Friday, August 20, 2010

Xie: Inflation, not deflation!

"The global economy seems to be bifurcating into the ice-cold developed economies and red-hot developing economies. Will the bifurcation persist? If the two sides converge, which side will dominate?

Let me write the conclusions first: Inflation, not deflation, will dominate the global economy. The deflation scare causes the central banks in the developed economies to sustain a loose monetary policy. It will fuel inflation in emerging economies. Through trade, currency markets, and ultimately inflation expectations, inflation will hit developed economies.

Globalization has severely restricted the effectiveness of economic stimulus. Trade plus FDI are half of the global GDP. Trade is visible in terms of stimulus leakage. But, where investment occurs in response to demand growth is far more important. Multinationals can invest anywhere in response to demand. It cuts the linkage between demand stimulus and investment response. The latter is crucial to employment growth, which is necessary for sustaining demand growth beyond stimulus. Essentially, demand is local, but supply is global. This is why the old assumptions on stimulus are no longer reliable.

The above analysis always applies to a small, open economy. A typical macroeconomics textbook will study the extreme cases of a small, open economy and a large, closed economy. In the former, the leakage is so powerful that stimulus is futile. The latter has no leakage and has maximum stimulus effectiveness. The economies in the real world are in between. A large economy like the U.S.'s is always assumed to resemble a closed economy, while a small trade-oriented economy like Singapore's is close to a completely open economy."