The presidential campaign currently underway has missed the historically rare opportunity to engage the candidates for president in a serious discussion about how they would respond to a very likely impending recession brought on by twin banking and currency crises.
Usually financial crises -- and the recessions that often follow -- appear without much warning. But today, while of course the future never can be predicted with certainty, the evidence is accumulating to suggest that the United States soon may be facing something similar to Japan's experience in the late 1980s and 1990s.
As described by Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale in their 2007 paper, "Introduction to Financial Crises," Japan experienced an expansion of credit following financial liberalization, which led to a real estate and stock market price bubble in the late 1980s -- followed by a collapse. "The next few years were marked by defaults and retrenchments in the financial systems. The real economy was adversely affected in the aftermath of the bubble and growth rates during the 1990's were barely positive or negative.
"Banks and other financial companies that held the stocks and real estate (or made loans on those assets) often came under server pressure from withdrawals because their liabilities (were) fixed and falling prices reduced the value of the assets. Banks in this situation (were) forced to call in loans and liquidate assets, which in turn exacerbate(d) the problem of falling asset prices." Sound familiar?
But if anything, we are situated even more dangerously. As Paul Krugman has argued in recent columns (ignore his political rhetoric, but his economic analysis sometimes can be persuasive and chilling), financial contagion increases the magnitude of the danger: "Troubles that began a little over a year ago in an obscure corner of the financial system, BBB-minus subprime-mortgage-backed securities, have spread to corporate bonds, auto loans, credit cards and now -- the latest casualty -- student loans."
Current informed commentaries throughout the financial world are loaded with warnings. Krugan wrote that JPMorgan Chase last week "described what's happening as a 'systematic margin call,' in which the whole financial system is facing demands to come up with cash it doesn't have."
We also are experiencing a historic reduction in the value of the dollar. When a banking crisis and a currency crisis occur at the same time, as they are now, they likely are to be followed by a recession, and the recession is likely to be longer and deeper.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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