Unchartered Waters: When Economic Policy Solutions Become the Problem

William White made a webinar presentation to the Global Risk Institute in Toronto on 3 March 2022. He described how the longer rum implications of policies, above all monetary policy, intended to mitigate shorter run problems  in the economy could cause even worse problems over time. This reality is attested to by numerous signs of stress in the current economic and financial system which could now easily spread over to other systems (political, environmental and public health) as well. White listed seven reasons for expecting a stagflationary future, with equally plausible arguments for subsequent high inflation or a debt-deflation. He raised the possibility that highly indebted governments, given such difficult circumstances, might turn to “financial repression” as the easiest way out.

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Time for a Total Reset? Spillover Problems in Complex Systems,

On 26 February, 2022, William White made a webinar presentation to the Oxford Forum for International Development at Oxford University. He emphasized that the pursuit of sustainable and inclusive growth in free societies rests on the efficient functioning of underlying systems; in particular our economic/financial, political, environmental and public health systems. Unfortunately each of those systems is currently under stress and those stresses seem likely to grow with time. To get off the current “bad path”, White argued we need clarity about what achievable, alternative systems might look like and the practical steps needed to get “there” from “here”.


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Monetary Policy and the “Everything” Asset Price Bubble

William White participated in a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute on November 12th.  In his prepared presentation (from 48 minute mark), White suggested that the economies of the advanced countries  were on an ever narrowing path, with high inflation threatening on one side and  a dangerous deflation on the other.  Central banks had inadvertently contributed to this growing exposure  through the pursuit of policies that were generally unnecessary, increasingly ineffective and ultimately dangerous.  White felt that the root cause was the failure of central banks to recognize the essential nature of a modern economy; it is complex and adaptive, not simple and static. When asked how similar mistakes might be avoided in the future, White provided a number of practical suggestions. However, before “building back better” we need to recognize the damage left over from the previous regime. It would be best to deal with the overhang of unserviceable debt through explicit debt restructuring.

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The Inauguration of GENESYS (Government Economists for New Economic Systems)

The NAEC group at the OECD  inaugurated on 4 November a new international network of government officials to question conventional approaches to policy making. William White participated in an inaugural panel chaired by Rana Foroohar (of the Financial Times) and Jo Swinson (previous leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in the UK). White (1 hour, 2 minutes in) highlighted the problem of groupthink in government and the unwillingness of many to “speak truth to power”. This new network could encourage individuals in national capitals to speak out, knowing that their views were shared by others, and could also be an independent source of new ideas within governments. White finished by noting that there were many false beliefs about how the economy works that needed to be challenged.

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Hopes and Ambitions for Key Sustainability Objectives in 2030

At the 2021 AGM of the Council on Economic Polices, William White introduced a discussion of how central banks and financial regulators might contribute more concretely to meeting sustainability objectives both within the financial sector and in other systems. He described what a more “ideal” financial system might look like, and discussed some of the impediments to getting there from where we are now.

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“Stand Easy” with Mark Saint-Pierre: Monetary Policy and Complex Systems

“Stand Easy” is a website, directed by Mark Saint-Pierre of the Canadian Armed Forces, whose content is directed to National Security Professionals in democratic countries. His interview with William White was posted on 19 September 2021. White reviewed many of the issues raised in his earlier publications (eg “The four horsemen of the apocalypse”, published in The International Economy), with particular emphasis on the implications for national security when vital systems (economic, political, environmental or health) fail. An important challenge in democracies is getting popular support for “unpalatable” policies that might be required to avoid “disastrous” outcomes, sometimes the unintended consequence of previous policies. An associated danger, seen many times in history, is the rise of demagogues promising easy solutions.




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Webinar for the Canadian International Council and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

In a webinar on 26 July, William White presented a paper originally prepared for the Council on Economic Policies (see Publications). However, his comments differed from that text in that they emphasized the primacy of preserving a healthy political system in support of policies to strengthen economic, environmental and public health systems. Without popular support, these other policies will be very hard to implement.






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The Biden stimulus, the Federal Reserve and the everything bubble

William White participated in a panel on 24 March sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. Moderated by Alex Pollock, the panel consisted of White, Jeffrey Frankel from Harvard University, Fabio Natalucchi of the IMF and Desmond Lachman of the AEI.  White addressed the question of the resilience of the financial system should the “everything bubble” burst. He concluded that, due to ultra easy monetary policy over many years and regulatory shortcomings,  the financial system now had “morbidities” that could increase considerably the dangers of financial instability in the face of shocks.


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Strategic challenges arising from ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing

On 18 February, William White made  a webinar presentation to the Global Risk Institute, a Toronto based think tank, with Jason Stewart as the Moderator. The presentation was based on a forthcoming Working Paper to be published by INET. White questions the wisdom of having relied so much  on monetary policy to provide economic stimulus, particularly over successive cycles. By encouraging the accumulation of debt, often for unproductive purposes, monetary stimulus becomes increasingly ineffective over time. Moreover, it threatens financial stability in a variety of ways, leads to real resource misallocations that lower potential growth, and finally produces a “debt trap” that cannot be escaped without significant economic costs.

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The centrality of central banks during the covid era

William White made a presentation to The Institute for International and European Affairs in Dublin on 11 December.  the topic was the role played by central banks during the covid-19 pandemic and the implications for central banks going forward. White suggested that central banks had successfully restored order in financial markets in the spring, which was necessary, but that their actions were essentially “more of the same” policies that they had been pursuing for many years. The cumulative effect of those policies had been a massive increase in global debt ratios and the emergence of other imbalances that now had to be confronted and resolved by governments rather than central banks. White’s talking notes and a video recording can be found below.


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