Global Crisis Looms as IMF Report Cites Its Own Policy as Dangerous

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In a new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) entitled “Global Financial Stability Report: Lower for Longer,” the group gives an overview of the current debt-ridden and precarious state of affairs in global economics. Not lost on some economists, however, is the irony that these modern realities are the direct result of policies historically supported by the IMF itself.


The six-chapter, 109-page report breaks down the ominous state of global finance and “identifies the current key vulnerabilities in the global financial system as the rise in corporate debt burdens, increasing holdings of riskier and more illiquid assets by institutional investors, and growing reliance on external borrowing by emerging and frontier market economies.” The assessments are not inaccurate, but fail to turn the lens back on the source, and the very causal factors contributing to these realities.

Citing continued easing and precipitously falling bond yields, the IMF calls for more conservative approaches to the management of economic problems, stating:

To reduce the risk that additional easing may have the unintended consequence of leading to a further buildup of financial system vulnerabilities, macroprudential policies should be tightened, as warranted.

The IMF is suddenly very interested in prudence, and the management of systemic risk, encouraging the use of prescribed tools for mitigating dismal effects of prolonged negative interest, QE and easy credit, and the resultant movement of investors into riskier, more illiquid assets. The report maintains that “Low interest rates have reduced debt service costs and may have contributed to an increase in sovereign debt. This has made some governments more susceptible to a sudden and sharp tightening in financial conditions.”

Just three years ago, however, in a 2016 blog post, the group was praising these very same practices, noting that “Although the experience with negative nominal interest rates is limited, we tentatively conclude that overall, they help deliver additional monetary stimulus. Wholesale interest rates have fallen as have some bank lending rates, which should help support demand and price stability.” The post further warns of the very same risks the new report cites, such as institutional entry into risky assets, but still concludes that such policies are helpful overall.

Greater Risk Now Condemned

IMF, 2016: “Banks benefit overall from [negative interest] policies that support price stability and growth…” even though “There may also be excessive risk-taking. As banks’ margins are squeezed, they may start lending to riskier borrowers to maintain their profit levels.”

IMF, 2019: “The monetary policy cycle may have reached a turning point in major advanced economies … Persistently low and declining yields on fixed-income instruments have continued to drive institutional investors … to boost returns by using leverage and investing in riskier and less liquid assets.” The report concludes that “Policymakers can help mitigate the buildup of vulnerabilities through appropriate incentives, minimum solvency or liquidity standards, and enhanced disclosures.”

In other words, they warned everyone of their risky, economically unsound plan, encouraged its implementation and adoption, and now are encouraging everyone to pull back quickly.

Global Economic Outlook Unstable

The executive summary of the report states:

Accommodative monetary policy is supporting the economy in the near term, but easy financial conditions are encouraging financial risk-taking and are fueling a further buildup of vulnerabilities in some sectors and countries.

The “some” here may be the understatement of the year. As has reported extensively, the current global situation is deteriorating rapidly with reckless capital injections, rampant negative interest rate policy implementation, negative yielding debt and once mega-powerful economies beginning to fail. In this sense, the IMF’s report is a mere statement of the obvious for many who are paying attention to the situation. Combined with the continued crackdown on free trade of proposed sound money alternatives like bitcoin, and it’s hard not to wax at least a little bit paranoid. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow the International Monetary fund will be pushing further for the creation of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) as the palliative for all the economic pain they’ve promoted and effected over the years.

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