about a quarter of world GDP and its unity and sound finances matter a lot for global financial stability.

US academics Kenneth Rogoff (a former IMF chief economist) and Carmen Reinhart have been among the most influential analysts of the developments of the past two years because of their analysis of crashes in 66 countries stretching back two centuries. “Serial default remains the norm,” they say.

There is often a lag of some years, leading policymakers to believe “this time it is different”.

Rogoff, who did predict the GFC, is currently warning that China is in a bubble, one that he believes will burst within ten years. If so, then so much for the belief that Australia is on the verge of a new China-fuelled mining boom.

Glenn Stevens appears to be in a bubble of his own, oblivious to the ever-growing warnings from leading international economists about the Eurozone crisis, and/or a new Asia Crisis triggered by the inevitable bust of China’s real estate bubble.

A man who apparently does not learn from his epic failures of the past, should no longer be permitted to retain such enormous power over the economy, and the lives of 22 million Australian citizens.

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