The recession and the pandemic: cause or trigger?

William White wrote an Intelligence Memo for the C D Howe Institute on 26 March 2020. He notes that the pandemic has certainly caused a recession, hopefully one followed by a “V” shape recovery, but it might also trigger a deeper and more prolonged downturn. In recent decades, global monetary policy has focused too much on short term effects and too little on the longer term consequences – like the continued build up of debt. Macroeconomic policies designed to support the economy in the face of the pandemic should balance off “urgency” with longer run “effectiveness”.

Posted by williamw in Articles, Press

“Take a thought for the morrow” (Matthew 6:34)

This article was published as an OMFIF Commentary on 23 March. It expresses concern that the recession sparked by the pandemic might turn into something deeper and more long lasting.  While recognizing the associated need for policy to lean urgently against the current slowdown, to support a “V” shaped recovery, White notes that some ways of doing so are more effective than others. Policy choices should also “take a thought for the morrow” so as to avoid unintended longer term consequences.


Posted by williamw in Articles, Press

How bad could the coronavirus get for the economy?

William White was quoted in an article in the National Post (Canada) on 20 March. He expressed concern that  a global recession linked to the pandemic could expose underlying fragilities that would aggravate the downturn. He expressed the hope that policymakers had learned lessons from history as to how to mitigate the damage.


Posted by williamw in Press, References

The prospective impact of the Covid-19 virus on the global economy

On 19 March, William White was interviewed by BNN, the Canadian business network associated with Bloomberg. He pointed out how this prospective economic downturn differs from that experienced in 2008-9, and laid out some alternative scenarios as to how events might unfold. While generally praising the prompt and significant response of central banks and governments to date, he noted that unfolding events might yet call for more action. The interview can also be found on the website of the C D Howe Institute, where Mr. White is a Senior Fellow.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

Economic and financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

William White was interviewed on March 16 (see 4 minute mark) by “7:30”, Australia’s TV News and  Current Affairs flagship. He suggested that the global economy had been an accident waiting to  happen, due to the many “imbalances” that had been allowed to build up over many years. If the prices of financial assets were to fall significantly, it was very likely that house prices would also be affected. It was unrealistic to think that marginally lower interest rates could suffice to sort out these deep seated problems.



Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

“The seeds of the next crisis”

In the “Big Read” column in the Financial Times of March 4, 2020, John Plender  refers to my concern that post-crisis monetary policy has been “intensely morally hazardous”. Low interest rates and unconventional monetary policies have “set the stage for the next boom and bust cycle, fueled by ever declining credit standards and ever expanding debt accumulation”. COVID-19 could well be the trigger for the eventual “bust” phase to begin. If  so, the magnitude and duration of the downturn might well exceed that expected from the economic consequences of the pandemic viewed in isolation.

Posted by williamw in Press, References

Price stability is not sufficient to ensure macroeconomic stability

In an interview in early December 2019, William White suggested that central banks had given too much importance to the pursuit of price stability in recent decades. There are no costs associated with declining prices when the underlying cause is increases in productivity. Moreover, resisting disinflationary pressures with monetary easing, cycle after cycle, leads to a buildup of  debt and other economic imbalances that do more to threaten sustainable growth than to sustain it. Accordingly, more reliance should be put on fiscal policy in the next economic downturn. Indeed, it was a mistake not to have done so earlier.





Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

Why negative interest rates are not a good idea !

Jonathan Roth, an associate of John Mauldin,  interviewed William White and Grant Williams (a co-founder of Real Vision) on October 9, 2020.  Both agreed, for a whole host of reasons, that negative policy rates were not a good idea. They were unlikely to stimulate aggregate demand as desired, and could have undesirable and unintended side effects.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

Negative Interest Rates Are a Bad Idea

William White was interviewed, along with Grant Williams, by Jonathon Ross of Mauldin Economics. The interview was part of a series entitled the “Seven Deadly Sins” directed to identifying vulnerabilities in the global economy and to shortcomings in the policy responses to these vulnerabilities. This particular interview focuses on the undesirable implications of introducing negative interest rates to stimulate aggregate demand. They will not work as intended and will have unintended consequences.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

Are fears of a global “currency war” justified?

This article was recently published in German and English by “The Market” , a leading online Swiss financial journal. It argues that, in some respects, we have actually been engaged in a kind of currency war for many years. Countries are not actively trying to depreciate against the dollar, but they are actively trying to prevent their currencies from appreciating. Should the Trump administration now respond, be trying unilaterally to lower the value of the dollar, this could result in a decline in faith in the value of all fiat currencies. In short, another battle in the currency war would be a very bad idea.


Posted by williamw in Articles, Press