Friday, April 11, 2008

A Crisis Meeting

G7 finance ministers and Central Bankers are scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C. through this weekend to hammer out solutions to the numerous crises facing the world economy. Here's a handy list of items that might be on their agenda.

  • General Electric reported losses across almost every sector of operations for the first quarter of the year, and revised revenue for the year downward. The normally stalwart stock is perhaps the strongest indicator yet that the global recession is reaching into every part of the economy.
  • Bear Sterns has delayed releasing its first quarter results due to the disruptions caused by the merger with JP Morgan. As they are expecting negative results, one can understand their disinterest in transparent financial accounting, but its losses will probably be indicative of the weakest parts of the financial markets.
  • Head of Germany's Bundesbank, Axel Weber, is concerned about inflation in the Eurozone, and doesn't see any room for interest rate hikes. One can imagine the back and forth between European and American banking officials over the difference in interest rates and other monetary policies.
  • According to the IMF, inflation is also expected to tap down growth in emerging nations in Asia. With consumer confidence in the United States slumping, to put it mildly, in the facing of rising import costs, growth in Asia will come to be the growth engine for the world economy.
  • The food crisis throughout the developing world, while the most important of the various crises to be discussed, is unlikely going to be at the top of the agenda as finance ministers through the developed world are beginning to see the limitations of their capital.
  • As mentioned before, the position of Ben Bernanke is likely to come under heavy scrutiny among his colleagues, as the Fed Chairman continues to stand by the notion that banks and other perhaps insolvent financial institutions should be allowed to continue operating, and although the 'originate-to-distribute' system of loans failed at almost every level and started the current credit crisis, the system could be fixed and return to being useful in the future.
  • Oil prices, while retreating from their record high of $112 a barrel set earlier this week, are continue to weigh on the economy. However, the larger economic impact is felt by record high gas prices in the United States, edging closer and closer to $4 as the Summer driving season approaches.

No comments: