Thursday, September 18, 2008

Looks Like America's Got A Credibility Problem

. Thursday, September 18, 2008

The United States, the champion of the free market, "the beacon of unfettered, free market capitalism", has implemented a policy "that the most liberal Democratic administration would [have never implemented] in its wildest dreams," says Ron Chernow, a leading American financial historian in today's NY Times. Interesting observation. But even more interesting is the effect that this bailout policy may have on global perceptions of American free market capitalism and America's ability to dictate a global economic response to a future international financial crisis. 

I was in the process of putting together a post on the American paradox of nationalization and its effect on the global economy, when the NY Times stole the idea from my head and beat me to it by posting an article highlighting this effect on their website. I sat thinking earlier this evening about the financial policies that the United States has currently implemented in its financial market when facing a crisis, while at the same time prescribing to developing nations facing financial panic/crisis, a radically different approach. Essentially, the United States has instructed the developing world to deregulate, privatize their financial markets and not intervene during financial crises, even in the face of financial disaster. For example:

In parts of Asia, the bailouts [yesterday of AIG] stirred bitter memories of the different approach the United States and the International Monetary Fund adopted during the economic crises there a decade ago.

When the I.M.F. pledged $20 billion to help South Korea survive the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, one of the conditions it imposed was that the Korean government allow ailing banks and other companies to collapse rather than bail them out, recalled Yung Chul Park, a professor of economics at Korea University in Seoul, who was deeply involved in the negotiations with the I.M.F.
If the United States is not going to follow its own advice of not intervening in its own financial market to bail out failing domestic firms when staring down one of the biggest financial crises in its history, why should/would any other nation follow the non-intervention policy when a similar financial panic occurs in their economy?

Has the United States lost all credibility to prescribe strict free-market, non-interventionist solutions to financial panic around the world? Has it lost its ability to place conditions, including massive privatization and deregulation, on its development loans even though it seemingly nationalizes and regulates when it deems it necessary? It sure looks like it. 


Looks Like America's Got A Credibility Problem




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