Written by Mark Swilling on 2012-01-25 05:42:07
Take 2012Scanning the global news media at the start of 2012, the mantra on the global recession from the perspective of mainstream thinking seems unchanged: Europe is getting it wrong and this is why it faces a second recession in 3 years, and the USA for some reason might be getting it right for reasons that are not very clear. Europe, driven by Germany, seems to believe more in austerity, limited fiscal stimulus and relative high interest rates, whereas the USA still has some residual belief in fiscal stimulus despite right-wing insistence on austerity and has very low interest rates. Italy has been chirping away at the need for growth and Merkel seems to be following suite now, but no-one seems to know how to stimulate growth without increasing debt. Those that have gone for austerity and debt reduction are not growing as fast as many expected, thus setting them up for more pain or more debt or both. What no-one seems to refer to is the limits of stimulating demand in saturated economies. Instead, it seems like global competition is now about exploiting unmet demand in developing countries to expand employment in developed economies, and competing for control of primary resources all over the world (especially oil now that oil prices have remained this high for longer than every before). Just like China let Western developed economies borrow its surpluses to debt-fund consumption (with hefty commissions for bankers), Germany allowed EU members to borrow its surplus. Both now face the consequences of recessionary conditions and he devaluation of their credit. How they coordinate to restructure the global economy will be interesting. How this links to the fact that they are together the largest investors in low carbon technologies seems to suggest linkages into the future of a kind the mainstream media seems to ignore.