Monday, February 23, 2009

Origins of the crisis

According to the conventional wisdom the current global recession is the fault of -- who else -- the U.S. Cowboy capitalism run amok produced an economic calamity that has spread around the globe, forcing the rest of the world to suffer for the sins of the Americans. Alan Reynolds over at the Cato Institute's blog, however, notes the following statistics in real GDP growth over the past 4 quarters:













Reynolds says:
Does it make sense to blame the largest declines in GDP on one country with the smallest decline? If so, then we need some explanation of how some uniquely American “illness has spread” to so many innocent victims.
He makes a good point. If you want to believe that the U.S. is responsible for the decline in fortunes of these other countries then there would seem to be a few logical possibilities:
  1. These countries were highly invested in the U.S.
  2. These countries were highly dependent on U.S. consumers for buying what they produce
  3. Some combination thereof
Possibility #1 means that these countries, for all their rhetoric about how dangerous American-style capitalism is, wanted a piece of the action and didn't exactly put their money where their mouth is. Possibility #2 means that the domestic consumers in these countries have so little money that their companies are dependent on the U.S. for growth. Neither would seem to reflect very well on them.

Another piece of food for thought is that we keep hearing, especially from the Obama/leftist camp, about how the cause for much of this crisis is an insufficient amount of regulation. Well, if everyone else has been suffering worse yet have more regulated financial systems than us, what does that say about that particular line of reasoning?

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