The next financial crisis may be triggered by central banks

AS WITH London buses, don’t worry if you miss a financial crisis; another will be along shortly. The latest study on long-term asset returns from Deutsche Bank shows that crises in developed markets have become much more common in recent decades. That does not bode well.

Deutsche defines a crisis as a period when a country suffers one of the following: a 15% annual decline in equities; a 10% fall in its currency or its government bonds; a default on its national debt; or a period of double-digit inflation. During the 19th century, only occasionally did more than half of countries for which there are data suffer such a shock in a single year. But since the 1980s, in numerous years more than half of them have been in a financial crisis of some kind.

The main reason for this, argues Deutsche, is the monetary system. Under the gold standard and its successor, the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, the amount of credit creation was limited. A country that expanded its money supply too quickly would suffer a trade deficit and pressure on its currency’s exchange rate; the government would react by slamming on the monetary brakes. The result was that it was harder for financial bubbles to inflate.

But since the early 1970s more countries have moved to a floating exchange-rate system. This gives governments the flexibility to deal with an...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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