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“Irresponsible”: Banks and China Put Global Economy at Risk, Morici Says

More signs today that the global economy could be slowing as predicted by the Economic Cycle Research Institute last week. (See: Global Slowdown to Hit by Summer, Even for U.S., Says Achuthan)

Here at home, there was no revision to the first quarter's sluggish 1.8% GDP growth. Yet personal consumption fell to 2.2% from the previously reported 2.7%. And April durable goods orders were also much weaker than expected yesterday, falling 3.6%.

As for the rest of the world, the OECD just released its forecast for global growth. The overall tone of the report was positive, but there were some very big words of caution.

"This is a delicate moment for the global economy, and the crisis is not over until our economies are creating enough jobs again," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. "There is also some concern that if downside risks reinforce each other, their cumulative impact could weaken the recovery significantly, possibly triggering stagflation in some advanced economies."

Here's a list of the downside risks Gurria is referring to:

  • The possibility of further increases in oil and commodity prices, which could feed into core inflation; a stronger-than-projected slowdown in China
  • The unsettled fiscal situation in the United States and Japan
  • Renewed weakness in housing markets in many OECD countries
  • Financial vulnerabilities remain in the euro area, in spite of strong adjustment efforts underway in some countries

Peter Morici, economist and professor of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business tells Aaron in the interview above that he does not rule out the possibility of a global recession, but says it will not happen for those "apparent" reasons. His concern rests with two factors that led to the great recession, which have yet to be fixed: "irresponsible banking and irresponsible currency policy in China".

Every year China prints 450 billion yuan for the purpose of buying U.S. dollars, says Morici. "This really drives up commodity prices and in turn strangles growth in the United States and in Europe." Rather than continue to raise interest rates to cool the country's economy, he says all China needs to do is stop its "reckless use of currency policy."

As for financial institutions, Morici says banks "hold too much sway" with their governments. It is not that markets are not regulated enough, but rather that Wall Street is not regulated properly. Why? Because wealthy bankers are able to "game politicians so effectively".

"[President] Barack Obama is no match for Jamie Dimon and the global economy is very much at risk because of that," he says. "And, certainly [Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner is no match for Jamie Dimon, no more than Ms. LaGarde is any match for German bankers."

Morici's Bottom Line

"If we have a global recession, it will because of irresponsible banking and irresponsible currency policy in China and the failure of the Obama government and the Merkel government to stand up to China and the banks."

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