Roach: The west went on a “drunken binge of excess consumption”
Stephen Roach doesn’t mince words. He calls monetary policy during the bubble years “reckless and irresponsible” and he thinks politics is thwarting any meaningful regulatory reform, a view I also hold. I think the point of Roach’s attack is that a lot of finger-pointing has been directed at Wall Street and even Main Street. But, policy makers share much of the blame. This is a point I tried to make in a post “Forget about Goldman” from this past summer.
Moreover, as Roach indicates, the concept that a central planner (which a central bank most certainly is) can allow bubbles to form and then clean up after the mess- is on it’s face absurd. But, clearly the Federal Reserve and other central banks are doing their level best to re-create the conditions which led to a near-financial collapse.
The money quote comes just about 4:45 through the eleven minute clip below:
Central bankers say trust us. We know what we’re doing. I don’t trust them one bit. They got us into this mess in the first place.
As for Asia, Roach sees a bright future. However, he warns that it has risen on the back of an unsustainable export-led macro-policy by selling things to people in the West who can’t afford them. With continued private-sector deleveraging in the west likely, this dynamic has ended.
(video embedded below)
As an aside, Roach also correctly adds that the recent protectionist tariff administered by President Obama was not the result of tire manufacturers’ lobbying. Four of five of the Chinese importers are subsidiaries of U.S. firms. Obama did this to gain credibility and support from unions, a key Democratic constituency in the health care debate and in the run-up to the mid-term elections.
I should also point out that much of the U.S. trade deficit comes from such arrangements, where a U.S. company imports goods from its own foreign subsidiary.