The global financial crisis has reversed an expansionary trend of international activities by banks from advanced countries that had been at play for decades. From the late 1970s to 2008, banks not only found new opportunities for intermediation in increasing cross-border capital flows, but they also raised their profile in domestic credit provision abroad. We are now watching an upheaval of that landscape, its ground dramatically shifting with the unfolding of the crisis.
As emergency meetings of Heads of State to address the Euro zone crisis have seemingly become recurrent events, the crisis in the Euro zone lingers on stubbornly and might possibly become more serious with borrowing costs for Italy and Spain, reaching unsustainably high levels. As ever bolder proposals proliferate to put an end to the crisis, it is important to look back at the history of the crisis and try to identify its root causes. A working paper by Justin Lin and myself addresses this question and, in particular, the extent to which it was driven by the global financial crisis and by factors internal to Europe, notably the adoption of the common currency.
The current policy debate on spurring growth is sometimes couched as a choice between fiscal stimulus and structural reform. In the context of the euro zone, this gives an incomplete picture. Two other issues are important: financial policies to avert a credit crunch; and collective actions to rebuild confidence. Adding these complicates the picture but helps point the way to a fuller policy response and clearer priorities to address the current mutually reinforcing combination of a growing sovereign debt-banking problem on the one hand and risks of a recession on the other.