Lawrence H. Summers

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de mayo de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

As the world’s finance ministers and central-bank governors came together in Washington last week for their annual global financial convocation, the mood was somber. The specter of secular stagnation and inadequate economic growth on the one hand, and ascendant populism and global disintegration on the other, has caused widespread apprehension. Unlike in 2008 (when the post-Lehman Brothers crisis was a preoccupation) or 2011 and 2012 (when the possibility of the collapse of the euro system concentrated minds), there was no imminent crisis. Instead, the pervasive concern was that traditional ideas and leaders are losing their grip and the global economy is entering unexplored and dangerous territory.…  Seguir leyendo »

Over the next few months, the question of U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is likely to be resolved one way or the other. It is, to put it mildly, a highly controversial issue. Proponents believe a deal is essential to both our economic and geopolitical interests; opponents fear that it will primarily benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of middle-class living standards.

Definitive judgement is not possible because the parties are still negotiating and we have not yet seen a final agreement. Our negotiators should never forget that those who “need” agreements get less-good ones than those who do not.…  Seguir leyendo »

Coaches know that there is nothing more dangerous for a sports team than retreating into passivity out of fear of making a mistake. Whether it is because of a desire to sit on a lead or because of nerves following a setback, failing to advance aggressively is almost always a strategic error.

What is true in athletic competition is all too true in the life of nations. While imprudence is never good, excessive caution in the name of prudence or expediency can have grave consequences. A nation will never have more power or influence than it has ambition to shape the global system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Once in a great while, a heavy academic tome dominates for a time the policy debate and, despite bristling with footnotes, shows up on the best-seller list. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is such a volume. As with Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which came out at the end of the Reagan Administration and hit a nerve by arguing the case against imperial overreach through an extensive examination of European history, Piketty’s treatment of inequality is perfectly matched to its moment.

Like Kennedy a generation ago, Piketty has emerged as a rock star of the policy-intellectual world.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Acabará 2014 como 1914?

Si uno se fija bien, 2014 es un año de aniversarios. Es el centenario de 1914, un momento en el que el mundo se manejó mal a sí mismo, y de ese mal manejo cosechó la más espantosa de las consecuencias conocidas hasta entonces. Una desgastada primera potencia, Gran Bretaña, no supo actuar prudente ni consecuentemente frente a la emergente maquinaria económica germánica. Ante esto, otros se posicionaron para sacar ventaja, permitiendo que las aspiraciones y fuerzas nacionalistas se convirtieran en el aglutinador que procurara legitimidad a Gobiernos cuestionables y que en lo económico no acababan de dar la talla. La confusión, la complacencia y la confianza dieron lugar al cataclismo con una rapidez devastadora, y el mundo nunca fue ya el mismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

The British economy has experienced the most rapid growth in the Group of 7 over the past several months. In the first quarter of 2014, it enjoyed growth at an annual rate of more than 3 percent even as the U.S. economy barely grew, continental Europe remained in the doldrums and Japan struggled to maintain momentum in the face of a major increase in the value-added tax. Naturally enough, many have seized on Britain’s strong performance as evidence vindicating the austerity strategy that the country has followed since 2010 and rejecting the secular-stagnation idea that lack of demand constrains industrial growth over the medium term.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world’s finance ministers and central bank governors will gather in Washington this week for the twice-yearly meetings of the International Monetary Fund. While there will certainly not be the sense of alarm that dominated these meetings for a number of years after the financial crisis, the unfortunate reality is that the medium-term prospects for the global economy have not been so problematic for a long time.

In its current World Economic Outlook , the IMF essentially endorses the secular stagnation hypothesis — noting that the real interest rate necessary to bring about enough demand for full employment has declined significantly and is likely to remain depressed for a substantial period.…  Seguir leyendo »

Este año ha comenzado con una impresión de optimismo prudente para la economía mundial. Europa se ha salvado después de haber estado al borde del abismo. Los Estados Unidos no han caído por el precipicio fiscal. El Japón está actuando para cambiar su estrategia económica y China parece estar volviendo a encarrilarse.

Además, los índices de los mercados financieros de los EE.UU. están cercanos a los niveles anteriores a la crisis y el de la inestabilidad prevista es el más bajo de los últimos años. Las más importantes instituciones financieras están mejor capitalizadas de lo que lo habían estado en mucho tiempo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Once again good news has had a half-life of less than 24 hours. Just as news of Spain’s bank bailout rallied markets for only a few hours, a Greek election outcome that was as good as could have been hoped did not buoy markets for even a day. There could be no clearer evidence that the current strategy — vowing that the European system will hold, doing the minimum needed to address each crisis as it comes, and pledging at every juncture to build a system that is sound in the long run — has run its course.

Nor is the Group of 20 likely to change anything anytime soon.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the past week’s dismal jobs data in the United States, signs of increasing financial strain in Europe and discouraging news from China, the proposition that the global economy is returning to a path of healthy growth looks highly implausible.

It is more likely that negative feedback loops are again taking over as falling incomes lead to falling confidence, which leads to reduced spending and yet further declines in income. Financial strains hurt the real economy, especially in Europe, and reinforce existing strains. And export-dependent emerging markets suffer as the economies of the industrialized world weaken.

The question is not whether the current policy path is acceptable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Once again European efforts to contain crisis have fallen short. It was perhaps reasonable to hope that the European Central Bank’s commitment to provide nearly a trillion dollars in cheap three-year funding to banks, would, if not resolve the crisis, contain it for a significant interval. Unfortunately, this has proved little more than a palliative. Weak banks, especially in Spain, have bought more of the debt of their weak sovereigns, while foreigners have sold down their holdings. Markets, seeing banks holding the dubious debt of the sovereigns that stand behind them, grow ever nervous. Again, Europe and the global economy approach the brink.…  Seguir leyendo »

European leaders will meet Friday for yet another “historic” summit at which the fate of Europe is said to hang in the balance. Yet it is clear that this will not be the last one convened to deal with the financial crisis.

If public previews from France and Germany are a guide, there will be commitments to assuring fiscal discipline in Europe and establishing common crisis-resolution mechanisms. There will also be much celebration of commitments made by Italy and a strong political reaffirmation of the permanence of the monetary union. All of this is necessary and desirable, but the world economy will remain on edge.…  Seguir leyendo »