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Print Edition> Business
UPDATED: November 15, 2010 NO. 46 NOVEMBER 18, 2010
Crisis Focus: A Third Wave of Crisis

Compared to conditions during the early months of the global financial crisis, today's world is experiencing new recession-related symptoms—price hikes of agricultural products and other major commodities, and currency appreciations in emerging economies, to name a few. Sun Lijian, Vice Dean of the School of Economics of Fudan University, calls it the third phase of the global financial tsunami. Sun proposed three major tasks in an article to the Shanghai-based National Business Daily. Edited excerpts follow:

If we label the sub-prime mortgage crisis that broke out in the United States in March 2007 and the financial meltdown triggered by Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy in August 2008 as the first two phases of the global financial crisis, then we're, without a doubt, entering a third phase.

Since the second quarter of this year, the situation has been quite different from the previous two phases. Prices of agricultural products and other major commodities are surging. Emerging markets and East Asian countries are facing currency appreciations, influxes of short-term capital and speculative money. Some of these countries have to raise interest rates and strengthen capital controls to fight worsening inflation and asset bubbles.

In my opinion, three major tasks await us in the third phase.

First, major developed countries should draw back extra liquidity.

We have to acknowledge that the various bailout plans implemented in the first two phases relieved the market turmoil momentarily, but the dramatic increase in money supply is now in excess of what is required as a result of a dearth of new industry to prop up the growth. If the real economy has failed to recover from the crisis, this stream of excess money will affect the prices of agricultural products, houses and property and major commodities. Inflation will follow and asset bubbles will become uncontrollable, which will then take a heavy toll on the still struggling global real economy.

Second, a complete international policy coordination mechanism should be established.

Since the 1990s, the world economy has operated under the framework of economic globalization. On November 3, the U.S. Federal Reserve launched a second round of quantitative easing, that is to say the United States will start printing more greenbacks. If European countries follow suit, adopting loose monetary policies and building up even thicker trade barriers, the end result will be less than desirable. Their policies may seemingly help them win back large market shares and competitiveness of product prices in the short term, but nearly zero interest rates and a weakening dollar policy will cause emerging economies to face mounting inflation pressures, currency appreciation and asset bubbles. With a weakening purchasing power caused by currency depreciation and lackluster emerging markets, the U.S. and Europe's outward economic expansion can't be realized. Worse still, the outlook for the world economic recovery will become muddled.

Third, the world must find a new growth engine to power the economy and avoid further trade protectionism.

Emerging economies, including China, are vying to find this new engine to break their dependence on the American and European economies. Those traditional bellwethers are still fussing over the recovery of their real economies and are in different recovery phases, and may be unwilling to cooperate. Their self-centered policies may lead to serious protectionist measures.

Developed economies should play the leading role to promote a true world economic recovery. And other countries should also work to foster a new economic growth engine and create a healthy and orderly environment for economic globalization.

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