World economy is sleepwalking into a new financial crisis, warns Mervyn King
World economy is sleepwalking into a new financial crisis, warns Mervyn King by Larry Elliott for The Guardian
Past crashes spawned new thinking and reform but nothing has changed since 2008 banking meltdown, says former Bank of England boss
The world is sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that will have devastating consequences for the democratic market system, according to the former Bank of England governor Mervyn King.
Lord King, who was in charge at Threadneedle Street during the near-death of the global banking system and deep economic slump a decade ago, said the resistance to new thinking meant a repeat of the chaos of the 2008-09 period was looming.
Giving a lecture in Washington at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, King said there had been no fundamental questioning of the ideas that led to the crisis of a decade ago.
“Another economic and financial crisis would be devastating to the legitimacy of a democratic market system,” he said. “By sticking to the new orthodoxy of monetary policy and pretending that we have made the banking system safe, we are sleepwalking towards that crisis.”
He added that the US would suffer a “financial armageddon” if its central bank – the Federal Reserve – lacked the necessary firepower to combat another episode similar to the sub-prime mortgage sell-off.
King, Mark Carney’s predecessor as Bank of England governor, said that following the Great Depression of the 1930s there had been new thinking and intellectual change.
“No one can doubt that we are once more living through a period of political turmoil. But there has been no comparable questioning of the basic ideas underpinning economic policy. That needs to change.”
The former Bank governor said the economic and political climate had rarely been so fraught, citing the US-China trade war, riots in Hong Kong, problems in key emerging countries such as Argentina and Turkey, the growing tensions between France and Germany over the future direction of the euro, and the increasingly bitter political conflict in the US at a time when the willingness of the US to act as the world’s policeman was disappearing.