The tarnished Alan Greenspan
Architect of the now much-derided “Greenspan put”, he protected the US economy from the collapse of the dotcom stock market bubble by dropping official interest rates. However that action is also seen as fuelling the risk-taking that preceded the most severe financial meltdown in 75 years.
The global Jeffrey Williamson
An authority on globalisation this Harvard economics professor argues that the upheavals were much bigger in the 50 years between 1820-1870 than they are today. Back then, globalisation was triggered by migration, colonial expansion, and rapid industrialisation. In short, not that much different from now.
The long-serving Jacques Polak
As well as a 40-year career at the IMF, Polak was one of the last survivors of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that created the post-World War II monetary system. As Dominique Strauss-Kahn observed in a tribute, he was “a leader of critical thought during the post-war evolution of the global economy”.
The much-misunderstood John Maynard Keynes
The widespread view that Keynes’s theories are behind “quantitative easing” policies adopted by most western nations in the wake of the financial crisis could hardly be more wrong. The champagne-loving Keynes did ground-breaking work on trade cycles and growth, but he always believed that printing money was highly dangerous and should be temporary.
The rigorous Friedrich A. Hayek
Winner of the Nobel Prize, the late Austrian-born Hayek has made a big comeback in the financial crisis because of the great debate over the role of public spending. Hayek argued that private borrowing was a far more effective stimulus than public borrowing. As he put it back in 1932, an economic recession was no time for “new municipal swimming baths”.
Allan H. Meltzer, scourge of Obamanomics
A long-term adviser to the Reagan and Bush administrations, 82 year-old Meltzer says “Obamanomics has failed”. A world authority on the monetary policy which lies at the heart of anti-crisis measures, the professor compares the sluggish results of the Obama stimulus package unfavourably with the quick turnarounds achieved by the corporate tax cuts of Ronald Reagan.
Arch-globaliser Deepak Lal..
Indian-born and Oxford-educated, professor Lal blames the current crisis on “financiers taking ever more risky gambles with the complicity of the government.” Much-admired for his bold, often contrarian views, he is also an apostle of globalisation who believes that its opponents can be loosely divided into Asians who mistakenly fear creeping westernisation or westerners who want the status quo.
Chris Edwards, enemy of public debt
A member of the Cato Institute’s influential think tank, Edwards predicts that today’s youth will pay an exorbitant price tomorrow for fast-rising public debt in the US and elsewhere. In a just-published study called Rising federal debt is fiscal child abuse, he warns that “federal policymakers are leaving a terrible fiscal legacy to the next generation, and a stimulus package would only make matters worse”.
Fearsome BIS economists Stephen Cecchetti, M.S. Mohanty and Fabrizio Zampolli
Ageing populations is the next big threat, say these economists in a March paper from the increasingly influential BIS. They warn that “drastic measures” are essential to reverse the future cost of age-related liabilities piled on top of sky-high official debt incurred in the wake of the crisis.
Fact-mongerers Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff
The terrible twins of US economics, Reinhart and Rogoff, have concluded after spending the best part of a decade digging into the entrails of financial crises past and present that we’ve never had enough of the right kind of information to know exactly what’s going on. The former IMF economists are amazed at “how little [facts] the authorities have at their finger-tips”. Fortunately, they will make available to other scholars the voluminous data they’ve assembled for their big-selling 2010 book, This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Crisis.